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As WWE has so kindly pointed out to us numerous times over the last several weeks, Survivor Series is the second longest running PPV in WWE's cannon. Despite the amount of hype that the Royal Rumble and Summerslam get, it is actually Survivor Series that was the second PPV event that WWE ever held, only Wrestlemania is older.
Survivor Series takes us back to a time when the wrestling calendar wasn't oversaturated with PPV events every month, and the world title didn't have to be defended at every event. Like the Royal Rumble and King of the Ring, Survivor Series was a non-standard PPV event, that broke up the monotony of the typical booking of cards. Today, WWE is in that monotony more than ever, with every single PPV with the exception of the Rumble following that same tired formula. The show opens with one of the mid-card titles being defended, then they go through the rest of the mid card matches, leading up until the one or two really significant matches, with the world title match usually closing the show.
Brock Lesnar winning the world title and going long stretches of time absent from WWE programming, WWE will have to rely on shows like Survivor Series to break the traditional formula and entertain the fans without relying on the world title to generate interest. There has been plenty of criticism for the buildup of Survivor Series, and certainly some of that is deserved, but one positive about Survivor Series is that WWE has managed to turn back the clock on bit on its booking philosophy. Survivor Series will not be headlined by another world title match, but by a traditional, 5 on 5 elimination match. Of course, it involves an over the top stipulation because after all, this is WWE in 2014, but it is still refreshing to see WWE break away from the same tired booking formula.
The storyline was launched right after Hell in a Cell, when John Cena, who is now heavily feuding with The Authority, was booked into a 5 on 5 match against The Authority. The following week on Raw, Vince McMahon inexplicably returned and announced that if Team Cena were to be victorious, The Authority, meaning Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, would be removed from power. Right from there a bunch of problems arise from a logic standpoint. Vince McMahon had lost his power in 2011 when Triple H announced that the WWE Board of Directors (who seemingly only exists when it is convenient for them to do so) had elected to remove him from his position running Raw and Smackdown, and make Triple H the Chief Operating Officer of WWE. McMahon would then later return, mysteriously gaining power again and making key decisions, including replacing Triple H with John Laurinaitis, because the Board of Directors (once again existing for the sake of convenience) gave him the power to do so.
Nobody really knows who is in charge of WWE anymore, it appears that Vince McMahon has regained the power over Triple H, unless of course, the Board of Directors is around, then they are in charge. If The Authority were to be removed from power, in theory McMahon would have to assign someone else to manage WWE. Although, if history is any indicator of the future, Triple H can easily show up in five months and start bossing people around again, with no real explanation for why he is able to do so. Why would WWE try to incorporate such a confusing storyline into the main event of Survivor Series? A theory is that WWE panicked without having the world title available to hold the PPV together, after all that is how pretty much every single PPV has been built for the last two decades. They needed a big storyline to get fans invested, so they rolled out the possibility The Authority could lose their power, and hoped that the fans would gloss over the logic holes in the story and just get excited about the stipulation without thinking too much about the reasoning behind it. That is unacceptable from a company that has so much talent and resources to utilize to entice the audience. WWE is once again banking on its fans being too dumb to really think about the stories being presented to them beyond the obvious, presented information.
If that wasn't big enough of an issue, WWE completely went over the top during Smackdown's taping on Tuesday. The following contains **SPOILERS** so skip the next three paragraphs if you don't want to find out what happens on this week's edition of Smackdown. On Tuesday, Triple H announced that if Team Cena were to lose, all five of the team members would be fired. While the whole "Who the heck is actually in charge of WWE?" confusion wasn't insulting enough to the fans intelligence, this stipulation really pushes everything over the edge.
How can any fan realistically take this stipulation seriously? WWE is really just going to fire five of their biggest stars, including John Cena? Never mind the fact that Triple H has said multiple times in the last year that Cena is the franchise of WWE, and that he is way more important to the company then everyone else, so Triple H being willing to fire Cena all of a sudden is a complete contradiction to what Triple H has said in the past, the real crime here is that WWE really expects its fans to think this a real possibility. Yes, it is all done in kayfabe, but in 2014, when kayfabe is pretty much dead, WWE should realize that most fans are smart enough to understand that Cena isn't going anywhere, mainly because Triple H has SAID EXACTLY THAT on several different occasions, right on Monday Night Raw. In addition, Cena has already been fired multiple times in the past, and despite those dismissals, he always managed to come back to WWE programming after barely anytime away.
The match itself could be interesting, and it very well could end up being the longest non-Royal Rumble match of the year for WWE. The 5 on 5 elimination style tag match has always been an interesting idea, and it might give a chance for some less heralded talent like Dolph Ziggler and Luke Harper to really shine in the main event of a major PPV. The match could go either way, but it is probably more likely Cena and company lose when Rusev pins Cena, launching their feud and the "Cena and his buddies are fired, but look King, they are at ringside as fans" bit that is already old. The Authority have really been the driving force behind WWE's storylines over the last year, so it would be really hard to replace them on relatively short notice from a creative standpoint.
The rest of the card is lacking in a lot of different areas. Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose had potential at the very beginning, but WWE has shown that they are committed to this match being a mid-card bout and nothing more. They haven't gone a ton of TV time, and the losses that Wyatt consumed earlier this year really do seem to be hurting him. Why Wyatt talks about change and eating worlds and such, fans are struggling to take him seriously, because he has said all of this before and still came up short. Wyatt is really good at cutting promos, but his character seems to be running in circles. There isn't a huge difference between his feud with John Cena and Daniel Bryan, and Dean Ambrose, which is disappointing because they are vastly different characters.
The Divas will have two different matches at Survivor Series. The first is another 5 on 5 elimination tag match, similar to the one they did last year. Since the match last year was an unmitigated disaster, expectations shouldn't be too high for this one. A big problem is that WWE will likely give less than 10 minutes for this match, which is way too short for a match that has to include nine pinfalls or submissions. That leads to a lot of strange pinfalls coming from weak looking offense. The other match is a Divas title match between AJ and Nikki Bella, with Brie Bella being forced to help her sister as a result of losing her match against Nikki at Hell in a Cell. A likely outcome is that Nikki asks Brie to help her, but Brie hesitates and costs Nikki the match. There are some rumors going around that AJ is leaving the company soon, but those are still just rumors and it makes more sense for the match to end with AJ as champion and Brie and Nikki continuing their feud.
A bright spot on the card will likely be the Fatal Four Way elimination tag team match. The tag team division has been probably the most consistent part of WWE in 2014, and every PPV the teams seem to have quality matches. The match, featuring Los Matadores, The Usos, Miz and Mizdow and Gold and Stardust, is filled with good athletes, so there should be some pretty fast paced action and fun spots. WWE should open the show with this match, as it will be a good choice to get the crowd excited for the rest of the card.
Last year, Survivor Series was named the worst event of the year at the 2013 Viewies® (2014 awards coming next month!) so WWE can really only improve on that performance. There are some hurdles they are definitely going to have to overcome, but the potential for a good/great show is still there.