PHOTO CREDIT: WWE Network
Survivor Series is this Sunday!
That is not as exciting of a statement as it once was. That is because the concept and selling point of Survivor Series is outdated.
The event debuted on Thanksgiving night in 1987 and has since become one of the WWE’s Big Four pay-per-view events, along with Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, and SummerSlam. For the first four years, the PPV was held on Thanksgiving night, then the next four years it moved to the night before Thanksgiving, and since then has been on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
The selling point of the events was the traditional 5-on-5 or 4-on-4 Survivor Series elimination matches. The main event of the first one saw Team Andre the Giant (Andre the Giant, One Man Gang, King Kong Bundy, Butch Reed, and Rick Rude) vs Team Hulk Hogan (Hulk Hogan, Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, Ken Patera, and Bam Bam Bigelow). Andre and Hogan headlined WrestleMania 3 earlier in the year in the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit Michigan.
The multi-person matches were fresh and exciting. Typically, it was baby faces vs heels, but it was unprecedented for so many guys to band together and fight alongside one another to take down a common enemy.
This PPV event was a great holiday event and still is in certain ways, but it doesn’t have the luster it once did. The selling point of the elimination tag matches doesn’t mean as much when we have seen eight or 10-person matches on weekly television. We have seen these matches ad nauseam, so why would we want to tune in for a big event with similar matches?
Since WWE split the roster back in 2016, we now get Raw vs SmackDown. We get to see a men’s and women’s traditional Survivor Series matches and also champion vs champion matches.
The concept of Raw vs SmackDown is cool on paper, but as a viewer, what exactly is it that we are investing in? The winning team does not get anything if they win, so there is nothing for members of each roster to fight for. Whether it be the winning team or just the survivors of the match, the combatants should have something to fight for and not just bragging rights. In fact, they used to run a Bragging Rights PPV, so keep those rights for that.
They could do something as simple as saying the winners or survivors get some sort of monetary bonus. They could also vie for title opportunities or early entry to the Royal Rumble in January. If they were to do the Rumble entry, it could be for a spot anywhere from 20-30. This would give the competitors a legitimate reason to want to team up with guys or girls they normally wouldn’t, which would make it easier for them to get us, the viewers, hooked and commit our time to the event.
Last year we got the excitement of NXT being added to the mix and it was a massive success. This was a time that the concept worked fine, as NXT went live on USA Network last fall, so fans who didn’t watch much NXT could see what they had to offer. NXT invading both Raw and SmackDown was some compelling television and gave Survivor Series the fire back.
The champion vs champion concept is actually a good one, even though I would prefer at least one of the world titles be defended like in year’s past, but I digress. This year we get Roman Reigns vs Drew McIntyre, New Day vs Street Profits, Asuka vs Sasha Banks, and Sami Zayn vs Bobby Lashley. Those should provide some memorable moments and matches.
While all those matches are great for the fans to see, give the competitors in the Raw vs SmackDown matches something to fight for, which in turn gives us viewers even more reason to watch.
Over the 33-year history of Survivor Series, we as fans have got some pretty memorable debuts and moments.
- The Undertaker – 1990 – 30 years ago we saw the debut of the Undertaker as he was introduced as the mystery man for Ted DiBiase’s team. The rest is history as the Dead Man has had one of the most iconic wrestling careers in the history of the business.
- Rocky Maivia – 1996 – The blue-chip baby face made his WWE debut in Madison Square Garden. He went on to do amazing things in the ring and outside of it. If you don’t recognize the name, maybe you recognize Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
- Kurt Angle – 1999 – The Olympic gold medalist made his WWE debut defeating Shawn Stasiak. He went on to have a Hall of Fame career in both WWE and TNA/Impact Wrestling.
- The Elimination Chamber Match – 2002 – Eric Bischoff’s creation came to life at the 2002 Survivor Series. Two tons of steel and pods to hold wrestlers in until their pod is unlocked. Shawn Michaels won the first-ever EC match, winning the World Heavyweight Title, outlasting the likes of HHH, Rob Van Dam, Kane, Chris Jericho, and Booker T.
- The Shield – 2012 – Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose made an impactful debut as the Shield eight years ago by assisting CM Punk in defeating John Cena and Ryback in a triple threat match for the WWE Title. The trio would go on to rec havoc throughout the WWE over the next seven years before Ambrose, now Jon Moxley went to AEW.
- Sting – 2014 – For the first time in his already illustrious career, Sting finally made his WWE debut, helping Team Cena defeat Team Authority. It was a moment for the ages and one that probably should have happened years prior, but it was incredible when it did occur.
- The Montreal Screwjob – 1997 – This was one of the most controversial moments in not only WWE history but wrestling history. Bret Hart defended the WWE Title against Shawn Michaels and Hart was on his way out of the company. He refused to drop the belt to Michaels in Canada, but Vince McMahon had other plans. When HBK locked Hart in his own Sharp Shooter submission, McMahon ordered referee, Earl Hebner, to ring the bell. Michaels won the match and belt and then Hart proceeded to destroy the ringside area before going to the back and knocking McMahon out cold.
- Undertaker Defeats Hulk Hogan for WWE Title – 1991- During this time, it was highly unprecedented when Hogan lost a match. He led the wrestling revolution in the ’80s but then a year into the new decade, Taker took the title with the help of Ric Flair.
- WWE Title Tournament – 1998 – There was a 14-man WWE Title tournament for the vacant title. The Rock defeated Mankind in the finals of the tournament and even got help from McMahon and his son Shane, who then declared Rock the Corporate Champion. This was the first Survivor Series that did not feature a traditional elimination match.
- The Final Chapter of WCW and ECW – 2001 – In the spring of 2001, McMahon had bought his competition in WCW and ECW. He then launched the Invasion Angle pitting the two companies and the wrestlers that came with them trying to take over the WWE. The angle would have been better had the big stars from the two companies were there, but it was fine for what it was nonetheless. At the 2001 Survivor Series, it was Team WWE vs The Alliance for sole supremacy once and for all. The WWE was victorious after Kurt Angle defected from the Alliance and struck Stone Cold Steve Austin with the WWE Title, allowing Rock to pin Austin.
Tune in to Survivor Series this Sunday live on the WWE Network at 7 PM EST. Outside of the battle for brand supremacy, check out the Final Farewell of The Undertaker.