There are plenty of storylines to watch in the final build to WWE Survivor Series, and new angles will undoubtedly develop as the event unfolds. Fans should keep their eyes on two Superstars in particular, as they have the ability to completely change the course of WWE heading into 2018: John Cena and Carmella. With very few chances for WWE to make a major impact on fans heading into the h...
There are plenty of storylines to watch in the final build to WWE Survivor Series, and new angles will undoubtedly develop as the event unfolds.
Fans should keep an eye on two Superstars in particular, as they have the ability to completely change the course of WWE heading into 2018–John Cena and Carmella.
With very few chances for WWE to make a major impact on fans heading into the holiday season (there's only a single pay-per-view, SmackDown's Clash of Champions, on the calendar before January's Royal Rumble), Survivor Series is the company's biggest chance to begin drawing up storylines and creating new angles heading into that all-important event.
WWE is sure to utilize next Sunday's Survivor Series pay-per-view as a launching pad for bigger things come 2018, and both Cena and Carmella are in unique positions, for very different reasons, to be major players moving into the new year.
Even with a stacked card and star power up-and-down the lineup, it was announced by SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon on Wednesday that WWE is bringing back its biggest name–Cena–for Survivor Series.
Whether it was due to poor ratings, as suggested by PWInsider (h/t Cageside Seats), to build Cena for an eventual championship run in 2018, or as a way to promote the 16-time champion’s upcoming movie releases, Cena certainly adds a new wrinkle into the Raw vs. SmackDown elimination match.
The biggest question is: How does WWE utilize its most popular, yet aging Superstar? There are two avenues WWE would take.
WWE Vaults Cena into WWE Championship Picture: If Cena stands tall as the last man standing for Team SmackDown, it would certainly catapult him into the WWE Championship discussion, most likely lead to a title match at WrestleMania 34 and a chance for Cena to stand on top of the industry and claim his record-breaking 17th championship.
It was less than a month ago that then-WWE champion Jinder Mahal challenged Cena to a title match at WrestleMania 34 during a promotional tour in India.
While Mahal is not the champion heading into Survivor Series, The Modern Day Maharaja will get his rematch and, with a tour in his home country planned for the end of the year, could very well be champion heading into next year’s WrestleMania.
While a Cena-Mahal match would be met with lukewarm reception by fans, it isn’t the worst-case scenario. As Nicholas Marisco of Sportskeeda wrote, Cena dethroning Mahal would protect a more popular wrestler from having to take a potentially undeserving loss to a part-time wrestler looking to make history.
Vaulting Cena ahead of guys like AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn or any other SmackDown Superstar to main event WrestleMania would likely be met with groans by diehard fans. But the fact is that WWE banks on Cena to deliver eyeballs (and revenue) for big-time events, and there is no bigger event than WrestleMania.
Plus, if Cena truly is nearing the end of his time inside the squared circle, WWE is sure to reward the company's standard bearer with that 17th world title.
Cena Takes One for the Team to Elevate Newer Talent: Given Cena's free agent status with the company, he could easily take a pin from a Raw Superstar and then begin a feud on the flagship program, and fans wouldn't think anything of it.
This could work on a number of levels for WWE, and would be a very easy storyline to create drama moving into 2018. Cena can even be made to look strong at Survivor Series, only to finally succumb to the numbers game.
If this were to happen, who would get the push by taking out Cena? The Raw team isn't short on guys who could benefit from being the guy to eliminate the 16-time champion. However, there's one guy who would be the best man to do the job: Samoa Joe.
Braun Strowman looks to be locked in a feud with Kane for the foreseeable future. Jason Jordan isn't ready for prime time as of yet, while Finn Balor appears to be stuck in neutral (and who knows if WWE will revisit Balor-Bray Wyatt upon the latter's return).
Joe is the most logical choice, a dynamite heel coming back from injury who would pose a serious threat to Cena. Madison Square Garden's website even hints at this possibility, promoting Joe vs. Cena for WWE's December house show at the famed arena.
Joe vs. Cena heading into 2018 would be a red-hot feud that would encompass both casual viewers and hardcore wrestling fans. Plus, WWE could have its cake and eat it too: Cena could switch brands after dropping a feud to Joe and be built back up to challenge for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 34.
While Cena is an obvious choice as a game-changer at WWE Survivor Series, Carmella could potentially have an even bigger impact than the 16-time champion.
Ms. Money in the Bank will obviously play a role in the traditional elimination match between SmackDown and Raw, but it's her potential impact during the women's Champion vs. Champion match that could flip the script on women's wrestling.
Let's make one thing clear: Whenever she does cash-in, Carmella will become champion. WWE wouldn't go through the process of creating a women's Money in the Bank opportunity and not have its first winner lose their cash-in opportunity. Doing so would irreparably harm not only Carmella, but the women's division as a whole.
As Marcella Papandrea of Fansided wrote:
Considering the history of the cash in, it is important that Carmella’s own cash in be successful and pave the way for the future. When the event returns next year and another Money In The Bank match happens with the women, it will be seen as even bigger because the first winner was successful in their attempt.
That leaves two options heading into Survivor Series: Either Carmella cashes in, or she doesn't. Let's tackle option 2 first.
Carmella holds the briefcase for another day. Since winning the briefcase for a second time in June, Carmella has become an integral part of the SmackDown women's division. The Princess of Staten Island has kept herself in the periphery of the title scene, even when Superstars like Naomi, Charlotte and current champ Natalya have been in the spotlight.
Not having Carmella cash-in would allow her to remain in the forefront, even without wrestling for a championship. The briefcase will always give her an opportunity, so there is no need to waste that chance if it wouldn't make a huge impression.
With WWE heading into a slower time, with fewer pay-per-views and the holidays potentially decreasing viewership, the company could decide to wait until the beginning of 2018 (or later) to make a change.
Carmella cashes in and becomes SmackDown women's champion. Survivor Series would be a perfect opportunity for a Carmella cash-in. By being part of the tag team elimination match, Carmella can be protected even in a losing effort. Second, with a champion vs. champion match headlining the women's side of the card, Carmella can strike while the SmackDown champion (be it Natalya or Charlotte) is down for the count.
With a grueling match against Alexa Bliss sure to take a toll on the SmackDown champ, Carmella might have the perfect opportunity to seize her moment against either Natalya or Charlotte.
Of course, there's another (albeit remote option) ...
Carmella cashes in and becomes Raw women's champion. Implausible? Probably. Impossible? Not in the least.
If WWE really wanted to make a statement, having Carmella cash in her Money in the Bank briefcase on Bliss to become Raw women's champion would send shockwaves through the division as a whole.
There is some logic behind such a move. Between the recent releases of Raw members Emma and Summer Rae from WWE and the impending return of Paige, likely to the SmackDown brand (h/t PWInsider), the women's division is in the midst of a mini-shakeup.
WWE even teased a possible shakeup two weeks ago in a backstage exchange between Raw general manager Kurt Angle and Bliss (h/t GiveMeSport's Andrew Ravens) during the Goddess of WWE's mini-feud with Mickie James:
Bliss: “I suggest we improve the quality of the Women’s division. Cut some of the dead weight like Mickie James. We could easily replace her with anyone from the Mae Young Classic.”
Kurt Angle: “I like the idea of bringing in new talent, but not at the expense of Mickie James”
Maybe it was an attempt by WWE to pique the interest of casual fans who weren't familiar with the WWE Network's women's tournament. Maybe is was simply a throwaway line to advance the Bliss-James feud. But the idea of changing the landscape of Raw's women's division through an impromptu title change would certainly be intriguing.
Shifting Carmella to Raw via a cash-in would not only open a spot on SmackDown for Paige's return, but it would also add a viable heel to the Raw roster, one that would be walking onto the flagship show with the title around her waist.