By Will Pruett
I was wrong. When it comes to Survivor Series and WWE’s ability to make me look forward to this event, I was very wrong.
A year ago, I’m sure I wrote (at least on Twitter) some snarky things about not watching Survivor Series. I legitimately did not watch. To this day, I have not watched it. I have not watched Survivor Series in quite a few years. I wrote off the concept a while ago and figured there was no way to make it relevant. It was just a bunch of tag team matches with cheap eliminations and a lot of entrances. It felt like the least important event of the year. When rumors came up a few years back about it being eliminated as a pay-per-view, I celebrated them.
Now, as I look at Survivor Series 2017, I am excited. I am eagerly awaiting the show on Sunday and planning my whole day around it. For one of the first times in the NXT Takeover era, I’m more excited by a WWE main roster show than I am the Takeover preceding it. This feels new and exciting.
So, as I espouse my excitement at an embarrassing clip, what is making me feel this? What is it about Survivor Series that has me as giddy as 10 year old Will watching WWF Breakdown: In Your House?
Compelling characters who matter are in compelling matches this Sunday with consequences (at least minor ones). While I’m still not about to wear a red or blue t-shirt shouting my brand loyalty to the masses (I don’t think anyone is a “brand” fan of WWE. They just like the wrestles.), I am excited about the actual wrestling matches taking place.
AJ Styles vs. Brock Lesnar feels like a real dream match. Even amidst my doubts about Lesnar’s ability and motivation, I need to see this match happen. It’s two of the most notable wrestlers of the 21st century meeting close enough to their primes in a major situation. I don’t know what to expect from this match. I don’t know who can and should win. I just want to see it.
On top of this, The Shield vs. The New Day feels like the Styles vs. Lesnar of three man groups. WWE has protected The Shield more than any group in their history. The entire narrative of WWE has been based around Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns since their debut. Seeing them against Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods, easily the most successful and compelling post-Shield team WWE has assembled should be a treat. This is major fan service.
The build to Survivor Series has seen WWE set a lot of the wrongs of 2017 right, especially on the Smackdown side. When Charlotte came over to Smackdown earlier this year, it seemed to be a matter of weeks before she was Women’s Champion. It took months of meandering through sexist ladder matches, approximately 20 multi-person tags, and a weird title reign for Natalya for Charlotte to end up on top. The same can be said for AJ Styles’ trajectory since losing the WWE Championship.
Survivor Series has seen WWE take their most compelling stars and put them in compelling roles. A crazy thing happens when WWE does this: the shows are compelling! The one-dimensional character of Jinder Mahal never really worked, despite a lot of effort. The second he is not the champion, the whole universe seems more enjoyable!
My hope is that WWE continues to place compelling characters in interesting situations. As we head into WrestleMania season, I want more of this!
What I absolutely positively love in wrestling this week:
Daniel Bryan’s passion – I’ve written a lot about not being able to get over the retirement of Daniel Bryan. I’m still not ready to watch the WWE 24 special on the night he retired. I have feelings, y’all. On Smackdown, as Bryan advocated for AJ Styles, we saw the fire in his eyes and voice return. I got chills watching this moment as he verbally tore down Brock Lesnar. Those moments when the fire in Bryan returns, joy comes to my heart.
If you enjoy getting a little bit of what I love in wresting each week, check out my new YouTube series called “What I Love About Professional Wrestling!”
What I absolutely positively love in the world this week:
Gingerbread Lattes – Since I worked at Starbucks about a decade ago, gingerbread latte season has been a great joy to me. While I try to avoid Starbucks for most of the year due to not wanting to feed the corporate coffee monster, I had to grab an old favorite friend this week. Gingerbread lattes bring holiday cheer to my soul.
Got something to say/react to in today’s piece? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wilpruett. Just let me know whether you’d like your name attached to your statement or not. Alternately, there’s a comment section just below this article, so comment away!
“I know I’ve made this complaint on this site before so I run the risk of sounding like a broken record, but we readers come to sites like ProWrestling.net because we love wrestling and want to hear what the experts have to say about the product, and when one of those experts openly admits to skipping some/all of the content of a major show it gives me serious pause as to why I should care about that site’s opinion at all.”
Hi Jim, your complaint about me not watching all of the wrestling shows on a regular basis is valid. You’re right. It would be great if I could watch everything, but in trying to keep a balanced media diet (which I feel makes me a better critic of wrestling in general), I can’t see it all. I pick and choose what WWE media I consume, especially considering how much other wrestling I try to watch. I like to think the rest of the commentary on the site more than makes up for me not seeing everything. Heck, John Moore even watches 205 Live! He’s one of three people that do that!
SSMGOTW (Superfluous Shane McMahon Gif of the Week):
We’re Done Here:
It’s a major wrestling weekend, and I didn’t even bring up the return of WarGames until now! Whoa. Wrestling is crazy this weekend. Let’s get out there and enjoy all the things! Yay!
Will Pruett writes about wrestling and popular culture at prowrestling.net. Of interest to him are diversity in wrestling and wrestling as a theatrical art form. To see his video series “What I Love About Professional Wrestling” subscribe to his YouTube channel. To contact, check him out on Twitter @wilpruett, leave a comment, or email him at email@example.com.