Raw vs. SmackDown: Who Has Better Champions Entering WWE Survivor Series?
Although the annual battle for brand supremacy holds no stakes, one thing fans can count on every November at WWE Survivor Series is exceptional in-ring action, particularly when it comes to the clash of champions.
Since 2016, WWE has paired off the titleholders from Raw and SmackDown in matches against each other. The Raw and SmackDown tag team champions will collide along with the women's champions from each brand, the intercontinental champion with the United States champion, and finally the WWE champion with the universal champion.
This year will be no exception and all of the champion vs. champion matches on tap for this Sunday are bound to be barn-burners given who will be involved. Each one of them will have the chance to cement their superiority and prove why they represent the better brand.
On paper, it's debatable as to whether Raw or SmackDown has the stronger champions. It's dependent on how they've been booked, how many successful title defenses they've had, if they've had any memorable matches and notable storylines, among other factors.
Before they wage war at Survivor Series, let's look at each set of champions from WWE's two biggest brands in an attempt to determine who has the advantage.
The Usos vs. RK-Bro
The tag team scenes on SmackDown and Raw aren't particularly strong at the moment, and both pairs of champions are suffering from a lack of competition.
Collectively known as RK-Bro, Riddle and Randy Orton have been one of the bright spots on the red brand since joining forces in April and entering the tag team ranks. They went undefeated as a duo before becoming Raw tag team champions at SummerSlam in August by beating AJ Styles and Omos.
Unfortunately, as entertaining as they have been together outside of the ring, that's the only feud they've had since then.
The duo have had their hands full with Styles and Omos in a series of mediocre matches and have only recently gotten embroiled in a rivalry with The Street Profits, whereas The Usos have featured prominently alongside Roman Reigns on SmackDown.
Jey and Jimmy Uso reunited in the spring and regained the gold at Money in the Bank in July. They've defended the titles against the likes of the Mysterios and The Street Profits and had terrific matches every time.
This will be a hotly contested clash come Sunday, but The Usos have been the better champions up to this point.
Advantage: The Usos (SmackDown)
Damian Priest vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Damian Priest and Shinsuke Nakamura have been two of WWE's most protected Superstars in 2021, making their upcoming encounter at Survivor Series all the more interesting.
Nakamura is no stranger to representing SmackDown as a champion in the battle for brand supremacy. He walked into the 2018 installment as United States champion and the 2019 edition as the intercontinental titleholder but fell short on both occasions.
When he recaptured the Intercontinental Championship in August, he was on a hot streak and winning more often than not. He remains extremely over with the audience but has lost his last few contests on WWE TV to Happy Corbin, Los Lotharios and Roman Reigns.
Priest, on the other hand, has had no such problem. He also became champion at the end of the summer and has been on a roll ever since, having defended his prize multiple times and being booked to look like a star on the rise.
Regardless of whether it's been Sheamus, Jeff Hardy or Drew McIntyre, The Archer of Infamy has taken on all comers and defeated every one of them. He has consistently delivered and is clearly on the ascent, so this result is a no-brainer.
Advantage: Damian Priest (Raw)
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair
From their early wars in NXT to their many matches on the main roster to their recent sparring on the microphone, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair are no strangers to one another and have made magic any time their paths have crossed.
These accomplished competitors are essentially on the same level as far as their star power and ability are concerned, but their two title reigns have differed in recent weeks.
It was one night removed from the Crown Jewel pay-per-view that Flair and Lynch went face-to-face on SmackDown and awkwardly exchanged title belts after swapping shows in the WWE draft. Since then, Big Time Becks has continued her rivalry with Bianca Belair while Flair has done a whole lot of nothing on SmackDown.
Lynch's one title defense against The EST of WWE on the November 1 edition of Raw was far better than Flair's entire run on the blue brand. The Man has also since transitioned into a rivalry with Liv Morgan while no No. 1 contender to The Queen's title has emerged.
There's still time for Flair to turn things around, but Lynch has outshined her since making the move to Mondays. Expect the former friends to bring their all to Survivor Series.
Advantage: Becky Lynch (Raw)
Big E vs. Roman Reigns
Having been universal champion for well over a year, Roman Reigns has everyone on Raw and SmackDown beat. That said, Big E has had an eventful reign as WWE champion and deserves praise for the work he's done as well.
Big E traded in his Money in the Bank briefcase for a WWE title opportunity in September and didn't squander it. As soon as he became champion, he started accepting challenges from all angles and has had his hands full with many members of the main roster, including The Tribal Chief.
His successful title defenses include impressive wins over Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre. He's also simultaneously feuding with three different people right now in Reigns, Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens.
Of course, The Head of the Table's historic Universal Championship run has been well documented. He has headlined countless shows, defeated multiple former world champions as well as a WWE Hall of Famer, and he's been the most must-see Superstar in all of WWE this year.
His list of victims includes Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, Jey Uso, Drew McIntyre, Kevin Owens, Daniel Bryan, Edge, Cesaro, Rey Mysterio, John Cena, Finn Balor and Brock Lesnar. To even attempt to count how many world titles have been won among those men would be a tall task, a true sign of Reigns' dominance.
Big E will likely go down as being a successful WWE champion if he can continue along the path he's on, but he has a long way to go until he comes close to matching The Tribal Chief's current level of greatness.
Advantage: Roman Reigns (SmackDown)
With Raw getting the advantage in two areas and SmackDown getting the edge in another two, it's a toss-up as to which show has the stronger set of champions.
Given everything he's accomplished over the last year, there can be no doubt Roman Reigns is the best of the bunch. He's had an unbelievable run and is on a level all to himself, but that doesn't mean the rest of SmackDown's champions completely trump those on Raw.
As noted, Damian Priest and Becky Lynch have a clear advantage over Shinsuke Nakamura and Charlotte Flair, respectively, with how they've been booked, their presence on the shows and the amount of title defenses and storylines they've had in recent weeks.
The Usos have been handled a bit better than RK-Bro since SummerSlam, but it's not by a wide margin. Both teams have lacked competition on their respective shows but have made the most of what they've been dealt by producing entertaining matches.
Big E rounds out Raw's champions nicely with how firmly he's been positioned as the face of the flagship show. His reign is just getting underway, and he has played his part to perfection already.
With SmackDown's champions not having the same consistency as Raw's, the red-branded Superstars have to be considered the overall victors.
Final verdict: Raw