Recently, Lance Storm sat down with Fred Richani and the Sports Courier for a wide-ranging interview covering a few topics in wrestling. Within the first 5-7 minutes of the interview, Storm gave his opinion on the WWE and PPV buyrates/making the product more interesting. Storm mentioned that he’s seen the focus in pro wrestling shift from wrestling matches to specific characters/television stories and he attributes the declining buyrates to said trend. He also mentions conflict resolution and how without the lure of that potential resolution, matches present no value to the fans. With wrestling evolving into what it is now, creating genuine fan interest necessitates both good matches and good characters.
If the wrestling is the compelling attraction that draws deep interest, it becomes a commodity that people are willing to pay a premium to gain access to. Beyond that, a satisfactory conflict resolution must be teased with a pay-per-view. After his interview, you get the sense that he believes those two factors would make a pay-per-view meaningful, valuable, and worth buying–which is why he predicted disappointment from fans after Survivor Series. It’s clear that Lance Storm is one of the more levelheaded former wrestlers who understands how to improve the product, so how does Survivor Series shape up given Lance’s opinions?
Let’s look at the Survivor Series matches to see if any of them offer: 1. the appeal of satisfactory conflict resolution 2. the draw of a solid wrestling match 3. all of the above or 4. none of the above
While the Miz has become a better in-ring worker, the fourth option aligns really well with this match. The match was composed at the last minute and has no redeeming value that would make fans interested.
This match offers the third option, as the story of Big E defending his newly won, hard-earned title will resonate and make people interested. Axel’s always been great in the ring and Big E is a good wrestler, so the wrestling of this match will be reliably solid. This match and the way Big E defends his title can go a long way towards giving the IC title the luster that it’s lost.
This match lacks everything that Lance discussed when he was talking about how to engage fans and make them want to watch the product. As such, it won’t really draw anyone in…unless you’re a Total Divas fan and few of those fans probably order full $50+ PPVs.
This may be a filler or a way to keep Ryback in the minds of the collective WWE Universe, but Ryback is issuing a challenge. This will likely set the stage for someone’s return, or a nice surprise so this actually falls into the 1st bucket when you realize that this will likely be someone who wants to put Ryback in his place for all of the bullying that he’s done to various WWE wrestlers. It’ll be interesting to see who answers the call of the Ryback. I can only think of one guy, unless they bring up a NXT rookie.
This match falls into the 2nd bucket; we have the capacity for truly great wrestling with this match although there is minimal story. The Rhodes are tag champs so everyone’s after them, but that’s not a conflict being explored here as the titles are not up for grabs. Still, this should be a match for the wrestling purists to enjoy along with…
This fits into the third bucket, and is a match that would make Lance proud with the solid build and the potential for good wrestling. There are a host of interesting subplots at play here: the righteous indignation of Punk/Bryan, Bray Wyatt’s enigmatic personality/words and how he’ll be involved in the match, and the supposed devil who spurred him to attack both men. Luke Harper is a known and trusted entity, and Daniel Bryan can have a good match with anyone, so Rowan’s greenness can be hidden.
These fit into the last bucket, because as Lance said, there’s not a belief that there will be an imminent resolution in either of these matches. As he mentioned these matches are transparent, largely because we know that the WWE is looking to set up the next PPV, TLC, and because the WWE’s two golden boys have the two main event titles.
Lance Storm was spot on with his assessment of the WWE product and what needs to be fixed. Unfortunately, few of those issues are addressed with the lineup of matches at Survivor Series. Seeing that maybe 2 matches would meet the criteria Lance presented for good wrestling, it’s easy to see why he expects fans to be disappointed. Lance’s prescient, practical thinking make me wonder why he hasn’t been hired as an agent to help WWE turn the corner.