The playing field has been set, and we now know all but one of the participants that will be involved in the men’s Survivor Series elimination match at the eponymous event on Nov. 20.
The flagship show will put forward Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and a fifth man yet to be named. There are a number of WWE Superstars that could fulfill that final role, and though Sami Zayn and Rusev are also leading candidates, unless we see Seth Rollins go one-on-one with Triple H, it’s most likely going to be “The Architect” taking up that spot.
The blue brand has opted for a similar set of talent to stand toe-to-toe with the competition, with Daniel Bryan announcing on SmackDown Live this week that Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, Baron Corbin, Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles will be representing Tuesday nights in the brand wars.
One major thing you’ll notice looking at these factions is that each of the WWE’s world champions will be taking part, not to mention the United States Champion as well, which all but confirms the bewildering prospect that none of these titles will be up for grabs at the event.
A pay-per-view with as much history as Survivor Series is typically expected to be a hot-spot for huge matches, so the decision to exclude the U.S., Universal and WWE World Championships from the line-up comes as a bit of shock – especially considering that they’ve chosen to increase the runtime from three to four hours this year, further marketing Survivor Series as a must-see event.
As such, a whole lot of effort is likely going to be placed within each of the traditional Survivor Series tag matches so that they can carry the bulk of the show, with the majority of that spotlight sure to be placed on this one in particular as the pseudo main event – considering Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar will probably have top billing on the night.
With that in mind, the story of this bout is going to have to stretch far beyond your run-of-the-mill brand vs. brand mentality, or even that of the dispersion within the teams themselves. Luckily, there are a number of intriguing dynamics between some of the opposing individuals on each team that are sure to come into play once the bell rings to kick things off. Let’s take a look.
Wyatt Family Reunion
Braun Strowman was the only man separated from The Wyatt Family as a result of the brand extension, and in the time that’s passed, he’s amassed a reputation for being one of the most physically dominant athletes on Raw. Prior to the draft, he was known simply as a follower, but he’s adapted well to his new environment and has since established himself as a legitimate singles star.
It will be pivotal with regards to his character development – which, personality-wise hasn’t been all that solid – how he responds to being back in the ring with his former mentor and “The Eater of Worlds,” Bray Wyatt. What makes this even more interesting is Randy Orton’s involvement as Wyatt’s newest recruit, and how Strowman will respond to essentially being replaced as the fourth man in the group in his absence – provided Orton lasts that long as a member.
Seeing Braun Strowman lay hands on Wyatt would be a compelling piece of action, but then again, he could just as easily find himself laying down at the order of his mentor once more, leading to his voluntary elimination from the match. There’s really no telling what will happen.
Champion vs. Champion
At a glance, there doesn’t seem to be much scope to a Kevin Owens-AJ Styles confrontation at Survivor Series. They’ve crossed paths before, but not in the form of a rivalry or anything truly heated. All they really have in common is the fact that they’re both world champions.
But the thing that combines these two men is the manner in which they won the gold, and how they’ve carried themselves in the weeks and months since. Kevin Owens and AJ Styles were both relatively unlikely world champions only about four months ago. They both had the potential in spades, but with Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins hogging the limelight at the time, it wasn’t guaranteed that either of these two would get a look in at the main event picture.
Fast forward to now, and both are sitting pretty atop their brands, albeit with questionable circumstances having fallen into place to get them there. Neither Styles nor Owens won their title through clean tactics; Owens had Triple H to thank, and “The Phenomenal One” had a well-placed kick to Dean Ambrose’s crotch to thank. But they’ve both carried themselves like God’s gift to earth since those respective dates, instantly becoming the company’s two biggest heels.
We’re not typically used to seeing heel-on-heel encounters in WWE, but this scenario is one of few that actively encourage them, and there’s got to be some animosity between Kevin Owens and AJ Styles to find out which world champion truly is the very best.
With or without Seth Rollins in the loop, the inevitable encounter between Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns is going to be something special. We’ve seen the two men square off before, but usually, it was for the WWE World Championship, and the single spot on top of the company.
This time, there’s nothing concrete up for grabs other than bragging rights, which means we are going to see what lengths these two supposed best friends will go to for their respective rosters – and whether or not they’re willing to throw away their friendship out of loyalty to the brand.
Throw in “The Architect” and everything changes.
We’ve seen Rollins stab his former Shield brethren in the back, and both Ambrose and Reigns attempt to take him down as a tandem numerous times since. But if this week’s episode of Raw is any indication, Rollins and Reigns are actually on the same page for the first time in two and a half years, making the situation with Ambrose quite captivating.
In the beginning, before The Shield ever broke up, WWE had teased on several occasions that Ambrose would be the one to break away and betray his teammates, so this dynamic would give us a taste of what could’ve come about from such a development in 2014.
Seeing his best friend tag with his arch-nemesis might also put things into perspective for Ambrose and force his kinship with Reigns out the window, resulting in a bitter brawl involving all three men fuelled by Dean’s rage over such treachery.
Chris Jericho and Baron Corbin might not fit directly into the above dynamics, but they can still play huge roles in making this match something worth watching.
Jericho himself has been an absolute treat to watch this year, with the List of Jericho continuing to be one of the funniest weekly gags within WWE at the moment.
As a result, any interaction he has in the ring with SmackDown’s stars is likely to be great, especially Dean Ambrose, who Jericho still feels he has unfinished business with after “The Lunatic Fringe” lodged sixty-nine, count ‘em, sixty-nine tacks into his body at Extreme Rules in May.
As for Baron Corbin, “The Lone Wolf” still struggles to find his footing, but this kind of platform could provide a young upstart like Corbin with the direction he needs to get on a serious roll.
This man could absolutely be the dark horse to become the sole survivor for Team Blue, especially considering his confrontation with Daniel Bryan weeks ago on Talking Smack where Corbin all but demanded an opportunity to prove himself. There’s no better opportunity than against five of Monday Night Raw’s biggest stars, so it could realistically be his night to shine.