When the champion vs. champion Survivor Series matches were announced four weeks ago, the general response was a whole lot of confusion. The seeds had already been planted for a match between Brock Lesnar and Jinder Mahal and that was one thing but that slightly odd matchup coupled with two other clear heel vs. heel clashes immediately made this one of the most unique WWE cards in recent memory. It wasn't that the card looked bad exactly but it didn't seem to carry the appeal that you’d hope it would considering the grandiose concept.
Well by hook or by crook, within just a few episodes of television the WWE has transformed Survivor Series into a super-card and arguably, their most stacked show of the year. That feat in itself is an impressive one, but even more engrossing is the general aura and feeling that’s been established as a theme over the last few weeks. I have zero issue conceding that my initial reaction to #UNDERSIEGE and more specifically its execution hadn't been a particularly positive one. It felt forced and unnatural at the time and it may still be both those things but it laid the platform for the atmosphere that followed and that in itself makes it worthwhile.
Chaos had suddenly struck Monday Night RAW and it was impacting everyone, none more so of course than brand General Manager Kurt Angle. With Stephanie McMahon putting even more pressure on him, Angle was suddenly made a part of the 5-man RAW team and with that the match was given a real emotional layer as the gravity of it all had been only emphasized by Kurt’s presence. He would be fighting for his job quite literally and with Shane McMahon on the opposite team, he’d have the chance to earn revenge too. This was no longer just a clash of 10 great wrestlers but now something more. Luckily, as the teams filled over the next few weeks, it became clear that the match wouldn't be without great wrestlers either.
Meanwhile, two weeks had gone since SmackDown’s attack and RAW still hadn't responded physically. Three of the blue brand’s leaders opted to take another cross-brand hit whilst they waited though as The New Day appeared in the RAW crowd during The Shield’s tag title defense against Cesaro and Sheamus. Panicked, Angle rallied the troops and they run the trio off but in the meantime, Sheamus took advantage of the mass distraction and in an instant, had regained the RAW tag team titles in the midst of all the insanity. Suddenly, we had new tag team champions and for that very reason, new opponents for SmackDown champions The Usos.
The New Day’s arrival at RAW felt authentic, believable and most of all quite shocking, especially in the middle of a European tour. The result had taken The Usos vs. Ambrose and Rollins from us but at the same time had made way for the Shield’s now booked clash with fellow standout trio The New Day. It’s a six-man tag match that feels genuinely blockbuster and with the in-ring action guaranteed to excite, it seems perfectly suited to a show and card such as this one. It was the night after New Day’s invasion that really shook Survivor Series up though and it wasn't due to a RAW attack…yet.
It was on that night AJ Styles took the WWE title from Jinder Mahal, shocking the wrestling world and giving Survivor Series a WrestleMania worthy main event. The contrast in size, style and personality makes a match between Styles and Lesnar incredibly intriguing and AJ’s ability to adapt and work with anyone and everyone seems set to thrill when paired with Brock’s known sprint style. The title change’s other consequence was its impact on the men’s traditional Survivor Series match. With AJ Styles now champion, a spot opened up on SmackDown’s team and their replacement was a pretty decent one as they brought in some part timer known as John Cena…you know, one of the greatest top guys of all time?
Cena dwarfed RAW’s initial 5th member Jason Jordan somewhat and this was very much clear to Stephanie McMahon who stepped in and replaced Angle’s son with Triple H. In case it wasn't already clear, yes this 5 on 5 match is absolutely insane and I for one can’t wait for it. The final major card change came on the go-home SmackDown before Survivor Series as Charlotte unsurprisingly won the title from Natalya to set up a fresh and marquee clash with RAW champion Alexa Bliss. Though the match always looked likely, it still feels important that it takes place on a card like this. The women’s division looks much stronger with two top talents representing their brands as champions.
Charlotte’s victory, post-match promo and embrace with her father seemed set to be the moment of the night but instead we went off the air with the perfection punctuator for Sunday’s build-up. As soon as The Shield’s music hit during the show’s main event it was clear we were in for drama and we got just that as a wild mass brawl broke out. It was filled with aggression, intensity and personality. Little character clashes like The Usos facing off with Roman Reigns only added to the excitement and you simply couldn't take your eyes off it. Kurt had gotten some revenge but with his job still on the line, it was still all about Sunday.
As you can probably tell, the road to Survivor Series has been a wild one and the best part is that the possibilities are far from over as we head into Sunday’s PPV. The chances for interference are endless whether it be Jinder, Jordan, the friendship of Sami and Kevin or even a Carmella cash-in. In fact, some are even pondering Daniel Bryan’s allegiance heading into the event. There’s even still a spot remaining on SmackDown women’s team too and all of this only adds to the chaotic journey so far. Belts have changed hands up to the very last minute and ironically, the least likely champion vs. champion match between Miz and Corbin is the only one that has actually survived this build-up.
It all has felt truly hectic and that’s perfect considering how pivotal this month is inside WWE’s brand split narrative. It should be unpredictable, messy and stressful for those involved and it’s been all of those things to the highest degree. As fun as the route to this point has been, the best part is the result this Sunday as regardless of build-up, we are getting a match card that in my mind stands above any other WWE card of the year. The rest is just the icing on the cake.