As the final addition to WWE’s big Raw vs. SmackDown elimination match at Survivor Series, John Cena has joined Shane McMahon’s SmackDown team. This will be Cena’s first return to a WWE ring since he lost to Roman Reigns at the No Mercy pay-per-view on September 24. It also takes advantage of Cena’s current free agent status, as he was most recently a member of the Raw roster, and has now evidently jumped back over to SmackDown.
Debuting way back in 1987, the Survivor Series event has always been one of WWE’s biggest events of the year. The Survivor Series’ signature match-type is of course the 5-on-5 elimination-style tag team match. Survivor Series has seen some huge elimination matches happen over the years, and also seen teams so full of star power that it’s almost unreal. For example, the 2006 event saw the super team of Triple H, Shawn Michaels, the Hardy Boyz, and CM Punk completely squash the opposition. The most packed overall match was probably 2001’s final encounter between the warring team WWE (The Rock, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Kane, and The Big Show) vs. team WCW/ECW alliance (Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, and Shane McMahon).
Cena is set to join a SmackDown team that already consists of the aforementioned Shane McMahon, multi-time WWE champion Randy Orton, 2-time NXT champion and fast-rising Japanese superstar Shinsuke Nakamura, and former NXT champion – as well as decorated champion during his time in Impact Wrestling – Bobby Roode. That’s a team worthy of perhaps making a list of all-time best Survivor Series teams.
The Raw team that SmackDown is set to compete against is no slouch in the star department either. Captained by Raw GM and WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle, team Raw also includes former NXT and Universal champion Finn Balor, 2-time NXT champion – and another former Impact Wrestling main eventer – Samoa Joe, and the ultra dominant “Monster Among Men” Braun Strowman. The final member of the team is former SmackDown tag team champion Jason Jordan, who was added due to his position as Angle’s storyline son. Jordan is certainly a talented guy, but definitely sticks out as the least established participant in the match.
Interestingly enough, Cena was previously rumored to be named the special referee for the previously announced Survivor Series main event of WWE champion Jinder Mahal vs Universal champion Brock Lesnar. With AJ Styles having won the WWE title from Mahal on last night’s Smackdown, he’ll now face Lesnar in an arguable dream match at the pay-per-view, and WWE presumably no longer feels the need to add a special ref to the match.
WWE Survivor Series 2017 streams Sunday, November 19 on the WWE Network.