WWE Survivor Series 2020: Every Match Ranked

Survivor Series doesn’t really feel like a big 4 anymore, does it?

The show last night was fine, and there were a handful of enjoyable matches, but the whole thing is going to be forgotten about by the end of the week. They didn’t even bother keeping track of which show won this year, which shows you how much of a shit WWE seem to give about the main gimmick of the Pay-Per-View.

Before I start talking about the matches though, I do want to touch on The Undertaker’s final farewell, because I really liked it. I know it wasn’t much when you think about it, but it’s all a character like The Undertaker really needs. Admittedly, I’m not entirely sure why we had to sit through 10 minutes of other legend’s entrances only for them to immediately vanish and never be seen again, but this felt like the ‘series wrap’ on The Undertaker we needed.

After Wrestlemania 36, there was no indication that it was Taker’s last match until the Last Ride documentary came out in the summer, so I liked that we had this. We got that final chance to say goodbye to The Undertaker, and perhaps more importantly, for The Undertaker to say goodbye to The Undertaker. You can criticise the last few years of his career, as the man himself has, but the fact remains that The Undertaker is my favourite wrestler of all time, and is arguably the reason I’m a wrestling fan in the first place. Maybe I’ll do a longer piece about it one day, but for now, I’m glad I got the chance to say goodbye.

Anyway, onto bitching about bad booking!

7 – Team Raw (Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Lacey Evans, Peyton Royce, Lana) def. Team Smackdown (Bianca Belair, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Natalya, Bayley)
(5-on-5 Elimination Tag)

I just don’t understand what the goal was here, no-one benefitted from the way this was booked.

The opening section of the match – before any eliminations happened – was pretty enjoyable wrestling if a little basic. It threw off the trope of one or two competitors getting eliminated early and allowed everyone at least a little bit of time in the ring. However, once the eliminations started coming, things fell apart. I don’t mind Bayley being eliminated first, because quite frankly, she took one hell of a beating leading up that point, however, then Natalya tapped out Peyton Royce with a Sharpshooter so bad that even The Rock would think it laughable. From there, the dominos kept falling as Natalya & Lacey Evans were dropped with just one or two moves each.

Then, we got inarguably the best section of the match, as Team Smackdown did everything in their power to topple Nia. Admittedly, I don’t really like how Nia was booked as a Strowman-level monster here, but it worked for this specific part of the story. Morgan & Riott trying to take her down was very compelling, and a bit heartbreaking when they eventually failed. Then, Bianca went on an absolute tear and I was properly enjoying the match again. Bianca looked like a superhero as she fought off both Baszler & Nia, and Baszler’s elimination was perfect.

But then…BUT THEN…

The finish happened, and now we have to talk about Lana because I genuinely don’t understand what the intention of this booking was. Was it supposed to make us cheer Lana? Because if it was, it utterly failed. I don’t care who’s talking down to her, having her spend the whole match stood on the stairs pouting like a pissy schoolgirl who’s just been told to tuck in their shirt doesn’t endear me to her. On top of that, her winning by accident doesn’t make me like her either. If she had just done something in that final section where she actually caused the double-countout, then it might’ve worked, but the fact is she did literally nothing and then celebrated like she carried the whole team. That’s not someone I want to cheer, and based on the story that was told up until this point, I think cheering her was what WWE wanted.

6 – Bobby Lashley def. Sami Zayn
(United States Champion vs Intercontinental Champion)

Well, this match wasn’t necessarily bad…it just wasn’t very interesting.

The heel vs heel dynamic didn’t work in this match, and I think the reasons are twofold. One was that commentary did not give us a clear narrative. They kept going back and forth on who they were presenting as the marginalized underdog, and who they were presenting as a dishonourable cheat. For the first half of the match, the face commentators were condemning The Hurt Business being around and oppressing Zayn, but as the match progressed, they changed their mind and decided that Sami deserves it because he’s a bit of a jerk.

Two was the fact that both teams tried to heel it up in different ways. Sami was being braggadocious and cowardly, while The Hurt Business was being oppressive and threatening. It meant that I didn’t like either guy and didn’t want them to win. The action in the ring was largely fine, but the match highlights the flaw with crowbarring in a gimmick PPV like this. It would’ve been so easy to avoid this problem, but because WWE already has plans in place for December, they booked themselves in a corner here and it led to a mess of a story.

5 – The Miz won the Dual-Brand Battle Royal
(Kickoff Show)

This may have been a meaningless battle royal, but it was a pretty fun meaningless battle royal.

As always with these kinds of matches, the early stages were full of short exchanges and quick eliminations, then once we started to boil down the competitors, things got more action-packed. Amazingly, almost everyone in the match got a chance to shine, Murphy went on a tear and I liked his small battle with Ziggler & Roode; Nakamura was fairly consistent throughout, making an impact when he was needed; Hardy & Elias touched on their feud again with a small exchange; Chad Gable reminded us that he’s really good at suplexes, and Dominic Mysterio was the MVP of the whole thing.

The way in which The Miz won was pretty easy to see coming, but it was still a good way to do it. Personally, I would’ve preferred to see Dominic get the win, but I certainly can’t argue with keeping Mr Money in the Bank looking strong.

4 – Team Raw (AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, Keith Lee, Sheamus, Riddle) def. Team Smackdown (Jey Uso, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, King Corbin, Otis)
(5-on-5 Elimination Tag)

Well, I knew Team Raw would finally pull it together in this match, but I certainly didn’t expect to see a sweep. It’s the kind of move that I thought I’d be annoyed about, but in reality, who does it hurt? The fact is, the Smackdown team really don’t suffer much from this loss. Seth took the pin voluntarily, and he’s about to take some time off anyway; Corbin can get his ass kicked time and time again, but still come back from it fine; Otis was easily the MVP for his team and only lost because it was 5 on 2, and Jey has this loss play into his story with Roman. The only person you could argue will suffer from it is Owens, but he wasn’t doing anything noteworthy anyway, so I don’t think it’s a big deal.

Once again, the action was fairly basic, but it was still good. There was a consistent pace and it allowed everyone to get a chance to shine. Splitting the eliminations between everyone meant that all of Team Raw looked to be on the same level, and while Keith Lee didn’t get to be the sole survivor, getting the final pin is definitely a good way to go about it. Weirdly, I found myself enjoying Otis’ performance the most in the match, especially when it was down to 5-on-2. However, Jey Uso also did a brilliant job as the final man.

I can’t wait to see them all start beating the crap out of each other on Raw tonight.

3 – The Street Profits def. The New Day
(Raw Tag Team Champions vs Smackdown Tag Team Champions)

Here we have ourselves an uncomplicated, high-quality tag team match.

As opposed to the mid-card titles, where the heel vs heel dynamic ruined the match, this one definitely benefitted from face vs face, as it allowed both teams to mix up their styles a bit. New Day definitely took a more heelish role in the match and I’d honestly forgotten just how good they are at it. Xavier started putting a little extra impact on his moves to make them more hard-hitting, and Kofi’s taunting from ringside was fantastic stuff.

Street Profits knew just the right way to respond to all of it though, and they turned all of New Day’s shots into comebacks for them. They spent a large part of the match getting down, but by the end, the Profits felt like a team of equal quality who completely deserved their win. As always with these kinds of matches, when it broke down towards the later stages in when the match reached its peak. The working of Ford’s rib kept the result constantly in doubt, especially when he couldn’t cover after the splash.

Having Street Profits use a different finisher worked wonders for them too, as it showed their ability to adapt when their opponents throw their plans to the dogs. After spending half the year feuding with the same teams, this was a breath of fresh air that reminded me just how amazing Street Profits are when they’re at their peak.

2 – Sasha Banks def. Asuka
(Raw Women’s Champion vs Smackdown Women’s Champion)

In my predictions, I made no secret of the fact that I wasn’t looking forward to this match due to having seen it a bunch over the summer. However, these two put a lot of work in, and it paid off because this match felt very different to the ones from earlier in the year. Part of this is thanks to the fact that Bayley wasn’t lurking to cost Asuka the match at every opportunity, but also the style they wrestled was very different.

I often struggle to get invested in technical, mat-based affairs, but putting it right at the start of the match pulled me in because of how different it felt. What’s more, is they were able to move through this phase pretty quickly without it feeling rushed. It’s the kind of thing that makes me wish more wrestlers had submission finishers, so we could get stuff like this. The match lulled a bit around the middle, but I don’t mind because things picked up again by the end. The final 5 minutes were very enjoyable and showed a big chunk of what each woman has to offer, which in Asuka’s case is very refreshing given her recent history.

As for the finish, it’s not what I wanted to see, but I don’t think it was the worst. I definitely didn’t want to see either woman tap, especially Asuka, so this seemed like the decent middle ground that didn’t harm the loser too much. It’s the product of the PPV booking WWE into a corner again, and the performers made the best of what they had.

1 – Roman Reigns def. Drew McIntyre
(WWE Champion vs Universal Champion)

In this era of smaller guys working technical, faster-paced matches, it’s easy to forget how fun it can be to watch two jacked dudes beat the piss out of each other for 20 minutes.

The match started out VERY slow, but it was slow with a purpose. The pacing and staring they did with each other created a very tense atmosphere that carried large chunks of the match. I spent the whole opening segments just waiting for the first massive strike to land, but they kept me on the hook with it for a while. The early exchanges were able to hold and build the tension into the explosion we saw later in the match. My interest did fade a bit around the middle with all of the rest-holds, but once things started to build up again, I was sucked right back in.

Once those big strikes started to land, business really picked up. Drew was absolute fire when he started his comeback, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen the man move so fast and they did a perfect job of teasing the Claymore for about 15 minutes of the match. Despite Roman overbearing on huge chunks of the match, it always felt like a matter of time before Drew turned it around on him, and as things reached the climax, they knew exactly how to play with those ideas.

The finish seemed entirely designed to make Drew look incredible in defeat. Roman put him through a table and Speared him through the barricade and Drew still kicked out. Then Roman hit another Spear, at which point I was sure it over, only for Drew to kick out again. On top of that, they made sure to protect the Claymore like nothing else, the only time Drew hit it was when the referee got knocked from the ring, which meant Roman never had to kick out of it, which was brilliant. Jey’s interference was definitely the right choice, given the number of people that could’ve shown up, it brought a resolution to the story set up earlier in the night and gave Drew all the sympathy in the world when he eventually took the pin.

It’s the classic WWE trope of booking themselves into a corner, but then escaping it far better than anyone thought possible. Roman looks like a strong champion and Drew still looks like a near-unbeatable champion despite taking the loss.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back here this time on Friday, where I’ll be running down the best multiplayer modes in video games!

WWE Survivor Series 2020: Predictions & Analysis

We’re just a couple of days away from Survivor Series 2020 and I honestly couldn’t give less of a shit if I tried. The “brand warfare” stuff is boring at the best of times, but at least in previous years then been some proper intensity around it, and at least some semblance of a story. This year, it doesn’t seem like any of the wrestlers care about the matches and are still building to their own independent feuds.

There’s really no build to speak of, because instead of doing sneak attacks or running down Roman Reigns, Orton was too busy fighting off both Drew and The Fiend; only to lose the title and force us to build a new match in a week. The whole endeavour is entirely pointless and come Monday, it will scarcely be mentioned ever again. It’s a classic example of WWE creative having to put all their plans on hold because the calendar says it’s time for everyone to wear red & blue t-shirts while having matches with no steaks.

Still, let’s predict it anyway.

Dual Brand Battle Royal
(Kickoff Show)

Don’t get me wrong, I like a good battle royal, but given they announced this just 48 hours from the show, with no announced participants, I can’t think this is going to be thought through. They haven’t even specified if it’s men or women involved. I mean, given that there aren’t enough women on the roster of a 10-women tag match AND a battle royal, I’m assuming it’s the men, but you never know.

Much like with the Wrestlemania battle royals, there’s really no point trying to logic this one out. They never give it to anyone who you’d think would benefit from a win, it’ll just be someone they’ve never given wins to before now and probably won’t start after it’s over.

I think Smackdown is going to come out the overall winner of the night, and my predictions for the rest of the card dictate a Smackdown wrestler needs to win here. To me, that gives two potential candidates. The first is Daniel Bryan since he’s almost certainly about to be going after Roman Reigns over the winter, but given how he’s being booked on Smackdown, he doesn’t really need it. Instead, I’m simply going to go with who I want to win it, which is Big E.

The New Day vs The Street Profits
(Raw Tag Team Champions vs Smackdown Tag Team Champions)

A tag team match in WWE that I’m actually excited for? Well, colour me impressed.

I know WWE treat tag team wrestling like it’s not worth anything, but The New Day are at the point where they’ve got a bit of licence to get more time and the likes. In many ways, The Street Profits feel like New Day’s eventual successors. They’re perhaps not as funny, but Montez Ford is one of the most charismatic men on the roster right now and they seem to have perfected their ‘fast guy, muscle guy’ dynamic, which makes for some really entertaining in-ring work. Ultimately, it just depends on whether or not they’re given enough time. Although, given that the 5 on 5 matches tend to take upwards of half an hour, I’m not optimistic.

The problem I face with picking most of these matches is that the complete meaningless of the whole endeavour means there’s no real rationale for who should win. I honestly think I’d have better luck flipping a coin than trying to think it through. I guess I’ll go for The Street Profits purely because they’ve got more to gain from winning. No loss could hurt The New Day at this point in their careers and it would be a big win for the younger guys.

Bobby Lashley vs Sami Zayn
(United States Champion vs Intercontinental Champion)

I honestly don’t know what to say about this one. Sami Zayn’s done a better job of building it on Twitter than anything that’s been said on TV.

I don’t understand what the plan is for The Hurt Business. I mean, I know the real answer to that is that there isn’t a plan, but I don’t see a long-term goal for this faction anymore. It just feels like it’s going along with the only purpose of preserving Lashley’s US title reign, which has been pretty underwhelming as it is. What really gets me though, is that if there are no long-term plans for them, why on Earth have they been absolutely dominating Retribution every week? Does Vince just hate Mustafa Ali that much?

Sami Zayn’s been doing much better on Smackdown, but that feels more like by default. His charisma and promo ability are more than enough to carry whatever he’s involved in to be good, and as much as it’s easy to forget, he is a world-class wrestler. Sadly, there’s no way the outcome is anything other than Bobby Lashley winning. WWE management just doesn’t think a guy like Sami can beat a guy like Lashley, and I can’t see them changing their mind now.

Asuka vs Sasha Banks
(Raw Women’s Champion vs Smackdown Women’s Champion)

I would be excited for this match if we hadn’t already seen it a bunch of times this year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it will still be good, these are two of the best women’s wrestlers in the world after all, but the shine is definitely off the apple by this point.

I went back and forth on this one a lot. On the face of it, it seems like Sasha would be the favourite, as she’s actually been on TV every week doing noteworthy stuff, unlike Asuka, who’s just been around and doing nothing of any importance. However, I actually think Sasha’s story is why she’s going to lose. Both Bayley and Carmella are still on Banks’ tail, and I could easily see them both getting involved in this match. Admittedly, it won’t be the best look for Asuka to win this way, but I think it’s consistent with her character. Sasha Banks caused her a lot of trouble over the summer, why should Asuka respect her now, just because Bayley turned on her?

Team Raw (Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Peyton Royce, Lacey Evans & Lana) vs Team Smackdown (Bianca Belair, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Natalya & Bayley)
(5-on-5 Elimination Tag)

And here we come to the elimination tag team matches. The matches that are sometimes utter brilliance, but 90% of the time are people getting pinned after one or two moves when they’d normally be a lot more resilient.

The biggest problem I have about the brand vs brand matches this year is how the teams have had absolutely no interaction with each other. Now, I’m not saying I wanted full-on brand invasions every week, I think we can all agree those are quite tiresome, but throughout the entire build, Drew McIntyre is the only person to appear on a brand that isn’t their own. On top of that, the booking of both teams has been so lop-sided. Team Raw have been interacting and telling somewhat of a story for the whole month, meanwhile, Team Smackdown didn’t even have a full line-up until yesterday.

Of course, just because Team Raw actually have a story, that doesn’t mean it’s any good. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing Lana get beat up as much as the next guy, but who cares? I don’t understand what they’re building up to here, is Lana going pull out a Dolph Ziggler level performance and sweep the Smackdown team? Or is Jax just going to keep beating the shit out of her? Given how they’ve treated Lana this year, I honestly think the latter is more likely.

I’ve gone back and forth on both of the tag matches all week, but I’m going to settle on Team Smackdown as the winners for this one, and I’ll take a punt and say Bianca Belair & Bayley will be the survivors. My thought is that Lana will get sick of Nia’s shit and somehow cause her to be eliminated, giving Smackdown the advantage they need to win, because at least that gives the tag champs something to do going forward from here.

Team Raw (AJ Styles, Keith Lee, Braun Strowman, Sheamus, Riddle) vs Team Smackdown (Kevin Owens, Jey Uso, King Corbin, Seth Rollins, Otis)
(5-on-5 Elimination Tag)

Once again, Team Raw has a bit of a story, Team Smackdown has just been largely doing their own thing in the build.

The stories between both of Raw’s teams are quite similar, but the difference is that the women’s team is only teasing falling apart, while the men’s team already did fall apart. It’s been a pretty boring story of people coming up with dumb nicknames for each other and arguing over who’s the captain, but at least Retribution got a win out of it. I think the focus has been all wrong, the people who need to be built like Lee & Riddle have been pushed to the background to serve Styles, Braun & Sheamus’ bickering and I couldn’t care less about any of it.

Ultimately, the fact that Team Raw already did their ‘falling out’ thing on Monday telegraphs pretty heavily that they’re going to pull it out of the bag and win on Sunday. If I were to guess, I think someone like Styles or Braun will be eliminated shockingly early and the rest of the team will pull together to bring it back. I’m going to pick Keith Lee to be the sole survivor for this one, because why the hell not? The fact is, no-one on Team Smackdown needs the win. Jey Uso looks great alongside Reigns no matter what, Rollins is about to take some time off to be a father, Owens isn’t in a great spot right now anyway, and I couldn’t care less about Corbin or Otis.

Drew McIntyre vs Roman Reigns
(WWE Champion vs Universal Champion)

I must admit, going from the least anticipated match on Wrestlemania 35 to the most anticipated match of Survivor Series has been quite the character transformation for both these guys.

Genuinely, this is the one match I actually have high hopes for. I think WWE is big on making both of these guys look like world-beaters and their brutal in-ring styles should clash in the best way possible, even if we do get a wonky finish. I know I moaned in the intro about only having one week to build this match, but the contract signing on Smackdown did a pretty good job of it. Drew has his usual simmering charisma to him, and Reigns was absolutely slaying on the mic.

Roman Reigns is definitely winning though. He’s been built up as someone truly unbeatable and there’s no way they’d waste that on a meaningless match like this. While it’s not the best look for Drew, he’s proven once already he can recover from a big loss and be absolutely fine straight after, so I’m not worried about that. You could have Jey, Orton or The Fiend get involved to protect Drew a bit, but even if they didn’t, I think Drew will be just fine.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you think is going to happen on Sunday, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back this time on Monday, where I’ll be giving you my review of the show.

WWE Survivor Series 2019: Predictions & Analysis

As the end of the year draws near, WWE brings us another annual Survivor Series, a PPV which – for the last couple of years at least – has always been much better than it has any right to be. This year looks to be no different as there are already several matches on this show which have match of the year potential in my eyes.

Adding NXT to the mix was a stroke of genius as not only did it make TV for this month more exciting, but it finally put stock to everything WWE’s been saying this past couple of months about NXT no longer being “developmental” and being on-par with Raw & Smackdown. In addition to this, they’ve abandoned the idea of every match on the show having to be a brand vs brand match, which means there’s a couple of juicy looking title matches for us to get excited about as well.

All this means that there isn’t really a match on this show where I’m entirely certain about the winner, so let’s dig right into the predictions!

The Viking Raiders vs The New Day vs The Undisputed Era
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)

Straight out of the gate with the exciting matches.

So here we’ve got two teams that have already put on a couple of brilliant matches in NXT with Viking Raiders and Undisputed Era and then you add in one of the most consistently brilliant teams of the past decade in WWE with The New Day, how could you possibly not be excited about this match? These are three teams who know everything there is to know about having great tag team matches, my only real fear here is that there’s a chance it could get it’s time cut a little bit given some of the other matches on this show that are likely to go long.

If The Viking Raiders had won the world cup at Crown Jewel, then I would’ve picked them to continue their winning streak here, but since they now have that loss under their belt, that aura of indestructibility they had has faded a lot, especially when you consider that the Raw Tag Titles are the biggest afterthought in all of WWE right now. This leaves us with The Undisputed Era and The New Day and while I think it’s entirely possible The New Day will notch a win here, I’m going with The Undisputed Era to pick up the victory, as I feel like they have the most to lose here, in addition to the fact that I think this match will open the show, so an NXT win straight out of the gate will go a long way to shaking things up for the rest of the night.

AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura vs Roderick Strong
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)

Once again, there’s precisely 0% chance this match won’t be great, these are three of the best pure wrestlers in the world right now, even WWE will struggle to mess this one up.

Styles & Nakamura have proved time after time that they can put on solid matches with each other, so you throw in a guy like Roderick Strong, who can easily keep pace with the two of them and wrestle the exact kind of style they can and you’ve got yourself a winning formula. Then there are the standard benefits that a triple threat match provides, with the pace constantly being at a fever pitch, this should essentially be the awesome Cruiserweight Championship triple threat matches we’ve been getting all year, but turned up to eleven.

This is the only match on this show where I feel fairly confident in saying that I don’t think NXT will win. I don’t think that’s any kind of reflection on Strong, but NXT need to take a couple of losses on the night and I think Strong losing this match here will matter the least in the grand scheme of things. In fact, I can honestly say I’m pretty damn confident in picking AJ Styles to win this one. WWE has been extremely high on Styles for a good couple of years now and the past couple of months have shown that enthusiasm isn’t dying down any time soon, so a strong win for the guy here feel like the obvious choice.

Team Raw vs Team Smackdown vs Team NXT
(Women’s 5 on 5 on 5 Elimination Tag)

This is a lot of wrestlers…

The main problem I always have with Survivor Series elimination matches is how inept and weak it makes some of the wrestlers look. For the wrestlers who last in the matches for a long time, it’s great, but for the wrestlers who get eliminated in the first 10 or so minutes, it’s horrible. Generally, the first half of these matches are some very basic chain wrestling, followed by 3 or 4 wrestlers getting pinned to a single signature after about 2 minutes of time in the ring, sometimes not even that. So with 15 wrestlers in the mix instead of just 10, I can only expect this problem to be even worse.

That said, once the early eliminations are out of the way the action tends to pick up quite significantly and I almost always have a lot of fun watching the latter halves of these matches. In addition to this, there’s some great opportunities here to have some really intense confrontations between people we’ve never got a chance to see go at it, like Rhea Ripley & Nikki Cross, or Candice LaRae & Charlotte Flair, or Io Sharai & literally anyone.  The confrontation last night’s Smackdown implied that NXT’s team would be Rhea Ripley, Mia Yim, Candice LaRae, Tegan Nox & Toni Storm, but WWE has only officially announced Ripley as a participant, with the rest “TBD”, which almost certainly means they haven’t made their minds up yet whether they’ll include heels like Io or Belair yet.

This factor does make things a little harder to predict, however, I don’t think Team NXT will win this one regardless since most of them will be beaten down from WarGames the night before, but in a more general sense I think there are people on the other teams that need the wins more right now. As for the other two teams I’m quite torn. Team Smackdown has Sasha Banks who, after losing HER feud to Becky could really do with a win and Nikki Cross, who is being built up a bit more as a singles star. That said, Team Raw has Charlotte Flair, and it’s hard to bet against Charlotte Flair. When you consider this alongside the fact that the tensions between Nikki & Sasha have been played up significantly, I think everything points towards Team Raw coming out on top, most likely with Charlotte & Natalya being the survivors.

Team Raw vs Team Smackdown vs Team NXT
(Men’s 5 on 5 on 5 Elimination Tag)

I mean, if we’re looking at this from a purely kayfabe standpoint, Team Raw should walk this one.

Once again, this is a match that suffers from the WarGames problem, as they can’t announce anyone for Team NXT as there’s a good chance one or more people could get messed up by WarGames. That said, assuming no-one gets injured I’d say that Saturday’s Team Ciampa, with an added Matt Riddle seems like a pretty solid bet to me. In terms of how good I think the match is going to be, you can pretty much just copy/paste what I said about the women’s match, it’ll start off kind of boring, but become really fun by the end.

I’m struggling to determine who I think is going to win this one. My gut says that it’s definitely not going to be Team Raw, but I don’t really have any logic for that, other than they don’t exactly have anything to lose from a business standpoint. Smackdown has only just moved to FOX and I’m sure WWE would like to please FOX by making their show look like it’s better than both of USA’s shows, but at the same time, such a big deal has been made out of NXT invading and showing that they’re just as good as the other two brands that a loss here could be very damaging; and I’m sure WWE wants to do everything they can to make sure their ratings victory over AEW Dynamite on Wednesday isn’t a one-off.

I’m going to go with Team NXT to take this win, but just know that I’m not very confident in that pick at all.

Becky Lynch vs Bayley vs Shayna Baszler
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say this has all the potential in the world to be the match of the year. Let’s take a look at what we’ve got here. We’ve got a woman whose been the biggest star in the whole industry for the past year in Becky Lynch; A fantastic wrestler whose character has recently gotten a new burst of life in Bayley; and one of the best heel wrestlers on the planet right now in Shayna Baszler. This match is going to tear all the houses down.

These three women have dominated their respective brands for the majority of the year so this match really feels like it’s a clash of the titans. I’m expecting tonnes of exciting action all the way through this with all three competitors getting plenty of licks in and hopefully, this will get plenty of time to do it all.

This brings us to the matter of who wins because I can honestly make a pretty solid case for all three women. There’s Bayley, who hasn’t had a big opportunity to show her stuff since turning heel and for the past month, she’s been somewhat undercut by Baszler showing up, so a win here would do her the world of good. Then there’s Baszler, who is currently amidst a long-running streak of dominance that’s become the focal point of every NXT Women’s storyline, so having her lose here would certainly do significant damage to that in the short-term. Finally, there’s Becky Lynch, who’s still the biggest star in WWE, so her winning would be no surprise.

Ultimately, Becky is never going to be damaged by a loss, especially one where she probably won’t take the fall. As much as it’d suck to see Baszler lose, she’s been made out as being such a huge deal on Raw & Smackdown this past month that as long as she gets a strong showing, her losing won’t be the end of the world. Which is why I’m picking Bayley. The fact that Shayna & Becky have been treating her as an afterthought is something that’s been played up a fair bit for this whole build and I think that will be the deciding factor, allowing Bayley to sneak in at the right moment and pick up the win.

Adam Coles(c) vs TBD
(NXT Championship)

This is a fantastic decision.

For the past couple of months, we’ve heard so much from WWE about how NXT is now the equal “3rd brand” but there hasn’t been much but empty words behind it until this point. I’m very glad that Cole didn’t just get shoved in the elimination tag match and more importantly, the NXT title is being treated just as important as the other two world titles, getting it’s own featured match between two of the brand’s top stars.

While Cole could end up facing any of the three men in the triple threat match, I think it’ll probably be Pete Dunne, partly because he’s that perfect mix between someone the fans might’ve heard of, but isn’t an already established wrestler on the main roster like Killian Dain is. On top of that, I think Cole vs Dunne will be a brilliant match, even if it doesn’t get as much time as it would on a Takeover.

That said, I can’t see the title changing hands on this show. Dain & Priest definitely won’t pick up the NXT title anytime soon and while I could see Dunne potentially getting a run with the strap I highly doubt it’ll happen this soon after his mammoth UK Championship reign. Not to mention that WWE has absolutely been pushing Adam Cole & The Undisputed Era as the featured NXT stars of this whole “invasion” angle, so I’m pretty confident in picking Adam Cole for this one.

Brock Lesnar(c) vs Rey Mysterio
(WWE Championship)
(No Holds Barred)

In a strange twist, Survivor Series has become a show where we can consistently expect one thing: great Brock Lesnar matches. His matches against AJ Styles in 2017 and against Daniel Bryan in 2018 were both fantastic lengthy wrestling matches and while his 2016 match against Goldberg wasn’t a clinic it certainly blew us all away. So as we sit here in 2019, Lesnar has a title match against none other than Rey Mysterio, a wrestler who wrestles a similar, small-guy, fast-paced style to Styles & Bryan and has shown absolutely no signs of slowing down with age.

Lesnar always works best when he’s fighting guys significantly smaller than him and they don’t get much smaller than Mysterio, not to mention that these two also worked together a couple of times during Lesnar’s first run in WWE in 2002-2004, so there’s tonnes of potential here for something really great to come out of this.

This is one of the two matches on this show that I’m pretty confident about picking a winner for. While it’s true that Lesnar is no longer the indestructible monster he once was, I don’t see Mysterio picking up the WWE title any time soon. I’ve no idea what the end-game is for Lesnar in this title reign, but the fact remains that he’s still where the money is and it makes sense for him to hold on to this title until at least Wrestlemania. Although I wouldn’t consider it a major shock for Mysterio to win this one, I’m sticking to old reliable and picking Brock Lesnar to retain.

The Fiend Bray Wyatt(c) vs Daniel Bryan
(Universal Championship)

Yes!

I’ve never got much of a chance to talk about it, but one of my favourite matches from this past decade was Daniel Bryan vs Bray Wyatt at Royal Rumble 2014, it was the match that made me realise how brilliant of a wrestler Bray Wyatt really was and I’m so excited that we get to see it again, only this time for a world title and with Bray’s extremely exciting new character and style.

It’s going to be really interesting to see how The Fiend’s style meshes with Bryan’s because on the surface, it doesn’t seem like they should; but if anyone can make it work, it’s the man I constantly herald as the best wrestler in the world today. The main feeling I’ve got from all of The Fiend’s matches so far is that they’re something “different”, sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s bad, but it’s always a really interesting thing to watch unfold.

That said, as much as I think the match will be great, I’m entirely confident in saying The Fiend Bray Wyatt will walk away as the champion. There’s a chance that this will be a non-finish so the feud can run longer, probably to a TLC match next month, but there isn’t a chance in hell that The Fiend is losing that Universal title anytime soon.

So there you have it! Those are my predictions for Survivor Series 2019, thank you very much for taking the time to read this article, please let me know what you think will happen on Sunday either on Twitter @10ryawoo or in the comments below! Finally, make sure to come back tomorrow for my review of NXT Takeover: WarGames III!

NXT Takeover: WarGames III: Predictions & Analysis

Man, it feels like forever since we’ve had one of these.

Survivor Series has come which, potentially for the last time ever, we’ve got ourselves a classic NXT Takeover! It’s no secret that Takeovers are my favourite wrestling shows in the world right now and while I’m not the biggest fan of WarGames, they’re always chaotic and fun matches, so I’m not going to complain.

The circumstances surrounding this show are a little odd since almost everyone that’s wrestling on this show is also wrestling the next night on Survivor Series, so it does make me wonder if things are going to be played a bit safer, especially when it comes to the WarGames matches.

NOTE: Just a quick bit of admin, but I’m going to have to change the days these predictions get released. Since Smackdown now airs at 1AM on Saturday in the UK, I’m going to push back the Takeover predictions to Fridays and the main roster predictions to Saturday. Hopefully, I’ll still be able to get the Takeover review up on Sunday, but it might move to Tuesday if I don’t have the time.

Still, let’s go ahead and predict the winners!

Damian Priest vs Pete Dunne vs Killian Dain
(Winner faces Adam Cole for the NXT Championship at Survivor Series)

This match is a little bit of an odd one, especially by Takeover standards.

This feud is one that’s had a very simple build by NXT standards, with Dunne & Preist trading victories on Wednesday nights and Dain forcibly inserting himself into situations at every opportunity. I think this whole show suffers from being at the whims of whatever Vince McMahon suddenly decides what he wants for Survivor Series. NXT has always had a feeling that stories were planned out at least a bit in advance, but now what happens at this show has to directly impact whatever Vince wants for Sunday.

That I said, I don’t think there’s any doubt that this will be a great match. The one on one matches that Dunne and Priest have had with each other this month have been great across the board, so adding in a big guy like Dain will only make things more exciting. Dain specifically is someone who spent a couple years on Raw & Smackdown getting no opportunities to anything noteworthy, so I’m hoping this will be when he reminds the fanbase at large that he’s a brilliant wrestler that can keep pace and match quality with NXT’s finest.

If there were no additional stipulation to this match, I would almost certainly pick Dain to win, but with the added twist that the winner of this match gets an NXT title match on Sunday (a twist I’m overjoyed about) things have to be looked at slightly differently. Ultimately, I have to look at it from the perspective of “Who will showcase the best of what NXT has to offer on a big stage?” to which the answer is 100%, Pete Dunne. Damian Priest is a fantastic wrestler, but he still needs time to establish himself as a force in NXT and the Raw & Smackdown fanbase already know Killian Dain and associate him with a jobber-level tag team that never did anything of note. On top of that Cole vs Dunne is a match I’ve desperately wanted for ages so to see it at Survivor Series should be awesome.

Matt Riddle vs Finn Balor

So this is a case of unfortunate circumstances (in this case, Johnny Gargano’s injury) taking something potentially awesome away from us, but in all honestly, I think this has just as much potential behind it.

Even during his initial run in NXT, I felt that Finn Balor never had a truly great match. He had plenty of extremely good ones, don’t get me wrong, but he never had an “above-and-beyond” kind of match that we’ve come to see from NXT in the years since. That said, I think this has all the potential in the world to be that match for Balor.

Riddle has such a unique in-ring style that it always forces his opponents to step up their game to match him, occasionally this results in a match that doesn’t quite click, but with a top-level wrestler like Balor, it should elevate the match into something special. Since the story for this match was built around Balor & Gargano, it’s a little hard to use story reasons to justify either result. Riddle suffers a little in NXT from being someone who can seemingly take loses without having it hurt his stock in any way and I don’t think it would be a good idea to have Balor lose his first big feud since returning, so I’m picking Finn Balor to come away from this one with the win.

Tommaso Ciampa & Keith Lee & Dominick Dijakovic & TBD vs The Undisputed Era
(WarGames)

This match feels really thrown together.

I know that all WarGames matches are a bit like that purely through virtue of the number of people needed in the match, but there’s usually at least some level of storyline cohesion between the participants on the teams. I’m not referring to The Undisputed Era to be clear, because Team Ciampa seems the epitome of “people who didn’t have anything else to do”.

While I’m totally fine with Ciampa gunning for The Undisputed Era at every turn, I do find it a little weird that a lone-wolf character like him is suddenly fine with working with three other guys, none of whom are named Johnny Gargano. Keith Lee backed up Ciampa once for…shits and giggles? So now they’re best friends and Dijakovic is also there for no real reason other than to fill out the numbers. Finally, there’s the mystery 4th man.

There’s plenty of theories going around as to who it could be, but I honestly don’t think it’s going to be any kind of huge shock since Riddle was originally supposed to be in that spot before Gargano got injured so it’s not like there’s some grand plan behind it. The most popular theory right now is that it will be someone from Raw or Smackdown who will turn traitor and join NXT, Kevin Owens being the prime candidate, but I think a twist like that will be on Survivor Series itself, not this show. Looking through the NXT roster, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott seems the most likely candidate, since he’s been in a couple of tag matches with some of the guys on Team Ciampa this past month, but that’s about it.

As for a winner, I don’t know, because this honestly feels like a lose-lose situation to me. At the time of release, NXT’s team for the 5 on 5 on 5 match hasn’t been announced, but I think it’s extremely likely that at the three men currently announced for Team Ciampa will be on it, so either you have UE look weak going into their champion vs champion matches, or have the elimination matches’ team look weak.

Combine that with the fact that the people in this match will have to play it slightly safer than usual so they’re not messed up for Survivor Series the next night and it really seems like this show should’ve been moved to mid-December or something because the current situation hasn’t done anyone any favours. I’m going to go with what fits NXT’s stories best for the time being and say Team Ciampa will win so Ciampa can stake a claim for Cole’s title in the coming months.

Rhea Ripley & Tegan Nox & Candice LaRae & Mia Yim vs Shayna Baszler & Bianca Belair & Io Shirai & Kay Lee Ray
(WarGames)

So you know all of the complaints I made about the men’s WarGames match, pretty much ditto for this.

The difference here is that I have more confidence that this will be a damn good match regardless of the circumstances. This is partly because I think all of the wrestlers involved in this match are brilliant, but also because whenever we get one of these “first-ever” women’s matches the wrestlers involved go all out to make sure it’s something memorable and that goes double for NXT.

Besides this, there’s a much greater sense of story to this match, the Ripley/Baszler feud is one that’s been simmering for a while now and this is a great stepping stone on the path to their eventual one-on-one match. It also works great as the ending point for the Candice/Io feud, after having two excellent matches, this feels like a good way to top it off, especially when you consider that Io’s initial turn happened in a Steel Cage. Admittedly it is a little weird that Io & Belair are teaming Baszler when you consider that they’ve pretty much exclusively been enemies in the past, but I’m slightly more forgiving of that fact here because it serves the greater story well.

I’m torn when it comes to picking a winner, much for the same reasons as I was for the men’s match, except in this instance, I think women from both sides will be in the elimination matches on Sunday. So once again, I’m going to go with what serves NXT’s stories better and say Team Ripley wins this one because otherwise, Ripley doesn’t have much of a claim for a shot at Baszler’s title going forward.

And there you have it! Those are my thoughts on NXT Takeover: Wargames III, thank you very much for taking the time to read this article, let me know what you think is going to happen either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo! Finally, make sure to come back tomorrow for my Survivor Series predictions!