Extreme Rules is set to send Survivor Series crashing through a table.
One of WWE's longest-running pay-per-views is losing prestige, while an upstart event is shoving its way to a spot as one of the company's "Big Four" events. Thank violence, thank uniqueness, thank Survivor Series straying from its roots.
WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Royal Rumble and Survivor Series have been around far longer than WWE's fledgling pay-per-views. Still, an event that has only been around for five years is on the verge of passing one of the Big Four in terms of financial impact and how much the audience anticipates it.
WrestleMania is still pro wrestling's Super Bowl, and SummerSlam and Royal Rumble are still blockbuster events, but Survivor Series is the straggling runt. Take last year's buyrates, for example.
- WrestleMania 28: 1.2 million buys (per Wrestling Observer, h/t WrestleZone.com)
- Royal Rumble 2012: 443,000 buys (per WrestleZone.com)
- SummerSlam 2012: 350,000 buys (per Wrestling Observer, h/t PWMania.com)
- Survivor Series 2012: 212,000 (per Wrestling Observer, via CagesideSeats.com)
Those numbers won't come as a surprise to anyone who has been following Survivor Series' recent trend. Other than a few blips, the event has seen a year-to-year drop in its buyrate.
The above report from CagesideSeats.com shows that Survivor Series suffered a drop of 129,000 buys from 2007 to 2012.
Meanwhile, Extreme Rules is establishing a strong reputation by delivering excellent shows, and the fans are rewarding those efforts by ordering that pay-per-view more and more. The pay-per-view actually beat out Survivor Series in 2012 by almost 40,000 buys, per Wrestling Observer (h/t CagesideSeats.com).
Could that happen again this year? With the current Survivor Series lineup's lack of spark, that's a strong possibility.
Survivor Series once offered fans an annual treat. It was the only place to see four-on-four or five-on-five tag team elimination matches. Hall of Famers teamed up with bragging rights and often much more on the line.
WWE has moved away from focusing on that match despite it being what made the event special. The pay-per-view used to be solely dedicated to these matches, but today, they are often an afterthought. With less than two weeks until Survivor Series 2013, there isn't a single classic tag team elimination bout on the card.
Randy Orton vs. Big Show, Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan vs. Erick Rowan and Luke Harper sound like matches that could be on any pay-per-view. Continuing to abandon Survivor Series' uniqueness will lessen interest in it.
It starts to blend in with Payback and Battleground, despite it's storied past.
Regardless of what the WWE Championship contest may be, many fans will order the Royal Rumble every year because it's the only time to see the Rumble match, and folks know it's going to be a fun show. Survivor Series feels less and less like that every year as the big stars are held out of the traditional elimination bouts.
Extreme Rules, on the other hand, delivers on its promise.
Fans can see cage matches and street fights throughout the year, but the event delivers a menagerie of violent gimmick matches. Extreme Rules 2013 gave fans a strap match, an Extreme Rules bout, a Last Man Standing match and a steel cage match, packing an overstock of WWE-style carnage into a single evening.
That's especially appealing in the PG Era where that type of violence isn't as widespread as it once was.
Some of the most brutal WWE bouts in recent history have come at the event, including Brock Lesnar and Cena's bloody match in 2012. Cage rattle, tables exploding, chairs singing along spines. It's like a festival of brutality.
That element is a compelling one, one that could have a fan decide to purchase the pay-per-view over an event like Night of Champions.
Beyond that, it's been the home of classics. The history of critically acclaimed Extreme Rules matches is impressive.
|Highly Rated Extreme Rules Matches|
|Year||Match||Wrestling Observer Star Rating|
|2009||Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio||4 out of 5 stars|
|2009||Edge vs. Jeff Hardy||4.25|
|2010||John Cena vs. Batista||4.25|
|2011||Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian||4.25|
|2011||John Cena vs. The Miz vs. John Morrison||4|
|2012||Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan||4|
|2012||John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar||4.5|
|2013||Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H||4|
|Wrestling Observer, h/t ProFightDB.com|
While Extreme Rules is adding to its history year after year, discussions of the best Survivor Series matches tend to travel back to 2002, to 2000, to 1995. For many fans, Survivor Series stirs up nostalgia, but younger fans have less ties to what Randy Savage and Bret Hart once did at the event.
Besides, the less WWE focuses on the traditional elimination matches, the less the event will truly feel like Survivor Series. It would be like having the Royal Rumble with a 10-man Battle Royal.
Extreme Rules, despite having less history and memories than Survivor Series, is set to replace it as one of WWE's four top pay-per-views. This year, Lesnar, Triple, Cena, Ryback and company generated 231,000 buys, per WrestleZone.com.
Can Survivor Series outdo that?
With the current match card, it doesn't look like it. Extreme Rules is likely to beat out the Big Four event for the second straight time, pushing its older brother aside and flexing its muscles next to WWE's biggest pay-per-views.