WWE Survivor Series preview: Shaky alliances & pending double crosses

WarGames returns to the main roster for tonight's WWE Survivor Series from Chicago (8 PM EST on Peacock/WWE Network).

The WarGames match itself has gone through many different eras with some being far better-reviewed than others. Only time will tell how this stage in WarGames history will compare with others, but last year felt like a good start.

You can break up the match’s history into the following five periods:

Crockett eraEarly-90s WCWLate-90s WCWNXTWWE main roster

Crockett-era WarGames matches are typically the best-reviewed with the first two on the 1987 Great American Bash tour both receiving five stars from Dave Meltzer. It continued to be hugely popular for JCP and then WCW in the early 90s, but things took a considerable dip in the Attitude Era.

By the time the Ultimate Warrior ran in during the 1998 edition, it was safe to say the event’s aura was not what it once was. I once heard reports another WarGames match was held in Vince Russo-era WCW, but I am either unable or unwilling to confirm.

The NXT era of WarGames that followed is tough to beat in terms of match quality. Meltzer never did give five stars for any of them, but several came close and very few were rated under four with the 2021 women’s edition arguably being the only one to disappoint.

The new era of WarGames on the WWE main roster started strong last year. That Survivor Series currently holds a 7.51 rating on Cagematch, making it the fourth highest-rated show (out of 37) in the event’s history.

The WarGames matches provide a new way for WWE to shape storylines heading into the Royal Rumble and ultimately WrestleMania season. It’s already going way better than the “brand supremacy” format we had for years, although that is not a high bar.

This year’s WarGames matches are all about shaky alliances and pending double crosses. Someone is turning on someone — it’s just not clear who those people are just yet.

Betting odds were obtained from Betonline on the week of the show.

Men’s WarGames match: Drew McIntyre and Judgment Day (JD McDonagh, Dominik Mysterio, Finn Balor & Damian Priest) vs. Cody Rhodes, Sami Zayn, Seth Rollins, Jey Uso & Randy Orton (-450 favorites)

One thing to keep an eye on here is Priest and the Money in the Bank briefcase. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Priest leave Saturday with the WWE World Heavyweight title belt. Rollins could be in a particularly vulnerable spot after the match, although Priest could be too badly beat up himself to cash in as well.

The drama in this year’s men’s WarGames match is kind of interesting. It all comes down to who is willing to forgive Uso for the Bloodline costing them matches against Roman Reigns with McIntyre being the only holdout.

In McIntyre’s mind, he’s right and the babyfaces are wrong. He thus feels justified joining up with a gang of similarly disenfranchised rapscallions in Judgment Day. It creates an interesting dynamic, but I’m not expecting him to remain with Judgment Day after Saturday. He could do something during the WarGames match to show he has no alliances with anyone which could factor into the finish, too. 

In terms of match quality, this should be very good. It will be a special match for Rhodes, so expect him to try and make it memorable.

The babyfaces will likely win with McDonagh taking the fall for Judgment Day. What comes after that could be very interesting, however.

Prediction: Rhodes, Uso, Zayn, Rollins & Orton (with Priest possibly cashing in his MITB and defeating Rollins afterward)

Women’s WarGames match: Damage CTRL (Bayley, IYO Sky, Asuka & Kairi Sane) (-180 favorites) vs. Bianca Belair, Becky Lynch, Shotzi & Charlotte Flair

This match has the closest odds of any on the card. It’s basically a pick 'em and there are several different ways it could end.

They have teased that the other members of Damage CTRL are gearing up to kick Bayley out of the group, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen. That feels like it could be a red herring or possibly even a red rooster.

One of the first things Paul "Triple H" Levesque did when he got the creative reins after Vince McMahon’s "retirement" last summer was to have Bayley form this group. She has talked openly about wanting to create the first real big female faction in WWE. I don’t know why either of them would decide to abandon the plan now. It seems more likely to me that the big turn in the match could come from the babyface side.

The alliances on the babyface team are possibly even shakier than with Damage CTRL. Flair strikes me as someone who could turn back heel at any time and it wouldn’t surprise me if she does it in WarGames, maybe setting up another feud with she and Lynch.

If I had to make a prediction, and for this article I do, I think the finish of this match involves Flair and Lynch not being on the same page somehow and it costing the babyfaces. Damage CTRL then leaves Chicago a more unified group moving forward. 

Prediction: Damage CTRL

WWE Intercontinental Champion Gunther (-5000 favorite) defends against The Miz

Miz is not going to dethrone Gunther, but WWE has crafted an interesting little angle for the two.

The story that was set up in Gunther and Miz’s promo battle on Raw is that Gunther does not respect Miz as a wrestler. This lined up with his recent comments about Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, and other “showmen.”

The segment brought back memories of the Miz and Daniel Bryan having a similar debate on Talking Smack with Gunther taking Bryan’s role criticizing Miz for his soft style while Miz defends the WWE approach.

In a sense, it is Miz is representing WWE and “sports entertainment” against Gunther who is representing professional wrestling. Since the match is taking place in WWE, Miz is the babyface. To further the babyface/heel divide here, Gunther also commented on Miz being bullied in school for having WWE Superstars as his heroes. I suppose this would be in contrast to the professional wrestling fans at Miz’s school who must have been considered the cool kids.

WWE has attempted to turn Miz babyface only a small amount of times in his very lengthy career. Up until last Monday, none of them had gone very well at all. However, he did manage to get some sympathy from the crowd on Raw — something I don’t believe he’s ever received before in his 17-year WWE run.

Prediction: Gunther retains

WWE World Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley (-3000 favorite) defends against Zoey Stark

The betting world is not giving the challenger much of a chance in this one. She is listed as the second-largest underdog on the card after Miz and I can’t say I disagree.

Ripley is basically the most valuable player on Raw right now. She’s all over the show, taking part in Judgement Day’s business in addition to fending off challengers to her title. I don’t see her championship reign ending anytime soon.

Prediction: Ripley retains

Dragon Lee vs. Santos Escobar

This was made on Friday's SmackDown when Carlito was "seriously injured" during a brawl on the show where Escobar jumped Carlito from behind. SmackDown GM Nick Aldis later pulled Carlito from the match and inserted Lee instead.

Whether it's against Carlito or Lee, the purpose of this match is to establish Escobar as a top star and rival for Rey Mysterio. I’m expecting their feud to run through to WrestleMania, so it would be quite the choice to have Escobar lose here. 

It’s now or never for Escobar. The 39-year-old has been with the company since 2019, having spent most of it in NXT. However, Levesque has confidence in the guy and is putting him in the most important, and likely lucrative, angle of his career. He seemingly checks all the boxes and this is his chance to get to the next level.

Prediction: Escobar

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