Early Match Card Predictions and Picks for WWE Survivor Series 2020
As WWE heads toward Clash of Champions and Hell in a Cell, early consideration for the 2020 Survivor Series card has to be in the works.
Since it is the last of the so-called Big Four events of the year and a staple for the WWE Universe's calendar, this isn't something WWE can book on a whim the week before.
With the coronavirus pandemic still preventing live crowds from attending and the ThunderDome deal set to expire by November, there's no telling what WWE has in store for Survivor Series, which is scheduled to take place Nov. 22. But that shouldn't stop us from looking ahead and trying to predict the card!
With some educated guesswork of how the next few months will play out, analysis of last year's event and a bit of optimism sprinkled in, here are some early projections of what will happen at WWE Survivor Series 2020.
Assumptions About the Card
Before breaking down the possible card, some major assumptions have to be addressed.
This year has shown that even WWE's most tried-and-true staples can be messed with, so anything can happen to change Survivor Series from its usual setup.
Even without the pandemic, Survivor Series has changed its formula in the past. It's featured tournaments to crown new champions, the namesake elimination matches have been four-on-four or five-on-five—sometimes with a brand-warfare stipulation and other times with random pairings of Superstars—and even company invasions.
This year, it may be a Team WWE vs. Team Retribution angle. However, it's clear WWE has no firm idea of which wrestlers will even be in that faction, which makes it impossible to plan a card around. Even still, if that's just one match, an entirely unrelated lineup must surround it.
Ignoring Retribution, there are other elements to think about.
SummerSlam wasn't as long this year as it normally is, which is a strong indication Survivor Series won't be a seven-hour extravaganza. That means there won't be as many matches as last year.
If it follows the format of Raw vs. NXT vs. SmackDown with the brands' champions facing each other too, we don't know who will hold the titles. WWE has also yet to clarify when the next draft will happen, which will shake up the rosters in unknown ways.
Travel bans will prevent NXT UK talent from appearing alongside the NXT USA crew, so they won't be part of this set of predictions.
With all that in mind, let's roll on with an assumption we're getting a similar theme to last year's event and take it from there.
World Champions Showcase Triple Threat Match
At the moment, the three world champions for Raw, NXT and SmackDown are Drew McIntyre, Finn Balor and Roman Reigns, respectively.
McIntyre is on a collision course with Randy Orton for Clash of Champions and has Keith Lee nipping at his heels, so there's a chance he's not the champion heading into this event. However, the smart bet is that he will keep his title. The Ambulance match at Clash of Champions later in September could end in a draw, with McIntyre concluding his feud against Orton at Hell in a Cell to move on.
There's no way Reigns is dropping his belt anytime soon. He's holding that until at least WrestleMania 37, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Jey Uso has no chance to win it at Clash of Champions.
Balor is likely to hold on to his title until Karrion Kross can come back. After swapping the belt a few times recently, NXT needs some stability, and he can provide that.
Since Balor is something of a tweener while Reigns will be a firm heel, staunch babyface McIntyre balances out this equation more so than another heel like Orton.
If this is the lineup for this Triple Threat match, watch out for Reigns to stand tall, probably by pinning Balor.
Women's Champions Showcase Triple Threat Match
Asuka is almost a certainty to still be Raw women's champion come Survivor Series. At the moment, her challengers are Zelina Vega, Mickie James, Natalya and Lana. None of them are strong contenders to dethrone her.
Of course, if Charlotte Flair can return in time, WWE could always drop The Empress of Tomorrow in favor of The Queen, but let's not bank on that happening.
Io Shirai should have no problems holding on to her belt unless "the Gargano way" proves itself fruitful with Candice LeRae dethroning her. We won't even know who will face her at TakeOver on October 4 until Wednesday's NXT Women's Championship No. 1 Contender's Battle Royal.
Bayley's status is more up in the air. Once Sasha Banks is back and looking for revenge, there's a strong chance she will be the next SmackDown women's champion. She's made her desire to win that title abundantly clear, so it's just a matter of whether WWE will book their match for Hell in a Cell or wait until after Survivor Series.
Assuming the trio for this fight is Asuka, Banks or Bayley and Shirai, WWE could go with the upset and have Shirai win to give NXT a victory in a major match.
Midcard Champions Showcase Triple Threat Match
As it stands, our midcard champions are Bobby Lashley, Jeff Hardy and Damian Priest. All three will defend their titles at least once prior to Survivor Series, so none of them are safe.
The least likely to drop his title, though, is Priest. He's too fresh of a champion, and taking the belt off him prior to Survivor Series would be a sign WWE doesn't trust him with this responsibility.
Hardy has his work cut out for him in the Clash of Champions ladder match against AJ Styles and Sami Zayn, but he knows his way around that gimmick. If he drops the title, it will be closer to Hell in a Cell. For now, let's give The Charismatic Enigma the benefit of the doubt.
Lashley is a rock-solid Superstar to keep in this match too. Also, we can assume his Clash of Champions opponent will be Apollo Crews or Ricochet, whom he will defeat. As long as he gets by Hell in a Cell and avoids WWE's temptation to book a random title change in the days leading up to Survivor Series, he should be in this match.
If that does happen, his biggest threat is Keith Lee, but he has to be pivoted away from the world title scene to start hunting the United States Championship for that to happen. So far, there have been no indications of that.
There are certainly scenarios wherein it isn't these three, but if it's Lashley vs. Hardy vs. Priest, watch out for Priest or Lashley to win over the more sympathetic Hardy.
Tag Team Champions Showcase Triple Threat Match
Since Breezango has avoided Legado del Fantasma and retained against Imperium, they should be good to keep their tag titles unless The Undisputed Era refocuses and snatches the belts away.
Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura are safe as SmackDown tag team champions too. There's always a chance Lucha House Party gets the upset at Clash of Champions, but with that trio constantly bickering, it's unlikely.
The New Day and The Usos are missing members, and Otis is still Mr. Money in the Bank, so Heavy Machinery shouldn't win the tag titles. If Cesaro and Nakamura aren't representing SmackDown in this match, it will be The Miz and John Morrison, save for a potential draft shaking up the roster.
The Street Profits have run through all the options on Raw outside of The Hurt Business. As soon as MVP's faction gets a title opportunity, Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford are in danger.
Tthe makeup of this match could be any combination of the following groups:
- NXT tag team champions: Breezango or Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish
- Raw tag team champions: The Street Profits or The Hurt Business
- SmackDown tag team champions: Cesaro and Nakamura or The Miz and Morrison
As far as the winner goes, it's a toss-up. WWE likely wouldn't pick a winner until balancing out the wins and losses of the rest of the card.
Men's Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match
While we know there will be at least one traditional Survivor Series elimination match, the components are up for debate. Even ignoring Retribution and going with another Raw vs. NXT vs. SmackDown setup, there are countless permutations even if we had a solid list to work with.
Despite all the confusion, we can still get a hunch on the Superstars WWE won't keep off the card and will make sure are at least part of these teams if they aren't champions.
On Raw, there is Aleister Black, Andrade, Angel Garza, Apollo Crews, The Hurt Business, Dolph Ziggler, Dominik Mysterio, Keith Lee, Kevin Owens, Mustafa Ali, Randy Orton, Ricochet and Seth Rollins.
With that group, Lee should be a guarantee. Orton might sit this out after taking a beating at Hell in a Cell. Dominik has been featured prominently, so he will undoubtedly be the rookie on the squad. Rollins is a staple and led the team last year, The Hurt Business could be in title matches and the remaining two spots would go to Owens and Garza, Crews, Ali or Ricochet.
NXT's prime options are Adam Cole, Austin Theory, Bronson Reed, Cameron Grimes, Isaiah "Swerve" Scott, Jake Atlas, Johnny Gargano, Kushida, Kyle O'Reilly, Roderick Strong, Santos Escobar, Timothy Thatcher, Tommaso Ciampa and Velveteen Dream.
Going with the biggest names, that fivesome would be Cole, Gargano, Ciampa, Velveteen Dream with a fifth person to get a bonus spotlight like Grimes, Reed, Scott or Thatcher.
On SmackDown, you have AJ Styles, Big E, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, Daniel Bryan, King Corbin, Matt Riddle, Otis, Sami Zayn, Sheamus and possibly The Miz and Morrison if they aren't in the tag title scene.
Given that list, let's say the blue brand's representatives are Styles, Big E, Corbin, Riddle and Sheamus, as Strowman may still do Raw Underground stuff instead.
The winning team is entirely dependent upon the rest of the winners. However, the edge goes to Raw; if Lee is on the team, WWE might want to book him as the sole survivor to accentuate his push.
Women's Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match
There's even less of a chance Retribution will factor into the women's division as only two female Superstars have been shown at any given time when that group attacks, meaning it's safe to say Raw vs. NXT vs. SmackDown applies for this elimination match too.
Again, assuming there are no drafts to change the rosters, here are some possible layouts for these picks.
- Raw: Bianca Belair, Billie Kay, Charlotte Flair (if available), Lana, Liv Morgan, Mandy Rose, Mickie James, Natalya, Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler (even if they're still tag team champions), Peyton Royce, Ruby Riott and Zelina Vega
- NXT: Aliyah, Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, Mercedes Martinez, Mia Yim, Raquel Gonzalez, Rhea Ripley, Shotzi Blackheart, Tegan Nox and Xia Li
- SmackDown: Alexa Bliss, Bayley or Sasha Banks, Carmella, Dana Brooke, Lacey Evans, Naomi, Nikki Cross and Tamina
For Raw, let's go with Belair, Natalya or Rose, Peyton Royce and either Morgan and Riott or Jax and Baszler. The other duo could be in a tag title defense.
NXT's five stand out as LeRae, Kai, Yim, Ripley and Blackheart, but an easy argument can be made for Martinez or Nox to take one of those spots.
SmackDown will probably be Bliss, Carmella, Evans, Naomi and Cross.
Last year, the women of NXT won. This year, it might be Raw's turn, with someone like Belair as the featured player.
Bonus Kickoff Matches
At least one match should take place on the Kickoff, and there are two options that would make sense.
One is to have Santos Escobar defend the Cruiserweight Championship against a Raw and SmackDown Superstar who would make the 205-pound limit. That's happened in the past and would be a good means to give one of NXT's charismatic champions a solid victory on the pre-show.
The other inter-brand three-way would be for the Women's Tag Team Championship to be on the line in a similar scenario.
The belts can be defended on Raw, SmackDown or NXT, so we could see Jax and Baszler (or The Riott Squad) defend against teams like Kai and Gonzalez or Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter from NXT, as well as a team from SmackDown, even if it's a makeshift duo of two random Superstars who aren't in the elimination match.
Then again, there's nothing stopping WWE from just booking a random match between the brands that has no common thread. It could well be just three Superstars in an exhibition, an inter-promotional Battle Royal like last year or any other last-minute oddball idea.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.