November is a great time of year to be a WWE fan. Survivor Series always seems to be a spark for stale storylines to be left behind and new focuses to arrive. This year is no different, as an invasion angle between Smackdown and RAW has once again turned everything upside down. Add in the fact that NXT men’s and tag team division is at a level of drama and talent we haven’t seen since Balor, Samoa Joe, and the Revival were ruling the roost. Also, who can’t be interested in who fills the ginormous shadow Asuka’s departure leaves for the NXT Women. All of these variables add up to an amazing season for fans of wrestling, and here are the ten most of the most intriguing things to watch for in WWE right now.
1. The Newguard Will Take-Over Soon
Smackdown Live has built solid characters out of the top talents in their women’s division. The sheer amount of young talent on Smackdown makes the fact that Natalya is champion all the more perplexing. There is no denying that Natalya is a great heel who gets good heat, but Carmella and especially Charlotte have shown they can be even better baddies than the Queen of Harts. If Smackdown lets Charlotte, Carmella, Naomi or Becky Lynch run the show on Tuesday nights they are easily set up to become a hot-bed for great feuds and even better matches in a time where WWE should refocus on their incredible female talents.
2. Cruiserweights and UK talent Show They Need More Exposure
When WWE went to the UK, they didn’t waste anytime putting a spotlight on their UK Division. The Cruiserweight division was highlighted both on Monday Night RAW and on 205 Live by top British superstars. Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate especially grabbed huge support from their native crowd while putting on a show inside the ropes. The Cruiserweight Division has seen a bit of a push recently with Enzo Amore holding its top prize, but what it really needs is stars people care about. The WWE Universe cares about some of these UK talents who need to be on TV more. Whether it is NXT or 205 Live, Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate, Wolfgang, Trent Seven, etc. should get more chances to show their stuff. Why not merge the needs of the UK talents and the needs of 205 Live? Just saying.
3. No Promotion is Better at Character Development than NXT
In the world of WWE, it may be easy to push character development to the back of your mind. Instead we focus on comedy, face value appearance, and how flashy they are in the ring when considering a superstar. However, nothing quite makes you cheer for or against someone like seeing their character form and change overtime slowly. While some examples can be found in RAW or Smackdown (think of Rollins and Ambrose getting back together) no brand in WWE or beyond does it like NXT. Since NXT is a developmental show, it can focus on making their wrestlers more thought out than just selling merchandise or filling three hours of TV. Right now some of the best characters in all of WWE are the easily hated Billie Kay and Peyton Royce, the suddenly stunning heel Andrade Almas, the family man Roderick Strong, and especially the world’s best babyface, Johnny Gargano. A few months ago, Gargano was taking ladder shots for his tag team partner, Tomasso Ciampa, and now Johnny Wrestling is desperately trying to prove that he can overcome the betrayal of his former partner. Gargano and the stars of NXT are proof that WWE still believes in making storylines that have huge payoff, now we see where these stories are going forward into NXT WarGames.
4. The Miz is a Must-Watch as IC Champ
I hate the Miz, you hate the Miz, we all hate the Miz. He can’t wrestle compared to those around him, he’s entitled, and he never stops talking. Also, he’s fantastic. It is no surprise that at this point Miz is the best heel in WWE. He makes the IC title matter because he cares about holding it so much, and never misses a moment to brag about his championship. Even now, when there is no clear challenger to Miz’s belt, the Intercontinental Champion is a consent fixture among the biggest names on RAW, and his presence never leaves a doubt that you should care about what the MIZ will do next. Furthermore, his scathing promos against Baron Corbin have added drama to a match against the US Champ at Survivor Series that would have felt flat without the natural heat the Miz gathers.
5. How Will Team RAW Coexist?
Team RAW has to be the most interesting part of the Survivor Series picture. Mostly because it is split into three distinct parts.
Part One: Kurt Angle and Jason Jordan. I get that most people don’t like what WWE has done with Jason Jordan since he was revealed to be the son of Kurt Angle. However, I actually enjoy it. Why? Because I think it is headed towards a heel turn. Once again we see Jordan get handed an opportunity because of his dad, a theme that has been common since the big reveal. I think Survivor Series may be the first opportunity to see the relationship between Angle and Jordan develop towards a family that rules the roost on RAW.
Part Two: Samoa Joe and Finn Balor hate each other. The two have brawled in recent weeks and have a very intense history from their days in NXT. Now, they are forced to work together on a team, where they will be more consumed with outdoing the other than going for the win. Oh, and one more thing…
Part Three: Braun Strowman versus everyone. How do you control Strowman? He has shown that he just wants a fight, and really doesn’t care who that is. Much like the whole of team RAW, Strowman could feasibly run through Smackdown on his own, but well he be able to work with his teammates. Only time will tell if RAW can put it all together to get the most out of it’s complicated team dynamic.
6. Smackdown Shows How to Run a Tag Division
Smackdown Live has cared about its tag teams since the brand split, and things have remained very much the same now. While the Usos are currently in a hot feud against the new star team of Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable, that hasn’t stopped other teams from remaining relevant. The New Day is still a popular draw that has put on barn-burners against the Usos lately, and Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are a new unit that could possibly dethrone any challenger they face. Add in the hilarious Breezango (with the Ascension) and the soon to debut Bludgeon Brothers, and you have a division as full of personalities as talent. No doubt the tag division will be the lifeblood of Smackdown for the foreseeable future as well.
7. Hunt for the NXT Women’s Title
When Asuka left NXT for Monday Night RAW, the NXT Women’s title picture burst open. Asuka has held the belt for so long that the four challengers for the upcoming Fatal-Four Way at TakeOver: WarGames are all equally likely to take home the belt. Peyton Royce has been one of the best rounded superstars in NXT with her cohort Billie Kay, Nikki Cross has been a show of a how hardcore a woman can be in WWE with her unhinged persona, and Ember Moon seems to have been pushed as just one hair behind Assuka in the last few months, so close to being champion herself. The final participant is the newest addition to NXT, Kairi Sane, but Sane may be the favorite to win the belt because of her success and popularity from winning the Mae Young Classic this Summer. One thing we know, the NXT Women’s division is more dramatic than it has been since Asuka ascended to her previous throne. Who will ascend next?
8. The Bar and The Shield Carry a Whole Division (and a Whole Show)
Sheamus and Cesaro have become one of the best tag acts in all of WWE. The Bar has a great heel persona, backed up by the fact that they can bring it against anyone on RAW. Of course, they need someone to feud against. Reintroduce the Shield. The Shield has been red-hot since they came back, and their presence has been a lift for RAW. Letting the Bar and the Shield trade the tag team championships back and forth a little bit brings the whole tag division up notch. Furthermore, these two teams have been the absolute best part of RAW lately as their in-ring performances and moments outside of the ring often provide the best parts of the show every week.
9. A New Era and Classic Matches Emerge for NXT
Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reily have turned NXT on its head. Since their arrival as the Undisputed Era, they have attacked and made a statement against essentially every member of the roster. Their actions seem to have finally found push-back though, as they have incurred the wrath of both NXT Tag Champions Sanity and former champs the Authors of Pain. This three-way feud is leading to a War Games match at the same-named NXT TakeOver event where AoP will be joined by Roderick Strong. This throwback match is a must watch for the nostalgia of the match itself and the new era of talent taking battle in the cage.
10. AJ Makes Smackdown Live and its Title Really Matter Again
AJ Styles has won the WWE title from Jinder Mahal, and you can already feel the difference. Styles will now face Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series, and his presence is a boost for every aspect of this transition. The match with Lesnar now has the potential to be an instant classic, the WWE title is now held by the best wrestler in the world, and Smackdown now has a champion they can be proud of. If Smackdown was lacking in legitimacy before, Styles is sure to show why he can continue to carry the house he built.