When Raw battles SmackDown at WWE Survivor Series, there will be a succession of sticks of dynamite waiting to be lit.
The elimination matches expected to comprise the Nov. 20 pay-per-view are opportunities for top-flight theater, to shoot wrestlers skyward and to turn the shows leading up to the PPV into must-see TV. The collision of brands is a welcome sight, a series of doors waiting to be opened.
On Tuesday night, SmackDown head honchos Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon challenged Raw to a trio of Survivor Series-style elimination matches at the upcoming PPV.
The first would pit five of each brand's best male Superstars against each other in a Survivor Series match. Bryan and McMahon also proposed a five-on-five battle between each show's top females and a clash between five Raw tag teams and five SmackDown squads.
This return to Survivor Series' roots will be a fun ride.
The PPV has not had three elimination bouts on the card since 2009. And WWE hasn't crammed the ring with tag teams, as Bryan and McMahon suggested, since 1988.
Embracing the Survivor Series format this year will only be a true success if the company can harness its powers, though.
Launching Pads and Catalysts
These three elimination matches offer ample opportunity to make stars.
The format is set up perfectly for career-changing performances. An outnumbered, gutsy babyface can lead a stunning comeback. A warrior can eliminate wrestler after wrestler. A fresh face can emerge as the last Superstar standing.
These are powerful tools.
We saw that years ago with Randy Orton. Survivor Series became his show, his night to shine again and again.
Orton was the sole survivor in elimination matches on the PPV from 2003 to 2005.
The Viper allowed Eric Bischoff to seize control of Raw by pinning Shawn Michaels in 2003. A year later, he toppled Triple H's team, and in 2005 he led Team SmackDown to a victory. These triumphs helped establish Orton as a major force in the WWE world. Each year, his resume ballooned, his legend grew.
WWE offered Roman Reigns a similar boost in 2013. The Shield's powerhouse speared his way to a record-tying four eliminations in a single match.
The bout helped launch Reigns' career, prepping him for headliner status.
Both Raw and SmackDown have a number of emerging Superstars who could generate signature moments of their own. These Survivor Series battles are a great place to create them.
Big Cass could blast through the tag team showcase, taking out a number of SmackDown's duos. Baron Corbin would benefit from just being selected to SmackDown's five-man squad. Nia Jax could gobble up the blue brand's women, which would be huge for her.
These are the kinds of moves WWE has to consider at Survivor Series.
In addition, the PPV is an opportunity to stir up rivalries or create new alliances. Frustration born from getting eliminated could be the reason Kevin Owens turns on his best friend Chris Jericho. Eva Marie and Alexa Bliss could be united by the desire to take down Raw's women.
WWE will have a surplus of options like these at the PPV.
Milk the Selection Process
Bryan and McMahon framed the elimination matches as featuring Raw's and SmackDown's best male Superstars, female Superstars and tag teams. That distinction shouldn't be taken lightly.
The show's authority figures should force wrestlers to earn their spots.
That will both play up how prestigious it is to be a part of the action and offer high-stakes bouts leading up to Survivor Series. To decide whether Seth Rollins or Rusev should fight for Team Raw, they should battle each other with a spot on the team up for grabs.
The entirety of SmackDown's tag team division can't be represented in the Survivor Series match. The blue brand boasts six duos: The Usos, Heath Slater and Rhyno, The Ascension, The Hype Bros, American Alpha and Breezango.
The champions should automatically earn a Survivor Series berth, but WWE can drum up some excitement about forgotten squads by having them collide for the chance to join Slater and Rhyno. Suddenly, The Ascension and Breezango would have purpose and direction as they meet in a Survivor Series qualifier.
WWE could also find ways for Superstars to fight over the right to be named team captain.
Perhaps Owens and Reigns can meet with that title going to the winner. Maybe they can each lead a team on Raw to show off who is the better leader.
And once the teams are decided, Raw and SmackDown should allow them time to bond.
Recent Survivor Series squads have often felt disjointed. In the early days of the PPV, the teams gathered together and cut promos together.
Bringing that tradition back would be a nice touch.
Imagine Rollins having to do an interview with rivals Jericho and Owens at his side. Picture the tension that would travel through the screen if Becky Lynch, Bliss, Carmella and Nikki Bella all banded together for the sake of the brand.
Fighting for Something Other than Pride
The Survivor Series contests will be at their best with the benefit of high stakes.
The greatest matches in the PPV's history offered huge rewards for the victors. At Survivor Series 2001, Team WWF vs. Team Alliance decided the fate of two companies.
In 2014, livelihoods and control of WWE were on the line during Team Cena vs. Team Authority.
Finding ways to generate drama like those bouts had will make 2016's PPV more memorable, more compelling. One option is for the winning brand to earn the right to steal a Superstar from the rival show. The prize for besting Raw or SmackDown could be for the other brand to draft an extra star from NXT.
The folks at Fightful suggested Survivor Series have WrestleMania implications:
Creativity here will go a long way toward elevating these matches into more than novelties. Brand loyalty won't be enough. Raw and SmackDown have only been separate entities since the end of July.
The more WWE can add to what the winners take home, the better.
At Survivor Series, there is great drama to create and stars to be catapulted. WWE simply has to look back at the PPV's peak moments and look to reprise them.