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Wargames Will Rage and Brands Will Battle to Survive

It’s a “Big 4” PPV weekend for WWE, and they’ve been busy making changes all week.

Titles have changed hands, matches have been altered, and general chaos has ensued. At one point it became difficult to follow who was in and who was out of each match. Therefore, rather than simply list the card this week, I’m going to attempt to run through each match and sort out how they evolved into their current (and hopefully final) forms.

NXT Takeover: Wargames 2

We start Saturday night with the latest offering from NXT. There are only 4 matches announced for the show, but since one of them is the Wargames match we should still have a relatively full night of action. That’s not to say that they couldn’t add a little something last minute to showcase a rising star.

Wargames Match: Undisputed Era (Adam Cole (BAYBAY), Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish & Roderick Strong) VS War Raiders (Rowe & Hanson), Ricochet & Pete Dunne

The 8 men involved have been mixing it up in variation combinations for months now, so there’s no shortage of stories to tell in this match. In the main event of this week’s NXT O’Reilly defeated Hanson to earn his team the extra man advantage on Saturday. Between that, their victory in last year’s Wargames, and a more unified and cohesive team dynamic Undisputed Era would seem to be the clear favorites going into this year’s event. That said, wrestling booking 101 says you put your heroes at as much of a disadvantage as you can so that they look that much more heroic in overcoming those odds. No matter who comes out victorious in the match though, the real winners will be we the fans who get to watch some of the best performers in the company putting on a fantastic show.

NXT Championship: Tommaso Ciampa(c) vs Velveteen Dream

As great as the multi-year story between former tag partners Ciampa and Gargano has been, it’s nice to see the champ move away from that for now and face other challengers. Dream has been steadily rising through the ranks by consistently entertaining no matter who he’s programmed against. There isn’t much story between them, but both are such great characters that it should still be a fun match. I fully expect Ciampa to retain and continue to build his championship legacy. If rumors are to be believed though, Dream could still win himself a call-up to the main roster very soon.

NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna Baszler(c) vs Kairi Sane- 2 out of 3 falls match

These two amazing women have been feuding ever since the finals of the first Mae Young Classic over a year ago. Sane won that trophy, but Baszler was the 1st to capture gold in NXT. The Pirate Princess did eventually overcome her adversary to hold that treasure for a spell, but at Evolution Shayna got a little help from her friends to become the 1st two-time NXT Women’s Champ. Given that the story seemed to be about outside interference, 2 out of 3 falls seems like an odd choice of stipulation. Expect Kairi to call upon friends of her own to keep the odds even on Saturday. Ultimately, the champ should retain though and move on to new challengers… Unless of course she’s needed elsewhere for a certain Horsewomen feud that’s long been rumored.

Johnny Gargano vs. Aleister Black

After months of speculation, we finally know that it was Johnny Wrestling who attacked Black in the parking lot and took him out of action for a spell. The master of the Black Mass is all healed up now and looking for revenge. It’s a classic story that should lead to a phenomenal match.

WWE Survivor Series

Survivor Series is one of the longest running shows WWE puts on each year with a format that can often lead to a fun show. This year a series of events both in and out of WWE’s control caused the booking to be a bit chaotic. Most reports indicate that prior to Roman Reign’s cancer diagnosis they had very different plans in mind. We’ll probably never know what those plans were, but the tried and true Raw vs Smackdown formula should allow for an entertaining show regardless. This week we saw another top star go down injured as well as a major title change, so let’s get to what we know about the final card for Sunday.

Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy(c) vs Mustapha Ali

I fully admit that I don’t watch 205 Live nearly as often as I should. When I have checked it out recently it was a great show. Ultimately there’s only so many hours each week that I can dedicate to WWE programming (and some folks might suggest I give them too many as is). Ali is absolutely a future champion, but it feels too soon to take the belt off of Murphy at this point.

Tag Team Survivor Series Match: Raw vs Smackdown

Team Raw: Bobby Roode & Chad Gable (captains), The Revival, The B-Team, Lucha House Party, & The Ascension

Team Smackdown: The Usos (captains), New Day, Sanity, Good Brothers (Gallows & Anderson), & The Colons

This match really exposes the lack of depth (and interest) in the tag team division. Choosing the participants wasn’t so much about picking the best of the best to represent each brand, but rather being forced to use every team on the roster even if they haven’t been seen on TV in who knows how long (looking at you Colons). The match is being advertised for the preshow, and sadly that seems a fitting place for this bout. I’m going to give the edge to Smackdown here. They have 2 of the best teams from either brand (Usos and New Day) while even the best of the Raw teams is so defined down at this point it’s difficult to take them seriously (Revival deserves SO much better than what the main roster has given them thus far).

Women’s Survivor Series Match: Raw vs Smackdown

Team Raw: Alexa Bliss (non-active captain)- Mickie James, Nia Jax, Tamina, Natalya, & Ruby Riott (with Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan?)

Team Smackdown: Carmella, Naomi, Asuka, Sonya Deville, & Unknown

This is one of the matches that was effected by major events just this week. At one point, Smackdown GM Paige had asked Charlotte to serve as their team captain. We never got an answer to that question though and Flair wound up being needed elsewhere (more on that later). Presumably, since she seems to have picked the team members, Paige could serve in the non-active captain role herself to balance out the presence of Alexa Bliss on the other side. That still leaves us a member short on the actual team though. They could potentially do something fun with a call-up (either full-time or one night only), but I suspect Mandy Rose is the likeliest option since she was already involved in the selection process 2 weeks ago.

Another unanswered question I have would be in regards to the potential numbers advantage. With Ruby Riott serving as a member of team Raw, do her Riott Squad cohorts get to be ringside? That would give Team Raw 3 extra people in their corner while team Smackdown has none. Would Paige and other random members of the SDL roster be allowed ringside to balance that out? Finally, does Nia Jax now have so much heat on her for injury Becky Lynch that it costs her team here? It all remains to be seen on Sunday.

Men’s Survivor Series Match: Raw vs Smackdown

Team Raw: Baron Corbin (non-active captain)- Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntye, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, & Bobby Lashley (with Leo Rush)

Team Smackdown: The Miz (captain), Shane McMahon, Rey Mysterio, Samoa Joe, & Jeff Hardy

Team Raw has enlisted most of their brand’s top heels… plus Balor. They also have a 2 man ringside advantage thanks to Corbin and Rush. Team Smackdown is a bit more of a hodge podge and went through a bit of a last minute shake-up this week. Former co-captain Daniel Bryan was moved elsewhere on the card (more on him later) and Jeff Hardy was chosen as his replacement. On paper, this match just looks like a giant question mark to me, but many of the top stories from each brand are wrapped up within it. It should be interesting to see how all those stories shake out at the end of the night.

Raw Tag Champs AOP vs Smackdown Tag Champs The Bar

Both are powerhouse heel teams, but only one of them has a giant in their corner. That said, AOP is so new to the main roster (and their title reign) that they NEED the win way more than the 3 veterans who make up the Bar. WWE needs to give it to them or risk having yet another irrelevant and wasted tag team on the Raw roster.

Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins vs United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura

Under different circumstances this could be a show stealer. Unfortunately, Nakamura has been so underutilized and defined down that it remains to be seen if he’ll ever truly recover. Meanwhile, Rollins is embroiled in a major rivalry with his former Shield brother Dean Ambrose. I predict that this match doesn’t get nearly the time it deserves considering the titles currently held by these men. In the end, Ambrose interference costs Seth the match to continue their story, but sadly the writers don’t capitalize on the victory at all for poor Shinsuke.

Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey vs Charlotte Flair

Originally scheduled as a champion vs champion match, SDL champion Becky Lynch had to be pulled after Nia Jax legitimately broke her face during a brawl on Raw this week. On Tuesday night Lynch chose her frenemy Flair to take her place in the match. We still don’t know the full extent of Lynch’s injuries or the timetable for her recovery, but as long as she can get back to action relatively quickly this all could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the Irish Lasskicker and her fans. The way the Lynch continued to fight on Monday even after being injured as well as the image of her bloody but defiant face to close out that show have served to make her an even bigger star than she already was before Monday night (and that’s saying something). Ronda and Becky have continued trading barbs on social media all week, and rumors suggest that the pair could actually get to make history by main eventing Wrestlemania.

As a side note, there’s also a new episode of Ride Along on WWE Network that was filmed prior to the Lynch/Flair feud featuring the former besties on the road from Orlando to Gainesville. Fans of “Tea-generationX” will definitely want to give it a look.

Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs WWE Champion Daniel Bryan

Here we have the biggest development of the week not related to an injury situation. Lesnar was originally supposed to face AJ Styles, but in a shocking turn of events Tuesday night he was dethroned by Bryan. Not only did Bryan capture the WWE Championship, and thus the spot in this match, he also made a full heel turn beating up Styles after the match. This could potentially be one of Lesnar’s better matches of the last year IF he’s willing to put in the effort. Will Styles interfere though? What about Braun Strowman? This is either going to be an epically awesome match or a dumpster fire. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Check back with the Scrum for our full recaps of both shows this weekend!

Coming Soon… WWE TLC on December 16


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