Tuesday, October 24, 2017

WWE RAW: Survivor Bragging Rights Series 2017

Ya know, WWE is really screwing up this Survivor Series thing.  It was so simple and would've been so poetic, and as usual they got it all wrong.  The 2017 Survivor Series should be taking place on November 26th, not the 19th.  Why?  Because it's the 30th anniversary of the inaugural edition.  Come on Vince, get your head outta your ass.

But seriously folks, this show is shaping up to be yet another misfire on the WWE PPV calendar.  Last year's Survivor Series (Bragging Rights) was an unexpected gem, despite being built around a forced, completely phony RAW vs. Smackdown rivalry, plus a 90-second main event.  The reason it worked so well was the booking and execution of the three elimination matches, which comprised the vast majority of the PPV.  Survivor Series 2016 turned out to be, in my opinion, the best main roster show of the year.  Had they followed that same formula they could've potentially repeated that feat and delivered the best pair of back-to-back Survivor Series since the original two (The '87 and '88 editions are still two of my favorite all-time PPVs).  But as we found out last night, we'll be going back to the watered down version of the concept, with only two elimination matches and four Champion vs. Champion bouts, only one of which has much intrigue.

Jeezus, they might add this match too....

I've already talked HERE about how idiotic and terrible this Brock vs. Jinder (May-haul, according to Kurt Angle) match is gonna be.  This here is what you'd call a no-win situation.  Mahal is in no way qualified to hang with Brock and either guy jobbing to the other is bad for that guy's belt.  But let's look at the other three matches that have been announced:

Alexa Bliss vs. Natalya has potential to be a good in-ring contest, but with two heels fighting each other, who are the fans supposed to be rooting for?  Heel vs. heel matches almost never work from a crowd perspective.  They aren't invested in either participant, so they end up sitting on their hands the whole time and the match falls flat.  And women's matches lately have had a hard time keeping the live crowds attentive as it is, what with their often less-than-ideal placement on the show and main roster creative's complete ineptitude in presenting compelling feuds in that division (or any other for that matter) - look no further than Bayley's recent nosedive in popularity for example.  How do you make fans boo the most likable babyface on the roster?  Alexa vs. Nattie is a fresh matchup and both women are talented, but without anything to root for I don't see this going well.

The Miz vs. Baron Corbin.  You gotta be shitting me with this.  First off, see what I said above about heel vs. heel matches.  Now you're booking TWO of them on this show?  Miz is way over as a douchebag upper midcard heel.  Baron Corbin is not.  Which of these guys do you think the fans will be cheering here (if they cheer anyone at all)?  You're gonna have a guy with great "love to hate him" heat getting cheered against a guy with "go away" heat.  Not to mention The Miz's matches are only as good as his opponents.  Last year against Sami Zayn he had a solid outing, because Zayn is great, and The Miz's in-ring strength has always been his ability to follow the other guy's lead.  Corbin on the other hand is mostly Sycho Sid-bad in the ring.  If you think The Miz will be up to the challenge of pulling a great match out of him you're very much mistaken.  This is going to be piss-poor.

The one really compelling champion vs. champion match they've announced is Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose vs. The Usos.  Each team is coming off an excellent feud with rivals from their own brand, Seth and Dean are hugely popular, and The Usos have very good heel heat.  While it seems like kind of a step down for Rollins and Ambrose not to be involved in the 5-on-5 match, this one could very easily steal the show and both tag titles should come out stronger than they went in.

And that brings us to the two traditional Survivor Series matches.  One will be a men's match, the other will be women.  I'm baffled they aren't including a 5 teams vs. 5 teams match like last year, considering how well that went over, but I'm at least thankful they're still giving us two of these bouts.  And if stacked properly they could both be pretty great, the men's match in particular.  Just imagine AJ Styles/Shinsuke Nakamura/Randy Orton/Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn vs. Finn Balor/Braun Strowman/Cesaro/Sheamus/Kane?  'Twould be an epic showdown.  Give these guys thirty minutes and watch the fireworks.  That and the Tag Champions match might be the only things that save this show.  But they'll probably eff it up.  The women's 5-on-5 match needs to involve Asuka murdering everyone on the other team and being the sole survivor.  Oh yeah, and Alicia Fox is the RAW captain??  Are you mental?  I know being the captain of a Survivor Series team is 1000% meaningless, but come the fuck on....

No more rest holds for Asuka for a while - just have her kill people.

Speaking of effing things up, how 'bout Finn Balor coming off a huge win over AJ Styles, only to lose clean, in seven minutes, to Kane?  Fucking Kane......  In what universe does it make any sense for a young rising star to lose clean to a 50-year-old who mostly hasn't been relevant since Bush's first term??  I get that it took three chokeslams, Balor wasn't in Demon mode, yadda yadda yadda, but for fuck's sake.  Any number of other guys you aren't supposed to be protecting could've been booked to lose to Kane last night.  It's like WWE either OVERthinks things, or doesn't think at all.  There is no in between.

The last thing I'm gonna bitch about is the return to the "brand loyalty" feud.  This RAW vs. Smackdown shit is about the dumbest repeated attempt at a rivalry I've ever seen in wrestling.  Look, I'd have been fine if they kept it as a friendly rivalry between Shane McMahon and Kurt Angle (as the early segment last night seemed to indicate).  "My brand is better than yours" is a perfectly fine thing to build this show around.  But they once again had to end the show with a massive interbrand fight, where we're expected to believe babyfaces and heels on the same show have suddenly put their hatred aside in the name of beating up babyfaces and heels on the other show.  Look at an example below:

Look, AJ and Dean are friends.  And then they aren't.  Because "blue shirt."

Are we supposed to believe Kevin Owens, who hates, HATES Shane McMahon is now going to give his all in helping Shane's team defeat Kurt's?  Are we supposed to believe Braun Strowman, who got crushed to death inside a garbage truck, is going to give two shits about helping three of the men who murdered him win a match simply because it's against Smackdown?  WWE has been forcing the brand rivalry thing down our throats since they first introduced the split rosters fifteen years ago.  It worked when Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon were stealing each other's talent.  Aside from that it hasn't worked at all.  If you're gonna do the brand rivalry thing, at least have something at stake.  Three draft picks from the losing team's roster maybe?  Or one male wrestler, one female, one tag team?  Something like that.  Give us something, ANYTHING to care about.

And as much as I hate frequent title changes, you might wanna think about changing one or two of the Smackdown champs before November 19th...

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