Thursday, February 11, 2010

Survivor Series Finale

In case you haven't heard the news, Vince McMahon announced today that Survivor Series is "obsolete" and will no longer be a part of WWE's PPV schedule.  While it sucks for tradition - Survivor Series is the second oldest PPV of the year - I can't help but finding myself in agreement with the chairman.

Let's rewind to November, I addressed this very subject in Episode 23 of Kick-Out!! Radio, saying how excited I was for 2009's Survivor Series because it actually felt like a big deal, which Survivor Series hadn't for years.  The WWE Title match hype wasn't the best, but every other match had a good build, especially the Survivor Series matches, and most of them (sans Batista vs. Mysterio) delivered in terms of action.  I was excited for the show, I enjoyed it in execution, so why do I agree with Vince's assessment of the event?  Simple, it just doesn't work with the way business is done today.

In 1987, Survivor Series was the biggest event since WrestleMania 3, it was a revolutionary concept that you couldn't see anywhere except PPV.  Hulk Hogan teaming with Paul Orndorff, Bam Bam Bigelow, Don Muraco and Ken Patera to take on Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, One Man Gang, Rick Rude and Butch Reed was a MASSIVE main event; the undercard was big too, featuring pretty much every major name in WWE at the time competing in these unique elimination matches.  But while main eventers teaming up with other big names to take on the guys they're feuding with was almost as big as WrestleMania in 1987, in 2010, it's a Raw main event.  It's not out of the ordinary to see something like John Cena, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, and Big Show on a weekly Raw, when it could've been considered a PPV main event 20 years ago.

That's just the nature of the industry, post-Monday Night Wars, we're accustomed to seeing major stars every week, we demand it, but as a result of that shift, some other things lose their luster.  The first WrestleMania main event was a tag match and the WWE Title wasn't even defended on the card, could you imagine that working today?  Similarly, Survivor Series doesn't work today, which is a shame, but unless we're ready to go back to four PPVs a year and only seeing the top stars wrestle once a month, it may be time to retire the concept.

That's not to say that Survivor Series needs to be taken out back and shot, I'd love to see a three-hour Survivor Series-themed Raw, but I just don't think it's going to work as a $45 PPV, especially with the invention of Bragging Rights, which was my pick for the 2009 PPV of the year.  Also, there's another WWE survey going around asking fans about their interest in War Games, and if we're bringing War Games back, I'm all for getting rid of Survivor Series.  That's the kind of event you could build up to and the kind of match that could have lasting repercussions, unlike Survivor Series in recent years, which has had little impact on storylines following the PPV.  There's no emotion to Survivor Series anymore, like I've been saying, it's basically what they do every week, take guys who are feuding and toss them in a big tag match.  It's not about the teams collectively feuding or the relationships between teammates, it's just a vehicle for singles feuds.  But a match taking place inside two rings surrounded by a steel cage with a roof on top that doesn't end until someone is physically unable to compete?  That's not something we can see on a weekly Raw and could definitely sell a PPV.  Make it happen, WWE.

5 comments:

  1. I honestly believe that the fact we get these huge matches on a weekly basis is damaging.

    You mentioned less pay-per-views and only having big names on once a month? I'm all for that. The Monday Night Wars was great in terms of quality, but it did so much damage as well. Because of the heights it reached, it means that WWE cannot top that now.

    Monday Night Wars made it so that TV ratings were king and pay-per-view meant very little to WWE and WCW. It gave away so many great matches for free, and fewer people were enticed to buy PPV's because of it.

    WWE are still making that same mistake today; huge matches with big stars wrestling frequently on TV which diminishes how many people will pay for it. We're getting PPVs for free and WWE are making less money than they did back in the 90s.

    If WWE wanted to do big business again, I say they need to rely on an age old formula. One they used to have and one which they probably should never have lost.

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  2. You mentioned that fewer people were enticed to buy PPVs, but that wasn't the case during the height of the industry. Big matches were given away for free AND PPV buyrates were through the roof, it was a perfect storm that likely can't be duplicated, but I think now you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.

    The Monday Night War changed the game, it spoiled us, and I don't know if there is any going back. WWE's done a decent job of simplifying the product and focusing more on the actual wrestling in recent years, but dramatically changing the way business is done is a risky concept.

    They'd have to put a focus back on house shows, decrease PPVs, and possibly even end the brand split. I'm sure some (or all) of those ideas sound great on paper, but I don't know if it would translate to fiscal success. The networks would be unhappy, fans would be confused and I doubt it would go over well with shareholders. Creatively, it could work, but WWE is a business above all else.

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  3. No, but it's certainly the case now.

    I think a TV show similar to ECW's old "Hardcore TV" would be what could work in this day and age. Wrestling matches edited so as not to give everything away at once, and stories being told in a better, clearer and more enticing manner.

    But that's just my opinion - I may be totally out of touch with what other people want. But if we were all the same, life would be boring, wouldn't it?

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  4. Honestly, the only reason Survivor Series wasn't killed off in 2002 with King of the Ring was due to the Elimination Chamber that year, followed by the underrated 2003 card. The death of SS has been long overdue though. When we define 'big matches' these days, there has to be a cage or ladders or tables involved...

    The only consequence of having big matches per week is smarks have the delusion that they should have at least 45 minutes of in-ring action (not including intros or outros) a week for some reason. The WWE, to their credit, rarely gives away what would've drawn big on PPV on Raw. They've never given away the Elimination Chamber on free TV, and the last free Royal Rumble was in 2003 on Smackdown. TNA on the other hand....

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  5. I just posted about this, disagreeing with WWE's decision. You make some great points though. I may have to change my stance.

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