Five Smackdown Superstars Who Would’ve Benefited From Taking John Cena’s Spot At Survivor Series
Since the summer of 2016, Smackdown Live has branded itself as “The Land of Opportunity”. The booking of 2017 has proved that moniker to be complete bullshit. Both AJ Styles and Bray Wyatt never received their one-on-one rematch from their respective title reigns and Sami Zayn had to turn to the dark side before he was granted a chance to shine. Meanwhile, Randy Orton dominated the world title picture for most of the summer and most recently, “free agent” John Cena has been awarded the number five spot on the SDL Survivor Series team. In a place that calls itself a land of opportunity, why is it that the only two people on the team who didn’t have to win a qualifying match are also the only two part time wrestlers (I use that term very loosely when it comes to Shane). Surely there had to have been someone on the Smackdown Live roster that could have occupied that position. In fact, there were, and four of the people on this list even helped Shane O’Mac in his assault on Monday Night Raw.
5. An NXT Call-Up
What better way to back up your claim as a land of opportunity than by granting one to a prospect from the developmental brand? Even if it were to be a temporary call-up, like Killian Dain in the Andre The Giant Battle Royal, an NXT wrestler could benefit greatly from a match on one of the Big Four.
Kassius Ohno is the first name that springs to mind who would be a great fit for this position. After capping off his feud with Hideo Itami in NXT, Ohno has just been floating along. As a proven veteran, he would fit perfectly on the Survivor Series team and on Tuesday nights in the U.S. Title picture. Johnny Gargano could also be an option, although strictly temporarily since he still has unfinished business in NXT with the still-injured Tommaso Ciampa. Gargano could be the guinea pig for one-off NXT call-ups to become a new Survivor Series tradition. Transitions from the Yellow Brand have been mixed at best this year so this could be a great way of introducing NXT talent to the casual audience and gaging their responses.
4. Tye Dillinger
With the exception of his involvement in the AJ Styles/Baron Corbin feud, things haven’t been great for Tye Dillinger since making his official main roster debut this spring. After picking up some steam following this years’ Superstar Shakeup, Dillinger was absent from television for over a month. After a summer of nothing matches, Tye finally looked to be gaining some traction again with his aforementioned involvement in the United States Championship Feud. Since then, there hasn’t been much for Tye do to on the blue brand besides that amazing cameo in Strangerer Things. The natural progression would’ve saw Dillinger and Corbin feuding over the title sans AJ Styles, but that position has been usurped by Sin Cara of all people. A spot on Team Smackdown would give The Perfect Ten the perfect opportunity to prove to the world that he’s worthy of a push. Dillinger already proved his brand loyalty when he marched along the Smackdown mob as they attacked the RAW locker room, so why did he not even get considered to be on the team?
4. Mojo Rawley or Zack Ryder
Over the past few months there has been tension brewing between The Hype Bros. Missed communications and a string of losses has laid the groundwork for an eventual break-up. A place on the Smackdown Survivor Series team could have done more to further the tension. It doesn’t matter which one gets added to the team but for the sake of this list, let’s say it’s Zack Ryder. A Ryder vs Rawley one-on-one qualifying match would have been to premature and direct. Instead, having one of them eliminate the other in an over-the-top-rope battle royal would give them more to work with. In the weeks leading up to Survivor Series, Mojo’s animosity towards Ryder can build onscreen, preparing us to finally see the break-up come to fruition at Survivor Series. A mystery attack of Ryder the night of would be to similar to the Enzo/Big Cass storyline from earlier this year. Instead, having Mojo interfere with the actual match, costing Ryder’s elimination will be the true turning point for The Hype Bros. Fans still want Zack Ryder to succeed as a singles star and this partnership with Mojo Rawley is only delaying that reality. Splitting up will also give Mojo an opportunity to build his character to something more than “irritating guy at your local gym”.
"It’s Rusev Dayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!"
Ok now that that’s out of my system, on to the article.
Earlier this year Rusev presented Shane McMahon with an ultimatum: either Rusev gets a title shot at Money In The Bank it he walks. Fans of Rusev were ecstatic that the Bulgarian Brute was finally getting back into a title picture after Roman Reigns dethroned him of the United States Championship last October. The thought of Rusev as WWE Champion was a breath of fresh air after the Wyatt/Orton feud nosedived to absurdity. But then, Jinder Mahal won the WWE Championship and no one on Smackdown has mentioned Rusev’s ultimatum since. Rusev returned only to be beaten by John Cena in a nothing flag match
By all means, Rusev shouldn’t even want to represent Team Smackdown, so why would I include him on this list? Similarly to someone else in this list that we’ll get to later, he has a story already built in just waiting to be explored. Shane could ask Rusev to join Team Blue, only for Rusev to counter with a stipulation that Rusev gets a title opportunity at the next PPV. Shane agrees, but only if Smackdown comes out victorious, giving the blue team a powerhouse, Rusev motivation to win, and fans a reason to be invested in the next pay per view. As an added bonus, how great would Aiden English be as the official bard of Team Smackdown?
1. Chad Gable
Of course number one is Chad Gable. During “#UnderSiege”, Chad Gable enthusiastically marched along his Smackdown brethren as they decimated the RAW locker room. At one point, Gable pushed his way to the front of the mob to insure that he was the first one to deck his former American Alpha teammate, Jason Jordan. Despite showing no ill will towards Jordan in the wake of this summer’s lackluster “Kurt Angle’s son” storyline, the very sight of Jason Jordan now sends Chad Gable into an uncontrollable rage. This is something that needs to be explored more. What changed in the months between the initial revelation and the moment the two locked eyes during Smackdown’s invasion? With Jordan as the fifth man on Team Raw, casting Gable in that role for Team Smackdown makes the most sense. Even on separate shows, the American Alpha alumnus continue to head down similar paths. Both men put in excellent performances this summer against two of their brands top stars. On Smackdown, Gable faced Kevin Owens and AJ Styles during their respective US Open Challenges, while Jordan took on Roman Reigns and John Cena in the lead up to No Mercy. Both Gable & Jordan also find themselves teaming with tag team royalty as Gable has been partnered with Shelton Benjamin of The Worlds Greatest Tag Team and Jordan periodically tagging with Matt Hardy of Team Extreme.
There are so many seeds already sewn to make Gable/Jordan one of the hottest feuds in 2018, and giving Chad Gable the fifth spot would be a great opportunity to lay even more groundwork for the eventual storyline. Seeing them in the ring against each other in a multi-man match will provide a tease of the amazing matches these two will surely have against each other in the years to come.