As the WWE is so fond of reminding us, Survivor Series is the one time a year when Raw and SmackDown go head-to-head.
That theme has escalated in 2017, with a pair of matches between each of the show's male singles champions, as well as the women's champs. There's also a pair of traditional 5-on-5 elimination matches (one men's and one women's), a clash between both sets of tag team champions and a dream match pitting The New Day and The Shield.
To keep with that theme, we've pitted our Raw analyst Tim Fiorvanti against SmackDown analyst Matt Wilansky to break down, debate and, ultimately, predict the result of the full Survivor Series card.
Our previews continue with a match that has become synonymous with Survivor Series over the past 30 years: a 5-on-5 elimination match. This time around, Kurt Angle and Shane McMahon will captain their respective squads. But the bigger news is the addition of Triple H, who took the place of Jason Jordan on Monday night, adding more chaos to an already unpredictable match.
Wilansky: Where to begin? Well, we have 10 performers and a whole lot of permutations here. So, what is the most likely? I'll start with an intriguing, maybe even likely, scenario: McMahon against Angle, or captain versus captain, as the only two guys left in the ring battling it out for brand supremacy. There's been growing heat between them in the past few weeks. And let's not forget the consequences should Angle lose -- he'd be out as Raw general manager. Ouch. Do you think this is the last we're going to see of the Olympic gold medalist?
Fiorvanti: As a GM? It's certainly a possibility. But when it comes to in-ring action, no way. You don't have him come back for a pair of matches like this without getting at least one more WrestleMania moment for Angle. With Triple H now in the equation, and a beaten, embarrassed Jordan out of the picture, who's to say how this will really go?
When you look at how everything shook out with these teams, there are so many fun possibilities in play in terms of collisions, despite the somewhat odd construction of the teams. There are obvious ones, like Angle versus McMahon, but there's history to be mined in matchups like Shinsuke Nakamura against Finn Balor and Samoa Joe, revisiting last year's Survivor Series with McMahon and Braun Strowman, or going way back between John Cena and Angle. There's also any number of other possibilities between guys who have showed they match up well with almost anyone.
Wilansky: Hard to believe the history between Cena and Angle goes back more than 15 years, yet they haven't been in a WWE ring competing against each other since 2006. There's so much history between Cena and Triple H, Angle and Triple H -- and McMahon and Triple H, too. No doubt we'll see some good one-on-one action between these all-time legends while the rest of the competitors "nurse" injuries or battle outside the ring for at a few minutes. You mentioned WrestleMania above. How about Cena-Angle in New Orleans next April? But we digress.
Back to the topic on hand, I'm sure you peruse the wrestling rumor mill as much as any ardent fan. One swerve that has been tossed around and has picked up steam after Monday night is Angle's son, Jordan, who could turn on the general manager and cost Raw the match and Angle his job -- especially after Triple H pedigreed him and took his spot. It goes without saying the Jordan experiment hasn't exactly panned out, despite his superior in-ring ability.
He's not exactly the people's champ, and perhaps the best way to thrust him to the next level is for him to turn on his dad. Granted this double-cross scuttlebutt has been ongoing for a few months, but what better time than at a high-profile event like Survivor Series than to have a betrayal of this magnitude?
Fiorvanti: Jordan could be a linchpin here, and how he gets involved will play a massive role in the outcome. Betrayal is one possibility, but we could also see Jordan either getting some revenge against Triple H or even going out of his way to give his team the upper hand against Team SmackDown.
It seems like Jordan has reached a make-or-break moment. He was at his best in the early days of American Alpha in NXT, when he was a brash, cocky guy who finally gave Chad Gable a chance and benefited greatly from the partnership. He's so athletically gifted that it's a shame he's been bogged down by some unfortunate circumstances and a premature breakup of a promising young tag team.
But I think the real wild card in this match is Nakamura. We've already seen him tangling with heavy hitters such as Cena and Randy Orton, who are his SmackDown teammates, along with his previously mentioned history from NXT. I don't know what it is, but I think this could be a huge moment for Nakamura to step up, and I'm far more excited than I probably should be about the potential of him squaring off with Strowman at some point.
Wilansky: In many ways, this is an NXT all-star reunion with four former champs, and the brand's leader (Triple H), in the same ring for the first time on the big stage. No doubt we could see a tension convention between teammates Bobby Roode and Nakamura that could cause one of them to fall. And that obviously goes for Balor and Joe, who will likely rekindle a phenomenal feud from their days in the developmental league once Survivor Series ends.
So many possibilities as mentioned, but if I were a betting man, I would not put my money on Strowman to leave this match with his arms raised. I can't quite put my finger on it, but this just doesn't seem like the right time for him to regain his mojo after an uninspiring loss to Brock Lesnar at No Mercy.
There's just no visceral heat between him and anyone on the SmackDown roster. It would almost seem anticlimactic if he left the arena as the last, or one of the last men standing.
Fiorvanti: I think this match can go a few ways, because the main conceit of this match is whether Angle will remain the Raw GM. Jordan could easily play a role. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn could also factor in. There's also the possibility Strowman will be the hero who saves the day, although his rivalry with Kane heated up Monday on Raw as he powerslammed him through the ring canvas.
I just don't see any other way to pay off Stephanie McMahon's threats to fire Angle over the past few weeks. There's going to be some true nostalgia in the air with a mix of Angle, Cena, Triple H and Shane McMahon in the mix -- and it may just be the kind of rub that guys like Balor, Joe, Nakamura and Roode could really use at this moment. Enlighten me, Matt. How do you think this could end?
Wilansky: The Kane curveball is certainly a legit possibility, but I don't think that will ultimately decide the outcome here. He's almost a buffer for Strowman -- which was further validated by what happened on Monday -- until he can get his hands on Lesnar or Joe, or someone who resonates more.
Call me king of the obvious, but somehow, some way, Triple H is going to be around at the end. But don't let his late addition to the team sway you too much. We've already mentioned Jordan quite a bit. Can Triple H and Strowman co-exist? Talk about a potential high-end clash down the road. And let's not forget Owens and Zayn. There's no way to shut them out of Survivor Series.
Still, I will come back to my initial inclination. Yes, maybe I am too much of a dreamer, but I still think this comes down to Shane and Angle in some capacity. It's just a matter of whether the disenfranchised SmackDown heels, Owens and Zayn, create any kind of match-ending chaos. And if they do, it doesn't mean they'll side with Shane. Can't you just smell the betrayal in the air?
Fiorvanti: I think we could, theoretically, see Angle vs. McMahon as a WrestleMania match, though McMahon's match against AJ Styles this year at WrestleMania proved how good a match he can have with an active talent, so I'm not holding my breath there. With Stephanie returning to TV, and Triple H not far behind with his return Monday, we'll almost certainly have another round of McMahon family drama overtaking everything as the central story of what's going on in WWE heading to New Orleans.
I could go on about permutations for days, but I think we covered most of our bases. So what's your gut instinct as far as the outcome here?
Wilansky prediction: SmackDown wins because A) it's eminently important for creative to show, like last year, the blue brand is not inferior and B) one way or another, things are not going to turn out well for Angle. I'll say Nakamura ends up being the team hero, taking out both Balor and Joe to end the match.
Fiorvanti prediction: Raw wins because SmackDown played the aggressor and got the best of Raw every step of the way until Tuesday night. Despite landing the final blow with a counter invasion, Raw will still need that victory after losing a number of the champion versus champion matches. You don't add Triple H to have him lose, unless he's there to sabotage the team from the inside (which is, to be fair, a possibility). SmackDown won't win this match two years in a row, and Angle's job will be saved (for now) in order to allow animosities with Stephanie McMahon and Triple H to simmer and carry well into WrestleMania season. There will be some tension, but Angle will find a way -- perhaps with an assist from his son (and perhaps to even thwart a Triple H-led mutiny) -- to get the better of the entire McMahon clan, at least for one night.