17 years after controversial superstar Shawn Michaels, World Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman Vince McMahon and referee Earl Hebner came together to plan and pull off the caper known as “The Montreal Screwjob,” WWE is yet again producing a storyline that involves a heel group in charge of the company bullying around a babyface. This time it is The Authority, led by Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, looking to get the better of ultimate good guy John Cena.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Cena will not be on his own when he takes on The Authority this time around. He will be one of five members of a “Team Cena” that will take on “Team Authority” in a traditional Survivor Series elimination battle. Looking back at how past Survivor Series matches were booked and also considering the amount of merchandise Cena moves at live events and via Internet sales, logic suggests that there is only one way that this match comes to an end: With Cena getting his hand raised in victory.
With that said, here are the 10 wrestlers who are most likely to make a big impact at Survivor Series 2014.
10. John Cena
Starting off this list without immediately mentioning the top star in the company seems silly. Cena has for years been where Hulk Hogan was in the early 90s in that his shtick is wearing thin on older fans, while his popularity with younger WWE viewers is as high as ever. Cena cannot possibly get any bigger than he is today, and thus putting him over before the screen goes to black does the company little good. That pointed out, Super Cena sells more merch than does any active WWE wrestler, and the company protecting Cena for yet another showdown with Brock Lesnar is what will probably happen at the Survivor Series.
9. The Bunny
One of the best written feuds WWE has going for it in the fall of 2014 involves a guy who dresses up in a bunny suit. Pro wrestling really is great, sometimes. There is so much unknown about The Bunny heading into the Survivor Series. Who will be the man behind the mask? Why choose a bunny suit in the first place? What are the long-term goals of an individual who parties while wearing an outfit appropriate for handing out Easter eggs? The Bunny facing off with the next man on this list could end up being pre-show material, but it will be the main event in the hearts of those tracking this storyline.
8. Adam Rose
The previously mentioned Bunny of the “Exotic Express” had begun to outshine Rose in television segments, so the party animal had no choice but to turn on his furry friend. It is pro wrestling booking at its finest. Where WWE takes the Rose character moving forward will be interesting. Will the company, as some have suggested, turn Rose into the type of heel who attracts wrestlers who are down on their luck to join him in a party world that isn’t real, an addiction-driven version of the Wyatt family but without the sheep masks and bizarre promos? Time will tell.
7. Big Show
The biggest impact that The Big Show will make at Survivor Series won’t have much to do with anything positive that he accomplishes at the event. Like with Cena, Big Show hit his ceiling long ago. Unlike the popular superstar, however, Show probably won’t be among the last wrestlers standing when the final bell rings. WWE could be boring and have Mark Henry, who is feuding with Big Show, pin the giant or vice versa, but the better way to go about it would be to have either Seth Rollins or Rusev, two newer heels on the rise in 2014, go over the big man convincingly.
6. Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler is far from a perfect wrestler. He goes way too fast while in the ring, the bumps he takes are often ridiculous, and Ziggler isn’t at the level of Triple H or CM Punk on the microphone. There is a sect within the WWE Universe that just won’t let go of the hope that Ziggler will one day be given a true push, and he will now get his chance to shine during the biggest match of the 2014 Survivor Series. Ziggler is too talented to not be properly used, and it would be a shame if he is nothing more than fresh meat for Seth Rollins or Rusev.
5. Bray Wyatt
The cult storyline of the Wyatt Family lost its luster well before it was abandoned, but that WWE has gone in another direction with those wrestlers has left Wyatt somewhat in limbo. His feud with Dean Ambrose feels like nothing more than filler, a match that is happening literally just to happen, and the WWE is in danger of wasting an interesting and popular character and also a tremendous talent. Wyatt and Ambrose will likely continue to be linked with each other up through the start of the winter. How they expand upon the feud could depend on how well or how poorly these two work together inside of a ring.
4. Dean Ambrose
Just when it seemed as if Ambrose was on the verge of being a hot babyface ready to be featured in the main event of a pay-per-view such as the Survivor Series, he has been dropped back into the midcard for a feud with Bray Wyatt. Both Ambrose and Wyatt have to be protected to keep fans from no longer caring as much about the characters as they have in the past, and their upcoming match has to further progress the feud and not settle it. Maybe Wyatt can pull off another Genie trick as he did at the Hell In A Cell show en route to avoiding the loss.
3. Seth Rollins
Short of being given the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which shouldn’t happen so long as Rollins is a heel and Brock Lesnar is with the company, Rollins has been booked perfectly since leaving The Shield. He is, among active wrestlers on the roster who appear on WWE television on a weekly basis, the top heel in the company, and he is bound to be involved in the final moments of the biggest match on the Survivor Series card. Only if WWE is serious about dropping The Authority angle once and for all should Rollins be left looking at the lights when the final theme song of the evening plays.
2. Triple H
The Authority will no longer be in control of the company if their team falls at Survival Series. Of course Triple H should make some impact on the main event of the show. Triple H is not, as of the posting of this piece, one of the five members of Team Authority, but there remains time for him to be slotted in as the final teammate in the squad before Survivor Series arrives. Remember, also, that Triple H does not need to be on the team to play what could be a significant role in the final fall of the evening.
WWE has dropped the ball on the Ryback character in the past, and his recent turns from babyface to heel to “we have no idea what this guy is doing anymore” does Ryback zero favors. Former company failures concerning the wrestler aside, Ryback continues to connect with live audiences. It’s not difficult to understand why. He’s a huge guy who beats people up, says a catchy phrase and moves on. No fuss, no muss. If – and that’s a big if heading into the Survivor Series – WWE is serious about again trying to make Ryback something, it should be he and not Cena who ends The Authority’s grasp on the company.