Every month wrestling fans shell out several dollars to purchase pay per views. Some buy TNA, some buy WWE, some buy both. Before I had a family I would purchase pay per views on what I felt was a pretty regular basis. Still, I was only buying maybe half a dozen or so a year. You can always take turns hosting and fronting the cash with friends but when you get down to it, some shows are just not worth it when you have bills to pay.
In an effort to really make all pay per views special, WWE has recently gone to gimmick shows for much of their pay per view calendar. Next year’s lineup is as gimmicked as ever with Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, Extreme Rules, Night of Champions, Hell in a Cell, Bragging Rights, Survivor Series, and TLC. That’s eight gimmick shows.
Royal Rumble is a staple of WWE and integral to Wrestlemania. Elimination Chamber is not a bad concept. In 2008 it made sense as it determined the number one contenders for Wrestlemania. Last year it served to strengthen the victors by giving them a huge win that built them up as title defenders at Wrestlemania. Extreme Rules is a fun show. One Night Stand couldn?t last forever, so changing it to a WWE version of Uncensored circa WCW made sense. It’s a time of year when you can just take all the rivalries going on in the company and use a variety of specialty matches to settle the scores. Night of Champions showcases the championships as they should be. Not all championships make it onto each pay per view, but this show ensures it.
October is where we run into the problem. Hell in a Cell had been something of myth. It was a horror story fathers would tell to their sons. Now with the production of an annual show that showcases as many as three Cell matches, it becomes a friendly smile that see on a normal basis. No longer does a rivalry have to be so intense that only the Cell can solve it, it just needs to happen around October so it will be featured on the Hell in a Cell pay per view. What happens if they decide to run a HITC match on another show? If there is one thing that Hell in a Cell cannot be, it is forced. Once it is forced, it ceases to retain its ominous status.
Bragging Rights is an interesting idea. Raw and SmackDown can battle it out in a huge tag team match with the winning team being able to say they are the best. The problem with the show is that it happens one month before Survivor Series, a WWE tradition that would serve as the perfect show to host brand v. brand matches. Also, doesn?t it seem strange that these teams would battle it out for brand supremacy only to team together at Survivor Series by having Raw, SmackDown, and ECW guys wrestle against Raw, SmackDown, and ECW guys?
Some of the greatest spot fests over the last decade in WWE have been TLC matches. In December they will host a pay per view with TLC as the show’s title. How many TLC matches they will do is up is unknown to the masses at this point, but we could see an exciting main event this year. One likely match is Shawn Michaels participating in a title match of some kind. It may be a rematch of the Survivor Series main event or a straight up one-on-one with John Cena. Another possibility that would be intriguing would be to have Big Show and Jericho defend the Tag Team Championship in a TLC match against DX and Undertaker & Kane in a triple threat. While the pay per view may be intriguing, Fans just saw a TLC match a couple of months back at SummerSlam. Two months before that, Extreme Rules featured a Ladder match. Perhaps you think it is a little bit overkill but it is still intriguing as a one-time show, but WWE plans to host this show again next year.
Gimmick pay per views are fun, and WWE needed to do something to differentiate their shows from each other. While they may have done so on paper, they are merely using a different cookie cutter on the same baking sheet. By setting up these gimmick shows, they are just swapping out shows lined with regular matches for those stacked with gimmick matches they have chosen. In the process, specialty matches are no longer special, but run of the mill. Eventually they will need to think of something bigger than TLC, bigger than Hell in a Cell, and bigger that the Elimination Chamber to outdo their other stipulations but in the end it will just lose its luster, if not become a regular feature on pay per view.
There has got to be a way WWE can pull this off, but how? If they brought back the Raw Roulette, they may be able to do so on a Monday night show every now and then, but with a show like Extreme Rules it seems kind of pointless. Cyber Sunday was a good idea, but WWE no longer runs that show. Recently the company ran a survey asking them for a name to the May show. One choice was Multimania, which one could only assume would be full of triple threat and fatal four way matches. With so many shows each year featuring triple threat matches, including the upcoming Survivor Series, what difference would such an event make? Another choice was War Games. Old WCW fans must have been salivating at the possible return of that tradition, but it was not meant to be. Instead, WWE has knocked an event off its calendar and moved Extreme Rules up to May.
One fewer pay per view is better, but fans will be paying the same amount of money since WWE has upped its prices starting next year. Fewer pay per views year round would serve to heighten the excitement when it came time for such an event, yet WWE has really painted itself in a corner. They can?t cut down on the number of shows because they lose money, but if they keep it up the product suffers if they fail to keep the shows fresh and different. WWE has it in them to find a way out of this problem. There has to be a way that they can run twelve or thirteen pay per views a year and keep them fresh, without running gimmick pay per views like HITC and TLC which only make the shows feel the same on a whole other level.
You have it in you, WWE, and the faithful buyers await your next move.