In this day and age you can’t just “predict” a PPV anymore, you have to to account for the capricious whims of WWE’s septuagenarian, sleep-deprived egomaniac owner. You can’t just “preview” a PPV…you have to Preview how things should go, in a reasonable and sane world, and then add “so of course…” and explain what Vince McMahon will probably do instead.
So consider this your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE’s Big
Five Four Three PPV Network Special…Survivor Series!
Last time on SO OF COURSE…
WWE aired the HELL IN A CELL PPV, starring Undertaker and Brock Lesnar, two bonafide legends, certified superstars, and guaranteed hall of famers. This month WWE hosted a tournament to crown the next WWE Champion and it featured Kalisto and Neville.
Just make up your own joke.
So Seth Rollins hurt his knee and had to relinquish his championship just as he was about to defend his title. For real, not in the Shawn Michaels way. At least we don’t think…is Roman Reigns Bret Hart in this analogy? Did I just create an analogy where Roman Reigns is Bret Hart—
In typical WWE fashion they took something that NXT recently had, and used to great success and dumbed it down, stripped it bare, and presented it in its most bland, predictable and cookie cutter fashion. The three finals matches will happen at Survivor Series, along with four additional matches of varying amounts of meh-ness.
WWE meanwhile is in a state of panic. Ratings are down, fan interest has cratered. No one cares about the product. I don’t know the mood in Titan Towers but I bet Vince is completely oblivious to how bad things are. He has to be, otherwise he’d have made changes months ago. This PPV will likely confirm, once again, that Vince has lost his touch.
But at least there’s no John Cena. Oh but there is a needless Bray Wyatt loss. So it balances.
ON TO THE SHOW!
To my knowledge there is no pre-show bruhaha scheduled, but you know there will be something, probably a tag match or some throwaway 1-on-1 using guys that WWE Creative couldn’t be bothered to find a place for.
Let’s go ahead and predict Cesaro vs Stardust, with Cesaro getting the win in a match that doesn’t matter and instantly throws away the entire little feud they were starting to build between them. That’s believable, yes?
ON TO THE SHOW FOR REAL!
WWE CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT SEMI-FINAL — DEAN AMBROSE vs KEVIN OWENS
Of the four men left in the tournament, there’s only one that doesn’t have a prayer. Sorry Del Rio. That means this match will be the more intriguing of the two. The obvious story is Dean vs Roman, because that creates the mystery of which—if either—will turn heel. Even if neither man turns, the drama will be heavy in the finals match. On the other hand, this is WWE so the obvious story usually escapes them. Kevin Owens winning would be a surprise but not a huge one, as it would give the final match a strong heel to play with the crowd. It would also set up a feud between Owens and Ambrose over the IC belt, which is a fight that could easily stretch up to the Road to WrestleMania next year. The problem with Owens winning is that it telegraphs the finish to the Finals match. Ambrose winning is much more interesting.
SO OF COURSE…
WWE CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT SEMI-FINAL — ROMAN REIGNS vs ALBERTO DEL RIO
You know what would be wild? If Ambrose and Del Rio won their matches. No one would see it coming. I don’t know how you’d book it so that Roman could believably lose to Del Rio, but if you pulled it off you could create another crazy Survivor Series finish (like the show is known for) where Ambrose wins the title…only for Sheamus to cash-in. That sets up Ambrose and Sheamus to feud at TLC, where Ambrose wins the title back…only for Roman to join the authority and attack him, be granted a sudden title match and steal the championship from him. Now you have a sympathetic babyface, screwed by the powers that be—similar to Austin in 1998— ready to run through the Royal Rumble gauntlet and get a chance to win the title back against his former best friend at WrestleMania 32. Wouldn’t (something like) that be wild?
SO OF COURSE…
TYLER BREEZE vs DOLPH ZIGGLER
Remember when we were afraid Tyler Breeze would join the main roster and his quirky NXT character would be stripped down to a two-dimensional, one-note joke of a gimmick, with homophobic insults hurled at him by JBL every ten seconds?
Like…half of that has come true.
They paired him with Summer Rae to preemptively avoid the latter part of that worst case scenario, so now he’s just a two-dimensional, one-note gimmick. But he’s not a joke and he’s not the target of bad gay jokes. So it’s not all bad.
There couldn’t be a better first feud for him than Dolph Ziggler, either. Their looks and characters compliment each other so well, you almost wish they’d team up and become the next Hollywood Blondes. Instead they start out their time together against each other. This probably won’t be more than an eight minute nothingburger but maybe it will be enough to showcase Tyler Breeze’s great but unheralded ring skills. Ziggler’s speed and charisma should help keep the crowd into it too. If given time this could be a sleeper hit of the night. Tyler Breeze needs the win to establish credibility and hopefully start competing for championships before too long.
SO OF COURSE…
TRADITIONAL 5-on-5 SURVIVOR SERIES ELIMINATION MATCH — TEAM “TBA” vs TEAM “TBD”
Seriously there’s no one yet listed to compete, which means WWE Creative doesn’t even know. I mean they can’t be bothered to finish booking the show three days before it goes live. How silly to expect them to do their one job. Ha ha.
So we have the promise of a match that is almost always fun but without any knowledge of who will be in it. So it’s just wrestling for the sake of wrestling, which Vince claims to hate, but which he presents on his weekly shows 75% of the time. Maybe we’ll get lucky and it will be New Day plus honorary New Day members Sasha Banks and Seth Rollins taking on the doing-nothing team of the Dudley Boys and honorary members Trish Stratus and, to make it fair (what with Seth’s injury and all) Zach Gowen. At the very least we’d have a memorable middle to the middling show WWE is sure to present. When Undertaker debuted he did so as a mystery partner in a Survivor Series elimination match; here’s WWE’s chance to have an entire match of surprise entrants. Go crazy!
Seriously though. How can you not have Cesaro on this PPV? How can you not have New Day? New Day! They’ve been the best part of the show every week for months.
This is me when New Day comes out.
SO OF COURSE…
WWE DIVAS CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH — CHARLOTTE vs PAIGE
The only title to be “defended” on the show is the suddenly important for real this time Divas Championship. Nikki Bella is mercifully out of the picture and new champ Charlotte is contending with Paige as her first real challenger. Paige is no Sasha Banks but she’s probably the perfect first foil for Charlotte. She’s basically filling the role Randy Orton did against Seth Rollins back at Extreme Rules. She’ll be a credible opponent to defeat while we wait for the real feud to kick in. These two were given the overrun on Raw this past Monday and it might have been the first time since Lita vs Stephanie for the WWF Women’s Championship that the Divas closed the show.
None of that matters because all anyone can talk about is Reid Flair. And that is a sentence we should never have to type or say, ever.
Charlotte mentioned him, Paige brought him back up in a very heelish and crass way, and now it’s this big thing. Reid isn’t the issue. It’s the fact that he suddenly got dropped into this story at the 11th hour to give this fight some drama. Maybe…and this is just a crazy silly idea…maybe build these feuds from the beginning with a logical story that has drama, twists and turns and and you won’t have to talk about dead kids on the go home show. Maybe do the homework at school and you won’t have to stay up all night the night before cramming.
But that’s WWE for you. And not to make this another “look at what NXT is doing” thing but…look at what NXT is doing. Look how they built the Samoa Joe vs Finn Balor story, or a few months ago with the Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch story. Those feuds had underpinning, you know? There was background that the viewer could rely on that gave the story weight. Charlotte vs Paige isn’t about anything, but maybe it will find some meaning now and give the divas division a story to work with going forward.
SO OF COURSE…
THE UNDERTAKER & KANE vs THE WYATT FAMILY
lol this feud. WWE what are you doing?
They have forgotten how to tell a story. Everything started fine. Remember that? Remember when this feud had promise? It started out with this great angle, having the Wyatts beat up Taker and Kane and kidnap them. It seemed, somehow, to be a set up to a 5-on-5 or even just a 4-on-4 Survivor Series match. That would have been great, with some great symmetry to Undertaker’s debut 25 years ago. But instead Taker and Kane just came back the next week like nothing happened and beat them up. Then on Monday night Bray “takes control” of the Druids and turns them loose on the brothers…who promptly beat up them up and stand tall.
Does no one over there know how to tell a story anymore? You don’t introduce the villain and then have the hero conquer him halfway through the movie. And then again 2/3 of the way through it. No one will care about the ending. There’s a very simple way to tell stories in wrestling. It’s not complicated. You introduce the bad guy, align him against the good guy. Then you let the bad guy get one over on the good guy for a few weeks before the good guy gets payback on the PPV. It’s supposed to be, that you want to PAY to see the bad guy get his comeuppance, and even though the WWE Network has replaced the $60 a month PPV model, the idea is still there. You’re supposed to want to pay $9.99 to see the bad guy get got.
In fact, it used to be, that the bad guy would keep pulling one over on the good guy for MONTHS, so that when the iron was hot, the WWF/E would strike at just the right time and fans would BEG to pay money to see the hero get his hand raised. Lately we’ve been lucky to see stories play out more than a month at a time. WWE’s attention span is so short most feuds usually are resolved after a month, and then are just repeated for two or three more to the increasing annoyance of the diminishing viewership. NOW apparently, WWE is so short-sighted they have the hero conquer the villain halfway through the build up to the first PPV match.
What is Bray Wyatt even talking about? His speeches don’t jive with reality. He talks like he’s got some big upper hand on Taker and Kane but regularly gets his butt beaten up by them. His words don’t match his actions. It makes no sense.
I don’t even care what should happen in this match. You can throw out anything. A clean win for the villains. A clean win for the heroes. A heel turn by Kane just because. Who cares. This is a star-studded, anniversary-celebrating match that doesn’t matter. That’s a shame.
SO OF COURSE…
WWE CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT FINALS — ROMANS REIGNS vs DEAN AMBROSE
The two brothers of the Shield seem destined to face each other. It’s always possible Vince plays it safe and goes with Reigns vs Owens, but I think the story points to Reigns vs Ambrose. The question is who turns on whom? The turn may not happen at the show, either. It could be the loser starts the journey toward his heel turn at the show, but I didn’t just write 500 words about WWE’s crappy storytelling to turn around and predict a months-long slow burn. No, this story will be told at Survivor Series, and then it will begin the next WWE Championship feud. There are ways to make this interesting, but who’s going to predict that.
This is panic time. Ratings are cratering, their golden goose John Cena is still gone. Their WrestleMania plans are being reshuffled. Vince’s back is against the wall. In time past that would mean surprises and bold new directions. But those days are past. Now it means “play it safe.” And the safest pick is Roman wins clean and shakes hands with Dean Ambrose post-match. No one turns. No one cares. Football will be over soon, just hang in there. If they do that, and it’s not too unlikely, there’s no legit feuds for the new champ. Who is the heel challenger for TLC? Big Show? Oh gosh, it’s Big Show isn’t it? No, I refuse to predict that. Someone is turning heel and that’ll be your feud until either the road to WrestleMania or through the road to WrestleMania.
SO OF COURSE…
Oh well. There’s always NXT.
Here’s to Sunday.