1) So explain who is battling and why is this different than previous Survivor Series?
The majority of the matches are the traditional Survivor Series Elimination matches. This year round things are different due to the brand split, which pits the wrestlers on RAW against the SmackDown roster. First up are the men’s teams, with Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Chris Jericho, and Roman Reigns representing RAW. Team SmackDown is composed of AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, and Shane McMahon.
The women’s teams are: Charlotte, Bayley, Nia Jax, Sasha Banks, and Alicia Fox representing RAW. SmackDown has Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, Nikki Bella, Naomi and Carmella in its corner.
The final Elimination match is the Tag Teams. RAW has The New Day, Gallows & Anderson, Sheamus & Cesaro, Enzo & Cass, and the Shining Stars. SmackDown’s team features American Alpha, Rhyno & Heath Slater, The Hype Bros, Breezango, and the Usos.
The singles matches sound even more interesting, with Brian Kendrick (RAW) defending the Cruiserweight title against Kalisto (SmackDown). SmackDown’s The Miz is set to defend his recently-regained Intercontinental belt against RAW’s Sami Zayn. And the big marquee match, of course, is Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar.
This year’s Survivor Series is different for a number of reasons. Mainly, the pitting of each brand against one another stands out. WWE has been playing up some imagined rivalry between the two programs, but with the realization of these matches, things are finally being demonstrated physically. There’s also the notability of Goldberg’s return to the WWE for the first time in over a decade, which places even higher stakes on his rematch with Brock Lesnar. The fact that each brand has a title on the line, and could lose a belt to their rival brand is pretty significant. Also, the whole thing is scheduled for four hours, which is usually reserved for the Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, and Summer Slam.
2) What is at stake for each team and some of the individuals?
The biggest stakes are the bragging rights/supposed superiority of one brand over the other. Interestingly, no world or universal titles are at stake on the card, which keeps the focus on the RAW vs. SmackDown rivalry rather than any brand-specific contenders to titles. This whole idea finally gives some weight to the idea that the brands are in competition, and are physically settling the matter in a ring. Also worth considering is the total shaking up of the face-heel dynamic achieved by pitting oppositely-aligned rivals (especially Sasha and Charlotte) on the same teams in the name of brand representation. We’ve seen conflicts between team members in the past, and now that sworn rivals are forced to cooperate against a supposedly common foe, it’ll be interesting to see how the wrestlers work together.
The biggest stakes, however, rest on the singles matches. Firstly, the Cruiserweight and Intercontinental titles stand a chance of switching brands, which could alter each’s program’s roster and overall presentation. The Miz winning back the IC belt was a surprise, and it seems like they really want to keep it on him. However, RAW wouldn’t be undeserving of the title, and Sami Zayn is exactly the type of performer who would benefit from the win. Zayn is incredible in the ring, and is exactly the type of wrestler the belt used to help: not main event status, but an impressive mid-card worker. Plus, he hasn’t won any titles since making it to the main roster, which stands at odds with his NXT credentials.
The Cruiserweight match is similar, especially with the threat of the title changing brands. There was debate that the division should have started on SmackDown, and that’s hard to argue with, given the back-seat treatment it’s been given on RAW. This would be a good opportunity to switch things up and give the cruiserweights the chance to shine. SmackDown has the thinner roster of the two brands, so it would be a wise move overall to move things over to them.
Goldberg vs. Lesnar is a mixed bag. Goldberg’s return has been teased for months, and anytime Lesnar gets in the ring the company makes a huge deal out of it. So this is actually a huge marquee match. The problems lie in its build-up, which has only been a few weeks. They could have taken time to ratchet up the anticipation, but a quick payoff seems more in line. Also, their previous match at Wrestlemania XX was abysmal (words really can’t sum it up), so you have to wonder how they’ll handle that knowledge. It’s a huge draw, and should be worth watching, but something just doesn’t feel right about the whole thing, especially if this is a one-off for Goldberg as has been rumored.
3) Will this have any impact on the Wrestlemania Card?
The build to Wrestlemania has definitely already started, and there are a number of things to pay attention to here. First is the Undertaker’s return on the SmackDown go-home show, which definitely starts the build to his next opponent (if he’s to be featured at all). Plus, there’s the chance that he’ll make an appearance at the PPV Sunday.
There are also rumors that the company is planning to kick a major storyline into motion at Survivor Series, which undoubtedly seems like a nod to the biggest event of the year. People have been saying that Lesnar’s Wrestlemania opponent has been locked-in for some time, so maybe we’ll finally get an inkling of who that specifically is. Maybe Goldberg’s return will be revealed as more than a one-time thing, and that potential Undertaker match could take place.
If either the Crusierweight or IC belt were to change hands, it seems likely that a long-term rivalry between brands to regain their “rightful” property would be set in motion. What better place to settle that dispute than at Wrestlemania?
Less concrete is the idea that among the brand-specific teams there’s likely to be continuing animosity. So any mistake or wrong move could set a new feud into motion or prolong a current one, possibly into the Wrestlemania season.