The Beat the Clock Challenge's inherent drama is a resource WWE should mine more often.
Utilizing a match like this so infrequently leaves a potentially powerful weapon in the holster. Iron Man, 2-out-of-3 Falls and Last Chance bouts are too thrilling to not turn to more regularly as well.
On Monday's Raw, WWE elevated Seth Rollins vs. Heath Slater and Dean Ambrose vs. Alberto Del Rio by adding a ticking clock.
The Beat the Clock stipulation boosted the excitement level of the action and made those clashes feel more special. Watching two standard matches morph into something more compelling, one has to wonder why WWE doesn't take that toy out of the box more frequently.
Beat the Clock
The Beat the Clock Challenge injects an added incentive to win.
Beyond what victory means in standard matches, the wrestlers usually have a title shot or placement in a big match awaiting them should they win these specialty bouts. In Ambrose and Rollins' case, the man who beat his opponent the fastest would name the stipulation in their upcoming SummerSlam showdown.
When Ambrose and Del Rio then went to battle, every near-fall meant more. Every failed pin allowed the clock to keep ticking.
Normally, defeating Del Rio in just over 15 minutes would be cause to celebrate.
On this night, though, it worried Ambrose. He knew Rollins would now be favored to win the challenge with a relatively easy time to beat.
Fans now anticipated Rollins' matchup far more than they would had it been a non-Beat the Clock one.
Triple H then switched Rollins' opponents to make things even easier for him. Rather than face the former world champ Rob Van Dam, Mr. Money in the Bank only had to best WWE's resident punching bag, Heath Slater.
When Rollins failed to put Slater away early on, tension grew. The clock ticked away at the bottom of the screen, and suddenly what would normally just be a surprisingly competitive match turned into a desperate situation for Rollins.
Using this kind of matchup more often is smart. While it should still remain something that is special and not the norm, it's an easy way to boost everyday matches.
Fans saw that in May as well when Dolph Ziggler took on Mark Henry.
Van Dam had set the best time earlier in the night. The Showoff then had to fell a giant in less than four minutes and 15 seconds. He almost did but couldn't drape his arm across the big man's chest in time.
Time running out for Ziggler created a sense of desperation and uncertainty that powered the match.
Monday's Raw marked the second edition of the show in 2014 where WWE went with the Beat the Clock stipulation. Last year, per The History of WWE website, the company used it just twice, once in January and once in October. In 2012, only one Raw featured the time-based gimmick match, according to The History of WWE.
WWE can still preserve its novelty despite turning to it a few more times per year.
The grueling back-and-forth contest that is the Iron Man match multiplies the thrills of a normal match.
It features the ebb and flow of a playoff series, multiple high points and a more definitive victory. If the standard match on WWE TV each week is a short story, the Iron Man match is a hefty novel.
Wrestlers are given a set amount of time, usually either 30 or 60 minutes, and beat on each other to gain the most falls in that amount of time. That means that fans often see the wrestlers' biggest moves several times. It also offers a variety of stories within the match.
Should a Superstar fall behind a few falls, he must furiously charge back in order to catch up. Should both competitors fail to score a pinfall or submission, the match then takes on the tautness of a scoreless baseball game heading into the ninth inning.
That's part of what made Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart at WrestleMania XII so great.
It even featured the dramatic power of sudden-death overtime, which is seldom used in the pro wrestling world.
Iron Man matches can go a more high-score route as well. Watching two titans trade falls is a joyride. Rather than just see one moment of triumph per bout, fans can see a handful of them.
The Rock vs. Triple H at Judgment Day 2000 had that element. Each foe scored five falls in what was an enthralling contest that had the audience in a frenzy by the end of it.
It's a match type WWE has rarely touched. That's partially because of the time constraints the company has and because it's not a match that just any wrestler can pull off. No one wants to see R-Truth and Fandango go at for an hour.
WWE missed an opportunity for something great by never showcasing Daniel Bryan and CM Punk in an Iron Man match. Once Bryan returns from injury, he would be the favorite to be in the next edition of that gimmick match. Cesaro, Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler could pull it off as well.
We haven't seen WWE attempt an Iron Man bout since Orton vs. John Cena at Bragging Rights 2009. That's too long to go without one.
As tremendous as many of the previous Iron Man matches have been, it's something WWE should make a priority in the future. Instant classics are waiting to be born.
A staple of Lucha Libre and a tradition WWE has gone away from, the 2-out-of-3 Falls is a gimmick match with ample dramatic power.
It provides a longer story than the standard match, the victor having to score two falls rather than one. Much like the Iron Man match, it feeds off the same inherent excitement of a playoff series.
Falling behind amps up the pressure for one wrestler. It then shifts the odds toward his opponent, forcing the one who lost the first fall to win two consecutive ones. That either opens the door for a thrilling comeback or for that comeback to just fall short. Either narrative is an attention-grabbing one.
Fans saw that when The Usos and The Wyatt Family clashed at Battleground. They had locked horns several times before, and the stipulation added a fresh energy, aiding them in composing the pay-per-view's best bout.
Orton and Del Rio fed off a similar energy back on Nov. 19, 2012.
Strategy came into play as Del Rio essentially gave away the first fall, smashing Orton's arm against the ring post. He followed that up with a cross armbreaker to the injured limb to tie things up. The Viper eventually escaped the hold on Del Rio's next try and sealed a victory with an RKO.
Those two have put on excellent matches before, but this format added a welcome layer. It allowed them to tell a different story and up the entertainment value of the action.
One doesn't see WWE go the 2-out-of-3 Falls route often. For rivals who have faced other several times, it's a great option, though. It turns a regular-season game into a playoff series.
There's no reason a challenger can't keep demanding one more match a la Christian. Soon, a two-match series becomes a trilogy and keeps extending from there.
One way to wrap up a title feud and create some electric drama in the process is the Last Chance match.
The challenger gets one final crack at the belt, but should he lose he will never get to face that champion again. That ups the stakes like few additions can.
Batista faced those odds when he took on Edge at Vengeance 2007 for the World Heavyweight Championship.
With the Last Chance stipulation in place, losing wouldn't just be another defeat but would push The Animal out of contention for the duration of Edge's reign. WWE tapped into that when it had Batista lose by count-out after he pushed Edge back in the ring and failed to make it inside before the referee's 10-count.
He screamed to the referee about this being his last chance, creating an emotional moment unique to this type of match.
TNA used a variation of this bout when Sting took on Bully Ray at Slammiversary 2013. Not only would losing mean that he could never challenge Bully Ray again, it meant that he would no longer be able to compete for the world title.
That added a wealth of emotion to the clash. It almost had the power that a Retirement match does.
It's a dramatic option for WWE to use with some of its older wrestlers. It would have elevated Mark Henry's title bout with Cena last year or have been a way to add interest to one of Kane's title matches.
Along with battling in a steel cage, the Last Chance match is a definitive way to end a rivalry. It's an emphatic conclusion to a feud centered around a championship, one that begs to be used more.
Title matches are already powered by high stakes, but amping those up even further can better the buildup and the action in the ring.
The Last Chance, Iron Man, 2-out-of-3 Falls and Beat the Clock matches are the kind of bouts that don't feel gimmicky despite their added stipulations. They give a boost to the battles on TV and pay-per-view with added story elements.
That boost begs to be used more.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!