Tide turns for Daniel Bryan, Survivor Series
By Mike Pankow
November 15, 2018
Within about 24 hours, the course of this weekend’s WWE Survivor Series show got a major makeover.
After the events of Raw and SmackDown Live this week, there have been changes to the two biggest matches on the show.
The big news is Daniel Bryan is the new WWE Champion after he turned heel Tuesday night by low-blowing AJ Styles behind the referee’s back and pinning him following his running knee finisher. After the match, Bryan further cemented his turn by bashing Styles’ head into the canvas several times after the victory.
This means Bryan now steps into the champion vs. champion slot at Survivor Series, where he will face Raw’s top titleholder, the WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar. This is the first time Bryan has won the title since his return from being medically cleared in March.
It’s a dream match most fans thought was tailor-made for WrestleMania. The fan reaction for this one definitely should be interesting as both men are now seemingly portrayed as heels. And how will Paul Heyman factor into the match on Sunday, given he helped goad Styles into the hastily-booked match with Bryan?
Maybe the seeds for Bryan’s turn were planted by The Miz some weeks back when he claimed Bryan could not do what it takes (“play dirty”) to regain the WWE Championship. Remember Bryan and The Miz even “got along” on the previous week’s SmackDown Live when they were picking members for Team Smackdown’s 5-on-5 match for Survivor Series. The Miz could still play a part in this going forward.
At the end of the day despite the heel turn, it was a sweet personal moment for Bryan as he again reached the mountaintop considering his in-ring career was basically finished a few years ago.
The other major news from the last few days was the removal of SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch from her champion vs. champion bout against Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey.
Lynch suffered broken bones in her face and a concussion after taking an accidental shot from Nia Jax during the main-event brawl on Raw when the SmackDown women’s division invaded and attacked the Raw women. WWE announced Tuesday that Lynch would not be medically cleared for her match with Rousey.
On SmackDown Live, Lynch chose former friend/current rival Charlotte Flair to take her place in Sunday’s match with Rousey.
It’s a bit of a blow for WWE to have Lynch, arguably the company’s hottest attraction over the last few months, not participating at Survivior Series. However, if WWE books it properly, a Rousey-Lynch bout could be a main event at WrestleMania.
One other match worth mentioning as a potential show-stealer is Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins against U.S. Champion Shinsuke Nakamura. The possibility of a Dean Ambrose run-in is also there.
Regardless of who the top attractions are, Survivor Series weekend, including NXT TakeOver War Games, should be a fun time.
WWE SURVIVOR SERIES CARD
Sunday, Nov. 18 at Staples Center, Los Angeles, 6 p.m., CT (WWE Network); kickoff 4 p.m. CT
WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. WWE Champion Daniel Bryan
Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair
Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins vs. United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura
Raw Tag Team Champions Authors of Pain (w/Drake Maverick) vs. SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bar (w/The Big Show)
5-on-5 traditional Survivor Series elimination match: Drew McIntyre, Dolph Ziggler, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor & Bobby Lashley (w/captain Baron Corbin & Lio Rush) vs. The Miz (captain), Shane McMahon, Samoa Joe, Rey Mysterio & Jeff Hardy
5-on-5 traditional Survivor Series elimination match: Nia Jax, Tamina, Mickie James, Natalya & Ruby Riott (w/captain Alexa Bliss) vs. Asuka, Naomi, Carmella, Sonya Deville & TBA (captain TBA)
10-on-10 tag team Survivor Series elimination match: Bobby Roode & Chad Gable (captains), The Revival, The B-Team, Lucha House Party & The Ascension vs. The Usos (captains), The New Day, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Primo & Epico Colon & Sanity
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Mustafa Ali
NXT TAKEOVER WAR GAMES CARD
Saturday, Nov. 17 at Staples Center, Los Angeles, 6 p.m., CT (WWE Network); kickoff 5:30 p.m. CT
War Games match: War Raiders, Ricochet & Pete Dunne vs. Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish & Roderick Strong)
NXT Championship: Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs. Velveteen Dream
NXT Women’s Championship (2 out of 3 falls): Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Kairi Sane
Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano