On the wrestling calendar in WWE, there are 4 pay-per-views every year that have been deemed the “big 4”. The “big 4” includes the Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summerslam, and Survivor Series and are typically the shows that WWE pulls out all the stops for. Survivor Series has a long lineage in WWE and is the 2nd longest running pay-per-view in WWE history since its debut in 1987. Over its 31 years as a staple of the WWE calendar, it has been host to a number of incredible moments including the infamous Montreal Screwjob and the debut of the Undertaker. In recent years, Survivor Series has become known for being the show where superstars from Raw and Smackdown duke it out head to head. With all that being said there are 8 matches scheduled for the event, 7 of which are inter-brand match-ups.
Cruiserweight Champion Buddy Murphy (c) vs Mustafa Ali for the Cruiserweight Championship
In a match that will most likely be relegated to the pre-show, we have Buddy Murphy defending his cruiserweight title against Mustafa Ali.
Ali has been one of the mainstays of the cruiserweight division, having been a major player on 205 Live (the cruiserweight’s own show) since its inception. Ali is known for his spectacular high-flying ability and has been one of the most consistent wrestlers for the purple brand. In recent months, Ali has knocked out the likes of Hideo Itami, Cedric Alexander, and Murphy himself. He earned the chance to face Murphy at Survivor Series after defeating Tony Nese in a solid match on 205 Live a few weeks back.
Buddy Murphy’s road to the cruiserweight championship has been a long one. He’s had his fair share of success, capturing the NXT Tag Team Titles alongside Wesley Blake a few years back. Following that, he muddled around NXT without any notable achievement. That all changed earlier this year, as Murphy received a call-up to 205 Live, the cruiserweight championship tournament that precedes Wrestlemania 34. Murphy captured the gold from then champion Cedric Alexander in his own hometown of Melbourne, Australia at the Super Show-Down in October and has been at the top of the brand since
It feels too early to take the belt off Murphy (who has only held it for over a month) and is finding success as the top heel on 205 Live. Ali can afford the loss and it would be a good way to continue to put Murphy over as a credible heel champion. Perhaps WWE can swing the narrative where the continued failure of Ali becomes his undoing, but that will remain to be seen.
Prediction: Buddy Murphy retains the Cruiserweight Championship
Raw vs. Smackdown Tag Team Survivor Series Elimination Match
Raw: Bobby Roode and Chad Gable, The Ascension, Lucha House Party, The Revival, and the B-Team
Smackdown: The Usos, New Day, Sanity, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, The Colóns
This match has already been confirmed for the pre-show this Sunday, and for good reason. This match has little substance to it, with none of the teams involved gaining any steam ahead of the event, and was more or less put together so that seven inter-brand matches would exist on the card.
A month ago, the Raw Tag Team division was sizzling. The duo of Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre were the champs and were in the midst of an outstanding rivalry with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. Since then, Ambrose and Rollins have split up, while Ziggler and McIntyre have dropped the titles and moved towards the singles competition. Beyond the champions, the division is extremely weak and lacks depth. The problem comes in the presentation. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable are the team with the most momentum but are still a relatively new commodity.
Meanwhile, The Ascension have been treated as a joke since their call-up from NXT in 2013, serving as nothing more than doormats for other tag teams. Lucha House Party were exclusive to 205 Live until just a few weeks ago, where they randomly appeared on Raw and joined the tag team division. While all 3 members are tremendous workers, there is currently nothing special about them. The B-Team were plucked from obscurity and became Raw Tag Team champions over the summer, and since have returned their role at the bottom of the card. The Revival has the most potential on the card, and have been two-time NXT Tag Team champions. However, they have been booked into shambles since debuting on Raw in 2017, failing to the win championships and even served as jobbers for D-Generation X at Raw 25 in January. In other words, they probably won’t pose much of a threat on Sunday.
Smackdown, on the other hand, boasts a team with some elite duos. Smackdown captains Usos are five-time tag team champions. New Day are also five-time tag team champions and are the longest reigning tag team champions in WWE history. Sanity are former NXT Tag Team champions and while they haven’t done all that well since arriving on Smackdown, are an extremely compelling team with their unique gimmick. Gallows and Anderson are former Raw Tag Team champions and are world-renowned from their stint in Japan. The Colóns are the only real weak link on the team, having not won a match on Smackdown since April.
While it would be easy to give this win to a Raw in need of a big win, this seems like Smackdown’s match to win. I expect that Smackdown will emerge victorious, with Sanity and the Usos as the surviving teams.
Prediction: Smackdown wins, with the Usos and Sanity surviving.
Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins (Raw) vs United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura (SD)
In a match that has flown under the radar, two of the most talented workers in WWE will go head to head for the first time ever. The match has been overshadowed by the burgeoning rivalry between former friends Rollins and Dean Ambrose which has become one of the best feuds on Raw in recent weeks.
Rollins, representing Raw, has had a tremendous year, holding matches with wrestlers up and down the roster, and proving that he is indeed one of the company’s premier workhorses. He won the Intercontinental title on two different occasions and became one-half of the Raw Tag Team Champions with Dean Ambrose prior to Ambrose’s betrayal back in October. Nakamura has been United States champion since July when he beat Jeff Hardy for the belt back at Extreme Rules. Since then, Nakamura hasn’t done much in the way of feuds, mostly defending the title on random episodes of Smackdown against Rusev. He currently lacks momentum but has shown on several occasions that when he is given a good opponent, he can put on a thrilling match.
Sadly, it feels like Nakamura is the third man is his own singles match at this pay-per-view as this match is going to be determined by Dean Ambrose, who isn’t even on the Survivor Series card. This match has the ability to steal the show if given the proper time and with a four-hour show, should have time. Nakamura needs the win to get himself going, but any victory will come with help from Ambrose, rather than him beating Rollins cleanly.
Prediction: Nakamura beats Rollins with help from Dean Ambrose
Raw vs. Smackdown Women’s Elimination Match
Raw: Nia Jax, Tamina, Natalya, Mickie James, and Ruby Riott w/Alexa Bliss at ringside
Smackdown: Asuka, Naomi, Sonya Deville, Carmella, and an unnamed partner.
Another last-minute addition to the card, the Raw team was only named on Monday, and it seems that we won’t know the identity of the fifth member of team Smackdown until Sunday.
On paper, this matchup seems kind of lopsided. Nia Jax and Tamina have been presented as dominant forces with their recently formed alliance. The two real-life cousins have been running roughshod over Raw recently, taking out the likes of Ember Moon, Sasha Banks, and Bayley. Also on the team is 6-time Women’s champion Mickie James, and Natalya, who is also a former women’s champion and one of the most respected workers in the business. The problem for team Raw comes in the form of simmering tension amongst its ranks. The fifth member of the team is Ruby Riott, who is currently in the midst of a feud with Natalya. The feud could have potential implications for the team at Survivor Series.
Smackdown’s women’s team is still incomplete at the moment, with the identity of the fifth team member currently unknown. Speculation has been running amok over the potential fifth member. Nikki Cross (a member of Sanity, and made her Smackdown debut a few weeks back), or former NXT Women’s champion Kairi Sane (who would be making her main roster debut) seem to be likely candidates.
While the betting favorite is team Raw in this match, I believe that team Smackdown will pull out the win. I think the combination of feuding teammates and the purported backstage heat on Nia Jax for her role in Becky Lynch’s injury, will lead to team Smackdown pulling this one out. I will say that the debuting Kairi Sane will be the sole survivor.
Prediction: Smackdown wins, with the debuting Kairi Sane as the sole survivor
Raw Tag Team Champions Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) w/Drake Maverick vs Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Bar (Sheamus and Cesaro) w/Big Show
This is the first heel vs heel matchup on the card, and it is an interesting one. The Authors of Pain debuted on Raw after Wrestlemania this year, and immediately dropped their longtime manager Paul Ellering upon their debut. Akam and Rezar aligned themselves with Drake Maverick a few months ago, which helped to give them a new edge on Raw. After a couple of months wallowing in feuds with Titus Worldwide, they finally became tag team champions, defeating Seth Rollins in a two-on-one handicap match a few weeks back. The Authors of Pain are high with management and are a team that will be key come Wrestlemania season.
It is amazing to see where Sheamus and Cesaro are compared to where they started. Their partnership started as a rivalry in the summer of 2016, when they were thrust into a best-of-seven series against one another. The series ended in a draw after the two fought to a no contest in which where neither man could continue. Since then, they have become one of the most decorated tag teams in WWE history. Sheamus and Cesaro ended New Day’s record-setting title reign, defeated the Shield on multiple occasions, and even defeated the legendary Hardy Boyz en route to becoming five-time tag team champions. As a duo, they have developed into one of the most entertaining partnerships in WWE, and have aligned themselves with Big Show. This alliance paid off handsomely, as the addition of Big Show helped the duo win the title from New Day on the 1000th episode of Smackdown.
This seems like the type of match where the Authors of Pain will get a win over a proven, talented tag team. It is the logical move to keep pushing them and help them to continue to get over with the audience. The Bar can afford the loss and it will help the Authors of Pain in the infancy of their title reign.
Prediction: Authors of Pain defeat The Bar in a hard-hitting match
Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey vs Charlotte Flair (Smackdown)
Originally this was set to be a match between Rousey and the Smackdown women’s champion Becky Lynch. However, during an invasion in Raw on Monday night, Lynch was busted open and concussed by a shot from Nia Jax. It was then announced that Flair would take her spot against Rousey at Survivor Series. Flair vs Rousey has long been rumored to be the Wrestlemania main event in April, but plans have shifted the matchup on the calendar.
Rousey is undefeated since her debut at Wrestlemania 34 earlier in the year, and has already gone up against some of the best in WWE. Now, she faces her most fierce challenge in the form of Charlotte, who is a seven-time Women’s champion. This is a dream match of sorts that has been put together with no build due to the untimely injury to Lynch.
In terms of picking a winner, you could flip a coin. Charlotte has been shown to be a high priority for WWE, as she is routinely presented as one of the elite superstars in the company. Her status in WWE makes her a prime candidate to deal Rousey’s first loss. However, it seems like WWE will want to give Rousey’s first loss a huge build-up. It seems more likely that Rousey will win this one for Raw, and will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of the night.
Prediction: Rousey outlasts Flair in an amazing match
WWE Champion Daniel Bryan (SD) vs Universal Champion Brock Lesnar (Raw)
Another match on the card that has been changed within the last week. For weeks, the match was hyped as the rematch between AJ Styles and Lesnar after last year’s thrilling Survivor Series match. Plans were altered when Bryan defeated Styles on Smackdown this past week and became Lesnar’s new opponent. The win was tainted by Bryan’s surprising heel turn, turning the longtime fan favorite into a villain almost instantaneously. Despite his new tactics, Bryan will be the fan favorite in the match, due to the fans’ dislike of the part-time Brock Lesnar.
Bryan’s win over AJ officially marked his first title win following his premature retirement in 2016. Lesnar won the Universal title for the second time at the controversial Crown Jewel pay-per-view in Saudi Arabia a few weeks back.
Brock Lesnar is the favorite in every single match he partakes in. He has beaten some of the greats in WWE history. While it will be interesting to see if heel Bryan attempts to cheat his way to victory, this is a match that seems destined to be won by Lesnar. Lesnar, who stands at 6’3” and 286 pounds, looms over the smaller Bryan (5’8” 210 pounds) and will physically dominate him from the get-go. Lesnar will take this one home for Raw.
Prediction: Lesnar dominates Bryan on the way to victory
Raw vs Smackdown Men’s Elimination Match
Raw: Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Braun Strowman, Finn Bálor, Bobby Lashley
Smackdown: The Miz, Shane McMahon, Samoa Joe, Rey Mysterio, Jeff Hardy
The men’s survivor series match is always one of the most hyped events in Survivor Series every year. This year’s match will see a blend of young and old faces feature on both sides of the card.
Raw’s side is full of power with heavyweights Strowman, McIntyre, and Lashley leading the way. In recent years, Strowman has been one of the dominant forces in WWE and will be looking to take out his anger on team Smackdown. McIntyre has also has been on a roll recently, defeating WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle on Raw, while using Angle’s own finishing move. Lashley has been feuding with teammate Finn Bálor recently and qualified for the team by beating Elias on Raw this past week.
Strowman and McIntyre have had a few fierce showdowns with each other in recent weeks, while Bálor has also been feuding with McIntyre. The beef between Bálor and McIntyre stemmed from an out of nowhere beat down by Drew on Finn a few weeks back. This team should be considered the favorite due to their overwhelming power, but their chemistry could be their undoing. The company also is very high on Mcintyre with rumors abound that he is in line for a major push in 2019.
Smackdown’s team is built very similarly to Raw, but instead of brute strength as their mantra, they will rely on technical and high flying acts. Smackdown commissioner Shane McMahon is known for his risky high-flying moves and recently won the Best in the World tournament at Crown Jewel. Rey Mysterio is a tenured veteran of the company and has been stuck in a feud with Randy Orton since his return. There is a good chance that during this match, Orton will get involved and try to take Mysterio out. Hardy was added to this match on Tuesday, and will probably be nothing more than a bit player in this match.
The Miz will captain Smackdown and will be one of the primary leaders in Sunday’s match. Samoa Joe will benefit from a good showing and is the only person on team blue that can hang with Strowman, McIntyre, and Lashley in terms of pure power.
WWE loves to bill Raw as their top show, often labeling the company as the “A-show” and designating Smackdown as the B-show. Raw has been the top brand for many years and often receives that preferential treatment at Survivor Series. While it would be nice for Smackdown to finally get the edge, I believe that Raw will claim victory in this match behind strong performances from Strowman and McIntyre. However, I believe the only survivor in this match will be McIntyre.
Prediction: Raw beats Smackdown, with McIntyre leading the way.
Don’t let me be the only one with the voice though! Vote in the Quibbl below to give your thoughts on which brand will emerge victorious at Survivor Series!