For the second year in a row, WWE has foregone the “brand warfare” concept for Survivor Series and opted to feature WarGames, instead.
But what if this year was a return to form, bringing back the Raw vs. SmackDown theme, champions showcase bouts and the traditional elimination matches?
If that had happened, who would have been against each other? Which Superstars would have likely been on Team Raw and Team SmackDown in the battle for brand supremacy? Who would Adam Pearce and Nick Aldis had hoped would bring home the victory for their shows?
Let’s take a look at the rosters and try to determine the best options available and some predictions for what WWE would likely have done had this been the game plan.
Men’s World Champion vs. Champion: Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns
Naturally, had the champion versus champion matches taken place, we would have seen the world title-holders do battle once more. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns are no strangers to one another, and there’s been a consistent theme for their encounters: Roman can’t beat Seth.
While technically, he has in the past, that’s typically the story being told. Rollins has a much better track record and the victor of this match would entirely depend on whether WWE would want to harp on that story just for the build and give Reigns the chance to go against the grain, or if it would be way too obvious that Roman would win, and subvert the expectations by having Rollins yet again be the winner.
Even if the latter were the case, I’d imagine it would only be via disqualification. Basically, Jimmy Uso—the current whipping boy and dunce of The Bloodline—would likely get caught interfering, leading to Roman being DQ’d by the referee. Since no titles are on the line, it wouldn’t ultimately matter one way or another, but that would give Rollins the continued points while protecting The Tribal Chief from a true loss.
Of course, nothing would stop WWE from just having Roman pin Seth and continue the narrative that he’s unstoppable. But that would only more so happen, in my mind, if this were the main event. If Roman didn’t headline this show, and the Team Raw vs. Team SmackDown match did, then he could certainly lose by DQ.
A win for Rollins would also go a long way in trying to dispute the narrative that the World Heavyweight Championship is the C-tier world title and the “I can’t beat Roman” belt while Reigns holds the two true world titles.
Winner by disqualification = Seth Rollins (Raw)
Women’s World Champion vs. Champion: Rhea Ripley vs. Iyo Sky
As we still don’t know what WWE’s intentions are for who will beat Iyo Sky, and we can assume Rhea Ripley is holding her title until at least WrestleMania 40, where she’ll fight Becky Lynch, it’s hard to tell whether this would have stayed this lineup, or if Iyo would have been replaced by someone like Charlotte Flair or Bianca Belair.
If either of the babyfaces were in the match, I think Ripley loses. But with Ripley against Sky, the edge has to go to The Nightmare.
That goes especially for a scenario where the Roman/Seth match were to end in a disqualification. I don’t think WWE would have Ripley lose clean, so she’d have to lose from outside interference, and there’s no room for two of those matches on the show.
Iyo, though, could lose from some inadvertent interference from Bayley, furthering the dynamic that the leader of Damage CTRL is screwing things up for Sky, more so than helping her. More on that story later in this card.
Winner = Rhea Ripley (Raw)
Men’s Midcard Champion vs. Champion: Gunther vs. Logan Paul
There’s no way this match would have been booked. Rey Mysterio would have just kept the title a little longer, or he would have dropped it to Bobby Lashley, or a number of other scenarios. Logan Paul wouldn’t be fighting Gunther.
BUT…that’s what we’re working with. So let’s examine the situation.
Paul’s done well for himself, but he’s lost. Gunther’s been protected more than almost any other Superstar shy of Roman Reigns. Considering this is another non-title match that wouldn’t have any bearing on anything whatsoever, Gunther losing would be wild.
It’s a rather simple layout. Paul puts on some flashy moves and tries his best, but gets swatted down and tossed around until Gunther slams him with a powerbomb for the victory.
Winner = Gunther (Raw)
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Damian Priest and Finn Balor vs. ???
Traditionally, the tag team champions have some sort of defense against their opposite brand. Since The Judgment Day is a Raw faction, we have to look over to SmackDown for some preferably babyface challengers.
My mind immediately goes to The Latino World Order. This could very well have been Carlito and Santos Escobar, prior to his heel turn. If that were set in stone for a time before this, though, I think a safe bet would be Carlito teaming up with Dragon Lee, who seems like a semi-member of LWO. If not, Cruz Del Toro and Joaquin Wilde could be slotted in there, even though everyone would know they stood almost no chance at dethroning the tag champs.
In any scenario, Priest and Balor remain victorious. The belts wouldn’t serve much of a purpose to change hands here, and with Dominik Mysterio potentially interfering to be a continued thorn in his father’s side, the heels and Raw once more get a victory.
Winners = The Judgment Day (Raw)
WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Chelsea Green and Piper Niven vs. ???
Often, WWE throws a cross-branded battle royal onto these cards, but there have been times in the past where the women’s tag titles have been defended, as well. For simplicity’s sake, just assume “everyone not on the card” would have been in a battle royal, but for the purposes of this imaginary card, I’m more curious to book a tag title match.
With that in mind, Chelsea Green and Piper Niven are the current women’s tag champs. Since they’re both technically Raw Superstars, but they can go between shows, there’s room to play with two challengers from the red brand OR the blue brand. Frankly, even both.
I think one of the safest picks would be Natalya and Tegan Nox on the Raw side, but some other options would be Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell, Katana Chance and Kayden Carter, or even Shayna Baszler and Zoey Stark. On the SmackDown side, a team like Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn could work, but I think a more enticing concept that would be even more likely would actually be Bayley teaming with Kairi Sane, to get them on the show.
That would be the downfall of this match, though. Bayley’s clearly on the outs of Damage CTRL and having her take the pin would give Iyo even more of a reason to want to boot her out.
That gives another win to Raw by default, and between those two teams, I once again think we’d just see the champions retain over Nattie and Tegan.
Winners = Chelsea Green and Piper Niven (Raw)
Men’s Team Raw vs. Team SmackDown
Three of the men from Team Raw are so obvious that I don’t even need to explain them: Cody Rhodes, Drew McIntyre and Sami Zayn.
Remember, we’re in a scenario where WarGames isn’t happening, so there’s no Drew heel turn yet. It might even happen here.
The remaining two are more difficult to settle on, but I think Bronson Reed would be one of them. The final would be between The Miz, Ricochet and Shinsuke Nakamura, as everyone else, for the most part, is involved in a tag team. It would be odd to pick just Johnny Gargano, rather than also Tommaso Ciampa, for instance. The same for Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, Ivar, Chad Gable, The Creed Brothers and so on. Given how much they had pushed him, I think Ricochet would probably be the final member. Also, we’re living in a world where that means he’s not in the No. 1 contender’s match to fight Gunther at this show, so he doesn’t get the concussion and that’s why he’s eligible.
For SmackDown’s team, I think LA Knight and Kevin Owens are the two standout clear picks. That leaves three more spots.
Rey Mysterio feels like a lock to me, and I could see Bobby Lashley being on here. He’s a former world champion and a top tier talent, so it would make sense for Nick Aldis to pick him, and just tell Lashley and Mysterio that they need to set aside their differences and find a way to work together.
The final spot for Team SmackDown could be a guy like Karrion Kross, if they’re willing to do something with him, but I don’t bank on that. I don’t think we’d see Solo Sikoa or Jimmy Uso here, as they’d be involved in Roman’s match. Austin Theory and Grayson Waller have the tag team dynamic previously mentioned. Since The Phenomenal One is not actually injured, I think AJ Styles would be the true final member of the team.
Since Raw is winning everything, and Aldis has more to prove, I could see WWE giving this victory to Team SmackDown. Maybe LA Knight would be the sole survivor to get that pop.
Winners = Team SmackDown
Women’s Team Raw vs. Team SmackDown
Rounding out this card would be the women’s traditional elimination match, which has some obvious picks, too.
Clearly, Becky Lynch, Raquel Rodriguez, Shayna Baszler and Zoey Stark make up most of Raw’s team. The final member would be a choice between Nia Jax and Ivy Nile.
SmackDown has Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair and Shotzi that I’d consider locks. Since this is not happening in a world with WarGames, I don’t think Asuka would have turned yet, so she’d likely be on this team, too. When it comes to the final spot, take your pick between Zelina Vega and Michin. It really ultimately doesn’t matter, as neither one would likely be given a prominent spot here, sadly.
Once again, going with the points system, Raw wins all the champion matches, meaning I’d argue in the writers’ room that SmackDown needs to win this, too. That way, Pearce and Aldis can talk some trash about how one side won all the elimination bouts and the other won all the champion matches. It’s not an even split, but it’s at least something.
The way I see it, Becky would be the final member of her team fighting it out against Belair and Flair. I could see Lynch getting a pin on Belair, only for Flair to roll her up or something, getting lucky for her team.
Winners = Team SmackDown
Bonus Round: NXT
Just for fun, who would likely be on the NXT teams, if this was back into a three-way dance like what happened once before?
Assuming the champions would be put in the championship matches, all of them would end up losing, save for maybe Lyra Valkyria pinning Iyo Sky or something.
But as far as teams for the elimination matches, I would think the men’s NXT team would consist of Baron Corbin, Bron Breakker, Carmelo Hayes, Trick Williams and Wes Lee. The women’s team would be Blair Davenport, Kiana James, Gigi Dolin, Roxanne Perez, and Tiffany Stratton.
NXT certainly wouldn’t win the elimination matches, either. They’d just score a few pinfalls.
Who would you think would make up these teams in this hypothetical scenario? Drop your ideas in the comments below!