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Similar to other recent installments of the event, WWE Survivor Series 2018 will carry a Raw vs. SmackDown Live theme, where Superstars from both shows will battle for brand supremacy.
Between the three champion vs. champion matches, the three traditional Survivor Series elimination bouts, and the WWE Cruiserweight Championship being defended, it's a loaded lineup for sure. Granted, nothing will be at stake in most of the matchups, but from an in-ring standpoint, it promises to be a pay-per-view for the ages.
In the main event, Brock Lesnar and Daniel Bryan will face off for the first time ever following Bryan's shocking WWE Championship win this past week on SmackDown Live. Can the newly-crowned champ emerge from his war with Lesnar unscathed?
Raw Women's champion Ronda Rousey will also have her hands full when she collides with the Charlotte Flair SmackDown Live, who will be filling in for the injured Becky Lynch. Will Rousey be able to run through Flair as easily as she has past opponents?
Finally, the traditional Survivor Series elimination matches featuring the men, women and tag teams from Raw and SmackDown are stockpiled with star power. A successful showing from either brand in these hated head-to-head battles would surely provide a boost of momentum, but who will reign supreme?
As Survivor Series quickly approaches, now is as appropriate of a time as any to preview the pay-per-view and offer predictions for each advertised outing on the card.
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Looking at the lineup for this match is distressing, to say the least. Between Raw and SmackDown Live, there are only a handful of relevant teams these days, and two of them (AOP and The Bar) will not even be involved in this colossal mashup of tag team talent.
Needless to say, tag team wrestling has never exactly been WWE's strong suit, so it should come as no surprise that this match will be taking place on the Survivor Series Kickoff show. Then again, it's right where it belongs considering most of these tandems (The Ascension, The Colons, The B-Team, SAnitY, etc) could not mean less at the moment.
In fact, The New Day and The Usos are far and away the biggest stars in this match and should emerge as the sole survivors for Team SmackDown. A victory here could propel either team (or both) back into the SmackDown Tag Team Championship picture following the pay-per-view.
Meanwhile on Raw, captains Chad Gable and Bobby Roode have had their fair share of ups-and-downs lately. It's evident that they will not be together long-term, so it would be a waste for them to take home the win for Team Red.
A high-profile loss for Roode and Gable on this show should be enough for them to tease tension once again and break up in the not-so-distant future.
Prediction: Team SmackDown wins.
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If you have not been tuning into 205 Live regularly in recent months, you have been missing out on some of the most exciting wrestling and storytelling in all of WWE right now, specifically from Buddy Murphy and Mustafa Ali.
These two were embroiled in a heated feud earlier this year, culminating in an exhilarating No Disqualification match that was won by Ali. They have since rekindled their rivalry over the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, so the stakes have never been higher headed into their upcoming clash at Survivor Series.
It can be argued that Ali should have become champion back at WrestleMania 34 instead of Cedric Alexander, but Ali has been a blast to watch in chase mode. As a result of his various victories over the likes of Murphy, Hideo Itami and Tony Nese, his eventual title win will mean that much more.
That said, it's far too early for him to be taking the title from Murphy, who just beat Alexander for the belt at October's Super Show-Down event. Their rivalry must resume post-Survivor Series with Ali continuing to chase the champ, perhaps leading to him capturing the championship in early 2019 (if not at WrestleMania 35).
Additionally, look for this match to be among the best bouts of the weekend (assuming they're allotted an ample amount of time).
Prediction: Buddy Murphy retains the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
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The biggest question heading into this match for several weeks was whether Charlotte Flair would agree to captain SmackDown Live's women's team at Survivor Series. Of course, all of the time spent telling that story amounted to nothing due to Charlotte instead serving as Becky Lynch's replacement against Ronda Rousey at the event.
The blue brand will be represented by Asuka, Carmella, Naomi, Sonya Deville and a mystery partner, and although there are four SmackDown Women's Championship reigns between those ladies, each of them have been spinning their wheels with zero direction for many months.
However, Raw's squad is not much better. Ruby Riott and Natalya have been involved in a lame feud with each other over the past month, Mickie James is essentially Alexa Bliss' irrelevant sidekick, and Nia Jax and Tamina are a dominant yet completely uninteresting unit.
Bliss will be standing in the corner of Team Raw as their captain, so the odds are certainly in their favor. Despite the likes of Sasha Banks, Bayley and Ember Moon not partaking in this bout, Raw's women's division is way more stacked than SmackDown's and thus they should reign supreme here.
As for the who the mystery partner for SmackDown could be, Mandy Rose is probably fans' best bout since she teased joining before Charlotte was moved into a different match on the card.
Prediction: Team Raw wins.
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The build to this bout has been virtually nonexistent, which is a shame given its potential to be a hard-hitting, highly physical affair.
Following months of bad booking and nearly no television time, AOP finally rebounded earlier this month when they knocked off Seth Rollins for the Raw Tag Team Championship. They have yet to contest a truly memorable match on the main roster, but that's largely because they have not been given the chance to shine.
On SmackDown Live, The Bar have been running roughshod over the competition in the tag team division and having Big Show in their corner has helped them tremendously. Sheamus and Cesaro have been a dominant duo since joining forces two years ago, and seeing as how AOP have been equally unstoppable, this promises to be an interesting encounter.
Between the two tandems, AOP needs the victory way more than The Bar does. They are just beginning to get their feet wet on the main roster and need an important victory over a credible tag team (such as The Bar) in order to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
Beyond Survivor Seires, though, Raw and SmackDown will have their work cut out for them when it comes to rebuilding the tag team divisions. They are in shambles at the moment and need some serious tweaking (along with a few fresh faces).
Prediction: AOP win.
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Similar to AOP vs. The Bar, this bout feels like a complete afterthought on the Survivor Series card and should mean more than it does considering the level of talent involved. Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura would be a marquee match on any other show, but because of the Raw vs. SmackDown Live theme, it lacks purpose.
Nevertheless, Rollins's focus has instead been on Dean Ambrose in recent weeks. The Architect even admitted as much on Monday's Raw during an in-ring interview with Corey Graves, which all but confirmed that Nakamura would be winning when they go one-on-one at Survivor Series.
As big of a star as Rollins is, there is no reason for him to be beating Nakamura on Sunday. He has an excuse to lose with Ambrose interfering being the most logical route to take, and seeing as how Ambrose will not be wrestling anywhere else on this card, that is what needs to happen.
Furthermore, Nakamura has done nothing of note as United States champion since winning the title in July. Most fans likely forgot he was even a title holder based off how infrequently he appears on SmackDown, but a victory versus Rollins would surely help him get back on track.
Although Ambrose factoring into the finish of this matchup is only academic, Rollins vs. Nakamura can be a real barn-burner of a bout if they are not short on time.
Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura wins.
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This year's mega men's traditional 5-on-5 Raw vs. SmackDown Survivor Series elimination match has seen several changes in recent weeks. Both squads are stacked with star power and have an equal chance of reigning supreme.
Shane McMahon will be leading the charge for the blue brand, and after becoming the "best in the world" at WWE Crown Jewel earlier this month, it's likely he'll last until the end. The same can be said for team captain The Miz, who should be on the rise post-Survivor Series.
Finn Balor and Bobby Lashley are bound to be eliminated quickly from Team Raw. Although Braun Strowman was promised a future match with Brock Lesnar if Team Raw wins, he should not be the sole survivor, either. If anyone, Drew McIntyre should be in there until the end representing Raw given the recent push he's been getting on Monday nights.
McIntyre would normally be a solid choice to have go over, but since I've already picked Raw to win a majority of the matches at the event, SmackDown should steal this victory. Shane being the sole survivor would be a travesty, so hopefully Miz gets the nod and picks up the win for his team.
This bout does not have nearly as much buzz as it should, but it could very well exceed expectations regardless of who wins.
Prediction: Team SmackDown wins.
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Ronda Rousey vs. Becky Lynch was primed to headline Survivor Series 2018 before Lynch suffered a broken face at the hands of Nia Jax on Monday's Raw. The next night on SmackDown Live, Charlotte Flair then stepped in to replace her at Lynch's request, but without a proper buildup, this bout does not have as high of a chance of closing out the event.
Nevertheless, Rousey and Charlotte crossing paths was only inevitable, it's just happening a lot sooner than expected. Charlotte has been on quite the losing streak lately and there is no value in having her hand Rousey her first WWE defeat right now.
Therefore, Rousey picking up the victory for Raw only makes sense, but there should be more to it than that. After all she and Rousey have done together lately, Lynch should make an appearance at the pay-per-view (if possible) and factor into the finish of this match somehow.
Of course, it fully depends on whether Lynch is medically cleared to get physical. Even if not, there's nothing stopping WWE from having them face off and plant the seeds not only for that matchup but a Four Horsewomen vs. Four Horsewomen clash as well.
In the ring, this contest should be second to none and should ideally be Rousey's best outing to date in WWE.
Prediction: Round Rousey wins.
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Originally at Survivor Series, Brock Lesnar and AJ Styles were set to collide in a rematch from last year's installment, where Lesnar picked up the victory following an instant classic between the two. That changed once Daniel Bryan captured the WWE Championship on SmackDown Live, giving us this first-time-ever encounter instead.
What's interesting about this outing is that Bryan is fresh off a shocking heel turn on Tuesday night. Lesnar is a certified villain as well, so although the audience will have zero incentive to cheer for either guy, hopefully it's a good enough match to keep them invested no matter what.
Lesnar has been annihilating everyone who has stepped up to face him in recent years, including competitors much bigger than Bryan. Needless to say, the odds of WWE's resident "Yes!" man slaying The Beast Incarnate (especially in clean fashion) are slim to none, but that does not mean he can not be made to look strong in defeat.
After all, Bryan is now the WWE champion and should not be booked like a glorified enhancement talent versus Lesnar. He needs to emerge from this outing as a true treat, and after years away from the main event scene, this is his chance to re-establish himself as a main event player.
Since Styles is not currently advertised to appear at the event, look for him to play a part in Bryan's loss to Lesnar and exact some revenge from SmackDown in the process.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar wins.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumni and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.