Perhaps it's nostalgia, but I can probably still, after all these years, give you a more detailed dissection and discussion of that first event than I could tell you anything about most PPV events I've seen in the last decade.
It could be that I'm misty-eyed for the days of living on 34th Road in Flushing, New York, but I think a more realistic answer is that the still-fresh concept of actually watching a major wrestling live - AS IT HAPPENED! - was amazing for my 13 year old self and that the Survivor Series concept itself - Teams of Five Strive to Survive - is an awesome idea as a once a year event.
For fans growing up in that era, Survivor Series was as cool as The Royal Rumble, although the latter quickly surpassed the November tradition once they began promoting the idea of it being a 30 Man Rumble (guaranteeing, on paper at least, 60 minutes of action) as well as the idea of "Every Man For Himself" where heroes and villains could battle other heroes and villains during a time period where those lines were strongly and thickly drawn. But the Survivor Series, unlike the Rumble, is something of a neglected child on the WWE calendar.
The other major shows all feel like they are important leading into them - Wrestlemania, the Rumble, Summerslam, but Survivor Series, the show that helped put WWF on the map (and helped them kill Jim Crockett Promotions, but that's another story), is sort of just there - and a lot of the original concepts that made the show so fun, are forgotten over the passage of time.
But WWE should take the exact opposite tact and embrace what the Series used to be. Everything old can be new again and that includes the Survivor Series.
In my opinion, starting this year, WWE should revert back to the original Survivor Series concept. Think it's a dumb idea? Think it wouldn't work. Well, I disagree. Here's why:
*Unique team-ups. The first Series match ever featured Randy Savage, Jake Roberts and Ricky Steamboat, who all had their issues with each other over the previous few years, on the same side, trying to get their hands on the Honkytonk Man. The idea of Savage and Steamboat teaming together was ridiculously awesome and unique....and imagine CM Punk, Miz, Daniel Bryan and others all gunning for the Wyatt Family and Kane this year. The eras are different, but good rivalries still make great, electric wrestling moments.
*A chance to spotlight the Tag Team division with a great, long match. The best examples of this in the past, to me, were the first few years of the Series, featuring some awesome 5 tag teams vs. 5 tag teams bouts that went 35 minutes the first year and over 40 minutes the second year. During an era of ten minute Hulk Hogan title bouts, the Series provided some great, long drawn out matches. Look at the current WWE Tag scene. With the Usos, Real Americans, The Rhodes, The Shield, The Primetime Players, hell, even Los Locos - WWE could give the Tag title picture an awesome spotlight.
*Making stars. The first year of the Survivor Series featured a surprise in Hulk Hogan's team losing to Andre the Giant's team but the real story was that, at the time, WWF was trying to make Bam Bam Bigelow, still a newcomer, into a major player. Bigelow was the last man standing on Hulk Hogan's team, faced with the triple threat of monsters Andre the Giant, One Man Gang and King Kong Bundy. Bigelow fought hard and eliminated two of the three before finally falling to the man who would become the first WWF Hall of Famer - but the story was that Bigelow was someone to be reckoned with. Time didn't eventually tell that tale, but in that moment, WWF did a great job setting the stage for it. Now imagine someone like Dolph Ziggler or Kofi Kington or even Justin Gabriel fighting to survive those crazy odds - it provides an awesome performance on the show, good drama for the fans and a chance to raise the profile of a mid-carder who deserves it.
*Four matches set for a three hour show. By having less (and treating all the matches like they were important), WWF was able to focus on each match and allow for everything to stand out as unique attractions. This allowed everyone to have a moment in the sun (remember those awesome team interviews?) and even, in some cases, have fun back and forth wrestling matches with some surprising eliminations. This also allows for a chance to actually fill a PPV with some great wrestling and giving talents who are normally trapped in shorter matches the chance to really grow and do something outside of the box. They could even find something for Zack Ryder!
*It brings up the mid-card a little. By putting a few undercard guys in with the top tier names, those mid-card names are given a rub of sorts, as long as they aren't just used as cannon fodder.
*The Divas can wrestle. Sure, a lot of the women are limited in what they can do, but the tags in and out, with AJ Lee and Natalya leading their teams, can lead to one of the best women's bouts in some time on the main roster. Plus, Tamina can be booked to play Diesel, wiping out wrestler after wrestler. It will world's from the Jumping Bomb Angels vs. the Glamour Girls, but if they build to Natayla vs. Lee as the final showdown, they can prime the drama and build to a nice finish.
As you can see, The Survivor Series concept worked when it started, but like all things, WWF eventually moved from the initial concept to try other things, which means that the current generation has never truly seen an actual Survivor Series event except in name only.
Which leads to me my final argument: There's an entirely new generation of fans who enjoy John Cena and others the way that I loved watching Ricky Steamboat when I was a kid - and those kids would certainly be intrigued by what, to them, would be an incredibly new concept.
After all, the idea of teams of five fighting to survive certainly sounds like it would sell a few more PPVs than whatever the silly PPV commercial skit is this month, right?
Get to work, WWE!
Mike Johnson can be reached at MikeJohnsonPWInsider@gmail.com. No one was happier than he when the Young Stallions survived the first year.
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