Last night’s episode of WWE Raw saw the announcement of one of the biggest Survivor Series matches in recent memory.
The concentration of high-level talent given to this bout is shocking, as it incorporates the WWE, Intercontinental and tag champions and all the No. 1 contenders for the respective belts. On top of that are the opposing pair of Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio, who have a combined 11 major championship runs between them.
It is set to be a great match, but using this much talent will expose the WWE’s undercard since a normal pay-per-view would get at least four matches from the talent that will be used in the Survivor Series match alone. The lineup is equivalent to roughly half of the participants on yesterday's Hell in a Cell card.
This means that the WWE creative team will need to find somewhere in the vicinity of an additional 90 minutes of wrestling.
On the plus side, the WWE do have John Cena, Dolph Ziggler and Wade Barrett to return to pay-per-view after sitting out Hell in a Cell, but this will not completely fill the gap left by the stacked main event. These returning superstars will have even less impact if the obvious match between Cena and Ziggler is booked, as although it will run longer, it will mean one less possible match.
Even adding extra time to the World Heavyweight title match between Big Show and Sheamus (which will be presumably announced over the next few days) will not fill the show completely, so the WWE must look to its undercard to provide the extra minutes of action
There are a few obvious candidates for filling this role, such as a tag team match between Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara against the Prime Time Players, Antonio Cesaro defending his United States Championship and a Divas championship match. However all these matches were also on the Hell in a Cell card, so they are unlikely to fully fill the hole created either.
All of this means the WWE have to seriously look at promoting some of the talent that frequent Superstars more than Raw to make up the numbers.
Perhaps this has already been noted by someone in WWE, as it could be the explanation behind the hype that the the 3 Man Band are currently receiving. Their time on Raw has been increasing over the last two or three episodes, so a Survivor Series match is a likely outcome.
The WWE could also look towards the seemingly forgotten pair of Brodus Clay and the wrestler once known as Lord Tensai. When both men burst onto the scene after WrestleMania, they looked destined to meet in a top-level feud, so pitting them against each other would be a natural match.
In reality, there are many combinations that could be made and added to the Survivor Series card.
Whoever the WWE deem worthy of such a place will need to be given sufficient exposure on WWE’s two main shows—Raw and Smackdown—so fans have some knowledge of why whoever is fighting is doing so.
Failure to re-establish these less familiar personalities is likely to quiet the crowd reaction, slow pay-per-view sales and put more pressure on the main event to be outstanding to compensate.
An alternative direction the WWE could go in is to design matches for their main event talent that will naturally run for longer. WWE’s own website has just produced a history of the buried alive match, which is a match that requires one wrestler to beat their opponent to a place where they cannot stop themselves from being buried alive, and as such, naturally takes much longer to finish.
Last Man Standing, Falls Count Anywhere and I Quit matches have the same effect of elongating one match to hide the shortness of the rest of the card. It may even be that a match like this takes the Big Show against Sheamus rivalry to the next level
If the situation really needed a match that would fill a huge proportion of a pay-per-view, then the WWE could always wheel out the 60-minute iron match which would sufficiently cover a third of the time allocation. Who could be given the honor of having such a match at this time is highly questionable though.
Despite these workable alternatives, the WWE is likely to go with the injection of more short matches with undercard guys, as this goes with their current philosophy that wrestling fans have a remarkably low attention span.
This means that the WWE must spend the next three weeks dedicating some of its most important slots to whatever low-level wrestlers are going to fill the gap at Survivor Series. Otherwise, the great main event could be overshadowed by the lack of interest that the rest of the card provides.