What’s in a name? When it comes to wrestling pay per views, apparently everything. Last week’s announcement that WWE was retiring the Survivor Series pay per view frustrated longtime wrestling fans and downright angered many. This weeks? announcement that WWE is changing even more pay per view names as well as the order of some of the shows has caused further uproar. The spring to early summer ppv schedule is now as follows:
April: Extreme Rules
May: Wild Card
June: Fatal Four Way
July: Money in the Bank
Wrestleview’s own VIP members had such responses as?
“Fatal Four Way sounds like such an exciting and unpredictable show. *YAWN*”
“The implication that the entire PPV will feature matches of this type will cause a serious letdown when, as the weeks go by, we realize that only the main event will be so.”
“So, we keep the Extreme Rule PPV gimmick, but now we also get a Wild Card show, a PPV centering Fatal Four Way main events, and now Money in the Bank gets its own event instead of being on Mania. Agreed, DUMB DUMBASS!”
“Nice! I’m looking forward these PPVs”
“In the words of Hunter Golden: Dumb dumbass.”
“What Moron in Titan towers decided to do this? Do the people who work for WWE even watch wrestling? The new PPV Names are very bland.”
“…..no….no….wrong wrong….bad bad moves…”
With only one positive response from this group (unless it was sarcastic) as well as reactions elsewhere among wrestling fans, there is a grim outlook for WWE’s theme pay per view schedule. These criticisms are absolutely fair and the concerns are genuine. But fear not wrestling fans; this could actually be a good thing, even if it is only for the short term.
Many traditionalists are upset with WWE retiring the Survivor Series pay per view. After two decades the event has outlived its usefulness. With the inception of Bragging Rights, which is a great concept, there is little purpose in holding SS every year. The last few years of Survivor Series has not performed well. This is not entirely the fault of WWE. The business has evolved and unfortunately Survivor Series has been passed by. In a strange way, by putting Survivor Series out to pasture, WWE has let the show retire with a kind of grace as opposed to running it into the ground past the point of it being a sad attempt at a pay per view. Fans complain when a wrestler competes past his prime and become nothing but a sad shadow of their former selves. At least with pay per views, they can be put down before that happens. Bragging Rights is natural and suitable replacement for the show…for now.
For over ten years WWE has followed up Wrestlemania with a show called Backlash that has been nothing more than a card of Wrestlemania rematches. This is not to say that the pay per view has not been good. In fact, last year’s was one of the best shows of 2009, but by having a card designated for Wrestlemania rematches the actual emphasis on Wrestlemania is diminished. While WM is always the biggest show of the year, the matches will be rebooked for Backlash, this making the outcome of WM not the end, but the beginning. Look back at 2008 and 2009, the pay per views following Wrestlemania were full of rematches that gave no reason to watch until Extreme Rules came along in June. By holding the event after Wrestlemania, if WWE holds WM rematches they will at least be booking them on a show that takes the storylines to the next level. That is just one different way of looking at it.
Perhaps the interesting pay per view additions/changes is Money in the Bank. First off, the Money in the Bank match should appear on Tables, Ladders & Chairs if WWE is continue the match, but then the show would have to be moved to another month so as not to be so close to Royal Rumble like Bragging Rights and Survivor Series were. That being said, Money in the Bank being moved off of Wrestlemania is a good thing. When the Money in the Bank ladder match debuted in 2005 it made sense. All six competitors in the match had a history with each other and the stars in the match did well in ladder matches before and after. After the initial event, MITB lost its significance by the next time the event rolled around. Stars competed in qualifying matches from both brands to compete in the match. As a result stars who did not belong in ladder matches found themselves in a match that became a clich? as the annual Wrestlemania spot fest. What sense does it make to stick a bunch of random guys into one match just for the sake of putting them on the Wrestlemania card? No offense, but what was a guy like Mark Henry doing in last year’s MITB? By focusing a pay per view on the show WWE can build a story around the match instead of sticking random competitors in the match.
Reportedly some stars are upset about MITB being taken off the show as it gives more wrestlers the chance to compete on the biggest show of the year and providing them with a substantial payday. That is a fair concern, but there are other ways to book more competitors on the Wrestlemania card than a MITB match. Past Wrestlemanias have held battle royals or four corners tag team matches. Surely there is a better way WWE can put deserving wrestlers on the card.
May’s pay per view has been renamed from Judgment Day to Wild Card. What exactly the show will entail is unclear. The following Month’s pay per view will be Fatal Four Way. The show will be exactly what it sounds like. This brings us to something that eats at the storytelling of wrestling. When two combatants have engaged in a war with one another over several weeks, months and matches, they begin to escalate their matches to new heights with stipulations that are supposed to settle the score. If WWE enforces these theme pay per views, the natural progression of wrestling feuds is interrupted and gimmick matches meant to solve a bitter feud or controversial quarrel become a forced novelty because that is the name of the next pay per view. While it is great to have a show like Extreme Rules, having wrestlers engage in forced stipulation matches strips away the mystique of those stipulation matches.
WWE has tried theme pay per views and some have worked well. Night of Champions is a brilliant idea. Bragging Rights is a great idea. These are two shows that can be themed pay per views without forcing a feud to escalate or putting major stipulations into matches whose story has not yet escalated that far. The Hell in a Cell pay per view is a great example of that. However, according to numbers it worked.
So, what is in a name? The true answer is what all of us together make of it. WWE may make the names, but us as fans will play a part in deciding what stays and what goes. Shows like King of the Ring, Cyber Sunday, The Bash, and Survivor Series are proof of that. Perhaps the escalation of a wrestling feud to a bigger stipulation match to settle the score is becoming something of the past. Maybe this is just the way things will go from now on. Is it good? No. Is it bad? Too early to tell. In the meantime, let’s take a chance on something new.