Monday, November 8, 2010

Will Survivor Series Survive?

Survivor Series 1987, courtesy: WWE

Turn back the hands of time 23 years.  Think back to 1987 (those of you who were actually alive then or old enough to remember '87)  

Wrestlemania III was in the books.  The epic battle between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant had made history.  At that point, Wrestlemania was the only pay per view event the WWF was doing.  But that didn't last long.

By November of that year, fans were learning about an innovative new PPV called The Survivor Series  The premise was simple, "teams of five strive to survive."  The event was to be held on Thanksgiving night, designed to be a direct hit to the NWA's staple Starrcade.
That first year, SS featured four matches.  Two 10 man elimination matches, one 10 team elimination match, and one 10 woman elimination match.  I'm not sure if I have my singular and plural tenses right here, but you know what I'm saying.

Of course back in 1987 there was no internet.  My family didn't have PPV capabilities on our cable provider then, so I had to wait until Monday to find out what happened at school.  It was a long weekend.  I remember being shocked to hear that Hulk Hogan's team (Bam Bam Bigelow, Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, and Ken Patera) lost the main event.  Andre the Giant had gotten an ounce of revenge that night prevailing as the event's first Sole Survivor.

As the years went on, more pay per views were added to the calendar.  Most notably, The Royal Rumble and Summer Slam.  Eventually, we'd go from the Big 4, to 12 in a calendar year.  And of course with all these new additions, changes came to Survivor Series.

The first notable change I believe came in 1989.  The 5 man teams were replaced with 4 man teams.  But the purpose remained the same.  Teams were fighting for survival.  The big tag team match was taken out too.  Instead, tag teams were inserted on teams with two singles guys.  In 1990, the SS evolved again.  The survivors of their matches faced off in a final elimination match at the end of the night.  That was the only year they did that one.

Then in 1991, a Survivor Series first.  A singles match.  But not any singles match, Hulk Hogan was defending the world title in his "gravest challenge."  Hogan lost his belt that night to the Undertaker after Ric Flair interfered.  By 1992, the whole concept seemed lost.  The only elimination match we got that night was the Beverly Brothers and Money Inc. against the Nasty Boys and the Natural Disasters.  A disappointment from someone who "grew up" on the whole team vs. team, striving to survive.  This was also the first year the event was held the night BEFORE Thanksgiving.  Another break from tradition.

But as they say, things change.  1993, we got back on track with the team elimination matches.  We got a mix of singles and elimination matches in the years that followed.  The event in 1998 featured no elimination matches, as we had the world title tournament.  After that, we got at least one elimination match per show.

Then last year, I read that Vince was ending the tradition.  Completely canceling Survivor Series pay per view.  I guess Bragging Rights may have played a role.  But obviously, that is not the case.  SS seems to be alive and well.  But, here's my concern...

We're less than 3 weeks away from the pay per view, one that used to be one of the "Big 4", and we have 3 matches announced.  None of them are elimination matches.

I think it's safe to assume that will change starting tonight.  My bet would be some sort of Nexus vs. WWE match.  But will there be any others?  The old school in me wants more of these types of matches.  Having a bunch of title matches and one elimination match breaks up a tradition that I think was working pretty well.

So will the Survivor Series survive?  Maybe in paper, but in theory I believe it died a long time ago.  Bring back the "teams of five, who strive to survive."

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