The likes of WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, SummerSlam and Survivor Series are almost always going to get a solid amount of pay-per-view buys, regardless of the card and overall build, because of name recognition. With Night of Champions set for Sunday, however, it remains to be seen if the WWE can consistently garner interest in B-level shows.
Night of Champions is consistently among the better non-big-four events, along with Money in the Bank and Extreme Rules, because it has a theme that fans can get behind. Even so, I'm not sure that fans are going to be willing to spend $60 on a B-level pay-per-view with one well-built match when they can go to a bar and watch it or find illegal means to do so for free.
Not only does Night of Champions suffer from a lack of name recognition, but there isn't really anything special pulling the fans in. Extreme Rules received an uptick in buys this year, according to PWTorch.com, with Brock Lesnar facing John Cena. However, not every pay-per-view can have a special attraction, so the WWE has to go with what it has.
Unless you have a returning superstar like Lesnar, The Rock, The Undertaker or whoever else, it's difficult to convince non-diehard fans of the WWE to invest in a regular pay-per-view. With that in mind, the goal should be to secure the core fanbase and get more people from that group to purchase the show.
The big fans are going to find a way to watch the pay-per-view somehow. If the card is enticing, they are much more likely to buy it, which is ultimately what the WWE wants and needs. The question is, how can the WWE draw fans in for a nondescript show like Night of Champions?
It all starts with crafting a deep and meaningful card. It's already too late to make that change for Night of Champions this year, but it's an ideal that should be used for upcoming B-level shows like Hell in a Cell and TLC.
How can WWE increase interest in B-level pay-per-views?
True wrestling fans care about the midcard and the tag-team division, but the WWE puts those things on the back burner far too often.
CM Punk vs. John Cena has been marketed really well and ample time has been put into Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio despite the overall awfulness of the feud. Aside from that, it feels like everything else is thrown together.
The tag title match was just determined on Monday, the Intercontinental title match figures to be announced on SmackDown and the United States title match will consist of Antonio Cesaro facing the winner of a pre-show battle royal.
All of those titles should be important and given a proper amount of time on WWE programming, but that rarely feels like the case. A show like Night of Champions in particular should be all about the titles, but the vast majority of them will be contested in thrown-together matches that fans aren't all that excited about.
The Attitude Era wasn't perfect by any means, and I certainly get tired of people clamoring for it to return. However, one thing that was done exceedingly well during that time period was the development of the midcard and its titles. There were constantly entertaining feuds for the Intercontinental and tag titles, and the European and Hardcore titles felt important too.
Building a well-rounded card is important because a multitude of good undercard matches can make up for a main-event-level match falling flat. The WWE puts itself in a corner far too often on B-level pay-per-views, because it only hypes one or two matches. If they don't deliver, the event is going to fail.
That is the case with Night of Champions, and it has been the case with many other shows over the past several years. Punk vs. Cena is going to draw some fans in, but the WWE has truly put all of its eggs in one basket and that isn't a recipe for success.
There is no one thing that is guaranteed to increase the WWE's pay-per-view buys, but good booking can go a very long way. The WWE has become far too lackadaisical when it comes to the midcard and I believe that directly results in underwhelming numbers when it comes to B-level pay-per-view buys.