The rosters of Raw and SmackDown will battle for brand supremacy Sunday night at Survivor Series, and a 49-year-old wrestling icon returns to face arguably the toughest opponent of his career.
WWE Survivor Series will begin at a special time of 7:00 p.m. ET on the WWE Network. Here are our predictions for tonight's show:
Brian Kendrick vs. Kalisto for the Cruiserweight Championship
The stipulation of this championship match is that the entire cruiserweight division is tied to the title. If Kalisto wins, the division would come to SmackDown.
It's important to note here that WWE will soon be launching a weekly cruiserweight division show, 205 Live, which will air on Tuesdays immediately after SmackDown. This means the cruiserweights will be in the same arena with the SmackDown roster each week, and you might think it would be easier for all parties involved to just give the division over to the blue brand.
That doesn't really make sense, though. Raw needs the cruiserweights, frankly, to help fill up their three hour time window each week, and giving away cruiserweight division wrestling on SmackDown each Tuesday would likely deter people from watching even more of it immediately after on the WWE Network. Kalisto is great and should be a cruiserweight champion some day, but the division as a whole should stay with Raw.
Pick: [The] Brian Kendrick
The Miz vs. Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental Championship
If The Miz loses, Sami Zayn will take the Intercontinental title back to Raw - which would be a crushing blow for Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler's a guy who very recently put his career on the line in a retirement vs. title match, only to end up losing the belt a month later, and now the title could be leaving his show entirely?
Ziggler's absence is ominous, even. He's too big a name to not be a part of Survivor Series given his recent storyline, so I'd expect him to play a part in this match (or perhaps demand a move to Raw should Zayn win).
To keep the balance of titles, though, The Miz should win here.
Pick: The Miz
Raw vs. SmackDown tag team elimination
A total of 10 tag teams will face off in what will surely be the most chaotic bout of the night, and on paper the SmackDown quintet of Slater and Rhyno, the Hype Bros, Breezango, American Alpha and The Usos seem outmatched. Breezango have received very little television time as of late and have existed almost exclusively on the WWE's YouTube channel (though they have the potential to be great), while American Alpha and The Hype Bros don't feel like strong, established teams quite yet.
Raw's roster, however, is far more divided than their SmackDown counterparts, and the difference in the match could end up being Sheamus and Cesaro (or Gallows and Anderson) sabotaging their own team. Raw coming out on top feels too predictable, so we're going with the blue team.
Pick: Team SmackDown
Raw vs. SmackDown women's elimination match
Team Raw has the two biggest stars of the women's division in Charlotte and Sasha Banks, but in the last few months those two have mostly overshadowed the rest of the women on the roster.
SmackDown's roster is likely deeper overall, but this could be the moment where WWE makes Nia Jax look like an unstoppable force. There's simply no one on SmackDown's roster who can match up with her. Charlotte's undefeated pay-per-view streak continues.
Pick: Team Raw
Raw vs. SmackDown men's elimination match
Like the Raw women's team, the red brand's men's team boasts a monstrous physical force, and Mick Foley told us earlier this week that he expects Braun Strowman to surprise the crowd with his athleticism.
The Undertaker provided the most interesting subplot to this match last Tuesday when he threatened the members of the SmackDown team should they lose to Raw - so even if you're rooting for SmackDown, you might want to see them lose just so the Undertaker responds.
This match is a complete toss-up - but when in doubt, bet on the flagship Monday night show.
Pick: Team Raw
Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar
12 years after their disappointing match at WrestleMania XX (which ended with boos from the crowd as both men were on the verge of leaving the company), a now 49-year-old Goldberg will return to the ring for what he says is the last time for a rematch with Brock Lesnar.
Paul Heyman has done his best to make the rivalry personal by mocking Goldberg's family, but this is purely a fantasy dream match (as the Survivor Series tagline would indicate). As such, it's hard to call one way or the other.
If this truly is Goldberg's last match in WWE, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for him to beat Brock Lesnar, who WWE will continue to lean on in big upcoming events like the Royal Rumble or WrestleMania 33.
On the other hand, fans seem to be slightly tiring of seeing Brock Lesnar predictably decimate opponents with a series of German suplexes (and hard elbows to the face). Assuming we don't get another Brock vs. Undertaker match, a phenom like Goldberg is one of the very few people in WWE who could believably beat Lesnar.
I think this isn't the last time we see Goldberg inside the ring. The fan reaction has been so strong that he might not want to leave forever, and he's still clearly in tremendous shape. Goldberg wins Sunday in controversial fashion, leading Lesnar to call for a rematch.