TCWNN # 21: Two More Eras… Eliminated.

Two eras are ending in the WWE.

The first, as we all know, is ECW. To which I have to say, no great loss. The WWE’s ECW product is so far removed from the original that a name change was long overdue. In fact, one could almost certainly declare that the era of ECW ended almost a decade before. Sure, the two One Night Stand Pay Per Views did a good job of capturing the feel and emotion involved, but it was still very much a WWE product; the initial episodes of the SyFy show even more so. Rob Van Dam’s arrest essentially put the  nail in the coffin before the corpse could rise and the era could begin anew. Since then, the modern ECW has been chugging along just fine as a televised training ground of sorts, a name change to reflect that does neither harm nor foul. But the second ending, only announced during yesterday‘s conference call , actually is the end of an era. It’s the end of the WWE’s second oldest Pay Per View event: The Survivor Series. No longer will teams of five strive to survive. Why? Because according to Vincent Kennedy McMahon, the low buys for the 2009 Survivor Series show that the team concept is no longer viable in 2010.

If you ask me, that’s an ignorant, closed minded interpretation that fails to look beyond Vince’s WWE Universe blinders. This past years Survivor Series took place the same weekend as a major UFC pay per view, it stands to reason that that would siphon some of the paying television audience. Of course, it seems that the WWE doesn’t think UFC or MMA are any sort of serious competition, so that couldn’t have played an actual role in the low buy rates for that year‘s show.  And it couldn’t have been the result of any failing on the part of WWE creative, for surely all the build up for the show was interesting to the viewer, and handled with the utmost craft and precision.  It’s the same kind of backwards “we must not be the ones doing something wrong” logic that we see all the time from the company, with the provided  “it’s out of date” explanation  providing a splash of that zesty devaluing of tag teams over the past decade.

The irony of this decision is, of course, is that 2009 was the year the WWE decided that what was needed to boost Pay Per View revenues were more themed shows. Hell In A Cell. Bragging Rights. Breaking Point. They’ve even put out a new survey on the very subject of what new theme shows to do (including everyone’s favorite WCW match, the WarGames). And obviously one of those will fill the role of  new November Pay Per View to replace Survivor Series. Yes, one off year, and the Survivor Series, a show with name brand recognition on par with the Royal Rumble and Summerslam, is cast aside.

Still, much like ECW, it’s not like the Survivor Series has actually BEEN a Survivor Series for quite some time. The Survivor Series matches themselves tend to come few and far between, serving as more of a nostalgia act than anything else. So rather then junking the concept, why not make the matches important? Perhaps it’s the fact that Bragging Rights essentially takes the Survivor Series concept and wraps it up in a single one fall  “inter promotional” match up. Yet that same inter promotional concept is so poorly enforced, so loosely defined, that no one actually buys into the Bragging Rights victory as meaning anything. I can’t remember the last time it was even brought up on television. It’s as unimportant as a nostalgic Survivor Series match on the under card.

It seems to me that, if one wanted to freshen up the supposedly dated (or if you prefer, misused) concept of the Survivor Series, the smart thing to do would have been to attach the inter promotional Bragging Rights concept TO the Survivor Series itself. This way, you maintain the name recognition of your second oldest yearly show, while giving it the desired freshening up by making it about the inter promotional rivalry angle rather than random elimination matches. And by making it a traditional Survivor Series elimination match, you add greater suspense and importance to the match itself. To me, it’s a much more effective way of dealing with the situation.

I’m confident that we’ll see the traditional Survivor Series matches again, in the same way that we occasionally still see the King of the Ring tournament. Perhaps we’ll even one day see the Survivor Series return to it’s status as a “Thanksgiving tradition” courtesy post-holiday episodes of Smackdown.  But until then, the Survivor Series has been eliminated.

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