How WWE can generate more interest in their Pay Per Views and get more miles out of their feuds.
Last week we established a ranking or tier system to restore a level of competition and realism to wrestling. This week, we’ll be looking at how to implement that system into a new (or rather old) system of Pay-Per-Views and Supershows in order to build drama, lengthen storylines, and therefore pique interest in a feud over the long term.
Look at any good feud in wrestling and they all have one thing in common. Time. Ric Flair battled the likes of Ricky Steamboat, Harley Race, and Hulk Hogan for years. Hogan himself had a slow boiling but eventually uncontainable feud with Andre the Giant that went for something like 28 months. Even a relatively short feud, Bret Hart and Steve Austin had the hottest storyline going into Wrestlemania 13, and that had been started before the Survivor Series the year before.
If we look at the main event of this Sunday’s upcoming Summerfest, although John Cena and Randy Orton have a history, how long has their current feud been going? It looks to me like it’s been about three weeks. What makes the situation even worse in my eyes is that Cena and Orton are both a great promo. Both of them talk with the realism and intensity that puts them up there with the great stick men of all time like Flair, the Rock, Austin, and more. The problem is that this intensity building off of just a few weeks of real program exposes it as not genuine and blatantly fake.
The proposal that I’m going to make is simply a return to the way things were. I don’t believe that every title and every champion have to appear on every monthly Pay Per View.
If you’ll recall, the NWA and WCW had regular events called “Clash of the Champions” which would feature a few championship matches, but would mostly be high profile matches on the card that wouldn’t normally be seen on regular television. The WWF had “Saturday Night’s Main Event” which would feature similar programming. Eventually the WWF started lower level Pay Per Views that were only two hours long and were sold for a much cheaper price of $19.99 as opposed to the standard $29.99 of the day.
Slowly but surely as the Monday Night Wars heated up, in order to get the leg up on the competition, both WCW and the WWF eventually went to monthly Pay Per View events. The only problem with this was that both companies had much bigger rosters and because of the higher television ratings could command more ad revenue.
The entire ECW roster these days is smaller than the NWO in late 1998.
For a while, WWE got around this problem by having brand-specific Pay per Views which helped more members of their roster get face time with a Main Event audience, but have since reverted back to cookie cutter monthly events.
With a ranking system, matches toward the top of the ladder could be held at the lower level Pay Per Views such as No Way Out and Armageddon. This could also be the place where the ECW Title, Mid Card titles and the tag titles could be defended as a main event. Or the World Champions could be featured in tag team matches or similar matches that wouldn’t put their titles on the line. Occasionally World Titles would be defended, but not with the same frequency that they are now.
While feuds like Jeff Hardy and CM Punk have indeed survived for a few months, there don’t need to be nearly as many Championship matches in the fold. CM Punk could have cashed in his rematch for Summerslam citing the bigger payday being one of the “Big Four” events of the year for WWE. Every Pay Per View match Hardy has along the way, Punk could have a hand in it. Perhaps he gets booked as the guest referee, perhaps he pays off Hardy’s opponent to soften him up for Summerslam, and perhaps he barters future title shots with other hit men. All the hype will sell that many more Pay Per Views because this will finally be Hardy’s chance to stand up to all of Punk’s tactics. I realize that Hardy is leaving the WWE shortly, but were he not, this is a feud that could have at least another year left in it.
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