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Heel Turns: Survivor Series filled with drama

Posted by Achilles Heel On November 18

Sunday’s Survivor Series is a stacked card containing loads of intrigue. Let’s get right to the action.

Survivor Series (7 p.m., WWE Network), which is up against the Eagles-Cowboys game, features two traditional Survivor Series 5-on-5 elimination matches. There will be a men’s match and women’s match. In keeping with the theme of the event, all matches (except the WWE Cruiserweight Championship bout between Enzo Amore and Kalisto on the kickoff show) will be battles between Raw and Smackdown.

The men’s 5-on-5 elimination match is the co-main event, along with WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar squaring off with WWE champion A.J. Styles. The 5-on-5 elimination match is overflowing with storylines.

The Raw team consists of captain Kurt Angle, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor and Triple H. Let’s start with Triple H being added to the team on Raw. More accurately, Triple H added himself to the team, replacing Jason Jordan. Angle had already decided to replace Jordan, his storyline son, due to an injury sustained in a match Monday with Bray Wyatt.

Angle, the Raw general manager, is under pressure to win the match from Raw commissioner Stephanie McMahon. With Triple H added to the match, supposedly at Stephanie’s insistence, there could be tension between Triple H and Angle over who will be in charge during Survivor Series. Angle may also be upset that Triple H delivered a pedigree to Jordan before leaving the ring.

The potential for chaos on Team Raw is exacerbated by the presence of Balor and Samoa Joe, who have been feuding in recent weeks. And there is the question of whether Strowman can get along with anyone. There is a high risk of implosion for Team Raw.

There isn’t as much disharmony on Team Smackdown. Commissioner Shane McMahon is the captain. His teammates are John Cena, Randy Orton, Bobby Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura. There could be some tension between Orton and Nakamura, who were both pursuing the WWE Championship when Jinder Mahal held it, and Orton and Cena have a longstanding rivalry, but there doesn’t appear to be much possibility for dissension.

A more likely problem for Team Smackdown would be outside interference from within its own brand. Dolph Ziggler could attack Roode, who defeated him to qualify for Team Smackdown. Another possibility is interference by Rusev, who was denied a spot on Team Smackdown in a match with Orton, yet saw Cena added to the team without having a qualifying match.

Another possibility for interference comes from Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, who are upset with Shane. If you want a wild card, Smackdown general manager Daniel Bryan, who wasn’t told of Shane’s invasion plans for Raw, could get involved in the match. And the Greek God of Wrestling hasn’t even touched on Angle’s anger at Shane for invading Raw, as well as Shane seeking revenge for the beatdown he received during Raw’s invasion of Smackdown this week.

There are numerous possibilities for twists and turns in this match. The final survivor could be Angle, Triple H, Shane, Balor, Orton, Cena or Strowman. The men’s 5-on-5 elimination match was one of the best matches of the year in 2016. The potential is there for it to attain that stature in 2017 as well.

The Lesnar-Styles match also has the potential to be a terrific match. Lesnar’s matches this year haven’t been championship-caliber matches. He has a wonderful opportunity to alter that trend against Styles, who has lived up to his phenomenal nickname. Styles’ size and skill-set should be a nice complement for Lesnar’s power game. Achilles Heel predicts that Lesnar will prevail, perhaps due to interference by Mahal.

There isn’t quite as much intrigue in the women’s 5-on-5 traditional Survivor Series elimination match. As in the men’s match, a major question concerns how well Team Raw can work together.

Raw captain Alicia Fox is joined by Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, Bayley and Asuka. Jax is not a team player. Banks and Bayley have been teasing a split. There also seems to be a budding rivalry with Asuka, the heralded newcomer.

The intrigue for Team Smackdown is who will replace Charlotte, who won the Smackdown Women’s Championship from Natalya on Tuesday. Natalya could be the replacement, or it could be the returning Paige. Team Smackdown is captained by Becky Lynch, with Naomi, Carmela and Tamina rounding out the team.

Will Asuka be the survivor for Team Raw? Will it be Paige as the survivor for Smackdown? Or will one team fall apart, leading to domination by the other? There are many possibilities.

Charlotte will face Raw Women’s champion Alexa Bliss. Charlotte should pick up a win for Smackdown, but will Carmella cash in her Money in the Bank opportunity? (Probably not due to the upcoming rematch between Charlotte and Natalya at Starcade.) Countering that result, Intercontinental champion The Miz should defeat United States champion Baron Corbin, although there is the possibility of an inconclusive finish.

The Miz-Corbin match is one of two heel-vs.-heel matches at Survivor Series. Cesaro and Sheamus, who recently won the Raw Tag Team Championship from Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, will battle Jimmy and Jey Uso, the Smackdown Tag Team champions.

One match added to Survivor Series this past week is the reunited Shield (Ambrose, Rollins and Roman Reigns) against The New Day (Big E, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston). The Shield Reunion comes a month late due to Reigns’ illness, but Achilles Heel expects The Shield’s reunion to be a triumphant one.

*****

WAR GAMES: One night before Survivor Series in Houston, NXT presents NXT Takeover: WarGames. Like Survivor Series, Saturday night’s WarGames (8 p.m., WWE Network) is a loaded card.

The main event is a War Games match, with a huge steel cage surrounding two rings. The competing teams in this match, which has its roots in WCW, are NXT Tag Team champions SAnitY (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain), The Undisputed ERA (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly) and The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) and Roderick Strong. One member from each team starts the match. Five minutes later, the other members of one team will be released from a “shark cage” to enter the match, followed by the other two teams at 3-minute intervals.

Drew McIntyre defends the NXT Championship against Andrade “Cien” Almas. Unless McIntyre’s call-up to WWE’s main roster is imminent, the Greek God of Wrestling expects McIntyre to retain the title.

There also will be a Fatal 4-way match for NXT Women’s Championship vacated by Asuka. Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, Peton Royce and Kairi Sane, the winner of the Mae Young Classic, will compete for the title. Other matches include Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream, and Kassius Ohno vs. Lars Sullivan, who is receiving a big push.

*****

PREPARING FOR BATTLE: As Ring of Honor continues with its Survival of the Fittest competition this weekend, it is announcing matches for Final Battle on Dec. 15 at The Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom. In addition to the previously announced Ring of Honor World Championship match between Cody Rhodes and challenger Dalton Castle, Ring of Honor has added a Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship match between The Mator City Macine Guns (Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley) and Best Friends (Trent Beretta and Chuckie T.), as well as a non-title match between IWGP Jr. Heavyweight champion Marty Scurll and Jay Lethal.

*****

FLAIR FOR VICTORY: Charlotte Flair captured the Smackdown Women’s Championship from Natalya on Tuesday in a hard-fought match. After the match, Charlotte was joined in celebration on the entrance ramp by her father, Ric Flair. This was Flair’s first WWE television appearance since nearly dying this summer. Needless to say, it was an emotional scene. The fact that the match took place in Charlotte, N.C., which is definitely Flair country, added to the emotion.

*****

HARDCORE IN PHILLY: House of Hardcore 35 takes place Saturday (Nov. 18) at 2300 Arena. Tommy Dreamer battles Joey Mercury in a first blood match in the main event. Other matches include Billy Gunn vs. Nick Aldis, and Matt Cross vs. Petey Williams. An in-ring promo by Austin Aries is also being promoted. Shane Douglas and MVP are also being advertised for the show.

If you can’t get to House of Hardcore, this is the first event for which you can follow the action online. Go to houseofhardcore.net to get more information. (If you go to houseofhardcore.com by accident, you will get a vastly different experience.)

*****

BAD BOOKING: The previous week’s Impact Wrestling climaxed with a huge brawl between Alberto El Patron and Johnny Impact. The brawl, which was sparked by El Patron costing Impact the Impact Wrestling World Championship at Bound for Glory, went all over the arena.

So naturally, as a follow-up, on this past Thursday’s Impact Wrestling, El Patron and Impact were … nowhere to be found. Huh?

The explanation was that both wrestlers were banned from the building, but how can a follow-up show to a crazy brawl between two of the promotions most well-known wrestlers not include an appearance by either one of them?

*****

HONOR TO TRYOUT: Ring of Honor’s next try-out camp/wrestling seminar will take place Dec. 2-3. The location of the camp, which used to be in Bristol, Pa., is not listed on the announcement. The deadline for applications is Nov. 28. For more information, go to Ring of Honor’s Web site.

*****

STARCADE RETURNS: WarGames isn’t the only old WCW show being resurrected by WWE. Starcade will take place next Saturday (Nov. 25) in Greensboro, N.C.

The main event will be a steel cage match between Jinder Mahal and A.J. Styles for the WWE Championship, which Styles won from Mahal earlier this month in Manchester, England. There also will be a steel cage match between Charlotte Flair and Natalya for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, which Flair won from Natalya on Tuesday.

There also will be a Fatal 4-way match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship, with Jimmy and Jey Uso defending against The New Day, Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable, and Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Shinsuke Nakamura will challenge Baron Corbin for the United States Championship.

Not-title matches include Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler, and Dustin Rhodes, in honor of his father Dusty Rhodes, facing Dash Wilder. Among those scheduled to appear at Starcade are Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Matt and Jeff Hardy and The Rock ‘n Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson).

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