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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Recipe for a Great WWE PPV
April 16, 2007 by Shaun Webb


Editor's Note: The author of this column can be contacted via the OWW Forums, where this submission was first posted. Feedback can be posted automatically by clicking here - but remember you must sign up for the forums to post feedback on a column. Thanks you!


As of the last few months, our formerly tri-band WWE has converted back into one roster that will appear on all of the WWE PPVs and, to a certain extent, shows as well. Given that there are now three world champions in the company, as well as six more championships, is there room for all of them on one card?

Well, the answer is no. And based on the theory that the WWE believe that stacking up a card with its top superstars will maximize buy-rates, then we can expect to see only the upper card featuring in PPV matches.

While the card will look impressive on paper, given the high expectations that fans will have for these high-profile matches, the majority of events will end up as disappointments. PPVs have to be well paced to flow together, and for that to happen there has to be a variety of match importance, and a clearly outlined main event. Defending world titles outside the main event will devalue them, and similarly, having mid-card championships not featuring on the events at all will only further devalue them also.

PPVs are the landmarks of a wrestling promotion, and fans will forever identify different era's through their memories of big events. That's why it is a big deal if the quality of these events goes downhill. Not only that, should the quality of these events drop further, and cause people to not enjoy them anymore, then the buy-rate will drop - no matter how many stars will be featuring.

In my opinion, every PPV should follow a general formula for a guaranteed success. Wrestlemania is an exception, mainly due to the four hour duration, but here is my recipe for WWE to consistently improve the quality of their smaller PPVs.

THE RECIPE FOR A GREAT WWE PPV

Ingredients:

1 Fast Paced Opener
1 Technical Match
1 Extended Squash
1 Hardcore/Stunt Match
1 Feel Good Moment
1 Story Bout
1 Fun/Comedy Match
1 Main Event

Instructions:

For best results, build-up each match at least two weeks in advance and stream globally for 3 hours.

Details:

Fast Paced Opener
It always important to get the crowd involved early, and by getting off to a high-action start the viewers should now be gripped to the action. You can look anywhere in the world and you would find it difficult to find anybody to perform this match better than Paul London & Brian Kendrick. They did this for the SmackDown PPVs throughout 2006, and it gave all the shows a strong platform to build from. It's also no surprise that Jeff Hardy has opened a number of WWE PPVs since his return last summer.

PERFECT FIT: MNM vs London & Kendrick - Judgment Day 2005

Technical Match
After the not overlong high-tempo opener has finished, the viewers will be gripped to the screen, and this is the best point to display a strong quality technical encounter that will be appreciated more as it will garner the viewer's full attention. No guesses for who is the best performer in these types of matches, obviously its Chris Benoit, and Finlay too actually. The modern wrestling viewers are a bit overly spoiled with glitz and glamour stunt matches - so much that it has taken away from the art of 'old-school' technical wrestling. You don't have to go too far back at all for an example as this, as most people would agree that MVP put in a great performance against Chris Benoit at Wrestlemania, and really showed how much more he has in his locker.

PERFECT FIT: Chris Benoit vs M.V.P. - Wrestlemania 23

Extended Squash
Now the wording on this match is a little misleading, but in more words it is supposed to mean a match where an under-card wrestler is used to put over an up and comer/momentum needing wrestler. This is really a match for the good of business, and gives the wrestler a chance to show his quality. Also, although it has lost meaning in recent years, a PPV victory should be worth a lot to any wrestler, no matter who it is against. Now I chose the phrase 'Extended Squash' because this is a match that 90% of the world will know the eventual outcome of, and will be an unwind of sorts for the viewer after the fast-paced opening. As I stated, this is mainly used for new comers against an under card veteran, likes of Hardcore Holly, Snitsky, Val Venis, William Regal, etc, etc.

PERFECT FIT: Bobby Lashley vs Simon Dean - No Mercy 2005

Hardcore/Stunt Match
At most PPVs, there is a special gimmick match that is generally responsible for a portion of the buy-rate. Although on occasions there can be more than one of these, the other is generally the main event. These matches often deliver the goods, and that has to be the case given their importance to the show. Ideally, along with the main event, this match has to give the viewers a lasting memory of the event. Whether it's Jeff Hardy diving from a ladder, Foley going through a burning table, or Stone Cold bleeding heavily while locked in the sharpshooter, there has to be a visual that people can trace back to the event. Memories like those also make people perceive the actual matches and events as better than they actually were.

PERFECT FIT: Edge vs Matt Hardy - Steel Cage - Unforgiven 2005

Feel Good Moment
Although this isn't a necessity as such, it's a great way to lift the fans after the war they just witnessed moments earlier. Quite often this could be a legend scoring a victory, or a cocky heel gets his comeuppance. This can either be a match or a promo spot, the only thing that matters is that it's a great crowd pleaser.

PERFECT FIT: Roddy Piper & Ric Flair vs the Spirit Squad - Cyber Sunday 2006

Story Bout
The story bout will be an upper-card match, where both competitors have a lot of pride or emotion in the match. The high-profile nature will get the crowd's interest, and its in these type of bouts that the WWE veterans shine. These are also of strong use for people that are expected to be bursting onto the main event scene, to get big PPV match experience in a less pressured situation. When that happens, people are elevated regardless of the result. This is the position mainly occupied by Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker during recent years, and they have delivered some high-quality matches, but importantly have not over-shadowed the two memorable matches.

PERFECT FIT: Mr Kennedy vs Undertaker - First Blood - Survivor Series 2006

Fun/Comedy Match
This can range from absolutely anything really, as long as they keep it short enough. The most pleasing on the eye option would be a bra and panties match. Although Sandman nailing Eugene was funny enough! Again the only thing that matters he is that it is a crowd pleaser.

PERFECT FIT: Diva Battle Royal - Taboo Tuesday 2005

Main Event
A PPV should have one main event and one only - and this should always be a world title match unless there are extreme circumstances. Like the Hardcore/Stunt match in the middle of the card, this has to be memorable. People will identify PPVs by their main events, and if the main event is forgettable, then generally the PPV is forgettable too. The booking in the build up to a main event has to create the 'big match' feeling, and to their credit the WWE put together great video packages that get people into the feeling of a match. There has been some great PPV main events in recent years, but I feel this is one of the areas they are behind the attitude era in terms of consistency. People are probably sick of seeing John Cena in the main event, but when you compare the RAW main events to SmackDown, not only is the match quality stronger, but the hype and intensity is doubled! And as much as his ring-work can be criticized, he plays a huge role in getting himself, his opponent, and match over with the quality and enthusiasm he shows in the build up.

PERFECT FIT: John Cena vs Umaga - Last Man Standing - Royal Rumble 2007

And there we have it, my recipe to create a perfect WWE PPV. A stacked card is not needed to sell an event, but if WWE work at gradually work on improving the quality of each event then the buy rate will increase accordingly.

by Shaun Webb (View/Submit your feedback here)..



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