WWE Survivor Series is a staple in WWE programming but it’s lost a level of importance as competitors are fighting for a meaningless prize.
Stakes. The “why” behind professional wrestling matches add value to what happens between the ropes. What are the performers fighting for; it must be something of value, right? Many would hope, but the WWE has struggled to place adequate stakes on many of its matches for an extended period. The Survivor Series is the most glaring example of pointless matches within the promotion. As the annual PPV comes to viewers on November 22, the collective viewing community is asking “why?”
Survivor Series is one of the longest annual events in WWE. Starting back in 1987 the event has featured a variety of important moments in WWE history such as the Undertaker’s debut back in 1990 to the Montreal Screwjob in 1997. Those types of moments are few and far between on Survivor Series in recent memory. A big issues around this is the reasoning behind the why the men and women on the roster are fighting during this event.
Since 2017 Survivor Series has been all about “brand supremacy.” To go along with the Team Raw versus Team SmackDown elimination style matches, there were other matches pitting champions against champions. The overall record at the end of the night would indicate which brand “won” that year. What do they win? Bragging rights that are forgotten. Use last year as an example where NXT walked out with the most victories, only to not be included in the 2020 edition.
It becomes an even bigger issue in years like this year. The WWE Draft, while also meaningless in its impact, was held a few weeks ago – moving wrestlers from one brand, to another. Why should AJ Styles care about a brand he has been on for two weeks? Same with Bianca Belair, who found it hard to get TV time on Monday Night Raw, is now on SmackDown. Giving a wrestler a red or a blue shift is not enough to explain why they care to be a part of the winning side each November, there needs to be something more to the stakes for Survivor Series.
To solve this, WWE Creative needs to find a way to go back to the angles that include stories within these multi-performer matches. Give wrestlers a reason to join forces for one night only but allow it to build into something in the future. Imagine Drew McIntyre putting together a team to help defeat the Fiend, Alexa Bliss, and a group of their choosing – only to lead into additional feuds for all those involved in the weeks that follow. Survivor Series should be utilized as an opening to create angles to involve those where leadership has failed to build storylines.
It all comes back to the stakes. Why do the wrestlers care to walk out of Survivor Series with their hands raised? Will they be rewarded with title shots. A bigger cut of the fictional “winners’ purse?” All these questions can be answered in rather simple fashion. Unfortunately, WWE continues to go the easy way out, pushing the idea that “brand supremacy” is reason enough. Sadly, it is not even close.