(CBS Chicago/CBS Local) — For more than three decades, WWE Survivor Series has been a mainstay on the pro wrestling calendar. It is the second oldest of the “big four” shows on WWE’s annual slate. Debuting in November 1987, the show preceded the first Royal Rumble by two months, while the inaugural SummerSlam wouldn’t take place until August 1988. Only WrestleMania is ahead of the group with 35 extravaganzas now in the books.
And while the Survivor Series concept may be 33 years old, WWE is offering a fresh take on the classic this year by adding the NXT brand into the mix. For the first time, all three brands will be competing for bragging rights on the same show, offering fans a host of dream matchups thought to be impossible until a talent was called up to the Raw or SmackDown rosters.
We’ve already gotten a taste of the possibilities thanks to a wave of invasions in recent weeks, including a Raw and SmackDown takeover of Wednesday’s NXT broadcast.
The wisely timed sieges served a two-fold purpose for WWE: build interest in the PPV and provide a shot in the arm for ratings to beat rival All Elite Wrestling for the first time. The latter proved successful, with NXT narrowly outdrawing the upstart promotion in total viewers 916,000 to 893,000. However, AEW remained the champion of the coveted 18-49 demographic despite averaging 23,000 fewer viewers. As for whether this will also bolster interest in Sunday’s event, time will tell, but the initial numbers are promising.
Empty spots remain on the PPV card for the black and yellow brand as the five-person roster for the classic men’s Survivor Series matches is yet to be revealed. It was hinted that Tommaso Ciampa will be among the Superstars representing NXT following his showdown with Seth Rollins at the end of Wednesday’s show.
What is known is that NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler will face Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch, who was among the Raw contingent to invade the NXT broadcast, and SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley in an all-champion triple-threat match.
The men’s division won’t have the same showcase, as WWE Champion Brock Lesnar is scheduled to face Rey Mysterio in a no-disqualification match, while Universal Champion “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt will face Daniel Bryan. NXT Champion Adam Cole will be keeping things in-brand as well and face Pete Dunne who defeated Killian Dain and Damian Priest in a number one contender’s match at the NXT Takeover War Games PPV Saturday night.
Elsewhere, pure wrestling fans will be keeping a close eye on another triple-threat match with the potential to steal Sunday’s show. United States Champion AJ Styles will face Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura and NXT North American Champion Roderick Strong in another inter-brand battle, with all three men have extensive experience in the Japanese style of wrestling.
Here is a look at the full card.
WWE Championship No Holds Barred, No-Disqualification Match
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Rey Mysterio
The undersized Mysterio is still seeking revenge on Lesnar after The Beast brutally attacked his son Dominick months ago. Lesnar quickly dismantled UFC nemesis Cain Velasquez, who is playing the part of Dominick’s godfather, at Crown Jewel while Mysterio was injured. As much as the world enjoys a good David versus Goliath story with a happy ending, I don’t see that happening here. Look for Lesnar to continue holding the belt for the foreseeable future and a potential match against Dominick down the line with the youngster rumored to be training to follow in his father’s footsteps. Pick: Brock Lesnar
Universal Championship Match
“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
It is highly unlikely that Wyatt will lose the belt so quickly after capturing it from Seth Rollins. For the challenger, that means the heelish “new Daniel Bryan” will revert to the “Yes! chant” leading “old Daniel Bryan” without gold. That’s not all bad news though, as it can build a little bit of sympathy for the freshened-up baby-face Bryan. Pick: Daniel Bryan
Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch vs. SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley vs. NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler
NXT has shined since throughout the invasion angle. NXT Champion Adam Cole got a clean victory over Daniel Bryan on the chaotic last-minute post-Crown Jewel edition SmackDown and held his own against Seth Rollins the following Monday. It is possible that NXT Women’s Champion Baszler will get the same treatment here. A victory would catapult her to the next level, and WWE can protect top star Becky Lynch by having Bayley take the pin. Pick: Shayna Baszler
Women’s Survivor Series Elimination Triple-Threat Match
Raw (Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Asuka, Kairi Sane and Sarah Logan) vs. SmackDown (Sasha Banks, Lacey Evans, Carmella, Dana Brooke and Nikki Cross) vs. NXT (Rhea Ripley, Bianca Belair, Io Shirai, Candice LeRae, Toni Storm).
So much has been made about the women’s division in NXT that it’s possible they walk away victorious here, especially after such a strong showing at Takeover War Games. Look for Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks to be the last women standing for Raw and SmackDown, respectively. But it should come as no surprise if Rhea Ripley and Team NXT walk away with their hands raised. Pick: Team NXT
Men’s Survivor Series Elimination Triple-Threat Match
Raw (Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Kevin Owens, Ricochet & Drew McIntyre) vs. SmackDown (King Corbin, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Mustafa Ali & Shorty G) vs. NXT (TBD)
This match is a close to being a toss-up between the Raw and SmackDown brands, but I’m giving a slight edge the red brand. It would make the most sense for the SmackDown team to implode with King Corbin and Roman Reigns fighting amongst themselves. Look for Seth Rollins, Randy Orton or Drew McIntyre to be the last man standing. Pick: Team Raw
Triple-Threat Tag Team Match
Raw Tag Team Champions The Viking Raiders vs. SmackDown Tag Team Champions The New Day vs. NXT Tag Team Champions The Undisputed ERA
The Viking Raiders are being built up to be a legitimate tag team force for the foreseeable future. They’ve been on the receiving end of favorable booking of late, and there is no reason for that not to continue here. The New Day are already well established, and The Undisputed ERA can maintain their elite status in NXT without getting a win here. The oddsmakers are banking on the same. Pick: The Viking Raiders
United States Champion AJ Styles vs. Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs. NXT North American Champion Roderick Strong
This one has a chance to be match of the night. All three have extensive experience in Japanese strong-style wrestling, which could make for a bruising battle between three solid technicians. As of late week, oddsmakers have pegged Styles as the favorite, with Strong coming in a distant third. But I have a hunch he may pull the upset here. A quality win over two legitimate talents who have the respect of the most well-versed wrestling fans would help enhance NXT‘s standings in the Wednesday Night Wars with AEW. Pick: Roderick Strong
NXT Championship Match
Adam Cole (c) vs. Peter Dunne
After such a strong showing in recent weeks against top talents on the Raw and SmackDown roster, it’s hard to believe Cole would lose the championship here. It also appears that a feud with Kevin Owens for the title is in the works after Owens was revealed to be the mystery fourth member of Team Ciampa at Takeover War Games. I expect for Cole to come out victorious regardless in a bruising battle against Dunne. It will be interesting to see how much he has left in the tank following the insane War Games match that included a bump off the top of a cage and through a table. Pick: Adam Cole
Survivor Series will broadcast live from Chicago on Sunday, November 24 at 7 p.m. ET.
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.