WWE SummerSlam 2013: Booking Mistakes That Must Be Avoided
WWE SummerSlam 2013 has the potential to be one of the biggest, most important and most entertaining pay-per-views of the year, but it also could turn out to be a total mess.
As much as the quality of the matches depends on the skills of the performers involved, what could make or break this event is the way the overlords in WWE write the show to begin with.
Bad booking plans could put an unnecessary anchor on the event, weighing everything down and preventing it from living up to the expectations of the fans.
What types of errors has WWE made in the past that absolutely cannot take place at SummerSlam?
Let's take a look at some mistakes that hopefully won't happen.
Treating It as a Two-Match Card
There's no question that the selling points for this pay-per-view are the WWE Championship match between John Cena and Daniel Bryan as well as Brock Lesnar's return to face CM Punk.
However, WWE can't make the mistake of thinking that those two matches are good enough and nothing else matters.
As of right now, only one other match has been confirmed: the World Heavyweight Championship title bout featuring Alberto Del Rio and Christian.
You may disagree with me, but I personally feel as though this is an extremely underwhelming match, particularly for what is supposed to be a top title in the company. It feels less like an important feud and more like an afterthought.
One would think WWE planned this card far enough in advance, seeing as how they decided to put The Miz in a hosting spot instead of keeping him around for a possible match, but several big name talents have no strong storyline as of yet.
Will Sheamus, Ryback, Randy Orton and several others be treated like afterthoughts as well, getting a rushed announcement of a match a few days before SummerSlam just to get them on the event?
You can't expect the fans to get excited for a show when it seems like you had no idea what half of it was going to be until crunch time and you slapped together something hastily just to kill time before your two focal points.
The Shield's feud with Mark Henry may not matter as much to WWE in the grand scheme of things, but there are still fans that are excited to see that match and others like it.
WWE should make the audience think that every single one of these matches matters, not just two.
Using SummerSlam as Filler for Future Events
In the same vein as having matches that don't necessarily mean much, WWE also has to avoid making the results of the matches come off as filler.
SummerSlam is supposed to be one of the most important events of the year and at one point was considered just short of WrestleMania.
However, the past few years have diminished in quality to the point where it is in danger of feeling like just another pay-per-view.
One of the most glaring ways to downplay the importance of SummerSlam is to book feuds to stall and continue at a later date.
If there are several matches that end with false or dubious finishes such as a draw or questionable pinfall, it's easy to feel cheated out of your money and time.
Yes, it creates buzz for the next match, but pay-per-views should not be built around the concept of prolonging a storyline for the next pay-per-view.
At some point, there needs to be an end, and SummerSlam should be treated as big enough to use as a finale.
An example of this would be if Kane and Bray Wyatt are advertised for a match, but Wyatt is replaced by Luke Harper or Erick Rowan just for the sake of making the fans wait to see Kane face Wyatt himself.
In that scenario, the bait and switch tactic feels more like a flat out lie. It hurts the event's perception more than it adds anticipation for whatever future show ends up having that particular match on it.
WWE has to treat SummerSlam as though it is a huge pay-per-view with a relative amount of gravity to it—not just something to pass the time before Raw or Night of Champions.
Cutting Time from Matches to Make Room for Commercials
Proper time management itself is an absolute must at SummerSlam so there aren't any matches cut from the card, similar to what happened at WrestleMania.
Speaking from experience, as I attended this year's WrestleMania, even a match as low on the card as the Bella Twins and Rhodes Scholars vs. Tons of Funk not taking place upset nearly every fan around me.
Considering the amount of time wasted before the event started, everyone felt as though we were robbed of something just so WWE could fit in some more flashbacks and commercials.
Yes, WWE is a business that relies on advertisement, but since a pay-per-view is the pinnacle format of shows for the company that people actually pay to watch, matches should be the priority and nothing else should come close.
The Miz's hosting duties, backstage segments, feud recaps and so forth should not take precedence over what happens in the ring.
No matches should have time cut due to WWE deciding to cram in another promo or commercial. After all, the fans aren't paying to watch ads or setups to another show—they're paying to witness it right then and there.
Cutting the time from matches only hinders what the performers can do and as a result, the matches tend to suffer.
Protecting John Cena at the Cost of Daniel Bryan
From a pure storyline perspective, it would be a mistake for WWE to book anything other than Daniel Bryan winning the title from John Cena clean.
This entire feud is centered around the anticipation and speculation of Bryan walking out of this match as the champion and it will upset a lot of fans if that outcome doesn't happen.
Will it also cause people to scoff and claim that it was obvious and predictable? Sure. But that's a better option than pure disappointment.
As much as some people want to ignore it, Cena is clearly viewed differently by a large percentage of the audience. If their darling, Bryan, is robbed of his spotlight, it will just deepen their disgust of Cena.
In fact, even if Bryan wins but does so in a cheap way, it will still have this effect.
If WWE wants to avoid annoying Bryan's fans, they will have to end this match with Cena tapping out or getting pinned and nothing else.
There can be no screwjob involving the McMahon family or interference from anyone that helps Bryan in any way.
No referee bump or distraction can take place that prevents Cena from getting a victory before Bryan gets his.
John Cena cannot get attacked beforehand and come into the match injured.
Any disqualifications or count-out victories will be written in history as disappointing as well.
By no means is Bryan guaranteed to win, but with his popularity being so high and the way this event has been marketed so far, anything short of a Bryan clean victory risks being a mistake.
Cena has nothing to gain by winning this match and Bryan has everything to lose if he doesn't.
Giving Brock Lesnar Another Loss on His Record
On the contrary to the John Cena situation, Brock Lesnar is someone who needs to be protected.
WWE's investment in him is his supposed unstoppable nature, yet he currently stands at a 50 percent success rate, losing two matches and winning two.
To keep up this aura that Lesnar is a beast, he must continue winning unless something special calls for him to lose.
CM Punk, on the other hand, is more than able to take this loss and see no negative spin on his career.
Fans will still be on his side and buy into him as a top-tier star even if he loses to Lesnar here.
If Punk wins, however, Lesnar looks so much weaker going into his next match than he does going into this one.
For someone his size to be bested by someone Punk's size hurts the believability factor.
Perhaps more importantly, such a result hinders Lesnar's future drawing power when WWE wants to pull him out as a special attraction for a pay-per-view down the line.
It is up to WWE to set the performers up with good storylines, proper marketing, adequate time and all of the other tools necessary for them to go out there and put on the best possible show in the ring.
Do you expect this to happen, or do you think WWE will fall victim to any of these booking mistakes or any others?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!