As a service to fans who have a general interest in WWE but might not have watched a match since SummerSlam, or even WrestleMania, we're happy to provide this FAQ as a guide to Survivor Series 2019, scheduled for Sunday at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.
Q: Alright! Survivor Series! The annual battle between Team Red (Raw) and Team Blue (SmackDown) for WWE supremacy!
And also Team Yellow.
Q. The what now?
No matter what happens, this Survivor Series will be forever remembered for the NXT invasion angle that, if we're being honest, transformed a potentially lackluster card into one of the most intriguing events the WWE has hosted in quite some time. At least on paper.
Q. How did this invasion angle happen?
Step 1 was NXT debuting on USA Network, giving the brand its largest broadcasting platform and mainstream exposure. Step 2 was ... unexpected. After the latest Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia, the majority of the WWE's top talents were stranded in Riyadh on a plane that couldn't take off because of "mechanical issues."
This left the Nov. 1 edition of SmackDown in chaos. So rather than having a main event of, say, Heath Slater vs. The Boogeyman, the stars of NXT were texted hours before the show to get on a plane in Orlando, Florida, gear up and get to the show in Buffalo, New York. It was a happy accident, creating much-needed buzz (especially in the form of a 20-minute Adam Cole vs. Daniel Bryan main event). Even if this "invasion" didn't have the proper buildup and, frankly, was a bit illogical in terms of ignoring the week-to-week storylines on each show -- a problem that resurfaces around this time every year.
Q. A lack of logic? In professional wrestling? Surely you jest!
Look, we don't ask for much. We just ask that you don't go from a brutal attack by the Undisputed Era on Tommaso Ciampa to Tommaso Ciampa standing with the Undisputed Era out of some nebulous devotion to "the brand" within a 48-hour span. It's like if the Rebellion and the Empire decided to team up because, "Hey, we're both Star Wars."
Q. Have the other brands invaded NXT, too?
They've dabbled. Like when AJ Styles and the (horribly named) O.C. showed up to attack the Undisputed Era, mix it up with Keith Lee (who has enjoyed a key role in this invasion as well) and generally be antagonistic on an NXT episode recently. That helped set up a Survivor Series three-way between Styles (the U.S. champion), Intercontinental champion Shinsuke Nakamura and NXT North American champion Roderick Strong. You read that right: With a win, the "King of Strong Style" Nakamura can become the King of Strong Styles. Perhaps the greatest pun booking in WWE history.
Q. Is there another Triple Threat singles match with the brands?
Q. Bayley's a heel? Dances with those inflatable car dealership tube men, "Free hugs!" Bayley?
You are quite the lapsed fan, aren't you? For the past two months, cheerleading wood sprite Bayley has transformed into the hottest villain on the women's side. And you know she's super evil because she cut off her ponytail and is doing her makeup way differently. Anyway, she kicked off the heel turn by attacking Lynch, and then attacked (and was attacked by) Baszler. She even returned to her roots in NXT by taking out the majority of the women's roster at Full Sail University.
Q. What about the rest of the women's division?
They're in a traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match with a triple threat twist as well. SmackDown has Sasha Banks, Lacey Evans, Carmella, Dana Brooke and Nikki Cross. RAW has Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Asuka, Kairi Sane and Sarah Logan. NXT will have a team that has yet to be announced and will likely be cobbled together from competitors in Saturday night's War Games match at TakeOver, a first of its kind for women. Please note that Flair is on the same team as the Kabuki Warriors, and is being advertised as their opponent along with Lynch at next month's Tables, Ladders and Chairs event in Minneapolis. So, shenanigans are likely on the menu.
Q. Is there a men's Survivor Series Elimination match as well?
Yes, and it makes us yearn for those simpler Survivor Series days when good guys were good and bad guys were bad and the teams had great names like "Clowns R' Us" and "The Foreign Fanatics" and "Hulk Hogan Got Me This Job." Team Raw features Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Kevin Owens, Ricochet and Drew McIntyre, most of whom we've been taught can't stand each other. Ditto Team SmackDown with King Corbin, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Ali and Shorty G and whatever the final configuration of Team NXT ends up being. It's cool to have a "BUT CAN THEY COEXIST?" team mixed with faces and heels, but maybe not three of them. And certainly not with a prefabricated "win one for the brand" motivation.
Q. What about the tag team champs?
Having the New Day on any PPV event is a good thing, but they ruined what would have been a glorious NXT nostalgia fest by defeating The Revival and keeping them out of a match with NXT tag team champions the Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly) and Raw tag team champions the War Raiders. Wait, no, the Viking Experience. Wait ... the Viking Raiders? Yeah, that's right. But this should be fun, regardless, as a prime candidate for a run-in from someone to forward a feud on at least one of the three shows.
This is all well and good, but if I'm watching the WWE these days, I'm watching for The Fiend.
He's in a match with Daniel Bryan for the Universal championship.
Is Bray Wyatt still mad at Daniel Bryan for taking off his ceremonial overalls and leaving his backwoods family cult?
At least that would add some semblance of pathos to a match between two wrestlers teetering on the edge of being faces or heels. As it stands, The Fiend attacked Bryan. Bryan does a bunch of interviews about whether The Fiend has messed with his mind, trying to push him back (with hypocrisy) into embracing "Yes!" movement. They will probably have a great match, because they're both great wrestlers, and then move onto the next thing.
Noticed we've come this far into talking about a major WWE event and we haven't mentioned Brock Lesnar.
Oh, he's there. The "Beast Incarnate" was last seen forcing Cain Velasquez to submit at Crown Jewel. He refused to break the hold and then got attacked with a chair by Rey Mysterio, who "recruited" the former MMA fighter after Lesnar attacked Mysterio's 22-year-old son Dominick. This led to Lesnar "quitting" SmackDown to head to Raw so he could go on the warpath against Mysterio, eventually leading to the diminutive masked star pummeling Lesnar with a pipe. If you thought all of this would eventually lead to a "no-holds-barred" match for Lesnar's WWE championship, you would be correct.
Is this just going to be five seconds of Lesnar throwing Mysterio around like a lawn dart, a la Kevin Nash?
No, it'll be more than five seconds. As Paul Heyman predicted: "They will have to pull this footage from WWE history because it will be that graphic in nature. It won't just be a five-second match, it will be a public torture session." But know this: Rey is never better than in his overmatched underdog role, Heyman is selling this as a "miracle or massacre" match, and the "no-holds-barred" stipulation lends itself to all sorts of weaponry that Mysterio could use to even the odds. Or a run-in from Dominick. Or Velasquez, who has disappeared since his loss to Lesnar.
So that's your 2019 Survivor Series card -- an event that will thrill us with action and confuse us with the backstage politics that lead to booking which "brands" beat the others.