In this edition of the Roundtable, the staff discusses everything Survivor Series and gives their predictions.
Do you like the brand vs. brand theme?
Calvin Gibbon: I am a big fan of the new brand vs. brand theme at Survivor Series. I just wish this was an ongoing feature instead of only being part of the story one month out of the year. Raw vs. Smackdown should matter all year round. Imagine the possibilities – coups, trades, invasions and an all-new ratings war! Knowing that any of these things could happen at any time would certainly bring back a sorely needed element of unpredictability to the product.
Jack Goodwillie: I do like the brand vs. brand theme, as even when the individual story lines for each show are lacking such as the case this year, it usually makes for compelling wrestling television. In the past, we’ve had The Authority vs Team Cena and even Team Triple H vs Team Orton to determine which team got to run Raw while Eric Bischoff was on vacation. As compelling as these are, when you’re able to stack two teams on each brand and add some stakes to the match, I think it really makes for a worthy main event. We’re also getting A.J. Styles vs Brock Lesnar out of it, so it’s really tough to complain.
Evan Cross: No, because it seems so forced. Raw and SmackDown always seem to find something to fight about in November. I’d rather a Survivor Series match be a part of a larger feud where the two captains have a long simmering rivalry and recruit others to help them in their fight. Wouldn’t it be better if we were looking forward to…[squints at WWE roster] uh, Team Balor vs. Team Wyatt? Actually, maybe brand vs. brand is the right call.
Anthony Mahalis: I love the brand vs. brand angle. It is much better now that each show has an equal talent level as opposed to years before when you would get nonsense like Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny Laurinitis.
Troy Taroff: I’ve always been a fan of the “brand warfare”. It gives the viewers a chance to see some potential matchups that they don’t see on a weekly basis. It is a very nice change of pace and something I look forward to every year.
John Corrigan: No, it’s a meaningless rivalry like Wrestledelphia and The Wrestling Estate. The former has what, two writers? C’mon now, we have Gibbon.
Was Jinder Mahal’s championship reign a failed experiment?
Gibbon: Yes. Jinder’s championship reign negatively affected Smackdown for the sake of international profits and attention. The WWE fans saw through his character and the arc as not being genuine. Yes, Jinder did his best to garner some real heat and had a few bright spots along the way, but I don’t think the majority of fans ever bought him as a serious champion. I don’t know if his reign made a positive impact in the India market, but in the States and elsewhere, it seemed to simply drive fans away.
Goodwillie: It was a failed experiment and I find it highly questionable that it took corporate all this time to figure out India accounted for nearly a sixth of the world’s population. Unfortunately, so much of the WWE’s bottom line comes in the form of network subscriptions and I have heard that streaming culture is not taken as seriously in India, least as of today. The reality is you cannot draw a line from ethnicity to international drawing power. By that logic, Ho-Ho Lun could have been WWE Champion. You have to be good and when you’re pushing into uncharted territory, you need the face of that movement to leave no doubt in the eyes of all audience members. Jinder’s longevity as champ and working with superior, more experienced wrestlers have exposed all his holes, leaving all walks of audience members to see through that.
Cross: It remains to be seen. His championship run was about as interesting as Brodus Clay’s YouShoot, but if it established him as a top heel that can garner consistent heat, it wasn’t a disaster. I have my doubts, but if Mahal works his way into having solid matches, his character should do the rest of the work.
Mahalis: Absolutely. In terms of pure shock value, I understood Jinder becoming champion, but he had the title for ENTIRELY too long. It was very clear that no one cared nor wanted him to be champion. I also fully expect us all to be disgusted when Mahal wins the title back shortly after Survivor Series.
Taroff: I wouldn’t say it was a complete failure, but his reign was definitely something that could have gone differently. Maybe the month long promos making fun of Shinsuke Nakamura’s facial expressions didn’t help his cause of being a dominant heel champion. Also, with the upcoming India tour, I’m curious to see if WWE slaps the title back on Jinder for promotional purposes.
Corrigan: A failure of epic proportions. Just look at the embarrassingly low attendance for WWE Battleground in Philly, one of the hottest wrestling markets in the world. It’s not Jinder’s fault – you simply can’t make a perennial jobber the world champion and expect fans to buy it.
Will Carmella cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase?
Gibbon: Anything is possible, but in the battle for brand supremacy, I don’t see this happening at Survivor Series. Carmella should wait for a moment when she can a) have the spotlight on her and b) take advantage of the champion while she’s at her weakest. There’s just too much going on at Survivor Series that would distract from a Carmella cash-in. And let’s not forget Carmella already has a busy night as it is.
Goodwillie: I sure hope so. I’m a big critic of the Smackdown women’s division particularly since the “Shake-Up,” and if nothing else, Carmella finally getting her hands on the belt can serve to appropriately “shake things up,” organically.
Cross: No. As interesting as it would be to have her cash in on someone after a champion vs. champion match, it seems too obvious. She has eight months to use it – chances are she holds off.
Mahalis: I am going to say we do not get a cash in. We can all hope, but I think we are more likely to see a cash in on Smackdown.
Taroff: Tough to say, but it’s not out of the question. In the past, Survivor Series has mainly been a “brand vs brand” show, but I wouldn’t put it past WWE to have Carmela maybe cost the Smackdown Women’s Champion by interfering and taking the title just to add more intrigue.
Corrigan: Yes, and she’ll cash in on a beaten and battered Alexa Bliss.
Which match will steal the show?
Gibbon: AJ Styles vs. Brock Lesnar better be a crazy, show stealing barn-burner. Two of the most credible WWE champions in recent history facing off for the first time ever should be an easy layup. If these two can elevate their game, I think we could have a Match of the Year candidate.
Goodwillie: I really believe a lot of people are sleeping on the main event. If you can stack two Survivor Series teams with an abundance of talent, it adds intrigue. Triple H has since been added to Raw, replacing Jason Jordan. I can’t remember this amount of star power in a single Traditional Survivor Series match. If you can, get after me on Twitter!
Cross: The tag title showdown. The Usos always bring it in big matches, and Cesaro and Sheamus have become one of the best tag teams of the 2010s.
Mahalis: I really hope Brock vs. Styles is the show stealer that it should be. My fear is that they have Lesnar squash Styles in under ten minutes. I begrudgingly have faith in WWE and say they won’t screw up this potentially special match.
Taroff: My head says Lesnar vs. AJ just due to sheer awesomeness of it, but my heart is telling me of a match no one is really talking about. Yes… I am talking about the Tag Team Championship matchup between The Bar and The Usos. Both teams have been putting in great matches week in and week out. Go back and look at the match between The Bar and Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose at No Mercy. Also take a look at the trilogy of matches The Usos have had against The New Day. I expect this to absolutely steal the show.
Corrigan: We should all be grateful that we’ll experience one of the last dream matches possible, as AJ Styles gets beaten, victimized and conquered.
Which Team Smackdown member and Team Raw member are you most excited to see square off in the men’s match?
Gibbon: Thanks to recent events on Raw, Triple H vs. Shinsuke Nakamura will absolutely happen and I couldn’t be happier about it! I’m a huge Shinsuke fan and would be over the moon if he ends up hitting the Kinshasa on the King of Kings. It would be an epic moment. In fact, it feels vaguely reminiscent of another epic knee to the face Triple H took at Wrestlemania 30…
Goodwillie: When you line the two teams up, so many lines can be drawn between intriguing encounters. Kurt Angle has history with every single member of Team Smackdown. He is also rumored for a potential Wrestlemania showdown with Triple H, who he’ll be teaming with, so how they get there will be worth monitoring. I am personally looking forward to what kind of car crash/lawn dart stunt Braun Strowman is able to pull off with Shane McMahon.
Cross: It’s incredibly tough to not pick Triple H and Shane McMahon, but I can’t wait for John Cena and Samoa Joe to face off. It’s been my top WWE dream match ever since Joe signed. Shinsuke Nakamura and Braun Strowman is also intriguing.
Mahalis: I am most looking forward to a Nakamura-Balor showdown. I don’t think there is a close second, but now that we have a new entrant, I am also looking forward to The King of Kings clashing with Nakamura.
Taroff: I’ve really wanted to see Strowman and Cena go face to face for a while now and I’m expecting it to happen Sunday. Yes, I know we saw it a few months ago on Raw, but on a big 4 PPV, this could be something amazing. If Cena lifts Strowman up for an AA, expect the roof to come down.
Corrigan: Angle and Cena will be a pleasant stroll down memory lane, a stroll I never expected us to take again.