Survivor Series marks the unofficial kickoff to WrestleMania season. In years past, we’ve heard rumblings of the ‘Mania plans and the penciled-in main event by late November. 2015 isn’t much different except for the lack of depth the WWE roster is currently dealing with.
So far, we’ve heard everything from John Cena vs. The Undertaker to Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar, and fans still aren’t convinced Stone Cold Steve Austin won’t step into the ring. However, a lack of real direction is apparent as the calendar approaches December.
Without Seth Rollins, the WWE Championship is vacant. The Rock and Batista are both reportedly off the table due to acting commitments. WWE’s medical staff still hasn’t cleared Daniel Bryan. Sting may have wrestled his last match. Randy Orton is out of action with a shoulder injury, and yes, Austin seems content in retirement.
Here we are – heading into WrestleMania season for a second consecutive year relying on part-timers and wrestlers in the twilight of their career to sell pay-per-views and network subscriptions.
In trying to build the biggest WrestleMania of all time and attempting to set a new attendance record at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, what move does WWE make?
Do they try and sell the show with big stars of yesteryear, as was the case with WrestleMania 31? Do they reward fans with a solid show properly utilizing the current crowd favorites they have, as was the case with WrestleMania 30?
Balance is the key here. The most obvious blend of establishment and contemporary interests lies in booking Brock Lesnar vs. Bray Wyatt.
On one hand, you have arguably one of the biggest draws in wrestling today in Lesnar. On the other, you have an up and coming wrestler who figures to be a central figure in the grand fabric of the WWE. Consider that the match would be fresh, new, and make complete sense from a storyline standpoint, and it’s a no-brainer.
Survivor Series should be used to pass the torch and establish The Wyatt Family as the new “conscience of the WWE” type of figure. The Undertaker filled that role for nearly 25 years (factoring in his injuries and part-time schedule). It’s obvious that he doesn’t have enough left in the tank to be that figure much longer.
The Wyatt Family needs to win this match in order to take on that mantle.
Why is such a character important in the first place? It’s simple – look at the high value the Undertaker provided in both presentation and substance. For years, the Undertaker was the most intriguing character on the show, and could consistently be relied upon to put on great matches and put over young talent.
The Undertaker is the paragon of being the man aside from “the man.” He’s been the critical cog that generates both panache and meaning.
How is that replaced? That figure needs to lose, then you place his conqueror in a high profile feud at the biggest event of the year.
Now, the question is how to put such a plan into motion?
Survivor Series is the key here for two reasons. First, it provides an opportunity for the Wyatts to take on the Brothers of Destruction four on two. These sorts of opportunities to lay bona fide beatdowns on the Undertaker are few and far between. Second, Hell in a Cell is still fresh on our minds, and the Undertaker just concluded a program with Lesnar that was based largely on pride and respect.
In this situation, the Wyatts win, but it just isn’t enough. Imagine the daunting human edifices known as The Wyatt Family towering over a weakened Dead Man, with his brother Kane completely incapacitated.
Collectively, these four want to completely eradicate the Undertaker from the history books. Just when they are closing in on him, Lesnar’s music hits. He ventures to the ring and wipes out Luke Harper and Erick Rowan before coming face to face with Braun Strowman. The lights go out. When they come back on, all traces of the Wyatts are gone – simple, easy booking.
Why does Lesnar even bother showing up? Because he respects the Undertaker, and if he couldn’t be the one that ended his career, no one will. In Lesnar’s mind, the Wyatts have already disrespected him by stealing the thunder of his victory at Hell in a Cell.
It’s all about pride and respect – and Survivor Series is the bridge between SummerSlam and WrestleMania.
This program is not only fresh simply because of the competitors, but in the dynamic of how Wyatt has been booked. Instead of Wyatt instigating a fight and cutting formulaic promos building to an eventual pay-per-view showdown, he would be on defense. He would be the target, and his adversary would be the one initiating the program. Wyatt’s biggest rivalries (Kane, Cena, Dean Ambrose, Undertaker, Roman Reigns) have all commenced in the exact same fashion. It’s time to shake it up a bit.
In Lesnar’s case, taking on such a unique opponent in such a unique context would be a drastic change from the typical drive for competition and accolades that has been thematic in his return to WWE. He’s simply never faced a force quite like the Wyatts.
As weird as it sounds, the four members of The Wyatt Family are menacing enough to provide a legitimate threat. Having Lesnar destroy Strowman would be a huge moment considering the depths to which the WWE has gone to protect his credibility.
Besides, can you imagine the promos between Wyatt and Paul Heyman? There’s money to be made here.
Win or lose, all parties involved come out stronger and more interesting. The fans are treated to something new and exciting. The WWE has a new star. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for WrestlingNews.co, and is the Tennessee Titans Featured Analyst for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley and the SPOT’s Tennessee Titans Twitter feed at @spot_titans.