Tuesday, November 12, 2013

RIP Survivor Series

Survivor Series 1987
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

In 1987, I was a freshman in high school.  In the fall of that year, the announcers on WWF Superstars started hyping a new pay-per-view called The Survivor Series.  It would air on Thanksgiving night (against the NWA's Starrcade event) and feature teams of five taking on each other in elimination style matches.  Heavyweight champion Hulk Hogan would captain a team against his Wrestlemania III challenger Andre the Giant in the main event.  It was a concept I was in love with before ever seeing the show.

Because it was the 80's and there was no Internet and I didn't have the ability to watch the show live, I waited patiently until Monday afternoon at lunch after the long holiday break to find out what had happened.  I had a friend named Bobby who watched the event and described how Hogan's team lost.  I was shocked by this to the point that I didn't believe it.  It wasn't until that following Sunday when the results were announced on Superstars again.  I couldn't wait for the WWF to release the show on Coliseum Home Video, which was how I watched most big events back then.

Tag team elimination
Photo courtesy: WWE
I was captivated by the action.  The fact that there were 10 tag teams to participate in the tag team elimination match is something that blows my mind considering today's environment.  There were 10 women wrestlers competing in their own match.  The Intercontinental champ The Honky Tonk Man led a team into battle against the "Macho Man" Randy Savage.  I loved EVERYTHING about the show (except Hogan's team losing, but I was a mark back then).

Each Thanksgiving the WWF would serve up another exciting Survivor Series pay per view.  The card remained stacked with elimination matches.  Yes, some of them started to feature guys who you wouldn't normally see on PPV, but I still loved the concept.  The team sizes dropped to four, but there were more matches added to the card. Then in 1991, the company added its first singles match to the show.  Hulk Hogan lost the WWF title to the Undertaker.  Again, another shocking evening, but I think that match set a new precedence for the Survivor Series pay-per-view. One that I do not like.

Survivor Series 1992
Photo courtesy: WWE
In 1992, not only did the WWF move the PPV to the night BEFORE Thanksgiving (which I don't begrudge them as I would imagine the wrestlers, announcers, referees, managers, and crew members would rather have the holiday at home), but the company dropped the elimination match concept.  The main event featured Bret Hart defending the WWF title against IC champ Shawn Michaels.  Razor Ramon and Ric Flair teamed up against Randy Savage and Mr. Perfect.  There was just one elimination match, which was incredibly lame as The Natural Disasters and the Nasty Boys beat Money Inc. and the Beverly Brothers.  

Survivor Series 1993
The "Doinks"
Photo courtesy: WWE
I rejoiced in '93 as the team concept returned (even with the "Doinks" on the show).  There were no singles matches, just one traditional tag team match that featured the Rock 'n Roll Express against the Heavenly Bodies.  Up until 1998, the Survivor Series featured a couple of non-elimination matches, but for the most part, the event lived up to my expectations.  It was 1998 where there were NO elimination matches.  The concept was replaced with the Deadly Game tournament to crown a new WWF champion, which ended up being the Rock.

The elimination matches returned a year later in 1999, and that concept stuck around, but the singles and traditional tag team matches outweighed the usual Survivor Series matches for many years.  In 2008 and 09, there was an even number of elimination matches and traditional matches, but things shifted again in 2010 in favor of just one or two elimination matches.

The King's Court
Photo courtesy: WWE
Another change I didn't care for was the changing of team names.  The cool team names from the early days like The Dream Team (captained by Dusty Rhodes), the Visionaries (captained by Rick Martel), and the Enforcers (captained by The Big Boss Man) simply became Team Triple H, Team Randy Orton, and Team Umaga.  Boring...

As I write this on November 12, there have been no announcements of elimination matches for the 2013 Survivor Series.  John Cena is defending the World Heavyweight Championship, Randy Orton is defending the WWE Title, and a few minutes ago I got a WWE text message saying the Wyatt Family would be taking on CM Punk and Daniel Bryan.  I'm going to remain positive and tell myself that there will be at least ONE traditional Survivor Series style match at the pay-per-view with the same name.

I understand wanting to have title defenses and other matches on the show.  But in my opinion, the Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble were those two pay per views every year where the unpredictable could happen because you never knew for sure who was going to end up in the ring together.  I think the WWE could keep the current storylines in play and just have the element of the elimination match thrown into the mix, so Survivor Series isn't just like every other pay-per-view or episode of Raw or SmackDown!

Your thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll see it become a traditional elimination tag with the addition of The Shield, the Rhodes brothers, and The Usos over the course of the next week. Raw's conclusion would seem awfully irrelevant if that wasn't the direction they were heading in. I've heard the "plans change" excuse enough times to know better, but I think it goes without saying that it would be a major missed opportunity if that match wasn't on the show.