WWE staging 4 straight nights of wrestling inside Houston's Toyota Center this weekend

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- WWE's touring brand of sports entertainment is no stranger to Houston.

After all, the company's premier annual event Wrestlemania took place twice in H-Town. One of those Wrestlemanias, which took place inside the Astrodome in 2001, is widely considered the greatest of all time.

This weekend, WWE is coming back to Houston for the comparably hyped but smaller in scale Survivor Series pay-per-view set for Toyota Center.

Survivor Series is seen in the company as one of the biggest four annual PPV events on WWE's calendar. And as such, WWE is treating it like their version of all-star weekends in Major League Baseball and the NBA.

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Each night, from Saturday to Tuesday, WWE will hold a wrestling card, with the flagship event Survivor Series taking place on Sunday.

Aside from Survivor Series, the weekend will boast NXT Takeover: War Games, an event shown exclusively on the company's WWE Network streaming service; WWE Raw, the company's flagship weekly program on Monday; and WWE Smackdown Live, another of the company's weekly televised series which is set for Tuesday.

Each card is different from the other, but will boast assured entertaining matches that usually draw in fans of any level, die-hards and casual WWE viewers.

Of course, if you are taking in the action at any point during the four nights, you are either a fan who has dabbled in the product before and know enough to not seem lost; you are a hardcore fan from out of town - no other hyperbole added; or you're taking a child to the big events as a carpooler.

In any event, here are the things you need to know about this weekend to get you caught up on the overload of grappling, suplexes, and ankle locks.

NXT Takeover: War Games

Saturday, 6:15 p.m. Tickets start at $20.

For those unfamiliar with NXT, it is WWE's developmental territory where those who do not have too much experience in the system get trained for wrestling and character work. It is essentially the stop before up-and-coming WWE superstars get to lock up with the likes of John Cena and Brock Lesnar.

Despite its developmental characteristics, NXT customarily draws die-hard wrestling fans, not just regular viewers of WWE.

And things like its "Takeover" events, which usually take place the Saturday before a marquee WWE pay-per-view, can draw the loudest cheers and chants and illicit the greatest amount of audience engagement.

With that said, this Takeover will host the gimmicky War Games match, which combines teams of wrestlers, two rings next to each, a cage to close both rings, and rules that include staggered entries from each combatant. For the least knowledgeable wrestling fan, this match will most likely confuse you. After all it was first developed in the 1980s within the defunct National Wrestling Alliance.

Nevertheless, the card will include three championship matches to balance out the predictable chaos of the War Games match.

While you may find yourself clueless of what goes on at NXT Takeover: War Games, you will assuredly get swallowed up by the raucous atmosphere.

Survivor Series

Sunday, 5:30 p.m. Tickets start at $25.

Historically, the main wrestling card on the Sunday after an NXT Takeover show will reduce in crowd enthusiasm. But that's not to say the show won't be entertaining.

The Houston pay-per-view is the 31st edition of the Survivor Series event, so it carries a lot of history.

The event gets its name from the headlining match that comprises of two separate teams, usually consisting of five wrestlers each, involved in a tag team contest. It's elimination rules, meaning all the members of a team must be pinned or submitted, one at a time, to lose. Again, this can be confusing for the most casual viewer.

There will be two of these contests pitting superstars of the Raw and Smackdown Live brands. One will involve the men and the other will involve the women.

The Survivor Series match involving the men will be headlined by two returns: WWE posterboy John Cena, who last wrestled on a pay-per-view in September, and 15-time world champion Triple H, who was last seen competing in a wrestling ring back in April's Wrestlemania event.

This is particularly significant given both men's influence on the WWE over the past 20 years. Both men were added to the card just a week from the event, signifying a possible last minute effort to get more subscriptions to the WWE Network.

The other matches on the card also include other Raw vs. Smackdown Live contests, including a match between each brand's top champion, former UFC heavyweight title-holder Brock Lesnar and current WWE champion A.J. Styles.

Raw and Smackdown Live

Raw: Monday, 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20.
Smackdown Live: Tuesday, 6:45 p.m. Tickets start at $20.

Survivor Series serves as the final significant pay-per-view of the WWE calendar. Usually, the televised events right after this PPV will also serve as some kind of a storyline reboot, meaning the casual wrestling fan won't have the pressure of having to know what's going on.

In addition, those same fans will have to expect the unexpected.

Depending on the outcome of Survivor Series, the shows will most likely refer to bragging rights over which of each brand's superstars won matches.

On Raw, the show is currently anchored by a power-struggle storyline between the brand's general manager, WWE hall-of-famer and gold medal former Olympian Kurt Angle, and his on-screen boss Stephanie McMahon, who is the daughter of WWE chairman Vince McMahon.

On Smackdown, the show, which is an hour shorter than Raw, currently centers around its reputation as a "land of opportunity." Former WWE champion Jinder Mahal won the title for the first time after being lauded as a perennial jobber, or a wrestler who loses a lot to enhance other talent.

Both shows are carried live on cable television, so you may encounter bits of awkward dark periods in the arena.

Also, if you notice fans going wild for certain competitors, it may signify the return of a wrestler or the debut of a celebrated NXT superstar. Normally, post-PPV Raw or Smackdown shows will host an appearance of this magnitude, mostly out of surprise.

The weekend's effect on Wrestlemania

Conveniently enough, next April's Wrestlemania event will take place six hours away at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

It may be safe to say that Wrestlemania is lauded internationally, even with the non-wrestling spectator. And there might not be a better time than Survivor Series weekend to hop in to the WWE product.

As mentioned already, the televised shows on Monday and Tuesday can serve as a storyline reboot for both brands, and the PPV can be seen as the unofficial start on the road to the "show of the immortals."

In any case, WWE will open remaining ticket sales to Wrestlemania on the Friday before the four-day marathon. The company is using the lead-up to Survivor Series as a launching point for ticket purchases.

After all, some of the wrestling promotion's biggest moments came out of Wrestlemania. Just take the excitement from the NXT show and multiply that by a million and you still would not reach the excitement foreseen at Wrestlemania.

If you feel compelled to double-down on your WWE fandom from this weekend to Wrestlemania, you can view ticket availability here.

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