WWE's Survivor Series event has been suffering a bit of an identity crisis for a while now, one year sticking to its format of five-person elimination matches and the next year disregarding it.
Last year, though, the event found a promising niche in WWE's programming lineup. Building on the previous year's Raw vs. Smackdown elimination main event, and reviving the Bragging Rights concept, last year's Survivor Series became a card of champion vs. champion and other matches pitting the brands against each other. After a wise last-minute title switch, we got to see Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles in one of the best matches of the year, The Shield vs. The New Day in a battle of WWE's two best trios in recent history, and an all-star elimination match with one "holy shit!" pairing after another.
If WWE sticks to that concept at this year's Survivor Series, and if its current champions hold onto their titles until then — both sizeable "ifs" — we're in store for another card of barnburners that wouldn't be possible the other 364 days of the year. Starting at the top, we would see Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles in a rematch from their 2016 feud that produced two of the year's best main events. And I don't expect either guy to lose their championship in the interim. The most likely change would be Styles losing to Samoa Joe, but Reigns and Joe already headlined a show this year — to much dismay.
If that champion showdown feels a little tired, the other ones on track to happen at Survivor Series shouldn't. Maybe the most exciting match on the card would be Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey vs. Smackdown Women's Champion Becky Lynch. Rousey is showing freaky, almost Kurt Angle levels of natural talent for pro wrestling, and Lynch is the most popular and interesting character in the company right now. Their battle of arm-bending finishers would be a blast. I also don't expect Lynch to lose her championship back to Charlotte Flair, as her inevitable match with Rousey is surely being saved for WrestleMania. Speaking of which, another cool dimension of Rousey vs. Lynch would be its advancement of that long-rumored match between wrestling's Four Horsewomen.
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Flair will likely take part in the annual elimination match between the women of the two brands. Considering how many of them are regularly left off pay-per-views now that they're dual-branded again, the sight of Asuka, Naomi, Sasha Banks etc. on a show of this magnitude will be nice, and much deserved. As for the men's match, who knows. WWE pulled out all the stops for last year's, activating Kurt Angle, Triple H and John Cena, so I'm sure this year's match will have a similarly all-star feel. I just hope we see Daniel Bryan and Finn Balor on opposite sides of a WWE ring for the first time.
The Raw tag team scene is kind of a mess right now. So there's not only little intrigue in its champions facing Smackdown's, but both titles could change hands by Survivor Series. The match between the brands' mid-card champions, however, is set to be a fun first-timer: Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins vs. U.S. Champion Shinsuke Nakamura. The former's go-go-go style could be what the latter needs to escape his listless default setting, giving this year's Survivor Series a classic — and further establishing its identity as the only time of year fans can see that kind of dream match.