Survivor Series. The 4th PPV in the so called “Big Four” and the second longest running PPV in WWE’s history making its debut in 1987. This year’s instalment will be the 26th. In looking at the Survivor Series, the word tradition comes up a lot. This is to do with the traditional Survivor Series elimination matches. The premise? A multi-man/woman elimination tag match. Those left at the end of the match are deemed the “survivors”. It’s a simple enough premise that has, some feel, ran its course. When Survivor Series started in 87 the whole PPV was centred around these style matches. Over time they no longer main evented the PPV, which they had done, and moved down the card to allow title matches main event the PPV. Also there were some instalments of the Survivor Series that had only one “traditional” match or no match at all. Less emphasis on the “traditional” matches will tend to mean less interest from those watching.
In recent years, there has been a shift in having more traditional matches appear. However in 2009 WWE debuted Bragging Rights. Similar to the Survivor Series, the premise would be Team Raw would face off against Team Smackdown in a multi-man elimination match. The major problem was it was scheduled to be the PPV before the Survivor Series. The Bragging Rights concept was dropped fairly quick after PPV buy rates were very low. This should have been an indication that the concept of a multi-man elimination match has ran its course, nobody wants to see the same premise twice in the space of 4 weeks, would anyone watch a PPV centred around Ladder matches and then the next month have a TLC PPV? Around this time there was talk of discontinuing Survivor Series as a PPV. But it was decided that the concept would carry on and we are a week out from the 26th edition of the Survivor Series. The premise still the same. As it stands we will see one traditional match Team Foley v Team Ziggler. There is so much wrong with the build with this match but I won’t get in to that now. The idea of this post is to look at a potential format change to the Survivor Series.
First off I will say I am not in the camp of those who dislike the premise of Survivor Series, there are issues with it but I like the elimination style matches. However, I am one for change and Survivor Series could do with a revamp. When I think about Survivor Series there are 3 Survivor Series PPVs that stick out for me. Those are 97, 98 and 2002. 97 of course for the infamous Screw Job. But for 98 & 2002 it is due to the format change that took place for both of these. The 98 edition centred around a tournament for the vacant World Title. 2002 was the first time we saw the Elimination Chamber. These format changes tied into the Survivor Series ethos. One man was left standing, one man was the sole survivor and more importantly they left with the gold. In 1998 it was The Rock and in 2002 it was Shawn Michaels.
Elimination Chamber already has its own PPV so the possibility of it returning to a Survivor Series PPV is low. As such could the tournament format be the way forward? I am a sucker for tournaments. I think they are great and as such a return to the 1998 format would be welcomed. It could be a number 1 contender’s tournament that takes place on the night. Both titles would be defended on the PPV also. Then the winner of the tournament chooses which title he wants to go for on the night. That way the tournament winner, World Champion and WWE Champion will all have competed on the night. So to win/retain the championship by the end of it means something.
Tournaments can throw up interesting match ups. Recall Shelton Benjamin v Shawn Michaels in the gold rush tournament. There was a match we wouldn’t see normally and in my opinion is one of the best TV matches I have ever seen. We wouldn’t have seen it had it not been in a tournament. A good showing from a mid carder even in defeat will stand to them. For example Justin Gabriel could draw Dolph Ziggler. There is a match we may not see on TV normally. Dolph and Gabe tear it up. It benefits Gabe no end as he isn’t given as much time to shine as Dolph. It’s a tried and tested format that works.
I am going to leave it there for now as I will be talking more about this on the Wrestleview International Desk next Friday. Here is a link to the Facebook page that has all the updates and where to find us- http://www.facebook.com/WrestleviewInternationalDesk
Thanks for reading.