When WWE announced earlier in the week that WWE champion CM Punk would take on World Heavyweight champion Sheamus on the first episode of WWE Main Event on Wednesday, there was a mixed reaction.
However, I have no doubt that going all in was a smart move on WWE's part.
With ION Television now heavily invested in the WWE product, the company needs to give ION something it can grasp onto. There is no better way to generate interest for the show than to pit the top two champions in the company against each other in what many consider a pay-per-view-quality match.
Therein lies the problem for some, however. Many WWE fans complain that the company gives away matches on RAW and SmackDown that should be reserved for pay-per-views. Now the WWE is doing the same thing with what is perceived as a C-level show.
If these types of matches are regularly featured on Main Event, though, then perhaps it will be viewed as something much more than a throwaway show. I'm not saying that the world champions need to be on Main Event each and every week, but putting them on the inaugural show is a great way of telling fans that the show is actually going to matter.
One show that Main Event is already being compared to is Superstars. The comparison seems fair, since Superstars debuted on a lesser-known channel in the form of WGN a few years back, but the hype died out pretty quickly and Superstars can now be seen only on WWE.com.
The main event of the first show was The Undertaker vs. Matt Hardy, but upper-tier guys were used quite sparingly afterwards and that probably contributed to WGN not renewing its deal.
WWE has to realize that it could have a very fruitful relationship with ION, so swinging for the fences on the very first episode is the right way to go.
There is no question that the WWE could do the exact same thing it did with Superstars and resort to using low-card talent almost exclusively in the future, but I doubt that's going to happen. Putting The Undertaker on the show is one thing, but featuring two of the top guys in the company against each other tells me that Main Event will be a different animal.
Had WWE announced that Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes was going to headline the first episode of Main Event, then that may have interested some fans, but Punk vs. Sheamus is something that almost every fan wants to see. That is a match that likely has fans scrambling to see if they have ION Television or trying to find an alternative way to watch if they don't.
If Main Event doesn't generate interest from day one, then it isn't going to succeed. This match was put in place to hook the viewers immediately and hope that they remain in the fold. I was going to watch regardless, but if I had no interest in viewing, then there is no doubt that Punk and Sheamus would have drawn me in.
Since Main Event doesn't necessarily have to be married to the WWE storylines, there is the possibility that we'll see some really interesting matches featuring top guys, and Punk vs. Sheamus is the start of that.
Punk and Sheamus aren't going to be feuding any time soon, so I take no issue with the WWE giving this match away on Main Event. The real key for the WWE, though, is ensuring that its viewership for Main Event remains strong after the opening week.