Remember a few years back when WWE began introducing themed Pay-Per-View’s? Where the entire main event scene was dominated by the stipulations dictated in the title of the PPV. Well that is no longer a new concept, that is now the reality of the WWE PPV calendar and WWE is still searching for concepts to fill out the last few events that are not firmly placed within a stipulation. This is not a new concept, the Royal Rumble, one of the big four PPV’s, is a themed event really, the main event is the name of the show. But in 2009 WWE really drove at this idea, in an attempt to boost PPV buys, especially their B shows. However this also has the effect of making the schedule of the WWE seem more and more predictable, and seems more like short sighted thinking than anything else.
Perhaps WWE knows the days of the PPV’s are almost over and so they’re using these themed events to get the last little bit out of the PPV industry before it goes belly up. But if that is not the thinking of WWE, it shows a lack of faith, perhaps qualified, in the current roster, as they need guaranteed gimmick matches to sell the event. Maybe this is a natural progression and it was only a matter of time before WWE started doing this, but it seems that they use these gimmicks as a crutch to make up for the fact that the stories being told are not as entertaining as they once were. I hesitate to say that the wrestling has declined because I truly love the current roster, some of the finest of all time. But it seems the stories written for the performers and the amount of physicality in MOST matches has dwindled, so the company is using these gimmick matches to cover up the fact that the physicality and story telling has been watered down in the last few years, coincidentally matching up with the move into the PG Era.
I also find the set calendar, with Hell in a Cell in October and TLC in December, to be not only limiting to the roster and storytelling, but diminishing to the stipulations themselves.This calendar forces the writing team to have a valid reason to use the Hell in a Cell, or a TLC match, but generally has been used as just the next event on the calendar. I remeber watching wrestling as a child, and when someone said those 4 words, “Hell…in a Cell” I would feel chills, because I knew the next PPV was going to be a good one. My kids will never get that feeling. I remeber watching WWE leading up to Hell in a Cell 2009 and Trish Stratus announced Randy Orton would face John Cena in the Cell, but it was announced as just the next point on her agenda as the host that night, making not just that particular story seem pointless, but the cage as well.
WWE is still trying to fill out their calendar just right, we have a new one this year called “Payback;” I believe this event will involve rematches of some sort, but I’m not really sure what the rules to this event will be. The last few years we had “Over the Limit” which did not have any specific stipulations attached to it and I predict will fall to the wayside if Payback is a hit. “No Way Out” made a return this year, and to the surprise of many the main event scene was not entirely steel cage matches on this show. That would be why this year that particular show has faded back into the abyss and I would imagine will only ever make a return when the decision is made that the cage will be used for at least the main event match.
I understand why these shows were designed this way, in today’s society people have a very short attention span so to get them emotionally invested in the product is extremely hard. By placing the name of some type of match in the title of the show I’m sure it does hook more viewers in, who don’t have to pay attention to the storyline to know what they are going to see by buying the PPV. My problems with this way of doing things are that by doing it this way it removes a lot of surprise from the show. Instead of waiting to hear what type of stipulations are going to be added to an intense feud, you can see what gimmicks will be on the PPV a year in advance, or at least get shown what the next PPV will be in advertisements before the main event is announced. This makes things more predictable, which brings me to my biggest problem. Theoretically these events were built this way because the product had become too predictable, but there was a time when people would clamour to buy WWE PPV’s entitled “No Mercy” and “Judgment Day.” The only thing needed to sell these shows was incredible athleticism and enthralling stories, so what happened? Just my thoughts.