Last year, WWE expanded the brand vs. brand competition between Raw and SmackDown to also include the NXT roster. This year, that’s not happening.
It’s a shame to see the roster once more pushed back down to C-level status (B-level at most if you try to consider Raw and SmackDown equals, despite how we all know SmackDown is the B-show). Clearly, NXT is not the “main roster” no matter how often some like to claim it is.
There’s a chance this isn’t happening due to COVID-19 making it harder to gather that many people together and cross-contaminate. Then again, it could just be WWE ignoring the black and gold brand.
Whatever the circumstances, NXT is not part of Survivor Series this year. That means a whole “what if” scenario opens up, as we can ponder the possibilities had NXT still been involved.
Who would have been on the teams? How well would the champions have fared?
Let’s do some fantasy booking and explore these ideas!
Team for Men’s Elimination Match
There are plenty of rock solid choices to pick from here. You can’t go wrong with a good number of guys. However, there are a few that stand out as guarantees above the rest.
Adam Cole is a definite. If anything, he should be the team leader. Since he has no title keeping him out of the mix, he’s arguably the top pick to be the captain as he has experience at the top of the brand and the leader of a faction.
The only person who could challenge him for a leadership role would be Tommaso Ciampa. However, Ciampa is more of a loner these days. He probably wouldn’t play as well with others as Cole. Still, he makes it onto the team, 100%.
Up until Halloween Havoc, I would have thought Johnny Gargano was another easy pick. Now that he’s the new North American champion, his responsibilities are elsewhere. But that just leaves Damian Priest free to join the team. He has power and athleticism, so he’s another easy pick.
I’d go so far as to say Bronson Reed is another relatively easy choice. He’s the wall of the team and the power game even more so than Priest.
That just leaves one more spot open and at least a half dozen or more people who could fill that void. You’ve got Austin Theory, Bobby Fish, Cameron Grimes, Dexter Lumis, Killian Dain, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, Jake Atlas, Kushida, Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong and Velveteen Dream as the strongest contenders.
If you’re going for team cohesion, you go with O’Reilly. He can more than work well alongside Cole and back him up, as well as be a solid utility player.
Dream would have been a guarantee this time last year. He’s lost a step, though. Plus, do you want to have him on the team with his baggage and inability to work with Ciampa?
Kushida’s a good choice, but I feel like he’d get jobbed out, sadly. Grimes is a tool. Love the character these days, but he’s a total nuisance to the team, rather than an asset.
Lumis is the top contender to upset O’Reilly for a spot. He’s proven himself able to win some impressive matches so far. Really, it would depend on if you’d prefer more team cohesion or someone who is a bit more imposing to the opponents. If you value intimidation, go with Lumis instead of O’Reilly.
Team NXT (men) = Adam Cole, Bronson Reed, Damian Priest, Tommaso Ciampa and either Kyle O’Reilly or Dexter Lumis
Team for Women’s Elimination Match
A good number of the women on the roster would be easily eliminated from this list. Just like with the men’s team, the goal would be to get as much star power as possible and lean in that direction.
That means despite how talented some of them are, we can rule out Aliyah, Indi Hartwell, Jessi Kamea, Kacy Catanzaro, Kayden Carter, Raquel González, Santana Garrett and Xia Li.
We can also rule out Chelsea Green, Karen Q, Kavita Devi, Scarlett, Tegan Nox and Vanessa Borne. All of them have been missing in action. Some are injured, like Nox. Scarlett still hasn’t wrestled and Karrion Kross is injured, so that’s why she’s gone. No idea about Green and Borne, but they certainly wouldn’t make the team. For that matter, as much as it pains me to say it, Mercedes Martinez is just MIA, so she can’t be counted, either.
That narrows down the list to a sensible six to pick from, meaning one of the following can’t make the team: Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, Ember Moon, Rhea Ripley, Shotzi Blackheart and Toni Storm.
To me, it’s down to having to pick between LeRae and Kai. The other four definitely should be on the team.
Team NXT (women) = Candice LeRae/Dakota Kai, Ember Moon, Rhea Ripley, Shotzi Blackheart and Toni Storm.
The Midcard Belts: Raw’s United States Champion Bobby Lashley vs. NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano vs. SmackDown Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn takes the pin or submission from whoever wins this match between Bobby Lashley and Johnny Gargano. I’m fairly confident that’s the case.
Gargano on a regular night could take Zayn, I believe. Lashley is a tougher task, particularly if The Hurt Business were to transition to babyface roles. They may be on that trajectory, which would allow the bigger and more “heroic” Lashley to beat these two.
A scenario I could see happening, though, is Lashley taking out Zayn, only for Gargano to steal the win somehow. He’s been more crafty lately since his heel turn. Avoiding Lashley would be difficult, but not impossible.
Winner = Johnny Gargano
The Tag Team Belts: Raw’s New Day vs. NXT’s Brit-Am Brawlers vs. SmackDown’s Street Profits
NXT stands no chance in this round. Absolutely none.
I dig Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan, don’t get me wrong. I’m really glad they turned heel and captured the NXT Tag Team Championship. But they’re up against The New Day and The Street Profits. It’s a whole different level.
Outside of that Raw to SmackDown transition, The Street Profits have been champions longer than any title reign in five years. Guess who had the longest reign before them? The New Day.
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods could take out Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford. The reverse is extremely likely to take place, though, just to give the newer guys the rub. But there’s no scenario where Lorcan and Burch win.
For balancing purposes compared to the later two matches, I’m going to say The New Day wins this, but The Street Profits would be the other side of the coin flip, not The Brit-Am Brawlers.