RAW Deal: Survivor Series, literally
DENVER, USA —Leave it to Vince McMahon to take a good thing and run it to the ground.
After last week’s phenomenal episode of RAW, the WWE decides to turn things around somewhat, giving away a traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series match for free in the main event. Yes, one of the WWE’s biggest novelties and the centrepiece of their annual November pay-per-view was given away on free television. I’m not even sure Triple H recognized the unfortunate irony when he said they wouldn’t waste a Seth Rollins/Roman Reigns championship match on RAW seconds before they made this match. (This is the guy behind NXT, though, so he probably did.)
The buck doesn’t stop here; according to spoilers, there’s also another 5-on-5 elimination match on this week’s episode of SmackDown.
Here’s the thing: the traditional road to the November PPV usually (and I say “usually” loosely) features a tense build-up between teams, ranging from who gets to be on what team and how combinations of team members square off against each other. What happened this week isn’t a thing that happens at all, and it’s a head-scratcher of a deviation.
Of course, since Reigns and Rollins will be headlining the show in a championship match, so they can’t already have a traditional Survivor Series match on it. If anything, who isn’t on these matches on free TV will most likely be the ones to have a big match—it’s highly likely that the Brothers of Destruction, Undertaker and Kane, will be leading a 4-man team against the full force of the Wyatt Family. If that’s the gameplan, then we’re glad that nobody’s spoiling it with free elimination matches.
But they are still beating the concept to the ground. I’m knocking on wood that this doesn’t happen, but if we’re getting random 5-on-5 or 4-on-4 on RAW and SmackDown until the PPV, then what else is left for anyone to make the spectacle special? The matches themselves are great (absent all the circumstances around it, I loved the match on RAW), and that’s actually a problem—too much of them away from the main occasion is going to dull their luster in their predestined time to shine. Why have a Survivor Series pay-per-view at all, then? Why build around the traditional match? Everything is just so counterintuitive.
One last thing: maybe we would have been better off, after all, with a Team Reigns vs. Team Rollins match on the PPV, just as a way to build up even more tension for their championship match. WWE booking is so formulaic, but a lot of the time, the deviations are strange. If that’s going to be the case, why not have a swerve that could actually be good for everyone involved? We don’t have to have a championship match right away. We can tell the story a different way. We could help a minor PPV, in TLC, get a bigger shine, or we could build it all the way up to the Royal Rumble.
AlDub managed to keep everyone hooked with a long-running story just by teasing the payoff. Why has the WWE forgotten to do that?
- There’s just a lot of good wrestling on the show this week. They’re trying to cut down on some of the fluff, but it still takes a whole lot to fill three hours.
- Glad to see the Lucha Dragons finally get the wins they deserve. They’re most likely not taking the championships off the New Day’s waists, but it’s great to see an underrepresented contender get some shine. (Where are the Dudleyz now, though?)
- Cesaro continues to do what he does, and I can’t wait to see what kind of fireworks erupt from a feud with Stardust.
- The MexAmerica storyline involving Zeb Colter and Alberto del Rio may be more nuanced than we think. Let’s let it play out.
- Go watch that Fatal Four-Way to crown a new #1 contender to the Divas Championship. Watch it, even though the build was less than stellar. The Diva Revolution has been cut down lately, but long minutes plus a match for a reason works well for them as it does for everyone else. Also, because this happened:
- If this were 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, I would have enjoyed that Wyatts segment with the weird magical powers. It just doesn’t resonate in a show that isn’t Lucha Underground; with all the multitude of ways the WWE actively humanizes the wrestlers they employ and destroy the veil over the audience’s eyes, this stuff just doesn’t work. It was great when the Wyatts were just beating up the big monsters, but to add all the mystical mumbo-jumbo is to kill whatever momentum they’ve built. Just let them fight, for Bray’s sake, and have him be cryptic as his minions deliver the beatings.
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