Happy Black Friday everyone and a great Survivor Series weekend! I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving filled with family, friends and all the good food your heart desires. I myself just woke up from my tryptophan coma, just in time for my regular Friday column.
Today I’m looking at the clues all around us as we head into one of WWE’s four major Premium Live events this weekend. There are a number of ways Triple H might decide to go with the Women’s Division tomorrow night in particular, and I’ve put on my detective hat to try and figure out what might be happening in Boston.
Feel free to tear me apart if my theories are all wrong, but here’s what I’m paying attention to this weekend. And it all starts tonight Friday night smackdown.
Who is the fifth member of Team Belair?
This is pretty obviously the question on everyone’s mind when we go to the show tonight. Bianca Belair has promised to announce her team’s final entrant in Saturday’s WarGames contest tonight, rather than telling us all on RAW or keeping it a secret until show day – a great competitive advantage for Kayfabe.
Okay, so why tonight?
For starters, it can be as simple as the last contestant being a member of the SmackDown roster. Liv Morgan makes a lot of sense here. Let’s not forget that she was featured prominently in the Survivor Series promo pack, but is suspiciously absent from the map.
Tailor-made for an environment like WarGames, Liv’s new wildly unpredictable and hardcore persona is the perfect counterpart to the same energy Nikki Cross will bring to the table for Team Damage CTRL.
Announcing someone like Liv Morgan ahead of time would temper expectations and prevent negative public reaction from the fine folks in Boston Saturday night, who might be expecting a certain Boss to bring her back to WWE.
Now I’m a huge admirer of Liv Morgan and love the direction her character has taken since she lost the SmackDown Women’s Championship. I think she could really thrive in a match like this. But let’s face it, she’s not what the fans expect.
Liv Morgan is a perfect strategic fit for WarGames, but the woman who makes the most sense for this place from a storyline perspective – and who happens to be the favorite according to recent reports – is Becky Lynch.
This whole storyline with Damage CTRL started a long time ago at SummerSlam. Bayley, Dakota Kai and IYO SKY face Bianca Belair and Big Time Becks across the ring. Two rivals, who had just beaten each other to the limit, suddenly stood side by side, ready to throw down with a new threat.
A partnership built through conflict and forged through respect. This would have been a fantastic story to watch unfold. Sadly, we’ve been robbed of that story.
Becky Lynch suffered a shoulder injury during her match with Bianca and has been shelved ever since. But Lynch was there at the beginning and it would be very satisfying if The Man could come back in time for the final fight.
If Becky Lynch does indeed turn out to be the fifth woman, I’ll return to the question I asked earlier. Why make the announcement tonight? Why not on Lynch’s house brand van Monday Night Raw?
The simple answer could be that Triple H is playing the rating game. Make sure as many eyes as possible tune in to SmackDown – already its highest-rated show – and then deliver the big return. Or an evasive maneuver is in progress.
This is something that was discussed at our SummerSlam Predictions Show on Bleav in Pro Wrestling. It’s very possible that tonight we’ll see someone like Liv Morgan as the fifth member of Team Belair and we’re in for another surprise Survivor series.
Will every member of Team Belair make it to WarGames?
What’s up with Alexa Bliss and Bray Wyatt? The two were once inseparable, but then the Beauty (inexplicably) turned on the Devil Wrestle Mania 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 pulled from TV soon after and released from the company later that summer.
Alexa stuck to 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 Extreme rules last year and then had to watch the Queen turn 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 away from the therapy sessions that led to it Elimination Chamber and there has 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 hasn’t had a real story of her own to sink her teeth into this year. And that’s a pity for someone of her talents. Truly one of my favorite overall performers in the entire business. Hopefully that will all change.
A storyline that we thought was dead and buried is suddenly given 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.
Would Little Miss Bliss be in trouble?
We’ve seen the teasing for weeks now, dating back to Crown jewel. The Wyatt 6 logo stalks Alexa Bliss. Popping up when she’s standing within the camera’s shot of a TV screen.
With Bianca Belair taking her team to SmackDown this week, it’s entirely possible that both Alexa and Bray will be in the same building at the same time. Could Wyatt choose to retaliate tonight and leave Belair without a complete team again?
That could then open the door for the big surprise return of Becky Lynch or (much less likely) Sasha Banks Survivor Series.
Regardless of whether something is happening tonight or in Boston, Alexa Bliss is my wild card for the entire weekend. I just get the feeling that something is about to happen to her. She’s been trapped in creative purgatory for far too long. Alexa could be removed from the equation altogether by Bray Wyatt, pushing her back into the dark, twisted world that is the ghost of Windham Rotunda — a move she’s vocally advocated for in the past.
Or… it’s time for the Goddess to rise.
A hacking move within WarGames would accomplish two things. First, it would help give Damage CTRL the big win they so desperately need. It would also give Belair a new challenger and put Bliss on the path to a high-profile showdown with the EST on royal rumble and possibly beyond.
It is also quite possible that none of this will happen. Alexa could just show up, put on a great show at WarGames, and leave. I just feel like there’s something more about to happen, which makes Alexa Bliss my Superstar to watch this weekend.
Why were Ronda Rousey and Shotzi booked for Survivor Series?
Allow me to do my best Brian Windhorst impersonation here, because I’m still not quite sure why Ronda Rousey is defending her SmackDown Women’s Championship against Shotzi this Saturday.
First of all I want to say that I have nothing against Shotzi. I am very happy that she is 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 why her time is now.
Before winning a 6-pack challenge to become the No. 1 contender, Shotzi had a long streak of losses. Her final singles win comes on the July 29 episode of SmackDown against Aliyah. She has only won three televised singles matches all year, including her victory over Shayna Baszler last Friday.
She has very little momentum on her side. This match has little build up and Shotzi is still in the very early stages of her babyface turn. So yeah, it’s incredibly odd to me that Shotzi gets her shot at Survivor Series – a big four PLE built around calling 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 provide a plethora of options for the heel champion. It was just time to move on with Liv Morgan, currently your best baby on the blue brand, which creatively led 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 is the future women’s champion. She just needs more time to deal with the main roster crowd and losing another championship match to Ronda Rousey may not be the best way to do that.
Which brings us to Shotzi. Who, make no mistake, is a heavy underdog. Rousey will very, very likely retain her championship. And then WWE is left with the same problem as before. They desperately need a babyface, who is done with the crowd, to go to Rousey with the WrestleMania season right around the corner. It is for this reason that I am more interested in what happens after Rousey beat Shotzi.
It’s always possible that Bianca Belair will announce Becky Lynch as her fifth teammate tonight SmackDown, as The Man may now be a member of the SmackDown roster. WWE could very easily move her to Friday Nights and start the build up to Rousey and Lynch one-on-one to Wrestle Mania 39.
If there was ever a time and place on this show to bring back Sasha Banks, it’s when Ronda Rousey celebrates her victory in the middle of the ring.
For the record, I don’t think Sasha Banks will be attending Survivor Series. But imagine the hometown pop as Sky’s the Limit burst through TD Garden’s speakers and the ever-confident Boss stumbled to the ring to claim she was next. The audience reaction would be insane and her recurring feud against Rousey would also make a lot of sense.
If some reports are to be believed, Sasha Banks’ troubles with WWE Creative began way back at this year’s Royal Rumble, when Rousey returned, won the match and (what would have been different) took Sasha Bank’s spot at Wrestle Mania 38. The events that followed for Banks are well documented, but that was the catalyst.
Which I think is more likely, same situation, different Superstar. My hunch is that this is where we see Charlotte Flair return to WWE to pick up again where she left off in her rivalry with Ronda Rousey.
Anyway, if you’re looking for a good surprise this Saturday night, I’d steer clear around the time the Rousey\Shotzi game comes to a close.
What are you and girls looking for leading up to Survivor Series? Let us know in the comment section below. You can follow Rick Ucchino Twitter and subscribe to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcast Channel for more of his work.