On the heels of Wrestlemania III, which the WWE claims was seen live by 93,173, the largest recorded attendance for a live indoor sporting event in North America, the wrestling giant came up with the idea of the Survivor Series. The original concept was to have an annual pay-per-view event that focused on tag team wrestling.
The Survivor Series was originally created to be a “Thanksgiving tradition” as the first four Survivor Series events (1987-1990) took place on Thanksgiving Day in November. The next four years taking place on Thanksgiving Eve. In 1995 Survivor Series moved to a more-traditional Sunday PPV date.
It has since become the 2nd longest running PPV of all time (behind Wrestlemania) and one of the Big 4 PPV’s of the WWE (along with the Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania & Summer Slam). But it was the fourth ever Survivor Series that left the biggest footprint on the history of wrestling.
Ironically, the main event of that show had nothing to do with the mark left by the show itself. No, it was the third match of the night, that featured the Million Dollar Team against The Dream Team that will go down as one of the most important matches in WWE history.
In that match, Dusty Rhodes, Koko B. Ware and the Hart Foundation took on the team of Honkey Tonk Man, Greg Valentine, Ted Dibiase and a mystery opponent. The mystery man turned out to be none other than The Undertaker. Approximately one minute into the match, Taker eliminated Koko B. Ware with his finisher, the Tombstone Piledriver. He also eliminated Dusty Rhodes shortly after that, before being counted out.
This year will be his 25th Survivor Series, and it may be his most difficult. Taker will team with his brother Kane and presumably two others as they face The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Eric Rowan and Brawn Stroman), but they will be out for revenge as the Wyatts took the Brothers of Destruction and stole their souls. This may be one of the greatest Survivor Series matches of all time.
Until recently, that match alone was reason enough to tune into Survivor Series. But now the WWE Universe has been turned on its ear by the latest news, and a chance for Survivor Series to be the best PPV in years.
Believe it or not, but something that happened at a house show in Ireland has changed the entire direction of the company and made Wyatts vs Taker almost an afterthought. WWE Champ Seth Rollins was facing Kane in a match, when he landed awkwardly and tore his ACL, MCL and medial meniscus and will now be out 6-9 months. Considering he holds the top prize in the company, much like Daniel Bryan before him, Rollins will now give up the title and Survivor Series will host a tournament to crown a NEW WWE Heavyweight Champion.
I know it sucks for Rollins, as he was really rolling as a heel with the belt, and they had big plans for him heading into both the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. But this injury will keep him out until probably Summer Slam, and his bad luck is both good and bad luck for the WWE.
It is bad luck for the WWE because ratings are already down, and with Rollins out the title picture will be without him, John Cena (out until December), Randy Orton (out at least 2 months with a shoulder injury), Brock Lesnar (Contracted to be back in January), The Wyatt Family (already involved in a BIG feud for Survivor Series) and Undertake and Kane (already involved in a BIG feud for Survivor Series).
But the good news is, they have a clean slate. The pressure is really on the writers now, as whatever direction they decide to go in now, can make or break the company. Think about this, while all those other big names are out, think of the big names that may be in the picture now. Daniel Bryan has been medically cleared (of course if he is involved, if he doesn’t win the crowd will revolt), The Rock has been rumored to return, Rey Mysterio has talked about coming back to the WWE, Kurt Angle is without a contract anywhere right now, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, James Storm, Rhino and Baron Corbin are all ready to be called up from NXT, Kevin Nash has recently said he would like one more run as an active wrestler and the final name is someone who left not on the best terms, but has said he would come back if the situation was right (and winning the WWE Title would of course be the right situation), and that is Goldberg.
With RAW ratings as bad as they have been since the Monday Night Wars, the WWE could really use a shot in the arm. I hate the fact that it has to come at the expense of a Seth Rollins injury, but when life gives you lemons … You can make a bad ass Lemon Meringue Pie.
So over the next couple of weeks, the Authority will let us know not only what the tournament will look like, but what the other matches on the card will be. Now, I have talked to several people within the WWE, and based on the conversations I have had, here is what I think the card is going to end up looking like:
Diva’s Title Match: Charlotte © v Paige
Tag Team Title Match: New Day © v Usos
Traditional Survivor Series Match: The Wyatts (Bray, Luke Harper, Eric Rowan, Brawn Stroman) vs Team Taker (Undertaker, Kane, Goldust, Sting)
WWE World Heavyweight Title Tournament (It will start with 16 wrestlers, then 8, when it gets down to a Final Four there will be a Fatal Four Way Elimination bout for the Champ):
Roman Reigns v The Miz
Cesaro v King Barrett
Chris Jericho v Tyler Breeze
Jack Swagger v Alberto Del Rio
Neville v Kevin Owens
Ryback v Big Show
Dolph Ziggler v Sheamus
Dean Ambrose v Stardust
Reigns v Barrett
Jericho v Del Rio
Ryback v Owens
Ambrose v Sheamus
The Fatal Fourway would be:
Reigns, Del Rio, Owens and Ambrose
IF, that’s the way the WWE decides to book the show in the wake of the injury to Seth Rollins, they will have a chance to recapture a lot of what has been missing. Yes, putting Daniel Bryan in the middle of the Heavyweight title picture may sound like a great idea, but it also the only surefire way to get the WWE Universe to turn on whoever he is left to face.
The smartest thing for the WWE to do is to keep as much normalcy as possible in the other matches, and while they will need to build excitement around the tournament, they also need to keep it simple as well. If the stories become too complex, they will lose a lot of the momentum they have a chance to build.
If the WWE can pull this off, when John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar all return, the company will be in great shape to kick off the “Road to Wrestlemania”, without shooting all of their proverbial bullets.
I think you will all see that this Survivor Series will be one PPV that we will truly be thankful for.