Over the course of the last week, the Survivor Series card went through an abrupt and dramatic makeover. First, The New Day sowed chaos by costing Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins the Raw tag team titles -- sowing the seeds that ultimately led to The Shield vs. New Day dream match that was locked in on Monday. Then, AJ Styles became the first person ever to win the WWE championship on European soil, setting up another WrestleMania-caliber match against Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series.
But if you thought we were done with shocking changes to WWE's final major pay-per-view after John Cena was added to Team SmackDown, you couldn't have been further from the truth.
On Monday night, just six days before Survivor Series, Triple H inserted himself into Team Raw and turned the men's traditional Survivor Series match up to 11 -- adding almost two decades' worth of various personal histories with members of both teams in the process.
With Triple H returning to the road in recent weeks for a handful of live events in Europe and South America, it seemed like just a matter of time before "The Game" reappeared on TV for the first time in months, but few could have seen that return coming so soon. The moment was executed almost flawlessly. After Jason Jordan picked up a relatively huge victory over Bray Wyatt, he paid the price with a postmatch beating that left his knee at far less than 100 percent.
Despite begging and pleading with his father Kurt Angle to let him carry on and take his once-in-a-lifetime chance, as they stood on opposite sides of the ring, Stephanie McMahon suddenly laid down the law and took business into her own hands during her second appearance of the night.
Triple H's music hit, and Angle resigned himself to this new reality of Triple H as his teammate. Triple H then hit the exclamation point with a pedigree on Jordan, further irritating the (at best) tenuous relationship between Angle, Triple H and Stephanie, which dates all the way back to the Attitude Era.
- WWE (@WWE) November 14, 2017
That's before you even think about what having Shane McMahon on the opposite side of a team featuring Triple H and Angle, or all of the moments we've seen between Triple H and Cena, not to mention Triple H and Orton. Then there are all of the NXT alumni on either side of this match and the implications those relationships with Triple H carry.
There are potential powder kegs of chaos on either side, with Kane, Jordan, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens as true wild cards and potential threats to their own brand's team, though Kane may have been neutralized by getting powerslammed through the ring by Braun Strowman.
What appeared to be a strange conglomeration of barely affiliated teammates just over a week ago is now a grudge match for the ages, with Angle's job on the line and no clear solution to the problem. Survivor Series feels as big as it should have from the beginning, and though there are all sorts of reasons to be concerned about all of the legends that had to be called in as reinforcements, or the fact that Strowman (34) and Finn Balor (36) are the two youngest participants, for now, it's time to live in the moment and enjoy what comes next.
That could, of course, all change again if SmackDown has one or two more shake-ups in mind before we even get to Houston -- and with what we've seen so far, nothing should be considered off the table.
- WWE (@WWE) November 14, 2017
Paul Heyman changes his tune with AJ Styles as Brock Lesnar's new opponent
When it appeared as though we were going to see Universal champion Brock Lesnar against then-WWE champion Jinder Mahal, Paul Heyman strayed from his typical strategy of building up opponents before putting them down. Instead, he went right for the jugular, claiming Mahal wasn't worthy enough to wear the title and that the Singh brothers were a cheap excuse for representation.
Perhaps those words rang clear, or maybe it was just a sudden change of heart, but with last week's title change on SmackDown, Lesnar was suddenly looking at a much different kind of opponent for Survivor Series -- and that was echoed in Heyman's tone and demeanor on Monday.
Heyman went out of his way to compliment Styles, calling him the "single most talented in-ring performer of this generation" before giving Balor a tip of the cap in a similar capacity. "I have never seen anyone who could claim to be better than Brock Lesnar... but speed kills," Heyman also claimed during that promo.
Lesnar's advocate had to work through a mid-promo marriage proposal in the crowd, and though he made sure to make the guilty party pay for his sins, Heyman barely skipped a beat. Though Styles is the "ultimate opponent" for Lesnar, Heyman also claimed "this ain't no freaking Rocky movie."
We'll find out for sure on Sunday.
The Shield finally comes together in the ring
After all of the drama and joy fans experienced when Rollins, Ambrose and Roman Reigns came together again, including all of the triple powerbombs and the other fun of the reunion, Reigns' absence due to illness short-circuited The Shield's official reunion for a few weeks. Instead of it happening at TLC, the trio had their first match together on Monday Night Raw, taking on The Miz, Cesaro and Sheamus.
But first, there was some housekeeping to attend to. It was one of the most poorly kept secrets we've seen in some time in the WWE, but The Shield laid down the official challenge to The New Day shortly after preventing Stephanie McMahon from firing Angle from his GM duties at the open of the show. In typical New Day fashion, the trio accepted through a series of tweets that made sure to lay the insults and smack talk on thick.
The match between The Shield, The Miz and The Bar was a fun, fast-paced encounter that had a lot working in its favor. It had the feel of a house show main event, complete with moments like Miz fleeing into the crowd going into commercial break and a fairly straightforward sequence of everyone's big spots. Ultimately, The Miz played the fool and took the fall, as The Shield rolled into Houston and their date with New Day with a win in their back pockets.
As for Miz and The Bar, they got to run down their respective opponents at Survivor Series during a brief edition of Miz TV. For whatever reason, the trio was already in the ring coming out of commercial when The Shield made their entrance, but we can chalk that up to the Lesnar/Heyman promo having to go a little longer than expected.
Hits and misses
-- Bayley got the win in a triple-threat match to determine the final woman on Team SmackDown by hitting a Bayley-to-Belly on Mickie James in the middle of the ring. With the four other team members assembled on the outside to watch the match, Asuka came to blows with Dana Brooke and seemingly set up her next opponent post-Survivor Series.
There were some rumors swirling about Paige, who has been working toward returning to the ring at the WWE Performance Center over the last few weeks, being added to this match, but that was simply not meant to be (despite her being backstage tonight at Raw). But it may just be a matter of time.
-- Jordan's win over Wyatt was secondary to the vicious treatment Jordan received from the Atlanta crowd before Wyatt even got a chance to bust up his leg. Complete with a "Na-Na-Hey-Hey-Goodbye" as Jordan was carried to the back, and a "pedigree" chant before Triple H finally did the deed, it's time to officially declare this stage of Jordan's career a mess. It appears he's in perfect position to turn everything on its head on Sunday, or perhaps a little further down the line, but boy, the American Alpha breakup that looked premature at the time is looking worse and worse by the day, no matter how good Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin might end up being together.
-- Drew Gulak and Enzo Amore are tremendous when it comes to an unlikely tag team pairing, but Gulak might be the only person in the world who could be grating enough to get to Amore. The cruiserweight title match set for Sunday will be part of a two-hour kickoff show prior to the pay-per-view portion of Survivor Series.
-- There was only one women's match on Monday's edition of Raw, but Alexa Bliss managed to dismiss both of her potential opponents in less than a minute of backstage promo time.
-- Balor and Samoa Joe teamed up, and we saw a glimpse of the same instant chemistry we saw two years ago, when they won the inaugural Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic in NXT. Joe didn't stick around to celebrate after they beat Gallows & Anderson, despite an incredible closing sequence, but this match reminded us that even when they're on the same team, these two guys bring out the best in each other. We can only hope they don't get lost in the shuffle amidst everything else going on in that Survivor Series match.