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Posted in: My Two Centsss
My Two Centsss - A TakeOver: War Games Analysis & How WWE Transformed Survivor Series 2017 Into A Mini-WrestleMania
By Super Chrisss
Nov 17, 2017 - 3:13:14 PM

Tom Jenner rocks!

Survivor Series weekend is officially upon us, people. What as recent as two weeks ago felt like an extremely ‘meh’ card on paper (Mahal vs. Lesnar wasn’t a joke, but rather an insult to the fans’ intelligence) is now being heralded as a must-see Pay-Per-View. All it took was a few major title changes the past few weeks – as well as replacing Jason Jordan with the rarely-seen Triple H on Team Raw – and just like that, Survivor Series now feels like a mini-WrestleMania, and here’s why.

Much like the biggest show of the year, Sunday’s card has something for everyone. If you’re a card-carrying member of the IWC, then AJ Styles vs. Brock Lesnar is the dream match you never knew you wanted (more on that later). If you’re a casual fan who’s been watching since The Attitude Era, you’re probably itching to see Kurt Angle and HHH wrestle on THE SAME CARD. If you’re a sucker for brand warfare, well, every single match on Sunday’s main card will feature just that. If you’re a fan of female wrestling, you have not one, but TWO high-profile womens matches on Sunday, both of which should receive some decent time (some people are predicting Charlotte vs. Alexa Bliss to steal the show, even). NXT will be well-represented on Sunday, with the likes of Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura, Baron Corbin and more all involved in high-profile matches. In case I haven’t made my point clear enough: there is at least one match that caters to every kind of wrestling fan out there.

But first…Houston, we have a TakeOver. This Saturday will be the first time in a long time that I don’t have a birthday party or wedding or SOMETHING that prevents me from watching NXT TakeOver: War Games live. Despite missing more weekly episodes of NXT the past month or so than I intended, I’m aware of the storylines heading into Saturday’s show and excited for each one. Don’t expect Lars Sullivan vs. Kassius Ohno to be anything more than a coming-out party for Lars. Ohno is a popular midcarder who could easily be slotted into the second or third top face in the NXT pecking order; however, management doesn’t seem to be high on him, for whatever reason. I don’t think he’ll get squashed – because NXT doesn’t roll like that with TakeOvers – but Lars wins, no doubt about that.

Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream – whose feud I have been fortunate to catch most of – has made for some compelling television. You wouldn’t think that these two guys, who are different in every way imaginable, would have such good on-air chemistry…yet they do. Black is the silent, stiff striker who arrived in NXT with a rich background of experience, and only speaks when he absolutely must. Meanwhile, Dream is a flamboyant, flashy wrestler who signed with NXT thanks to Tough Enough and will have undoubtedly the biggest match of his young career this Saturday. Both men have impressed me since their respective debuts, and I have no idea if they will click in-between the ropes. Along that same vein, I can’t safely predict a winner, either. I’m going with Black, because if Hideo Itami couldn’t give Black his first defeat, then I don’t see Dream being that guy. I could be wrong!

I’ve never been his biggest fan, but good for Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas finally getting a shot at the NXT Championship. Pairing him up with Zalina Vega was the best thing to happen to – maybe even salvage – his career. It’s a formula that I wish both NXT and the main roster employed more often: got someone who sucks in the promo department, but excels at everything else? Then pair him, her or them with someone who can talk. It worked for The Authors of Pain, it was the one good thing about the Jinder Mahal push (having the Singhs introduce Mahal), and it has worked wonders for Almas. With that being said, I don’t think a single NXT Champion has dropped the title in his first TakeOver title defense, and I doubt history is made on Sunday. Drew McIntyre will retain, but according to those who attended recent NXT live events, McIntyre vs. Almas has been the Match of the Night on multiple occasions. Now imagine how far they’ll push each other at a TakeOver, rather than a house show.

To be completely honest, I’m fine with anyone EXCEPT Kairi Sane winning the NXT Women’s Championship on Saturday. It’s nothing against her, but she still feels like Asuka V2.0 to me, and that would be solidified if she captures the vacant title at TakeOver. Do we really need another dominant babyface women’s champion holding the title for God-Knows-How-Long? No, we really don’t. Peyton Royce is my personal pick to win the title, but I don’t see it happening, even though she’s the only clear-cut heel. I’m just not sure NXT/WWE trusts her with carrying on the quality of premiere women’s wrestling at a TakeOver every three months (even though they should). Nikki Cross would make a great champion, but I think SaniTy is closer to a call-up than most people think, especially if The Authors of Pain are possibly turning/have turned babyface. Once SaniTy drops the tag titles, they’re main roster-bound, if you ask me. That leaves us with the woman who should have defeated Asuka for the championship in the first place. Ember Moon will finally achieve her dream of becoming NXT Women’s Champion, and I think she’ll have some good title defenses against the likes of The Iconic Duo, Nikki Cross, Sonya Deville and maybe even a heel Ruby Riot in the months to come.

The rest of SaniTy will have their hands full on Saturday, as they will be locked inside of War Games with both The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish) and the random-as-hell team of AOP and Roderick Strong (Author’s Note: When this match was announced/spoiled on social media, I made sure to watch the NXT episode where those three joined forces, wondering if Strong turned heel or if AOP turned face. That didn’t help; I still have no idea who turned). As someone who has never seen a War Games match (fight me), I have no idea what to expect, but I’m excited, all the same. Multi-man brawls are always fun and I’m sure they have something special in store for us. I assume The Undisputed Era win, since they’re the new kids on the block, but who the hell knows?

Once the TakeOver is complete, we then find out who will Survive at the Series. As you probably figured out from the opening paragraph, I’m pretty hyped for both shows this weekend, and I’ll be shocked if the Series doesn’t deliver (since NXT always does). In a rarity, I fully agree with the one match scheduled for the KickOff – although I’m sure they’ll announce something else before than – as Enzo vs. Kalisto is a match we’ve seen many times already, with an outcome that isn’t even up for debate. Enzo Amore will retain the Cruiserweight Championship, and hopefully this feud finally comes to an end afterwards.

There have been a lot of people speculating who will round out the SmackDown women’s team for Survivor Series. Paige appears to be the popular pick, but I don’t think it makes any sense for them to finally bring her back just to lose (since there’s no way a team that includes Asuka is taking an ‘L’). I think the fifth member of Team SmackDown will either be Natalya or Nikki Bella (since her boyfriend fiancée is also making his return on Sunday. So what if neither Nattie or Nikki are colossal letdowns (for most people)? Remember last month, when Kurt Angle hyped up the Raw crowd about the signing of a new Cruiserweight, only for it to be Kalisto? In other words, don’t get your hopes up for the ‘surprise’ fifth member. Raw’s women's team will win, with Asuka and Sasha Banks as Survivors.

I have no idea what to expect with Intercontinental Champion The Miz taking on United States Champion Baron Corbin. I love how people are saying the match will suck, even though they have never faced each other in the ring before. While Corbin has had his share of stinkers, he’s also had some really good matches with the likes of Kalisto (is this Kalisto Day or something?), Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles. Therefore, The Miz seems to be the right size of opponent to give Corbin a good match. It won’t be match of the night or anything, but I think people are underestimating the rare heel vs. heel dynamic and how Corbin might react to The Miztourage’s presence at ringside. Corbin needs the win more, but The Miz should win simply because he deserves it more.

While a lot of people are down on Miz vs. Corbin, they seem rather enthused by the prospect of The Bar going head-to-head with SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos; personally, I’m the opposite. I’m more hyped to see the former than the latter for some reason. I think that’s because I was really excited to see The Usos face AmbRollins instead but that got taken away from us. Don’t get me wrong – The Bar vs. The Usos will probably be one of the better matches of the night (look at their chemistry from last year’s Survivor Series as evidence), but it’s like getting served a slice of vanilla cake for dessert instead of chocolate. Sure, the cake will still be yummy, but it wasn’t your first choice. Anyways, The Usos will get their revenge from last year after a hard-fought victory.

Once again contrary to popular opinion, I’m not as excited as many are for The Shield vs. New Day. I understand this may be the only chance we have of seeing this match – similar to Lesnar vs. Styles – but it feels too rushed and one is not like the other. If this was November 2016, when New Day was running rampant over the Raw tag team division, I could have bought into this match. But their feud with The Usos not only proved the comedy trio is vulnerable to defeat, but being left off major Pay-Per-Views like SummerSlam and WrestleMania (pre-shows and hosting don’t count) hurt the group’s credibility. Does anyone really think three world champions – who just reunited – are going to lose to three guys who have NEVER been world champion? The Shield wins, and I’m interested to see how this match is structured.

I’m far from being Charlotte’s number one fan, but thank God WWE decided to put the women’s championship on her instead of keeping it on Natalya. The company was asking for apathy by announcing a trio of matches for Survivor Series which included Nattie vs. Alexa Bliss, Corbin vs. Miz and Lesnar vs. Mahal. At least they finally saw the light by righting those wrongs. Charlotte vs. Alexa is probably the biggest one-on-one women’s match WWE can give us in 2017 that doesn’t include Asuka. Charlotte may be the better wrestler between her and Alexa, but Alexa a better resume of matches this year than The Queen does, so that’s interesting. Together, I think they can create something special Sunday night. I’m predicting Charlotte to get the win, but will Alexa take the loss badly and attack Miss Flair afterwards, opening the door for Carmella to cash in her Money in the Bank briefcase? You never know…

If you thought the main-event of last month’s TLC was a trainwreck, then you probably won’t be thrilled with the booking of Sunday’s Raw vs. SmackDown men’s match. Not only are there countless superstars on both brands who have issues with either the participants or the GMs/commissioners (Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Kane, Jason Jordan and Rusev all come to mind), but both teams include guys who WWE like to protect: John Cena, Randy Orton, Triple H, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode, Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman. That’s about three-quarters of the participants! Therefore, I can see a lot of interference and shenanigans taking place in Houston. Strowman was my early pick for sole survivor, but I can see Kane eliminating The Monster Among The Men. Many people – including myself – won’t like this, but I don’t see Nakamura, Roode or Finn Balor getting a lot of shine or time for their respective teams, but I hope I’m wrong. Team Raw wins, thanks largely to KO & Zayn screwing over Orton & Nakamura towards the end, leading to HHH being Sole Survivor. Why HHH? Because it sets up an angle with Angle (lol) claiming his job is secure because his team won, but Stephanie disagrees because her husband saved the team from defeat, and a new power struggle begins on Raw. Yayyyyy….

Best case scenario: Brock Lesnar is feeling generous on Sunday and decides to channel his SummerSlam 2013 performance against CM Punk. Worst case scenario: Jinder Mahal squeezes in a rematch with AJ Styles and wins back the WWE Championship sometime before 10:30pm Sunday evening. Since the latter is extremely unlikely to happen (right?), I don’t think we should be too down on this match, even if it’s Suplex City all over again. Last year, WWE shocked the world by having Goldberg essentially squash Lesnar in less than two minutes. Could WWE continue the trend of Survivor Series being the bane of Lesnar’s existence by having Styles get the victory over The Beast? They sure as hell could…but they won’t. As much as it pains me to admit it, giving Styles the rub of going over Lesnar makes no sense since Styles doesn’t have many years left in the tank. It’s more logical to give that rub to someone who will still be wrestling full-time ten years from now, even though that person is sadly, most probably going to be Roman Reigns. Then again, what the hell did Goldberg stand to gain by beating Brock? The safe money is on a victory for The Universal Champion, but considering Lesnar’s track record at this PPV, I wouldn’t be mind-blown if Styles somehow sneaked out a victory.

But at the end of the day, what matters most is Jinder Mahal is no longer the WWE Champion.

HALLELUJAH!!! It can’t be a coincidence that Styles’ first SmackDown as WWE Champion resulted in little-to-no seats being tarped off and the rating sticking above 2.5, can it? Actually, let me rephrase that. It can’t be a coincidence that SmackDown attendance and ratings improved without Jinder Mahal as WWE Champion, can it? I find it beyond hilarious that Jinder Mahal failed so badly not only domestically, but WWE even had to cancel one of the two live events in India due to poor ticket sales. Once again, it shows what I said from day one: just because someone who shares the same heritage/skin colour as you is champion, that doesn’t mean you automatically like that person. Nattie is Canadian; that doesn’t mean she’s my favourite wrestler just because we’re both from Canada. Come on, now. WWE learned a harsh lesson that fans are not idiots. A pig wearing make-up is still a pig.

Furthermore, miss me with your, “But, but, the ticket prices are too high! These people in India can’t afford to attend a WWE event!”. Yes, a large percentage of India is in poverty, but there are plenty of low-income families in North America as well. It’s not like WWE gave the Indian population a one-month notice that they were coming: they have been promoting this tours MONTHS beforehand. Anyone who is a big WWE and/or Jinder Mahal fan would have been begging their parents to take them to see the live event(s), or saving up to buy tickets. The truth is, Jinder did not generate interest – he failed at the one thing he was really meant to excel at. You really think it’s a coincidence that news about the second show cancellation came shortly after Mahal lost the WWE Championship (in the U.K., of all places)? Jinder is DONE as a main-eventer after the tour is over. By the end of December, he’ll be back to jobbing in dark matches, where he belongs.

With two days to go before the big show, and no Jinder to be found on the card, it’s hard not to be excited about something this weekend. I don’t know about you, but I anxiously look forward to six-plus hours of entertainment courtesy of the WWE Network.


YOUR Two Centsss: What match are you most looking forward to this weekend?

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