Shocker on Survivor Series
This should be a little less on the Mindless and the Rant side than normal. But that's... okay. Here goes.
I've got a tape of Survivor Series '91 at home. I've actually had it since I was 8(!) years old. It's got some great stuff on it, including Hogan jobbing to the Undertaker back before I cared about that kind of stuff. Hell, I was a HULKAMANIAC! So I got This Tuesday In Texas also, because I just had to see Hogan win the title back. Sure enough, he did.
Survivor Series used to be a Thanksgiving tradition, the night of elimination matches. Last year, it seemed like they forgot all about that whole aspect when they barely tossed in a couple of matchups at the last minute. This year, I figured that since everyone was split up into two factions: Alliance or WWF, that we'd see some real 4 on 4 elimination matches. Alas, that ain't coming this year (maybe).
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that the WWF would initiate such a drastic climax to the Invasion angle - Threatening to completely end it at Survivor Series, when either the WCW/ECW Alliance or the World Wrestling Federation will "go out of business".
Of course, the possibility for the angle to proceed further is always there. If the WCW/ECW Alliance wins, then we'll see the Invasion angle proceed by default, since the whole point was that there IS an Alliance on TV. The possibilities for such continuation are intriguing, but quite muddled. From reports I have read, which are in no way confirmed by the way, shows are getting finalized hours in advance of showtime. Something tells me that the WWF would create an even bigger problem if the Alliance wins here. Without mentioning the fact that fans do not tune in to watch heels (in other words, heels are not draws, not if they're the main attraction at least), there are many other problems. Hearken back to the first WWF Raw that featured WCW matches (I believe back in June or July). Fans did not come to the show to see WCW matches - The fact that it was Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell might have played some important role in it, because neither man was established or over with the crowd at the time, nor were they accustomed to the different ring size yet. The fans began to vociferously jeer the two, and filed out. I'm pretty sure the WWF can expect a similar response when fans arriving ready to see WWF Raw instead are force-fed Alliance Raw, or Alliance Nitro.
Hopefully, they know this. The Alliance winning could signal the death knell for the WWF in more ways than one. Sure, Survivor Series could be the culmination of the angle, when the Alliance truly does take over the WWF. But we all know that eventually the WWF is going to come back and win. As the babyface company, it has to. The question is, will fans stick around long enough to wait for it?
It would be ironic running a counter-invasion on the Alliance, using old WCW talent before the Alliance could snatch them up. The WWF running their own nWo angle with Nash and Hall, bringing in Ric Flair and possibly even Goldberg and Sting to run roughshod over the Alliance would be interesting. But real life concerns and barriers are things that could force this into impossibility. Would these stars even want to come back? Would the WWF be willing to cash out the contracts of these big name talents in hopes for a big payoff? History points to no. Had they done this in the original WCW invasion, and garnered WCW some real heat, and allowed Booker T, DDP, Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Ric Flair and Bill Goldberg to run roughshod over the WWF superstars, we might not be in this situation in the first place.
As Justin Shapiro said, nothing says WCW like Kurt Angle, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Shane McMahon. Hell, the WCW and ECW collectively have a whole TWO people in the main event - and I mean people who've never competed for the WWF (if you discount RVD's Mr. Monday Night stint). The WWF gambled bigtime that they could use their own talent, in Stone Cold, to get the Alliance over without having to pay the big bucks to get real WCW talent in the rings and on the mic. And they've lost that gamble, completely.
So, in my mind, the only logical thing to do is to kill off the Alliance. The fact that this wasn't announced a week before the show or closer to it says that the WWF is serious about getting rid of the Alliance, and they want people to know that things will get better after Survivor Series (although one could make the argument that they've been preparing fans for the possibility that the WWF might go out of business...).
If the WWF wins, then I think the WWF will be on very solid ground. Yes, Vince'll probably gloat about how he killed his competition again, and how he choked the life out of the Alliance. The Alliance may very well be completely fired (though I doubt anyone who's been on TV at all lately will go). The way I see this is that if the WWF is stupid enough to get rid of a lot of good cruiserweight talent, then they deserve to go to the next highest bidder. Let's face it: Look at the WWF cruisers. Guys like Jerry Lynn and Essa Rios. Guys who won't get over in the WWF. It's not unfair to them that Vince McMahon doesn't like cruisers... Oh no no, don't fool yourself. If would you expect the Rock to be able to go to CMLL and do his same routine and get over, much less be on television at all? How about Stone Cold Steve Austin over in Toryumon? No way. Conversely, the WWF doesn't have to be the end all, be all promotion that hires every style and proudly displays them. The numerous stunted attempts at establishing a Light-Heavyweight division show that the WWF simply can't do it. What I take offense to is the WWF hiring them in the first place (It's not like they don't know what their own policy is). Let TAKA and Funaki go home where they stand a great chance of being much more over than here (Hell, I'm a big ol' puro idiot, but doesn't TAKA have his, umm, own promotion?). The WWF needs to cut the roster and streamline their operations anyway. Their stock fell from $22 down to $12 in the spring due to the gigantic flop that was the XFL, yet they never cut any of their miscellaneous talent? Would fans really, honestly miss Billy Gunn right now?
I've written a lot about what the WWF has done to not be "good". But the majority of that was either "Kill off the Invasion" or "Book coherently". I truly believe that the WWF has all the talent necessary to get back into the swing of things. The problem is that it's going to be much harder to reach the pop culture icon status of yesteryear. Before, wrestling got hot because your little brother was all into nWo, and you started to think about watching just as WWF was getting into DX and the Attitude Era. Suddenly, the WWF became the show to watch, as compared to WCW. But now that WCW is out of business, the WWF doesn't have anyone to be better than. They don't have any basis of comparison. And, ironically enough, the WWF's best chance for long-term recovery would have been if WCW were in business. At least then if the WWF got bad, they knew exactly where their audience went. They went to Nitro. But now, WWF fans who are fed up with the product are fleeing to other markets, like Monday Night Football and Survivor.
On the subject of title unifications, I think the WWF has made a step in the right direction. Unifying the titles, to me, means that they won't do the promotion-split, as some are predicting will happen at the Survivor Series main. Either Test or Edge will become the WWF or WCW Intercontinental or United States champion (ha, two Canadians feuding over a United States championship) respectively, and so forth. Foley's quasi-shoot promo on Raw was right on the money on all counts. One thing I've always said about the WWF is that even when they know the product sucks, they make active strides toward pushing it into the right direction. Raw was one of those nights.
It also saved the under card of Invasion. Technically, it wouldn't matter who unifies the titles, because the Alliance or the WWF could simply fire the guy if he's not in their promotion, but that little caveat aside, it does make the under card (Which was sorely underdeveloped) worth watching. Before this addition, what exactly did it matter if Perry Saturn fought Tommy Dreamer for 10 minutes, other than that you might see an "okay" match? The only real issue of the night to be settled would be whether or not their respective companies would be in or out of business. Now, the under card at least matters because we will, for the first time, see WWF titles unified with WCW titles.
Maybe I'm a little overly optimistic about the upcoming PPV (perhaps because I've got all of In This Very Ring of Los Angeles coming over on Sunday), but I cannot dog what the WWF has tried to do this week to make the shows better, and to answer the call of many, many fans who were expressing their displeasure with the current product. Now all the WWF has to do is follow through with it, and let the WWF win. If the WWF is willing to put this mess behind them, so am I. Bring on Triple H!
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