Poor Quality Pay-Per-Views
March 21, 2005 by Jack Malone
What is a pay-per-view exactly" Ok, literally speaking, it's a show you must pay to view. That's obvious. But why" I mean, we don't pay to watch RAW. We don't pay to watch SmackDown!. So why must we pay to watch shows such as Backlash, Unforgiven and No Way Out" Well, the answer should be obvious.
Because these are supershows; shows above the rest. These are shows with the types of matches you won't see on free TV. Shows which will decide everything once and for all. Shows where titles will change hands, rivalries will be settled and history itself will unfold.
Yet, when you look at WWE's recent efforts at these so called "supershows", its amazing how on earth they can be considered even close to being worth our hard-earned money. In this column, I'll examine some of the main problems with WWE's pay per views today:
Now first of all, despite the poor quality of the shows themselves, this is one factor which plays a huge part in WWE's recent low buy-rates. In the last twelve months, WWE added three extra PPVs; Great American Bash, Taboo Tuesday and New Year's Revolution. Now, considering that these weren't very good shows anyway, what exactly was the point" It wasn't as if we needed more PPVs, twelve was quite sufficient. Adding three more turned the whole business into a classic case of overkill. It was asking simply too much for WWE fans to shell out the price of a PPV this often. Once a month is acceptable, but it feels like far too much the way it is now. Bad Blood finished, but just three weeks later, WWE were asking us to fork out once again. Now even if the PPV had been worth the money, how would WWE expect to pull off a huge buy-rate in that short period of time" Basically, WWE needs to cut out these extra shows, at least until they can start making better use of the twelve they already have.
WWE knows fairly well how to sell its main events. They're given decent air time and built over a long period of time to garner a lot of interest leading up to the event. But can this be said for the rest of the card" Well, quite frankly, no. It seems as if WWE focuses entirely on its main event, giving very little attention to anything else. This may not be true for some of the big four PPVs, but as for the rest, it is almost a regular certainty. Intercontinental and United States title matches are generally announced one or two weeks prior to the event, without allowing any promo time whatsoever. However, at least they are given SOME build-up; whereas tag team, women's and cruiserweight title matches often just appear on the final card a day or two before the event, without being even touched on in the preceding weeks. With matches like this on the card, why should the fans even care" But WWE went one further last year...twice. They took the ultimate step into the wrong direction. At Great American Bash, they took the time to announce a match DURING the event. Now, isn't the point of a Pay-Per-View to, well, be paid for" Who is going to pay to see a match they didn't even know about" Things got even worse at Taboo Tuesday, when Tyson Tomko vs Stevie Richards just occurred, without even being announced. Why waste good PPV air time with things which weren't even billed"
Too many bad matches:
WWE is big on fillers. You see, despite their huge roster of talent, they struggle to fill up an eight match pay per view. So often, we are left with awful matches just to fill up the time. Last year, Coach wrestled in two straight PPVs, while Rhyno was left off both cards. Now if that isn't injustice, what is" Let's be realistic, just how many buys is Coach going to achieve" He can't wrestle, his character is flat and he's a damn announcer!
Yet sometimes, WWE sees a solution to this problem. Instead of replacing these types of matches with good ones, they think they should leave us with a six to seven match card and fill it up with a draggy bimbo contest. Like anyone cares. WWE seriously need to start using better talent; on that note:
Good talent left off the card:
This is more of a wasted solution than a major problem. I'll show you my point here with an example: at No Way Out - talent such as Billy Kidman, Charlie Haas, Rene Durpree etc. were all left off the card, while around forty minutes of the show was wasted with a talentless diva competition. Just think, how much better these PPVs could potentially be if WWE stopped trying to fill them and started to utilise all of their talent. But in some cases, in order to cram all of the big names onto a crowded card, WWE has to shove them all into one match. Just look at Mania: six extremely talented fringe main eventers, who WWE clearly has no plans for, have all been crammed into one ladder match. Now, it should be good, but again it's a waste of talent. These guys all have the ability to put on classic singles matches, but their talent is being squandered in a spot match.
PPV quality matches/moments wasted on free TV:
WWE has a bad habit at present. What they are often doing is initiating a feud, but rather than waiting for the PPV to use it as a top draw match, they are simply wasting it the next week on free TV or even on the same show. See Benoit/Edge, Gurrearo/Booker, Cena/Carlito etc. Rather than drawing out the feud, WWE uses it for a few extra ratings the following week. The same can be said for certain high-profile matches, such as cage matches, TLC matches and quite noticeably, iron man matches. Lesnar/Angle and Benoit/HHH were both classics, but somehow neither will ever be truly remembered the way they should, because they didn't take place at major events. On top of this, certain historical moments have occurred more on free TV recently than at any PPVs. Just look at the unmasking of Kane. Just how big a draw could this have been" But sadly it never was, it was wasted on a regular edition of RAW. All of these things together, could help to make PPVs what they once were.
Let's be honest here, they are. For the past four years, WWE has made it painfully obvious who will win the Royal Rumble. They make it quite clear from the build up, when the world title is going to change hands and it is often easy to see what is going to be a squash match. So why pay to see a PPV when you already know the outcome" You see, it doesn't matter how many times you re-watch your favourite match, it will never be quite as special as it was the first time. Why" Because half the excitement is not knowing who is going to win. WWE needs to either start building all contenders as legitimate threats or simply leave these matches off the card, otherwise people will start to lose interest altogether.
Lack of originality:
What is it that makes WrestleMania so much better than the rest of the PPVs"
Is it that there are more matches" Better matches" Matches to settle a huge score" Well, yes, all of these to an extent. But one other huge factor in WrestleMania's success is that the majority of matches are original - we have never seen them before! HHH/Batista and Cena/JBL won't exactly be classics, but in truth, we've never seen them before so we care. Yet at some of the lesser PPVs, WWE has been booking matches we have seen time and time again, and frankly we are sick of seeing them. Lita/Trish - again.
HHH/Jericho - again. Angle/Benoit - again. Jericho/Christian - again.
HHH/HBK - again. In all fairness, these can be great matches, but there is a limit to how many times people will pay to see the same match.
Often nothing memorable:
Now sometimes, this needn't be said at all. Generally, the big four provide a memorable show and often so do exclusive brand shows (Backlash 04 - Orton/Foley, No Way Out 05 - barbed wire cage). But sometimes, you watch a show and are left thinking "is that it"" Sometimes, there are no title changes, no major returns and no memorable spots/turns to give the show any true worth. For example, take a look at Vengeance 04, Judgement Day 04 etc. Nothing to even remember from the event. Or look at Armageddon, where WWE saw fit to change the tag champs three days before the PPV, only to retain in a rematch at the PPV. What was the point" Yet what's even worse is that it doesn't seem to matter what happens at a PPV, it will all be forgotten within a matter of months. For example, WWE's recent claim that Triple H never beat Benoit, when we saw it happen with our own eyes at No Mercy 2000. Or when we pay to see a show, but the most memorable thing that happens is repeated on the following edition of RAW/SmackDown!. Again, this feels like a waste of money. WWE needs to make every PPV feel special, for whatever reason that may be.
In conclusion, WWE needs to stop seeing PPVs as just another way of making profit. They need to start thinking long term. They need to stop filling up a three hour slot, just as an excuse to make it seem "worth the money" and they need to start truly giving the fans what they want to see. When you examine cards like GAB, TT and NYR, you've got to wonder what makes them so different from the average RAW or SmackDown!. If things don't start to improve, people will slowly stop buying. Then WWE will have no choice but to cut down on PPVs and start making more effort with each and every card.
by Jack Malone --- [View Jack Malone's Column Index]..
Phil T wrote:
Awesome column Jack, it was like I was reading my own thoughts with a different name used as the author. I was thinking of writing an article on this subject a few months down the line and I couldn't have done a better job. How can the WWE have gotten so far off track" You pointed out the absolute basics on how to deliver a quality PPV and to me they seemed pretty simple. WWF put PPV on the map. WWE has flushed PPV down the toilet. I don't know what's worse, the fact that the majority of the WWE PPVs have been declining in the last two years or that WWE continues to operate like one day we the fans will come around and buy a PPV were if we are lucky two matches on the card have been built up with some miniscule amount of meaning behind them and the rest of the card is announced the last televised show before the PPV. My favorite point you made was the fact that for the last several months good old JR and The King have been stating that HHH has never defeated Benoit. This to me proves that everyone in the WWE has, is or will lose their minds. These two called the match at No Mercy in 2000 were HHH scored the pin on Benoit. Does Alzheimer's occur earlier in life when you work for the WWE" I can not wait to read your next column Jack. This is a 10 all the way. I agree with you so much on this issue and you put the column together perfectly. I recommend you send a few copies to WWE headquarters in CT. and hopefully someone will realize that the new scheme at the WWE has, is and will never work as well as the old scheme utilized by that once great wrestling promotion of the past, the WWF. Great job Jack!!
Larry Christison, wrote:
I agree with your analysis of the situation. 12 pay-per-views is enough. How
can we take some of your ideas and make something out of them" How about
dropping the worst pay-per-view and add instead what I call "BRAGGING
RIGHTS". Bragging Rights is Raw vs Smackdown. WWE champ vs Heavyweight
champ, Tag champs vs tag champs, Women's champ vs a Smackdown challenger,
Cruiserweight champ vs a Raw challenger, and an Intercontinental
championship match where he faces a Smackdowna and a Raw challenger in a
3-way Hell-in-the-cell with a ladder on top and the belt hanging from the
ceiling. Then start it off with a solid second carder facing an outsider for
a contract. But the true meat of the pay-per-view is 5 blind entry matches
utilizing non-champion top wrestlers representing their shows for 'bragging
rights' for their show over the other. The possabilities are mouthwatering.
Who will each show choose" The surprise on their faces recorded as they
discover who they are facing (perhaps even someone they rarely if ever have
faced). Shawn Michaels walking into Undertaker or Bigshow, Eddie vs Jericho,
Mysterio up against Benoit. Oh the fun we could have.
Bragging Rights offers a few bonuses... 1) It would offer matches that
wouldn't be seen on the TV shows, 2) It would promote esprit-de-corp within
the brands, or lead to treachery and sabotaging matches for later TV
exploitation, 3) It offers a chance to move players from one brand to
another through shady deals, 4) Belts could actually be in danger of
consolidating, or going from one show to another (until won back in a
different pay-per-view), 5) it offers a place for chaos to take hold, 5)
This would be a break of an extra month for the shows to build-up for their
next pay-per-view confrontations, 6) It also offers a place where non-title
match-ups are very important, and title matches even more so, 7) for
scriptwriters, it opens doors never seen before for creativity, and finally
8) what happens at this show in the way of belts, bragging rights,
cross-show rivalries to build up for future confrontations and a new
contract effects what can happen to the shows for months.
Tim Bullock wrote:
As a kid growing up in the 80s, I remember when WWE had 4 PPVs a year: Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series. With 4 PPVs in a year, the buildup was better, and the quality of the matches was better as well. The feud with WCW led to the monthly infiltration of PPVs and with so many, the quality of matches began to water down. WCW is gone now, merged in with WWE. There is no need for monthly PPVs to compete anymore. Go back to building a storyline up to the PPV 3 or 4 months down the road. Strengthen the product that way. It would make entertainment that much entertaining.
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