It’s Survivor Series time! Yes, this Sunday marks the only wrestling event that celebrates the Thanksgiving tradition. In this new era of WWE, we may not have room for the Gobbledy Gooker, but there is plenty of room for classic Survivor Series matchups. Originally, Survivor Series was a cluster of heel vs. face teams with gimmicky names like, “The Ultimate Warriors,” and “The Million Dollar Team.” But in the mid-90s, as we drifted further away from the cartoonish Rock n’ Wrestling era, the Attitude era brought about some changes to the way things were booked.
In the late 90s, Survivor Series became more like an extension of Summerslam as WWF showcased its top talent instead of teams. Audiences were more excited for a guy like Stone Cold Steve Austin than The Heenan Family vs. The Hulkamaniacs. Following that period, the WWE did something that really irked me. After the roster split in the early 2000s, following a large acquisition of WCW and ECW talent, Survivor Series seemed ripe for Raw vs. Smackdown teams to battle it out. But this stipulation would be reserved for a new pay-per-view: Bragging Rights!
I’ve harped on my disgust with the name “Bragging Rights” before, but the idea that they would make a separate Raw vs. Smackdown PPV when Survivor Series was sitting on the shelf is just wasteful. Since that time, they’ve done away with Bragging Rights, and eventually reunited the brands. Now, I’m at least happy to see the WWE utilizing the NEW brand split properly and having their Team Raw vs.Team Smackdown match where it should be, at Survivor Series.
Not only are they having their respective heavyweight champions in the match to enforce its importance, but they will also have a huge tag team elimination match, as well as a women’s elimination match. WWE seems to be putting a lot of stock back into Survivor Series and cementing it as one of the big four pay-per-views of the year, along with Summerslam, Royal Rumble, and WrestleMania.
This may be in part due to rumors that the WWE Network will be expanding its library and offering tiers in their payment plans; with a lower rate providing only the big four PPVs and none of the brand exclusive, color coded events. In an attempt to make Survivor Series part of the deal, they’re beefing up the card. We also have an open challenge from Dolph Ziggler’s Intercontinental Championship to look forward to, which may mean the debut or return of a new Raw Superstar. This could also be a great opportunity for an NXT Superstar to get called up, ideally Shinsuke Nakamura, as I speculated in last week’s article. It’s also likely that the IC title goes to Raw, while the Cruiserweight division moves to Smackdown.
But as far as our two major champions being involved in the elimination team battle is concerned, there isn’t much at stake in these traditional Survivor Series matchups. Much like Bragging Rights and the SS matches (as in “Survivor Series,” not “SummerSlam”) of old, there is no title or advantage to be gained from winning. Aside from literal “bragging rights” for the brand, some fans might wonder what the point is. It’s a fair enough argument, but for me, it is the Thanksgiving tradition that I grew up with. But is it that much better than Bragging Rights just because it’s at Survivor Series?
In a word: Yes.
In three words: Sure, I guess.
It’s a relaxed show. It’s a time to see family and enjoy a wrestling match without the repercussions of a title fight. Sometimes, it’s nice to be able sit back and watch a fun match without being pissed about the outcome. Whether you’re Raw or Smackdown, Republican or Democrat, Red or Blue, at the end of the night, we don’t really have to argue the results. In wrestling, we can just respect the experience. Representative of many families, we will see some infighting on the same teams. Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and Roman Reigns all have to work together. Dean Ambrose has to work with AJ Styles for the betterment of their brand. And that’s what Survivor Series is all about. It’s about family. It’s about togetherness. It’s the one time of the year where we can put our differences aside and realize that we’re all in this gluttonous world together. Even though there is nothing at stake, I’ll enjoy these traditional Survivor Series matches all the same. If WWE is truly trying to breathe new life into this forgotten big four event, fans can be sure to leave fat and happy.