WWE Survivor Series 2013: Examining Biggest Hits and Misses on Road to PPV Event

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WWE Survivor Series 2013: Examining Biggest Hits and Misses on Road to PPV Event
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The buildup for the WWE Survivor Series 2013 marquee bouts has been bungled as much as it's been enhanced.

The stories leading up to the WWE and World Heavyweight Championship matches have been comprised of missed opportunities for every memorable moment. Lack of balance has hurt the path to Alberto Del Rio and John Cena's rematch. Lack of focus has done the same for Randy Orton's title defense against Big Show.

WWE does get points for escalating the animosity of these two clashes as well as the tag team match pitting Luke Harper and Erick Rowan against Daniel Bryan and CM Punk.

What has helped increase interest in these Survivor Series matches and what has diminished fans' excitement? Taking a look at what happened on Raw and SmackDown over the past few weeks reveals those answers.

 

CM Punk and Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatt Family

The buildup for Harper and Rowan's in-ring pay-per-view debut began on fire, but has since been reduced to consistent simmering.

During an interview with Renee Young, Bryan soon found himself within striking range of the dangerous Wyatt brotherhood. Bray Wyatt and his followers ambushed Bryan, slamming a piece of sound equipment against his head.

The same night, Punk too felt the Wyatt's destructive force firsthand.

A week later, Punk slipped by Harper with a fluky win and The Wyatt Family responded by mauling "The Best in the World." Armed with a steel chair and wearing a bandage around his shoulder, Bryan charged out to help.

Punk and Bryan, former rivals, were now aligned together against a common enemy.

This is when the feud was hot. Fans didn't know where the story would go and what acts of barbarism Punk and Bryan would have to escape and endure next.

The problem is that WWE didn't push the story forward much from here. 

Punk and Bryan collided with Harper, Rowan and Wyatt in various forms of matches, but nothing special or all that memorable happened. Wyatt previously tied Miz up and wrote "liar" on his chest. He had Harper and Rowan smash Kane's head on the ring steps before carrying him away.

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Bray Wyatt has been much tamer with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan.

The feud with Punk and Bryan was less creative.

Bryan took on Harper in singles action on SmackDown. The two teams met in a 12-man contest on Raw.

These confrontations certainly allowed the Superstars to keep clawing at each other, but the rivalry would have been made more personal and intense had Wyatt's crew done something other than a standard ambush.

The "devil" that Wyatt claimed to have made him do his initial attacks was not mentioned until much later, that intriguing element of the story abandoned.

 

Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena 

The intensity of this feud is weakened by WWE's inability to have fans believe that Del Rio can actually win.

After Hell in a Cell, Cena survived a cash-in attempt from Damien Sandow and Del Rio was soon awarded his rematch. A Sandow, Del Rio and Cena Triple Threat would have been a more enticing option for Survivor Series, but WWE went with the singles match here.

The animosity between champion and challenger has multiplied. Del Rio turned an arm wrestling contest on SmackDown into an opportunity for villainy.

Del Rio sucker punched Cena before shoving Cena's good arm into a steel chair, seemingly trying to break it.

A few days later on Raw, Cena wore a sling to the ring. This prompted Del Rio to swoop in to mock him, licking his lips as he moved into toward Cena's injured arm.

WWE succeeded in segments like these in making the two men fighting hate each other more. The intensity level of their match will be better for it. It becomes a contest about more than gold, morphing into a bitter, personal battle.

Why doesn't this feel more like a classic in the waiting, then?

Predictability is draining its power. Cena appears unbeatable while Del Rio is made to look like a rat trying to knock off a lion.

The latest confrontation saw Cena toss away his sling and stand tall in the ring, championship in hand. Cena's injury was Del Rio's only apparent path to the title, but WWE downplayed it on the go-home show.

Instead of having Cena headed into Survivor Series at a physical disadvantage, the story shifted to him apparently exaggerating the injury to lure Del Rio in. WWE hasn't done enough to convince the audience that Del Rio is a real threat.

Cena is apparently at a level where he's capable of defeating tag team title contenders by himself while Del Rio struggled to put away The Great Khali.

 

Randy Orton vs. Big Show

WWE succeeded in making this match harder to predict than Cena vs. Del Rio, but it has been the victim of a lack of narrative focus.

Big Show has spent so much energy trying to get back at Triple H that his reasons for going after Orton aren't as strong. When Big Show got his title bout, by way of extortion, it was a victory for the giant over the COO. It was the spoils of a settlement, not the center of a lifelong goal.

Orton was barely mentioned.

Big Show's motivations for challenging Orton rather than Triple H haven't been made clear enough. Triple H was his tormentor for months, to the point of taking his house from him.

For Big Show to now be seeking a spot as the new face of the company rather than seek revenge doesn't feel right. Given an opportunity to choose his foe, "The World's Largest Athlete" chose the lead henchman rather than the string-pulling puppet master.

A buildup comprised of restraining orders, lawsuits and orders passed down from an unseen board of directors and mortgages felt cluttered until very recently. 

It was when The Authority was on vacation and the story of this match became simpler, and the feud had its most effective moment. Orton had just backed out of a match with Cody Rhodes and Goldust; Big Show clogged his escape route.

Big Show then attacked Orton, earning retribution for a beatdown the big man suffered the week before. 

Sending Orton through the announce table via Air Chokeslam was the kind of lasting image that elevates a feud. Big Show looked more dangerous; Orton had a big reason to both fear and loathe his Survivor Series opponent.

As the pay-per-view nears, the story has taken an interesting direction. 

Triple H has promised that Orton will have no assistance from The Authority in his title bout. This followed Orton being clearly afraid of Big Show, unsure if he can beat him on his own.

Orton now goes into Survivor Series looking to evade and outsmart an opponent that has all the momentum. 

The audience is now unsure if Triple H will keep his word about having this be a strictly one-on-one fight, if Big Show can be stopped and what Orton has planned to keep his title. WWE has injected some intrigue into a match many fans are disinterested in, even if it is a drastic departure from where the story was seemingly headed before.

For this match and the other headlining bouts, WWE has given the audience reasons to watch just as it has failed to entice, both stumbling and sprinting during the Survivor Series buildup.

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