The WWE hasn’t had a cast of characters like this in a long time.
If you can’t already tell, World Wrestling Entertainment is doing their best to capture the essence of the “Attitude Era” all the while staying relevant and very PG; for the good majority of the current crop of fans are small children, and John Cena is just that babyface that will never go bad.
Thing is, though, if the WWE insists on pleasing long-time fans with their product far beyond the corporation’s prime years, why mess with tradition?
Why not bring back the one and true Survivor Series?
Survivor Series was once considered the unique pay-per-view of the WWF brand, even more so than the unique 30 (or 40)-man over-the-top rope Royal Rumble event. It’s also, ironically, the second longest running PPV in WWE history behind Wrestlemania. And I say “ironically,” because Survivor Series just hasn’t been the same since 1997.
When Vince screwed Bret, fans were screwed out of an entire card of four-on-four elimination tag matches.
You see, 1998 was the peak of the “Attitude Era” and the 15-years Ago Authority (a.k.a. Vinny Mac) opted for some “Deadly Games” instead. If you think about it, the name Survivor Series was more aptly named for a tournament of championship contenders, seeing how the pay-per-view consisted of a series of matches of survival. You lose, you’re gone. Although Survivor Series (1998) — complete with its Rock vs. Mankind main event for the vacant strap — was indeed one of its most entertaining, I couldn’t help but feel…left out.
And, despite the overall viable quality of Survivor Series (2013), the Monsignor couldn’t shed some those same feelings had from “Moody: The College Years.” The best match on the card last night was a five-on-five “traditional” Survivor Series match-up, with little to no long-term repercussions (this side of a possible Mysterio vs. Shield squabble, sure), but one of the best performances in the history of the event. Following the quartet of spears from former Canadian football defensive tackle Roman Reigns — on this strange night of comebacks in the beautiful city of Boston, nonetheless, as Reigns was down 4 men to 1 — I couldn’t help but think of what could have been. I couldn’t help but remember and yearn for more of my personal greatest thanksgiving wrestling memory: Survivor Series (1990).
So, hey, maybe it’s because I was a 10-year old without an iPAD, “South Park”, or a slutty Instagram girlfriend. Either way, Survivor Series way back when meant a series of wondrously creative match-ups. What would happen if you paired up a “Million $” foursome of Ted Dibiase, The Undertaker, and Rhythm & Blues against a “Dream” team of Dusty Rhodes, Koko B. Ware, and the Hart Foundation? How about the “Perfect” gang of Curt Henning and the Demolition trio versus an “Ultimate” squad of Legion of Doom, Texas Tornado, and the Ultimate Warrior himself?
And, to top it all off, throw all of the survivors from those matches (Hogan, Warrior, Dibiase, etc.) in a grand finale match of them all?
It was a good ass time. Yet, I completely understand why the WWE would want to go the other way. Following the epic November Reign of 1989 and 1990, attendance and PPV buys for the event slowly started to plummet. With the mindset that many of these fans saw through these “gimmicky” elimination matches and wanted “more” (i.e. title matches), the WWE decided to keep the original name and play around with the card. Every. Single. Year. There hasn’t been anything consistent in the form of a traditional Survivor Series since.
The problem with the PPV last night, for example, is that the load of the card appeared no more than probable main event matches from Friday Night Smackdown. Big E vs. Axel. Nice shout out to the Boston Red Sox. And your relevance, again? Boston’s Cena vs. Del Rio. We’ve seen this before. A few times. Even all of the strange Del Rio fanfare in Beantown. Orton vs. Big Show (with The Authority peaking over their shoulder). Snooze…and a woofed punt kick. Daniel Bryan & CM Punk vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan. Why? Why not add 2 more members to each of those opposing teams (Bray Wyatt, Dolph Ziggler), and throw in some sort of incentive. You know, an incentive would mean that the sole survivor(s) would be up for some sort of title shot — and, there, you’ve got a reason to have an entire card of traditional FOUR-on-FOUR Survivor Series matches.
(While some S.S. PPV’s, including the original two, opted for 5-on-5, using 4-on-4 keeps things more concise and allows for more heat towards that heavyweight strap. I will make an exception for the Divas, however, since the more of them in one match, the merrier. Congrats, Natalya.)
Speaking of… if last night was any indication, it appears that the straps are finally up for unification. Whew. There’s no doubt fans have been asking for this for a long time. Seeing how RAW and Smackdown are practically no longer “split” brands, there is absolutely no reason to have two World Championship belts. It looks like The Authority is finally going to do what’s “best for business” by eliminating one of the titles, or unifying both (because walking down the aisle with two belts over your shoulder just looks better) at next year’s WrestleMania. Or, they may not even wait that long if a John Cena vs. Randy Orton at either TLC or Royal Rumble is in the cards. If this is indeed the case, my case for a meaningful, yet traditional Survivor Series would only make more sense next year.
You could even have some WWE legends, like last night’s roundtable of Bret Hart, Mic Foley and Booker T, captaining those very teams.
You’d still have your heavyweight championship match (i.e. the Hulk Hogan vs. The Undertaker circa 1991 from last night we’d call Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena), and the lone Survivor that night would instantly become the #1 contender for the TLC event (which of course, means the winner of the traditional Tables, Ladders, & Chairs event could face the lone Survivor or the man lucky enough to retain his title).
Opposition: Okay, Moody. What if more than one man ends of surviving Survivor Series, if you’re going to throw the “Grand Finale” match back on the PPV?
Rebuttal: Hey, we’ve had triple threat and fatal 4-way matches before, haven’t we? If Roman Reigns, Alberto Del Rio, and Bray Wyatt somehow ended up surviving an entire 3-on-5 finale against Kofi Kingston, Daniel Bryan, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, and Mark Henry, then you have those men dance it out the next night on RAW.
Then, stakes is high!
You’d satisfy the long-awaited WWE/F fans who’ve clamored for an entire card of traditional Survivor Series matches (because watching Ryback job to the WWE’s answer to Rick Ross/Kimbo Slice in Henry can be seen on RAW; seeing “The Best & The Beard” defeat the Wyatts — with absolutely no title ramifications or speciality “revenge” scenario like an extreme rules or cage match — could easily be placed on Smackdown), as well as give reason for the whole damn thing.
And, I loved how unique the WWF was years ago when naming their teams: “The Foreign Fanatics”, “The King’s Court”, “Team Blayze”, “The Rude Brood”, and “Roddy’s Rowdies.” Using “The Best & the Beards” (with the goateed Uso’s) would have definitely worked here.
You could even go a step further and put a pair of tag-teams against each other (say, The Shield & All-Americans vs. Uso’s & Los Matadores) and name the winner the #1 contenders to fight the Rhodes Bros. (Goldust & Cody) for the tag straps at December’s Tables, Ladders, & Chairs PPV. With all of the quality tag-teams the WWE has nowadays — and I’ve not been able to say that in many years — why not bring those titles back to prominence?
Oh, because for Thanksgiving we’re supposed to eat turkey — and you basically are what you eat if you chipped in the $49.99 for the thing they still call Survivor Series.