The problems with the modern Survivor Series PPV are many. The problems start with the fact that it’s one of the only nights of the year where wins are truly meaningless (Raw can still be empty of meaning, but less so). Zero stakes. But that’s not the biggest problem though with Survivor Series for me.
For years now Survivor Series has basically been about brand supremacy... this whole battle between Raw and Smackdown … which never really I don’t know actually fight ever? Even though talent fight each other at the Royal Rumble, they never do so representing their TV show.
My issue is that Survivor Series’ mechanics are way too close to actual reality. If you’ve ever worked on a team inside a company that has multiple teams that sort of do the same thing or can be measured in any way against each other? You may know where I’m going already, as it rings a little too true to you too, to the point where you mutter “no gods, no masters, no middle managers.”
This may be a touch too much melodrama but then again this is pro wrestling we are talking about, ladies, gentleman, and non-binary friends.
We’re supposed to think that the Superstars® are not actually friends but have some reason to hate each other? Why would they, unless management makes their lives hell behind the scenes, pitting them against each other for the sake of trying to push them to their limits by emotionally taxing them by comparing them against each other?
If this is not something that you’ve experienced, well I want to say that you’re fortunate — though maybe your life is shitty for some other reason — but if you’ve ever experienced the above situation, well you understand that Survivor Series is probably the worst pay-per-view of the year, at least thematically.
Companies pressure employees to do better with this weird inter-office Olympics nonsense, and it’s an emotionally taxing experience that makes you feel like you have less job security, that you’re expendable.
But at the end of the day you wonder why this happens and in WWE‘s kayfabe sense it used to be because of the show’s General Managers — the uninspiring middle managers whose lives are meaningless and have no real purpose other than to try to make their ratings better than somebody else’s to prove they’re better motivators.
But in fact we all know better. We know that WWE’s true rivals aren’t within the company, but outside. It’s every other show, even beyond AEW Dynamite, that is drawing audiences away when Vince and the squad are failing to actually deliver good shit (outside of Roman’s storyline and the NXT women’s division). But still, the WWE Raw and Smackdown teams will be sent out to Survivor Series in matching colors to try and prove one third of this roster — which has been demoralized through and through lately - is doing a better job. It’s the point where unionization both feels like a must but also an impossibility (did you see Alexa Bliss’ present the company’s side of the Twitch story and not wonder why she gets no flak whereas Seth Rollins got eviscerated?).
Honestly, at this point the only thing that would make sense for Survivor Series is to lean into the implosions on Monday nights. The Raw teams are set to explode due to interpersonal squabbles and maybe they should just START with that. AJ leaves the team captain position, and maybe we get sole survivor Keith Lee? Raw’s women’s team is such a cluster that Bianca Belair picks them all apart (don’t tell me this match is about Lana winning)?
But have the teams rebel against the idea of teamwork without actual reason. They have no reason to hate each other. Then, I don’t know, if you want to make them work together, have one of the old coots from the back run out and say “OK - if your team loses, you’re all unable to get Royal Rumble spots anywhere later than the first 10 entrants.” Or something.
Either make the Survivor Series matter, in kayfabe, or destroy it.