There is little good to be said about the decision to hold a series of cross-promotional, elimination matches at Survivor Series. It isn’t exactly a wise move to trumpet “distinctly different” rosters and storylines if you’re going to take every opportunity available to flout that maxim and have two brands going off against each other. Nor is it a wise move to hold matches at one of the biggest PPVs of the year that have absolutely nothing riding on them.
Usually, there have been things at stake. Perhaps the most memorable “cross-promotional” Survivor Series elimination match was WWF vs/ The Alliance way back in 2001. Sure, the entire, multi-monthlong angle sucked and everyone knew who was going to win, but there was at least a serious consequence for the losing side; whichever faction lost would be put permanently out of business.
But in the case of “SmackDown’s Finest” vs. “Raw’s Finest,” what exactly are they playing for? You have a series of guys and girls going against each other, many of whom have never met each other in the context of this rivalry, and if they do it’d be completely by-the-numbers and for the sake of building up suspense for the match.
It’s not just the overall quality and meaningfulness of the show that will suffer, however. As we’ve seen from the qualifying matches last Tuesday on SmackDown, the talent are suffering from this too.
In a totally unexpected turn of events, The Ascension lost their match against The Hype Bros and tumbled out of the running to be featured in the 10-team elimination match. We can expect to see The Vaudevillains suffer the same fate this week as well. What does this achieve, exactly? We already know that The Vaudevillains and The Ascension are by no means the top teams on SmackDown Live right now. It doesn’t exactly help either team by placing a huge exclamation point on their rubbishness and putting them through the humiliation of losing a qualifying match for a final that won’t make the slightest bit of difference to anybody.
How terrible is that? At least, during the elimination matches themselves, you can conclude that of the two creams of the two crops, one is superior. In the qualifying matches, you’re re-emphasizing the fact that the losing teams are tiny fish in a very small pond.
SmackDown Live could have easily forgone this embarrassing escapade simply by randomly picking the teams, and ironically, the likes of The Ascension and The Vaudevillains would have found those elimination matches to be an ideal vehicle for them.
Look at it this way: The ‘top teams’ on SmackDown are ostensibly meant to be busy with important and meaningful matters at the moment. Rhyno and Heath Slater are dealing with The Spirit Squad (which isn’t as awful as some inexplicably think it is, by the way), and if WWE had any sense whatsoever it would whisk the brilliant program that The Usos and American Alpha from the jaws of death and immediately put them on each others’ case again over the next few weeks, un-distracted by the responsibility to perform for vague notions of SmackDown’s honour and Survivor Series.
But if you were to have the languishing teams from both rosters (and God knows, there are enough of them) featuring in the tag team leg of the elimination matches, wouldn’t that be a suitably hokey and bare-minimum motivation befitting of doldrum dwelling talents? There could even be interplay between team members themselves, some sort of blame based resentment brewing, that could finally lead to something interesting going on between these guys.
Alas, WWE seems content with putting the brakes on much needed, week-to-week consistency of feuds, whilst doing nothing with the guys they needlessly buried in the process.