How to Make Survivor Series Matter

Leading up to the recent Money in The Bank event, I wrote an article detailing why it should supplant Survivor Series as one of WWE’s Big Four PPVs.  Since then, WWE decided to crap all over this year’s MITB event both to piss me off and make me look foolish and also because we can’t have nice things. That’s besides the point.  The article bled over into an episode of the OTTB podcast with our new co-host Javon proposing a pretty exciting idea to make Survivor Series important again, while also connecting the event to MITB.  If you haven’t listened to the pod (go listen) I’ll save his pretty awesome idea for later on.  In the meantime, let’s discuss some other ideas for how to make Survivor Series great (again).

The Number One Draft Pick

And the number one pick in the 2018 WWE draft is…

As WWE tries so desperately to be considered in the same breath as mainstream, legitimate sports, maybe the simplest solution to the Survivor Series problem is to give the winning show the number one pick in the next draft.

If we are keeping the Superstar Shake-up/Post Wrestlemania draft approach, then this is a good time to have the number one draft pick be determined. You now have the story leading up to the match being the GMs on each show trying to determine the best competitors to join the team to land them the number one pick.

Coming out of the match, you would have about five months or so to play around with the story of who the winning team wants to take in that number one spot. So you have multiple through lines that can come out of this situation.

The biggest potential challenge to this approach is the amount of time between the event and the draft.  It could be just a month or two too long and thus drag out the story. Of course, you can flip this from being the number one draft pick to being the opportunity for an immediate call-up from NXT of the winning GM’s choice.  You can go a step further and actually give the GM the choice.  They can either have the number one pick in the next draft or get an immediate call-up from NXT and thus deferring the first pick in the next draft to the other brand/GM.

The Superstar Swap

Another offshoot of the first option would be to grant the winning brand’s GM the right to swap one superstar from his brand for one superstar on the other brand.

Look we already know that WWE can be impatient.  But why not use this to your advantage by building in a way to make one major move in between drafts.  Consider the tale of John Cena right now.  He just returned to Smackdown after a post-Mania, post-engagement break as a “free agent”. Rumor says that this is to allow him to move freely between brands.  This could be because we are edging ever closer to the time when John Cena works on a Brock Lesnar style contract with a greater reduction in his matches.  Having a stipulation outlined as above would have allowed WWE to have a storyline reason for moving Cena from one show to another. And if it is one thing we are missing a lot of the time is logical storyline reasons for certain events, feuds, etc.

You can double-down on this concept by allowing the GM the ability to use it anytime between Survivor Series and the end of the draft.  Since WWE likes to reverse-course a lot, you can use this as a way to undo a particular move to show the value of a particular superstar or just to spite the fans.

Don’t see a lot of downside to this one, other than the potential flip flop aspect of using on draft night.

The Title Shot

WWE LOVES a number one contender’s match

There has been one or two instances in the past where the final survivor in the main Survivor Series elimination match earned the right to challenge for the WWE championship.  Granted this has only happened on a limited number of occasions, it is a potential solution to the matches not meaning anything.  In this era of WWE, this could be a legitimate solution to the conundrum for a couple of reasons.

First, because Survivor Series is a cross-brand event, the stipulation can be used as a way to add intrigue to the rosters.  The match can take the form of five Raw superstars against five Smackdown superstars with the final survivor being able to choose which main title – WWE or Universal – they wish to challenge for.

Secondly, you might ask well what happens if there is more than one remaining survivor on the winning team.  Well, the solution there is to have one more match, between the survivors on the winning team, to determine the number one contender.  This can be a singles, triple threat, fatal four-way or fatal five-way match.  This opens the door for a number of possibilities.  Let’s say you have AJ and Shinsuke as the survivors on a Smackdown winning team.  You now get the added bonus of a match between these two guys for the number one contendership. Even better, a member of the team in control can sacrifice on his teammates to ensure the avoidance of having to have another match to claim the number one contender spot.

Thirdly, you might ask well what if there is more than one Survivor Series match?  Then apply the same concept as above, but this time with all of the surviving competitors entered into one final match for the number one contender spot.

This method, with its updated tweaks can work to revitalize a faltering ppv gimmick. I think the biggest challenge to this approach is the fact that WWE would now have three ppvs with a very similar gimmick.  The Royal Rumble winner challenges for the top title in the main event of Wrestlemania (except when they don’t).  The Money in The Bank winner gets a title shot whenever they want for up to a year.  Now the Survivor Series winner would also get a title shot.  Granted, it could have a defined time and place, say the next ppv of whichever brand’s title they decide to chase, but nonetheless these are all fairly similar approaches.

Money in The Bank

Yes, we connected the proposed Survivor Series replacement with Survivor Series

So, on the pod, Javon offered the following concept – have the winning Survivor Series brand, win the right to host the next year’s Money in The Bank event. Can I just say, as much as I like the two ideas above, I like this idea, just a bit more. Basically, you get the same type of team building concept as with the first option.  The GMs have to put together the best team that is most likely to win the event and land their brand the MITB event. This makes sense because everyone knows the value that event can have when done correctly – i.e. the opposite of what they did this year.

This allows for a much broader selection of teams.  With the brand split fully upon us, this would be the easiest way to explain a GM putting together a team with a mix of faces and heels.  So now, rather than a definitive heel team on one side versus a definitive face team on the other, the balance of the team can be whatever is the best method to secure the bag (briefcase).

The potential ramifications for how this plays out are also intriguing.  You can have the champion from one or both brands on its Survivor Series team.  This can be used to maintain a strong level heel by having a heel champion throw the match because why would they want the possibility of being screwed over by a cash-in.  This can also be true, even if the champ isn’t in the match.  Likewise this can be a method to turn a face champion heel.

You can also use this as a way to maybe create new main event level tag teams (even if it is for short term use).  Remember when Stone Cold and HHH teamed up? Or The Rock and Mankind?  What better way to kick off a short term pairing than by having two guys gain respect in this match and decide to make a run at the tag titles.  This is how guys like KO and others who are close to the new age grand slam can get there.  (The old school grandslam was WWE title, IC title, the European title and the tag titles. The new age grandlsam would be either a WWE or Universal title, IC title, US title and either Smackdown or Raw tag titles).  The idea here basically being that you can use the event and the match or matches to generate new storylines that can run up to and through Royal Rumble before WWE gets into full on Wrestlemania mode.

Make it Worth Something

As you can tell, the point of any and all of these options is to make Survivor Series as a ppv and the titular match or matches mean something by having teams fighting for more than just bragging rights. This was the main point of making MITB a big four event.  It has meaning both in story and from a historical standpoint. In many ways Survivor Series has lost that. Look, you could make it be for the right to a ham sandwich, the rights to new pyro for the show, anything really at this point.  The point is Survivor Series as a match, a cross-brand ppv and one of WWE’s Big Four has lost its smile and it really needs to get it back.

So tell us what you think, would you rather Survivor Series be for the number one draft pick, a title opportunity or the rights to host MITB?