When this column goes live, we will be 17 days away from Survivor Series: WarGames. With Crown Jewel over and done with, the build for Survivor Series officially began on this week’s episode of Raw. Here’s what we knew about the show before Raw even started:
We’re getting one men’s WarGames match and one women’s WarGames match, and each match will be a five-on-five bout.
What will we be getting?
What should we be getting?
Let’s start with the women’s match, as we’ve seen some of the pieces to that puzzle fall into place already. Of the ten women that will be involved in the match, it seems like we have a pretty good idea of the identities of seven of them. Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair will be teaming with Alexa Bliss, Asuka, and two as-of-yet unnamed partners to take on Bayley, Dakota Kai, Iyo Sky, Nikki Cross, and one as-of-yet unnamed partner.
There is already a ton of speculation flying left and right. On the heel side, Rhea Ripley seems to be the teased option. For one, she had a brief staredown with Belair during a backstage segment. Two, in a recent podcast interview, Bayley said that, while she wouldn’t want to recruit anybody to join the Damage CTRL stable, she would want Ripley to be their teammate at Survivor Series. It all makes sense at the surface, but what about Rhea being attacked by the returning Mia Yim, who appears to be The O.C.’s equalizer in their feud with The Judgment Day? Sure, you could have Ripley join Damage CTRL’s team and have Yim join Bianca’s team, but it seems a bit strange to have them involved in a feud and then place them in a completely different match that has nothing to do with that feud, doesn’t it?
I know people are expecting Charlotte Flair to make her return at any point here soon. She hasn’t been seen in six months, going all the way back to WrestleMania Backlash when she lost an “I Quit” Match to Ronda Rousey, suffering a kayfabe broken arm and dropping the Smackdown Women’s Title. It would make sense for a high-profile wrestler to make their return in a high-profile spot, and that describes WarGames pretty accurately. Again, it might make sense on the surface, but when you dig a little deeper, there are noticeable flaws in the idea. So far, it certainly looks like the women’s match is going to be a very Raw-centric contest. Could Charlotte make her return to Raw? Of course she could, but Smackdown DESPERATELY needs her star power in their women’s division. There’s also the whole “coming for her title” thing, looking to get revenge on Ronda Rousey, although Ronda has clearly moved to the heel side of things since WrestleMania Backlash and I’m not sure there’s anyone out there who wants to see Charlotte as a face.
A “safe” option for the heel squad would be Doudrop. She was last seen as the tag partner of Nikki A.S.H. while everyone was screaming from the mountaintops that they should go back to being Piper Niven and Nikki Cross. Well… one down, one to go? Even if she sticks with the Doudrop name, she would be a good addition to the match. If you run through the history of WarGames, you see “monster” performers time and time again. They’re easy to sell in these types of matches. You know the deal… someone like Doudrop is “bigger and badder” than her opponents when there’s no cage and weapons involved, so imagine if she was able to use those things to her advantage? That’s all you would hear on commentary.
Bayley, Dakota Kai, Iyo Sky, Nikki Cross, and Doudrop? That could work.
What about their opponents, though?
Well, Bianca’s squad needs two partners. As soon as the words “two partners” are visualized through your eyeballs, I know damn well that a ton of your brains immediately went to Sasha Banks and Naomi. If you’re looking for a mega pop, that’s going to be the top choice. Shit, with Survivor Series taking place in Sasha’s hometown of Boston, the pop would be even bigger if her return isn’t announced until the event itself. Will it happen? I have given up on trying to predict whether or not we’re ever going to see Sasha and/or Naomi on WWE programming again. Like Charlotte Flair, we haven’t seen Sasha and Naomi in six months, and there has been all sorts of speculation about their future. This “clue” was seen, so CLEARLY, they’re returning. Oh, well now this “clue” has been noticed, so CLEARLY, they’re going to AEW. Well, now this “clue” has been seen, so CLEARLY, they’ll be back on Raw next week. It’s exhausting. I would love to see Sasha make her return. Naomi? Eh, whatever. I’d rather see something different out of her. I don’t care if it’s putting her in The Bloodline or whatever, as long as it’s something different.
So, what if Sasha and Naomi aren’t options?
Another easy prediction is “The Man” herself, Becky Lynch. We have no idea when she’s going to be ready to make her return, but if she does come back for Survivor Series, she will have beaten the (possibly kayfabed) initial prognosis after she was first injured. On August 1st, it was said that she was expected to be out of action for “several months.” I don’t know what your definition of “several” is, but Survivor Series would be just under four months since she was placed on the shelf. Becky being on the team would be a perfect fit. She was attacked by Damage CTRL after she turned face and offered backup to Bianca Belair after their match at SummerSlam. Of course she should return to continue that storytelling if she’s physically able to. That might also explain why this Bianca/Damage CTRL story is still going, even after the consensus seems to be that it has run its course already. Everybody was jogging in place, waiting to see if Becky would be able to return here.
For fun, let’s say we aren’t getting the return of Sasha and Naomi, but that we are getting the return of Becky Lynch. That still leaves the face team with one spot to fill. Who should it be? There aren’t exactly a plethora of options on Raw at the moment. There’s Candice LeRae and Dana Brooke. As mentioned earlier, there’s Mia Yim if we’re putting Rhea Ripley in the match, too. The last time we really saw Tamina, she was a face, so she could be an option. That is literally it. There are currently 15 women on the Raw roster, and we’ve now discussed 14 of them for this match in one way or another, with Carmella and everything she has been going through recently as the only exception (until now, I guess). If it’s going to be one of those women, it has to be Candice LeRae, doesn’t it? I’m not sure Dana Brooke or Tamina are going to move the needle the way WWE would like them to.
Could WWE dip into the pool on Smackdown to fill Bianca’s team? If the heels have a “monster” in Doudrop, could the faces counter with their own “monster” in Raquel Rodriguez? Because this is Triple H we’re dealing with, could we see an NXT name get brought up, even if it’s just for this one match? You run the risk of a lukewarm response for people like Roxanne Perez, Indi Hartwell, Alba Fyre, and Meiko Satomura because of the much smaller audience that NXT gets compared to Raw, so is it worth making a big reveal come across as a dud on television?
So, if Becky Lynch is able to make her return, that would make the match…
Bianca Belair, Becky Lynch, Asuka, Alexa Bliss, and probably Candice LeRae vs Bayley, Dakota Kai, Iyo Sky, Nikki Cross, and Doudrop.
If Becky Lynch isn’t able to make her return yet, that might mean…
Bianca Belair, Asuka, Alexa Bliss, Candice LeRae, and Raquel Rodriguez vs Bayley, Dakota Kai, Iyo Sky, Nikki Cross, and Doudrop.
If I had my way, it would be…
Bianca Belair, Becky Lynch, Asuka, Alexa Bliss, and Sasha Banks vs Bayley, Dakota Kai, Iyo Sky, Nikki Cross, and Doudrop.
Let’s switch gears and look at the men’s match.
One side of the match becomes crystal clear, in my opinion. The official poster for Survivor Series features Roman Reigns, The Usos, Solo Sikoa, and Sami Zayn on it. It’s not worth it to overthink things here. Not only will that be one WarGames squad, but it should be one WarGames squad. It’s perfect.
There is no shortage of opponents for The Bloodline. Some make a ton of sense here, while others make considerably less sense. Before his injury, I saw people saying that Logan Paul should be in the match. Now that he’s injured, some of those people are calling for his brother, Jake Paul, to be in the match. I mean… it will help the company continue getting some publicity that they might not otherwise be getting, so that’s always something to think about. It just isn’t something I can picture happening right now.
Another name I’ve seen thrown around, at least by fans, is Kevin Owens. He definitely has plenty of history with The Bloodline, and we’ve already seen the seeds planted that will see Owens try to “save” Sami Zayn from Roman Reigns and his goon squad. However, if the reports are to be believed, that was originally supposed to take place already, but once Sami got over with the WWE Universe in this role, Owens’ participation in the story was placed on hold for a bit.
Shinsuke Nakamura is always talked about as an opponent for Roman Reigns. It was teased a while back, and then nothing really came of it. In multiple interviews, Nakamura has mentioned the possibility of going after Reigns, and that’s why his name is always floating around here. I’m a huge fan of Nakamura, and still consider WWE’s failure to strap the rocket to his back as soon as he debuted on the main roster as one of the biggest failures they’ve had over the last decade. With that said, I don’t think this is the spot for him.
Honestly, you can throw a bunch of names out there, but I think the opponents for The Bloodline should be easy to figure out right now. Sheamus is set to return to the road after getting married, and he’s coming for revenge after The Bloodline “injured” him and put him on the shelf. If Sheamus is in, that means Butch and Ridge Holland are in, too. The Brawling Brutes involved in WarGames? Makes sense to me. That leaves two spots available on their squad.
WWE is determined to have The Usos and The New Day walk, hand-in-hand, through wrestling history to the point where you can’t mention one team without mentioning the other. After taking a bit of a break, they’re back to feuding again, with a very important Tag Team Title match taking place on Smackdown this week. If we’re going to be honest with each other, it doesn’t matter who wins that match, nor how they come across that win. No matter what happens, the quick turnaround to Survivor Series seems to indicate that Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods will be involved in this match. That gives us…
Sheamus, Butch, Ridge Holland, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods vs Roman Reigns, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, Solo Sikoa, and Sami Zayn?
I really like that. There’s a great blend of different in-ring styles and personalities there.
In the interest of fantasy booking another return, though…
I know there is zero chance of this happening, but something that could be a lot of fun is to set the ten-man up as I mentioned it a few sentences ago. Then, on next week’s episode of Smackdown, you could close the show with The Bloodline doing an injury angle where they take Ridge Holland out. Something serious enough to have him removed from WarGames… broken leg, broken arm, etc. On the following episode of Smackdown (the go-home episode before Survivor Series), The Bloodline could brag about putting their opponents at a disadvantage, and how they’re one man short, blah blah blah. That gives the face squad the opportunity to say that they were able to find a replacement for Ridge after all…
“Y’all wanna go big? Then say that!”
Boom. The return of Big E to blow the roof off of the Amica Mutual Pavilion in Providence, Rhode Island. That would be incredible television.
Again, I know that isn’t going to happen. Everything we’ve seen and heard about Big E’s in-ring future states that he’s probably several months away from even having the possibility of returning, and that the possibility of him being done for good is still on the table. It just seemed fitting to bring it up since I already talked about the returns of Sasha Banks, Naomi, and Becky Lynch on the women’s side. The thing about that scenario is that you could do something similar, but instead of Big E returning to be the fifth member of the face team, it would be Drew McIntyre. You know, unless WWE thinks we need yet another match between McIntyre and Karrion Kross, and there’s a pretty good chance they do.
As always, I turn things over to all of you now. Who do you think ends up being involved in the men’s and women’s WarGames matches? If the names are different, who do you want to see involved in the men’s and women’s WarGames matches? Hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind.
Weekly Power Rankings
Roman Reigns vs Logan Paul: Such a Sports Entertainment-y marvel of a match. Logan Paul has no business being this good in the ring right now. He went from annoying a large portion of the WWE Universe to having many of those same fans calling for WWE to sign him to a full-time contract, all in one night. Roman Reigns, on the other hand, continues one of the greatest runs that pro wrestling has ever seen.
Gunther vs Rey Mysterio: An absolutely phenomenal “big man vs little man” match that allowed both men to play to their strengths perfectly. This was as good as Rey Mysterio has looked in a long time. Even in a loss, he still showed that he can, and should, be a top-tier name in WWE.
Orange Cassidy vs Katsuyori Shibata: You’re not going to find many pairings in wrestling that feature a bigger clash of styles than what we saw here, but it worked. It really worked. As popular as Orange Cassidy is, and as much as he has shown he’s capable of stepping his game up when the lights shine the brightest, it still amazes me that he won this match. It’s crazy to think of Shibata coming to America and then losing to Orange Cassidy, of all people. That’s not a knock on Orange Cassidy at all. There’s just a time when Shibata would’ve won this match in less than two minutes by detaching OC’s head from his shoulders and sending it flying into the upper deck of the arena.
Possible End Of The WWE 24/7 Title: It was a cute idea when it first started, but that moron, Vince McMahon, ran it into the fucking ground within two weeks or so, and then kept going and going and going and going and going. Now, Nikki Cross is the new champion and she tried to throw the belt in the trash. She missed from six inches away from the trash can, but the fact that she was even attempting to throw it away in the first place is what’s important here. Please, oh, please let this terrible one-note joke of a title go away forever.
Jon Moxley vs Lee Moriarty: I’ve said this before, but now I get to say it again. Jon Moxley + Random Wrestler + A good amount of time on Dynamite = Really good match. It happened again here. Nobody in their right mind thought Lee Moriarty had a chance in hell of winning the match, but that did very little to take away from the quality level. I would really like to see AEW do more with Moriarty, but at this point, you could say the same thing about 50 different people on the AEW roster.
Axiom vs JD McDonagh: NXT UK continues to run wild on NXT Classic programming. Even though McDonagh has lost 29 (give or take) consecutive NXT Title matches since returning to America, he continues to be booked as a very dangerous threat, not just to the title, but to everyone on the NXT roster.
The O.C. vs The Judgment Day: Easily the best that Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson have looked in a long time. The match didn’t change the business forever or anything, but it was a high-energy house show-style six-man match that was a lot more fun than I expected it to be.
Asuka & Alexa Bliss vs Dakota Kai & Iyo Sky: My favorite match between these two teams. They were able to work with a great pace, filling the match with a ton of action. I don’t like that the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles changed hands yet again, but what can you do?
Orange Cassidy vs Rey Fenix vs Luchasaurus: Pretty decent week for Orange Cassidy, making this list twice and successfully defending the AEW All-Atlantic Title on both occasions. Sure, the title is still entirely pointless and shouldn’t exist, but it does, and he’s doing the most that he can with it.
The Usos vs The Brawling Brutes: Since debuting on the main roster back in 2010, The Usos have gone on to become eight-time Tag Team Champions, approaching 1300 total days as champions in that span. With that said, you could make an argument that they’re still one of the more underrated tag teams in company history. They can do it all, and they prove that time and time again. They’re able to put on great matches against a wide variety of opponents, they’re both really good at this whole storytelling thing, and they both cut very believable promos, especially since ditching the face paint and changing their characters. I’m just saying.
Johnny Gargano vs The Miz: I’m not a huge fan of the goofiness that Gargano has been involved in since returning to the company. It continues what I’ve been saying for a long time now… nobody benefits from feuding with The Miz. They get dragged down, and the longer the feud goes, the worse off they are. The match was good here, but Gargano isn’t better off because of it or anything. He needs to move on to do something else. Anything else.
Otis: He recently came out and was very open and honest about his battles with dyslexia, saying that he just finished reading Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, which is the first book he’s ever read from front-to-back. Kudos to him for being brave enough to admit that, fighting the stigma, and for giving hope to fans around the world dealing with dyslexia themselves.
Ricochet vs LA Knight: Maximum Male Models was yet another Vince McMahon idea that could’ve been fun, but went absolutely nowhere. It goes without saying that LA Knight is better off right now. Will he go on to become the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion or something? That remains to be seen, but this is already infinitely better than what he was doing as Max Dupri.
Matt Riddle, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods vs The Usos & Solo Sikoa: A lengthy promo segment followed by a lengthy match meant that these six men pretty much took up the first 40 minutes of Raw this week. The promo was doing okay until Riddle came out and completely butchered it, but the match was pretty fun.
Samoa Joe vs Brian Cage: While I did enjoy the match, I’m not really sure what to make of these two in the world of AEW/RoH. Cage is capable of being so much more, but he just isn’t given a chance. Joe, on the other hand, continues to show that the years and the injuries have been catching up to him, and that’s a shame. He’s one of my all-time favorites, but he hasn’t been the same since suffering a rash of different injuries from 2017 to 2020. He’s 43 years old, and has been going dumb hard at this wrestling thing for nearly 23 years now, so it’s not a surprise, but it still makes me sad.
Liv Morgan vs Sonya Deville: I’m glad WWE has decided to give Liv Morgan more of an edge. Her character really needed it. She still isn’t “believable” as someone who can defeat the likes of Ronda Rousey, but who is, really? Will her new edge last? It’s difficult to tell, but at least it’s promising that the company is trying to do something with her.
Katana Chance & Kayden Carter vs Zoey Stark & Nikkita Lyons: Chance and Carter have really, and quietly, become a very solid tag team. Their in-ring chemistry is tremendous, and it seems to get better by the month. Now, they’re finally able to showcase what they can do in longer, and more important, matches. They haven’t disappointed. As the winners of this feud, they move on to something else. Meanwhile, we’re now going to be treated to a feud between Zoey Stark and Nikkita Lyons, which I’m not sure anyone really asked for.
Mia Yim: She made her return to WWE after being released almost a year ago to the day. That’s good enough to be on the list, but the fact that she returned in a much higher profile spot than when she left makes it even better. Teaming with AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson as they try to eliminate The Judgment Day is going to put her in big spots. Feuding directly with Rhea Ripley, who is putting in some of the best work of her career, only adds to it. Oh, and in case you were wondering… yes, people are already starting to wonder if Mia’s husband, Keith Lee, is going to be returning to WWE, too, in the wake of her return.
Asuka & Iyo Sky Arguing In Japanese: I don’t know why I found this so funny, but watching Asuka and Iyo Sky having a loud argument in Japanese was incredibly entertaining. It’s the little things sometimes, you know?
Becky Lynch As Cyndi Lauper: When it was first announced that Becky Lynch would be portraying Cyndi Lauper on NBC’s Young Rock, I was skeptical, to say the least. Her Irish accent is so thick and stands out so much. I had no idea how she was supposed to accurately sound like one of music’s most eccentric personalities with an equally strong New York accent. Then, we saw the first clip of Beck’s performance, and… it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t worthy of winning an Emmy or anything like that, but it was pleasantly good. You could hear that Irish accent ready to spring forward on a couple occasions, but she still made it work. Watch her get more television and movie work now.
This Week’s Playlist: “Rich Flex” by Drake & 21 Savage… “Spin Bout U” by Drake & 21 Savage… “Glimpse Of Us” by Joji… “Spread The Opps” by Lecrae… “Baby Queen” by Gorillaz… “Hold Me, Help Me” by Halocene… “Overall” by Vended… “Nomad” by Acacia Ridge… “Liar” by Neverland In Ashes… “You’ll Never Learn” by Ingested… “Everlasting Sun” by Straight Shot Home… “The Truth” by Beanie Sigel… “Feel It In The Air” by Beanie Sigel & Melissa Jimenez… “It’s On” by Beanie Sigel & Jay-Z… “Roc The Mic” by Beanie Sigel & Freeway… “Sweet Love” by Anita Baker… “Caught Up In The Rapture” by Anita Baker… “Giving You The Best That I Got” by Anita Baker… “No One In The World” by Anita Baker… “Angel” by Anita Baker… “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You” by George Benson… “Give Me The Night” by George Benson… “Breezin” by George Benson… “Turn Your Love Around” by George Benson… “Let’s Get Em” by Master P & Silkk The Shocker… “I Miss My Homies” by Master P, Pimp C & Silkk The Shocker… “We Riders” by Master P & Mac… “Captain Kirk” by Master P, Mystikal, Fiend & Silkk The Shocker… “Make Em Say Uhh!” by Master P, Mystikal, Silkk The Shocker, Fiend & Mia X… “Burbons & Lacs” by Master P, Silkk The Shocker & Lil Gotti