Happy Black Friday everyone and happy Survivor Series weekend! I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving filled with family, friends and all the good food your heart desired. I myself have just awoken from my tryptophan coma, right on time for my regular Friday column.
Today I’m taking a look at the clues all around us as we head into one of WWE’s big four Premium Live Events this weekend. There’s a number of ways that Triple H can decide to go with the Women’s Division in particular tomorrow night, and I have put my detective hat on to try and figure out what could go down in Boston.
Feel free to rip me apart if my theories are completely wrong, but here’s what I’m keeping an eye out for this weekend. And it all starts tonight on Friday Night SmackDown.
Who is the fifth member of Team Belair?
This is pretty obviously the question on everyone’s mind as we head into the show tonight. Bianca Belair has promised to announce her team’s final participant in Saturday’s WarGames match tonight, instead of telling us all on RAW or keeping it a secret until the day of the show - a major kayfabe competitive advantage.
Ok, so why tonight?
For starters, it could be as simple as the final competitor is a member of the SmackDown roster. Liv Morgan makes a ton sense here. Let’s not forget she was prominently featured in the Survivor Series promo package, yet is suspiciously absent from the card.
Liv’s new wildly unpredictable and hardcore persona is tailor-made for an environment like WarGames and is the perfect counter to that same energy that Nikki Cross will bring to the table for Team Damage CTRL.
Announcing someone like Liv Morgan ahead of time would temper expectations and prevent any negative crowd reactions from the fine folks in Boston Saturday night, who might be expecting a certain Boss to make her return to WWE.
Now, I’m a huge Liv Morgan admirer and I love the direction her character has gone since losing the SmackDown Women’s Championship. I think she could really thrive in a match like this. But let’s be honest, she’s not who the fans are anticipating.
Liv Morgan is a perfect strategical fit for WarGames, but the woman who makes the most sense for this spot from a storyline standpoint - and who happens to be the odds on favorite according to recent reporting - is Becky Lynch.
This entire story arc with Damage CTRL started way back at SummerSlam. Bayley, Dakota Kai, and IYO SKY standing across the ring from Bianca Belair and Big Time Becks. Two rivals, who had just beaten the absolute hell out of one another, suddenly found themselves standing side by side ready to throw down with a new threat.
A partnership built through conflict and forged by respect. This would have been a fantastic story to watch unfold. Sadly, we were robbed of that story.
Becky Lynch suffered a separated shoulder in her match with Bianca and has been on the shelf ever since. But Lynch was there at the beginning and it would be very satisfying if The Man was able to come back around in time for the final battle.
If Becky Lynch does turn out to be the fifth woman, then I circle back around to the question I asked before. Why make the announcement tonight? Why not on Lynch’s home brand of Monday Night Raw?
The simple answer could be that Triple H is playing the ratings game. Making sure as many eyes tune in to SmackDown - already his highest rated show - as possible, and then deliver on the big return. Or, a swerve is afoot.
This is something that was discussed on our SummerSlam Predictions Show over on Bleav in Pro Wrestling. It’s very possible we see someone like Liv Morgan announced as the fifth member of Team Belair tonight and we still get a surprise at Survivor Series.
Does every member of Team Belair make it to WarGames?
What’s going on with Alexa Bliss and Bray Wyatt? The two were once inseparable, but then the Beauty (inexplicably) turned on the Fiend at WrestleMania 37 and cost him his match against Randy Orton. That would be the last time anyone saw the Fiend in a wrestling ring. Bray was dropped from TV shortly after and released from the company later that Summer.
Alexa stuck with her Fiend-inspired character work during Bray’s absence, her doll Lilly in tow every step of the way. That was until she lost to Charlotte at Extreme Rules last year and was then forced to watch the Queen transform her beloved plush into a pile of cotton. Some time off and a few therapy sessions later, and Alexa was transformed back into... well, I’m still not quite sure.
Here we are several months removed from those therapy sessions that led into Elimination Chamber and there’s been very little character development for the 5-time Women’s Champion.
Really the only thing I know for sure about her, is that she’s friends with Bianca Belair and Asuka and she used to be friends with Nikki Cross. She’s had no real story of her own to sink her teeth into this year. Which is a shame for someone with her talents. Genuinely one of my favorite overall performers in the entire company. Hopefully, that’s all about to change.
A story arc that we thought was dead and buried, suddenly has new life. Bray Wyatt has returned to WWE and if there’s one thing that can be said for the man, it’s that he never forgets and very rarely forgives.
Could Little Miss Bliss be in some trouble?
We’ve all seen the teases for weeks now, dating back to Crown Jewel. The Wyatt 6 logo has been stalking Alexa Bliss. Popping up anytime she stands within camera shot of a TV screen.
With Bianca Belair taking her team to SmackDown this week, it’s very possible that both Alexa and Bray will be in the same building at the same time. Could Wyatt choose tonight to seek his revenge, leaving Belair without a complete team once again?
That could then open the door for the big surprise return of Becky Lynch or (far less likely) Sasha Banks at Survivor Series.
Regardless of whether something goes down tonight or in Boston, Alexa Bliss is my wildcard of the entire weekend. I just get this sense that something is going to happen with her. She has been stuck in creative purgatory for far too long. Alexa could be removed from the equation by Bray Wyatt all together, thrusting her back into the dark, twisted world that is the mind of Windham Rotunda — a move she has vocally advocated for in the past.
Or... it’s time for the Goddess to rise.
A heel turn inside WarGames would accomplish two things. First, it would help give Damage CTRL the big win they desperately need. It would also give Belair a new challenger and put Bliss on the path to a high profile showdown with the EST at Royal Rumble and, potentially, beyond.
It’s also very possible that none of this happens. Alexa could simply show up, put on a hell of a show inside WarGames and leave. I just have this gut feeling something more is about to go down, and that makes Alexa Bliss my Superstar to watch this weekend.
Why was Ronda Rousey and Shotzi booked for Survivor Series?
Allow me to do my best Brian Windhorst impersonation here, because I’m still not entirely sure why Ronda Rousey is defending her SmackDown Women’s Championship against Shotzi this Saturday.
First off, I would like to state that I have nothing against Shotzi. I’m extremely happy she’s getting this opportunity. It’s one that’s long overdue and I hope she goes out there and absolutely kills it. But it is very curious as to why her time is right now.
Prior to her winning a 6-pack challenge to become the No. 1 Contender, Shotzi was on a lengthy losing streak. Her last singles win coming on the July 29 episode on SmackDown against Aliyah. She’s only won three televised singles matches all year, including her win over Shayna Baszler last Friday.
She has very little momentum on her side. This match has very little build to it and Shotzi is still in the very early stages of her babyface turn. So yes, it’s incredibly strange to me that Shotzi is getting her opportunity at Survivor Series - a big four PLE that’s been built around blowing off feuds that have been building for months.
So, why is that?
The answer could be that the current babyface landscape on SmackDown doesn’t offer a plethora of options for the heel Champion. It was simply time to move on from Liv Morgan, currently your top baby on the Blue Brand, which led creative to the secondary options.
For whatever reason, they decided to burn Emma’s Title shot during an open challenge in her return match to the company. They could have gone with Raquel Rodriguez, but she’s has future Women’s Champion written all over her. She just needs more time to get over with the main roster audience and losing another Championship match to Ronda Rousey, might not be the best way to do that.
That brings us to Shotzi. Who, make no mistake about it, is a heavy underdog. Rousey is very, very likely retaining her Championship. And then WWE is left with the same issue they we’re before. They desperately need a babyface, who’s over with the crowd, to step up to Rousey with WrestleMania season right around the corner. It’s for this reason, that I’m more interested in what happens after Rousey has defeated Shotzi.
There’s always the possibility that Bianca Belair announces Becky Lynch as her fifth teammate tonight on SmackDown, because The Man may now be a member of the SmackDown roster. WWE could very easily shift her over to Friday Nights and start the build to Rousey and Lynch one-on-one at WrestleMania 39.
If there was ever a time and place on this show to bring back Sasha Banks, it’s when Ronda Rousey is celebrating her victory in the middle of the ring.
For the record, I don’t think Sasha Banks is going to be at Survivor Series. But imagine the hometown pop if Sky’s the Limit busted out through the loud speakers at TD Garden and the ever confident Boss strutted down to the ring to claim that she had next. The crowd reaction would be insane and her return feud being against Rousey would also make a ton of sense.
If some reports are to be believed, Sasha Banks’ issues with WWE Creative started way back at this year’s Royal Rumble when Rousey made her return, won the match and took (what would have been otherwise) Sasha Banks’ spot at WrestleMania 38. The events that followed for Banks are well documented, but that was the catalyst.
What I think is more likely, same situation, different Superstar. My hunch is that this is the spot where we see Charlotte Flair make her return to WWE to pick back up where she left off in her rivalry with Ronda Rousey.
Regardless, if you’re on the hunt for a good surprise this Saturday night, I’d keep an eye out right around the time the Rousey\Shotzi match comes to a close.
What are you guys and gals looking for ahead of Survivor Series? Let us know in the comment section below. You can follow Rick Ucchino on Twitter and subscribe to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcast Channel for more of his work.