With less than a week to go before Survivor Series, it's not so much a question of what’s the big story, but more what isn't. WWE clearly has a couple major angles they're pushing. One involves video games. The other? McMahons.
How will they find time for it all? Oh, yeah. They have three hours. Still, let’s talk about the State of Raw as we head into tonight’s show in Buffalo.
The return of Goldberg as an in-ring performer began with his inclusion in WWE 2K17, the latest licensed game from the sports entertainment company many people believe to be synonymous with professional wrestling. That's nothing new. Ultimate Warrior came back to the corporate fold that way, and Sting finally wrestling for WWE was foretold by a 2K tie-in.
What's different is how they've used the digital versions of Goldberg & Brock Lesnar (who graces the cover of this year's game) to not only market and promote their various products, but as basically the storyline of their bout at this weekend's pay-per-view (PPV).
Paul Heyman and Goldberg set-up the fight via ESPN interviews about the video game. After challenging the WCW legend on his client's behalf, the Advocate tried to convince Goldberg not to accept by telling him their Survivor Series match would be more painful than the digital version. The 49 year old was inspired to be a superhero again by the reaction of fans to his playable character, and now those same fans are hoping the real-life version can deliver.
A showdown with Heyman & Rusev a couple weeks back was the start of building to the actual fight. Tonight, Raw is promising to give us a Lesnar/Goldberg face-to-face. They won't want to give too much away, but they do want to convince us not only that Bill can still go - but that he has a chance to defeat a man who couldn't be stopped by either Undertaker, John Cena, or Mark Hunt (the USADA on the other hand? The jury’s still out on that one).
In a way, the video game hype is fitting, because the feud WWE is calling "fantasy warfare made real" exists outside their main ongoing fantasy universe, where right now it's all about Team Red vs. Team Blue...
SmackDown's Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan set-up Survivor Series by challenging Raw to three of the elimination tag matches for which the annual November show is famous. Now, all the teams are set - including a spot for Shane O'Mac on the Blue men's squad. Tensions will undoubtedly be running high when Daniel & Shane visit Raw to meet with their counterparts there, Stephanie McMahon & Mick Foley.
That quartet will also be on a WWE Network post-show tonight called The State of the WWE Universe. Will their time on Raw be more than just the usual sibling rivalry between the McMahons or imploring you to buy a subscription to their streaming service? Or, if it is the latter, will they do that by putting something other than bragging rights on the line in the tag matches?
The title scene
There are two championships without representation in the elimination tags but with a lot on the line in Toronto. Raw's Brian Kendrick defends the Cruiserweight belt against SmackDown's Kalisto, with the winner taking the whole division to his show. Rumors are rampant that those guys will head to Tuesdays while the Intercontinental title moves to Monday, because the blue brand's Dolph Ziggler has challenged Raw to send someone to fight him for it, and - for now - it looks like Sami Zayn will answer that call. I say "for now" because last week, Steph made Zayn fight for that honor, which he did by defeating Rusev. But would anyone be surprised if the Billion Dollar Princess had another trick up her sleeve?
The other titles are involved in the three big tag matches at Survivor Series. Universal champ Kevin Owens will have to watch his back against United States titleholder Roman Reigns (who he's currently advertised as defending his belt against in December), former #1 contender Seth Rollins, the monster Braun Strowman and his best friend Chris Jericho when they head into battle as Team Red's men's team this Sunday.
Charlotte Flair holds the Women's belt, and finds herself in a similar position. She picked Nia Jax for her team, and she’s not like most girls - there's no telling where her allegiances lie. Alicia Fox is another wild card, and a sign of how thin the division is on Mondays. The other members of the Queen's squad are undoubtedly gunning for her title. At least she has lots of experience dealing with them, seeing as they're her fellow Horsewomen Sasha Banks and Bayley.
Pretty much everyone on the New Day's ten-man squad's already had a shot or three at their tag team championship, and Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods were pretty successful in rallying the troops to their side last week. They probably want to keep an eye on Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows, however, who've had a change of heart about how they're approaching their WWE run since failing to end the Princes of Positivity's epic title run.
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
Isn’t that enough? Jeez, y’all are needy. Okay. Look...
- R-Truth will probably be vacationing in his Puerto Rican timeshare.
It’s the Survivor Series ‘go home’ show!
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?