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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: Put Survivor Series Out of its Misery, Please
By The Doc
Nov 6, 2013 - 2:09:19 PM


The Snowman is a genius




I'm warning you in advance: if you read my columns to get the blend of casual fan interest and internet wrestling community enthusiasm, then this might not be the day for you to engage.

I am so apathetic about Monday night's Raw that I thought about skipping my weekly look at WWE current events. My apathy stems from the push of particular superstar: The Big Show. God Bless the World's Largest Athlete and the stellar career that he has had, but I am so beyond sick and tired of seeing him occupy a main-event spot. Is he good at what he does? Absolutely, he is. Is he a very good in-ring performer? Yes, he is. So, why the hate, Doc? It's not hate, ladies and gentlemen, it is boredom. There is not a single thing that Big Show can do that, after 18 years, I have not already seen him do. Perhaps that is why viewership dropped off of a cliff in the last hour leading up to the final confrontation - a very well hyped final confrontation, mind you. People saw "Big Show" and turned the channel. Why? Because we've already seen this before. It is one thing to rinse and repeat creative ideas from years gone by, but last year? Too soon.

Monday night, Big Show played his part to a "T" in counter to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon playing their parts to a "T," but the end result was Big Show vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship at Survivor Series. As a fan who has been around since the first Survivor Series, having Show vs. Orton as the main-event for this year's edition felt like the WWE was driving the final nail in their second-ever annual PPV's coffin. The event is no longer relevant. This year, the #1 draw at the Survivor Series will be a lesser version of the primary match at 2012's random, "we need to do something for this month" June PPV. You remember John Cena vs. Big Show? You don't remember? It was only 18 months ago. I'll remind you: Big Show was made to look like a whiny cry baby by the authority figure, causing him to knock out top babyfaces. He then got put in a steel cage match at the refurbished No Way Out PPV. 194,000 people ordered, but my guess is that not many of my readers fell into that category (I certainly didn't). This year's "Big Show gets put down by 'The Man'" feud leads us to Show being the babyface. Maybe it'll draw 208,000 buys like last year's Survivor Series did. I think the WWE would be lucky if it did, frankly.

This year offered the ideal scenario for building to a traditional Survivor Series Elimination match. When they chose to go a different route, that pretty much sealed the deal for me - I won't be ordering the November PPV. Survivor Series used to be a big deal. They no longer treat it as such. It's about as interesting as Battleground from a month ago. I am unsure as to why the WWE feels that the Survivor Series Elimination match is not a must, frankly. Though the PPV has been on a downward trend by comparison to Royal Rumble and Summerslam buyrate averages since 1999, it was still performing strongly at the box office through the middle of last decade. Starting in 2001, they seemed to identify the problem and fix it through major, roster-encompassing storylines that led to traditional elimination matches with something at stake. In WWE vs. WCW's conclusion, the WWE had a match that helped Survivor Series stay close to the Rumble and Summerslam numbers. Was the buyrate lower? Yes. But the bottom line was that, despite a 16% dip, Survivor Series still did well enough to give the WWE a strong 4th financial quarter. When they abandoned that formula in 2002, the numbers for Survivor Series tanked by comparison to its PPV peers (by 42%) despite a new gimmick match (Elimination Chamber). They went back to the 2001 formula in 2003, putting Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff as a feature attraction with fan-invested stakes and the percentage compared to the Rumble/Summerslam average improved to just a 23% difference. Ditto for 2004 (Orton vs. Triple H teams) and 2005 (Raw vs. Smackdown) and Survivor Series rebounded strongly with only 16% and 14% gaps. For whatever reason, they inexplicably abandoned their efforts starting in 2006 and the numbers have responded accordingly ever since (with the exception of Rock's 2011 in-ring return). 32% drop in 2006, 35% in 2007, 37% in 2008, 43% in 2009 with the WWE's complete lack of effort in hyping the show. ..then the bottom dropped out last year (50% less than the average buyrate for the Rumble and Summerslam).

Effort drives success. The WWE has lucked out with the Royal Rumble. They do not put that much effort into it from year-to-year, but the numbers have stayed great because the event has a strong connection to their financial juggernaut, Wrestlemania. They have to put effort into Survivor Series as they do with Summerslam, which means putting wrestlers into matches that people care about. Based on historical evidence, for the Survivor Series, that means putting wrestlers into Survivor Series Elimination matches that people care about (that is unless it's too late and there's nobody watching anymore that remembers what Survivor Series used to be). Big Show vs. Randy Orton makes people tune out when it's free. What makes them think it'll draw when people have to pay?

The undercard is not likely to help much. A sizeable portion of the crowd has now been conditioned to accept that Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, fresh faces in the main-event scene no matter which contingent of the audience that they may cater to, are going to be involved in the major storylines. I cannot, with a straight face, call the Wyatts vs. Bryan and Punk a major storyline. The Wyatts attacked, Punk/Bryan retaliated. So what? Where is the explanation for the attack? Don't argue that it will come in time when the PPV is less than three weeks from now and half of Raw was used to hype a segment that made several hundred thousand people flip the channel. Let's call a spade a spade - there were some good tag team matches on Raw, but most of it was rehash and throwaway that did very little of interest to entice a person to pay $45-$55 on November 24th.

So, my suggestion? Put Survivor Series out of its misery and put something else in its place. Survivor Series without the Survivor Series Elimination match as the main-event/focal point is like Hell in a Cell without a Hell in a Cell match as the main-event/focal point. Put forth the effort and reap the rewards. Put forth no effort and be prepared for the backlash.


QUESTION OF THE DAY: Given the current card, would you order the Survivor Series? If not, what would it realistically take to change your mind?

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