Survivor Series Cheat Sheet: The champions battle for bragging rights

Alexa Bliss will square off with SmackDown women's champion Charlotte Flair at Survivor Series. Courtesy of WWE

As the WWE is so fond of reminding us, Survivor Series is the one time a year when Raw and SmackDown go head-to-head.

That theme has escalated in 2017, with a pair of matches between each of the show's male singles champions, as well as the women's champs. There's also a pair of traditional 5-on-5 elimination matches (one men's and one women's), a clash between both sets of tag team champions and a dream match pitting The New Day and The Shield.

To keep with that theme, we've pitted our Raw analyst Tim Fiorvanti against SmackDown analyst Matt Wilansky to break down, debate and, ultimately, predict the result of the full Survivor Series card.

Our previews conclude with a rundown of the last five matches on the card.

Raw women's champion Alexa Bliss vs. SmackDown women's champion Charlotte Flair

Wilansky: Suddenly, the women's match became a lot more intriguing, no? With respect to Natalya, she certainly doesn't have the same cachet as Charlotte, who beat her Tuesday night for the title and the right to take on Bliss. This means we have the only two women to ever hold both the Raw and SmackDown titles going at it Sunday.

Personally, I am excited by this one. Outside of a team elimination match last year at Survivor Series, their paths have never crossed since joining the WWE rosters. They've each spent time on both shows, but never the same one at the same time. I guess that's the beauty of this pay-per-view. They are the two top performers in the women's division, but truthfully, I couldn't say for certain which one I would crown MVP if I am taking the past 365 days into consideration. We know Bliss can't match Charlotte's in-ring skills, but her tenacious side compensates for any shortcomings. She has proved over and over why she deserves to be a champion.

Fiorvanti: I think this is going to be a huge test for Bliss, but when she has been in the ring with someone else who can really go, she steps her game up. There's not much of a history between these two, with last year's 5-on-5 women's match standing as the only time they've been in the ring together. But with each of them having been champion on both brands, there's something to be said about determining who the alpha female truly is. And I'd be remiss if I didn't say I think Tuesday's match was an indication of just how ridiculously good Charlotte and Natalya are when they're in the ring together.

Wilansky: Like nearly every other match on the card, you can make a compelling case for both competitors. And like most of them, I can't help but think if any swerve/betrayal is going to decide a winner.

We saw Ric Flair in an emotional return to television Tuesday as he embraced Charlotte after her title win. My initial inclination was that he could make another appearance in Houston, but the more I think of it, the more I think he wants to let Charlotte continue to build her own legacy. Plus, who knows whether his health would allow him to travel.

Regardless, Charlotte seems to need this win more than Bliss. She has hardly separated herself from the SmackDown pack since moving to Tuesdays. You can blame creative and their decisions to thrust all the women into one storyline for that. I just don't see the momentum stopping this soon for The Queen.

Fiorvanti: Yeah, it seems a little soon after such a heartwarming, powerful moment as the one we got on Tuesday for Charlotte to turn around and lose Sunday. In honesty, Bliss hasn't faced much resistance or peril of late in this title run, and a loss might work to the benefit of all parties; Charlotte gets to build up her momentum and re-establish the dominance she showed during her time on Raw, and a little bit of doubt starts to creep in for Bliss with challengers such as Asuka lurking in the wings. There's also the possibility that we see Carmella cash in after a moment of triumph for Charlotte, and while I think it would get her an incredible amount of heat, there's no real telling which direction she'll head in with the departure of James Ellsworth.

Fiorvanti prediction: Charlotte wins by submission, but she better watch her back.

Wilansky prediction: Charlotte wins cleanly.

Women's 5-on-5 Survivor Series elimination match: Alicia Fox (captain), Sasha Banks, Bayley, Nia Jax & Asuka vs. Becky Lynch (captain), Naomi, Carmella & Tamina (fifth member TBD)

Fiorvanti: The women's 5-on-5 traditional Survivor Series match was just one of the matches that got swept up in the whirlwind of all the changes we've seen to the card over the past week. While the match itself wasn't altered all that much at its core, Team Raw wasn't locked in until Monday when Bayley earned the final spot. Team SmackDown, on the other hand, was seemingly locked into its five-woman roster from the get-go until Charlotte Flair beat Natalya on Tuesday and vacated her spot on the team.

That leaves two major question marks floating around this match: Who will be the fifth member of Team SmackDown, and how will Asuka react to the step up of working with main-roster talent? Which of those would you like to tackle, Matt?

Wilansky: Tim, I am going to go with the more difficult question here. The return of Paige has been picking up a lot of steam lately, and what better time than Survivor Series to make an appearance? And let's face it, SmackDown sans Charlotte needs some more star power. Yes, Becky Lynch and Naomi are worthy names, but they aren't on the same level as Bayley and especially Asuka.

Without Flair, SmackDown's team is a little meh. They need a boost, and outside of Natalya relegating herself to this bout, I can't think of anyone aside from Paige to give this match some more appeal.

Fiorvanti: Those rumors have indeed been swirling of late, with Paige's recent appearances at the WWE Performance Center and backstage at several recent WWE events only serving to fan the flames. It would be a big moment, to be sure, and I'm afraid that if they don't announce the fifth member before Sunday, it'd be a letdown if a current member of the roster was to claim it. If it's going to be Natalya, or maybe Lana, it would best suit the WWE not to get fans expecting someone else only to have the air let out of their tires before things even begin. I'll lean toward it being a clean swap with Natalya.

As far as Asuka goes, I think the earliest stages of her Raw tenure have left a little bit to be desired. She has shown flashes of late against enhancement talent and laid down the law with Dana Brooke on Monday, but it's just about time she was let loose in a match like this so we can see what she can do with a Naomi or a Becky Lynch. I'm expecting big things, and with the kind of crowd that tends to turn out for one of the "big four" events, I anticipate a wholly enthusiastic crowd. A win for her could do wonders, and that's whether she's the sole survivor or has a few teammates with her when all is said and done.

Wilansky: One other name to consider is Nikki Bella. As long as John Cena is headed to Houston, she might as well hop on the plane and make the trip.

But back to Asuka. You're right in that she has not been overwhelming in her performances so far, and we likely won't see the best of her until she gets a consistent top rival to help her find a groove. Still, the WWE is carefully plotting her ascent, if that wasn't obvious enough.

And regardless of where her form is, there's little chance of her momentum coming to an end before she can truly solidify herself as a top star. Yeah, sure I could see a scenario in which the entire SmackDown roster schemes to ambush her and essentially TKO her from the match, but that's not likely.

Like you, I think she's a pretty obvious pick to survive, but I wonder who else could be alive when all is said and done. Bayley in particular has had a squirrely existence, and it seems only lately that there is a push to build her back up.

Wilansky prediction: Asuka and Bayley survive to give Raw the win.

Fiorvanti prediction: Asuka and Nia Jax are the sole survivors.

Raw tag team champions Sheamus & Cesaro vs. The Usos

Wilansky: Remember when Sheamus and Cesaro were bitter enemies who were forced to pair up by former Raw GM Mick Foley? To call them misfits would be an understatement. But look at where they have come. First, they organically evolved into a legit tandem, then contrived to turn on the Hardy Boyz at payback, a creative decision that further established them as top players in this business.

Now known as The Bar, Sheamus and Cesaro are main-event material. They are three-time Raw champs, and there's little to suggest they'll be out of the tag-team title picture anytime soon.

That's great and all, but it hardly compares to The Usos, who have always jelled, and who consistently put on some of the great performances in WWE. Tim, although they're the SmackDown champs, would you consider this team one of the most underrated acts in the WWE?

Fiorvanti: I think we're finally getting to a point where most can appreciate just how good The Usos are. They've always had it in the ring, but the edge they've developed since turning to the dark side has made them the complete package they always had the potential to be. Their series of matches against New Day have been their best to date, and it started with a kickoff show match at SummerSlam that nearly stole the show before the main show even began; both teams had a chip on their shoulders, and pushed each other to new and dizzying heights.

Despite this match changing after Sheamus and Cesaro beat Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose for the tag-team titles, there's actually a little something to build upon here. As The Usos kindly reminded us on SmackDown this week, last year's 5-on-5 tag team match at Survivor Series came down to The Bar and The Usos, with Sheamus and Cesaro coming out on top for Team Raw. I'd have a tough time being convinced we'll get the same result on Sunday.

Wilansky: I'm really trying my best to disagree with you on some of these points, but this high-profile pay-per-view is a perfect opportunity for The Usos to show a wider array of fans how good they are. They were stuck in midcard purgatory for so long that they've had a difficult time really resonating since re-establishing themselves as a top team. But I respect the heck out of them for rising to the top because of their incredible body of work. Yeah, like everyone else, they have a gimmick, but in this case, it's their aerial assaults and unrelenting energy in the ring that ultimately tells the story of this team.

My question is whether they can work with The Bar in the same manner The Usos did against the New Day. The chemistry between those five was ridiculous. Can The Usos put on the same kind of performance against a team they haven't been in the ring with since the aforementioned 2016 Survivor Series? My guess is that it will come pretty close.

Fiorvanti prediction: The Usos get the win on Sunday in a thriller and continue to rule over the SmackDown tag-team division.

Wilansky predicition: The Usos in a match that will be almost as good as The Shield vs. New Day.

Intercontinental champion The Miz vs. United States champion Baron Corbin

Fiorvanti: I can't help but think that the match between The Miz and Baron Corbin has one of the better builds thanks to their back and forth on social media, but it's also one of the least compelling in-ring pairings when it comes to these Raw vs. SmackDown matches. While Miz has proven himself to be a far more proficient in-ring competitor than he'd previously been given credit for, Corbin has largely needed top-tier athletes to help him to some of his best WWE matches -- AJ Styles and Dolph Ziggler come to mind. Miz has taken him apart outside the ring, but I just can't get very excited about the prospects of a Miz vs. Corbin match no matter how personal the verbal attacks get.

Wilansky: While the verbal sparring has been entertaining, the prospects of this match fall somewhere in between "meh" and "Kickoff Show, please." Corbin has been all over the map in terms of his success. Aside from winning the Money in the Bank, I was surprised at how much of an afterthought he was for so long before finally claiming the U.S. championship. A legit and consistent rivalry would push him to the next level. As hard as it is to believe, his past couple of weeks against Sin Cara are exactly what Corbin needs -- to show his volatile side. Doing the "Twitter tough guy" thing, as The Miz called him, will do little in the long haul for the Lone Wolf.

Fiorvanti: On the opposite end of that spectrum, I can't say enough about how well The Miz was able to pack so much of a punch into a Twitter video that lasted less than a minute. Just look at how big a part he has played on Raw in recent weeks (and recent months), and you can get a sense of just how crucial he is to Raw's most important and creative stories moving forward. He can afford to lose the "big" matches because he's so dynamic and conniving in building up influence and power in all the in-between moments. It's always possible that Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas get involved, or this match is a bigger part of some plan, but I'm fairly comfortable in saying Corbin has to be a prohibitive favorite in this match.

Wilansky: See, I think of all the top stars today, The Miz is the one who will be the least affected by a loss. His talent is in creating heat, in getting under his opponents' skin. In exasperating the crowd. No one does it better. And really, he has had all kinds of success since his last great rivalry, against Dean Ambrose, without piling on notable wins. Corbin, on the other hand, needs to build on his momentum, unlike his lead up to SummerSlam. He has all the tools to be a big-time star if marketed the right way. Regardless of Axel or Dallas playing a role, I'd be stunned if Corbin left Survivor Series without a win.

Fiorvanti prediction: Corbin via 'End of Days'

Wilansky prediction: I'm with you: Corbin.

Kickoff show: Cruiserweight championship: Enzo Amore (c) vs. Kalisto

Fiorvanti: It seems as though we've hit something of a dead end between Kalisto and Enzo Amore. They've traded the title back and forth, and not a ton seems to have changed outside of a birthday cake and a few new nicknames. Somehow, the person coming out of this rivalry with the most momentum is Drew Gulak, who has shined as the straight man to Enzo's verbal acrobatics. I did not see that coming.

Wilansky: Gulak has far and away been the best thing to happen to Enzo in months. Even as a heel, Enzo's shtick had become tiresome. They have a Miz-Damien Sandow thing going with them. But Enzo, while certainly not anywhere close to Kalisto, or even Neville before that in terms of talent, did give the division charisma, and that's exactly what it needed. Kalisto, though, is truly the one active cruiserweight in WWE who reminds us of the glory days of the division, when the likes of Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero made the small guys must-see TV for WCW. At some point, things need to settle down. To me, the division was a lot more compelling when Neville was ruling the rest of the field and there was a legit hierarchy. I hope that whether it's Enzo or Kalisto who comes out victorious, he holds on to the belt for an extended period of time.

Fiorvanti: I have to imagine it's going to be Enzo Amore going forward, and as much as that may chafe for wrestling purists, I think that's the right decision in the short term. Have all of the technical wizards chase him for the next couple of months, and in that time figure out who's the next man worthy of stepping up.

Will it be Cedric Alexander or Mustafa Ali? Maybe. Could it be someone currently in NXT such as Hideo Itami or Johnny Gargano? Sure. Is it still possible that Neville could come back? I suppose. But the one thing that's clearest to me is that having one title is not enough to keep a roster as big as the current 205 Live lineup engaged with enough ongoing compelling storylines. Maybe there can be a cruiserweight tag-team title introduced, or part of the UK division could fold in, but the status quo needs to change if the cruiserweight division is going to persevere in the long term.

Fiorvanti prediction: Enzo gets to keep his 'boo,' for now (And how are you doing?)

Wilansky prediction: Kalisto because he's so much better and so much less annoying.