WWE Looking Desperate With New PPV Schedule
Over the past year, fans have been outraged as the WWE have been removing their long running shows from the schedule and replacing them with brand new gimmick ones. So far, the reaction to the new shows and gimmicks has been pretty mixed.
When it was announced a number of weeks ago that the long running Survivor Series show was being cancelled, it was reported that this was because Vince McMahon had declared the show "obsolete", and that the fans wanted a new batch of new PPV ideas because the old names were becoming outdated.
WWE is trying to drag in more fans by putting on a new batch of gimmick PPVs to try and tempt and intrigue the fans into buying them.
Another reason for the change is that many of the old PPV names, such as "No Mercy", "Vengeance", and "Unforgiven" added to the idea of wrestling being over violent and silly, an image that sadly hasn't been shaken off since the Attitude Era.
Let's have a quick run through what the new 2010 schedule actually is, because there are a lot of changes when with the retaining gimmicks from last year:
- April: Extreme Rules —This is just about the only one I like. Extreme Rules is normally a fairly weak PPV because it's a show filled with spotty hardcore matches where the performers aren't allowed to do good spots or get all that hardcore, but if you must have this gimmick PPV then just after Wrestlemania is the best time to have it because you can redo those matches with a new twist.
- May: Over The Limit —There's no word on what this show will be about. It might just be a good old fashioned wrestling show, but that's not confirmed. I have to say—and this might just be me, so I won't go on about it—the second I heard the name I instantly thought of Over the Edge, and...you know...yea
- June: Fatal Four Way —Alright, this might be the one that I hate the most out of the new gimmicks. There's nothing wrong with having a Fatal Four Way here and there, they're often enjoyable if nothing else. But, as last year's Lockdown showed, a card filled with multiple man matches just doesn't work out that well. Fatal Four Way matches for titles are unrealistic, normally the storylines going into them are weak, and on the lower card matches nobody gets over apart from the winner because they just become one of the guys he beat. I hate this idea.
- July: Money In The Bank —By the looks of things, we're going to have a pretty tough Summer this year because this idea is just as, if not more, painful than the one above. One of two things happen—either WWE is going to keep running two Money In The Bank matches a year, where the winners become less important and have to keep rushing their cash-ins before they're ready, making the concept pointless. Or, it gets removed from Wrestlemania, which would be a shame. Money In The Bank is a good concept (when done properly), but it's something WWE should be building PPVs around, which will probably tempt them to start giving main eventers the briefcase for storyline purposes.
- August: Summerslam —If creative can't improve on the buyrates from last year don't be too surprised if this gets dropped. I think it's safe for now, though.
- September: Night of Champions —I'm still not sure on Night of Champions. It's never impressed me, but a lot of people do seem to like it, so I won't lay into it too much.
- October: Hell in a Cell —WWE seems to have had the good sense to scrap Breaking Point (unless they decide to put it where Survivor Series was), but they seem to be going for this one again. I felt last year's show proved that having more than one Hell in a Cell match on a card just doesn't work, but WWE obviously feel differently.
- October: Bragging Rights —This show is actually a shame because five-seven years ago this would have been a really good idea, but now there's no "competition" between the shows. The hype for last year's show felt so forced—you can't go years without much brand interaction, then suddenly throw them together to fight for a PPV.
- November: TBC —But definitely won't be Survivor Series.
- December: Tables, Ladders and Chairs —Last year's was one of the more entertaining shows from WWE last year, but still I don't know how long this gimmick can stay fresh.
So that's what you've got to look forward to this year...
Will It Work?
At least not to the extent that they would like to do.
The reason that WWE PPVs are in the toilet compared to where they used to be is that they don't have a compelling television product that attracts people into thinking that their PPVs are going to be worth the money.
Think of the biggest draws ever in wrestling: André and Hogan, and Rock and Austin. Both matches featured two distinct entertaining personalities having a heated rivalry on television to a boiling point that made people want to see them go at it—that's what people order PPVs for.
The closest we had to that in recent years in the WWE was Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels...and Edge and Taker were able to do good numbers at Summerslam, despite the undercard being lacklustre.
Going back to the Survivor Series example: the WWE put on two lazy triple threat matches, they run segments on television with DX mocking how unimportant their match for the championship is, and pretty much flat out said "we aren't going to split at Survivor Series", and it drew no money.
The WWE is surprised by this? And then they blame the concept of the show rather than their own ridiculous television product?
There were apparently discussions in creative about the possibility of doing the draft lottery on a PPV, and that pretty much sums up what they're trying to do.
"Come and pay for our shows, you'll see random, gimmicky stuff happening rather than wrestling". Their stuff might be working on television, but that's because it's TV—people will watch that stuff because they don't have to pay for that stuff.
I imagine there are fans out watching Raw every Monday, but aren't ordering any of the PPVs. People might watch that crap, but they won't pay for that crap—which is why WWE needs to start pushing personalities and wrestling matches rather than characters and comedy segments.
Right for WrestleMania?
Yes and no...mostly no.
Yes, because John Cena vs. Batista, Edge vs. Chris Jericho, and Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels are three excellent matchups, and are more than big enough for Wrestlemania.
No, because the build for them isn't all that impressive. Edge has been rushed back from injury to win the Rumble, and lucky for him Chris Jericho manages to win the World Title the next PPV so those two are able to fight at Mania.
Cena and Batista seems very rushed and last minute, and I'm just disappointed that Taker has to beat Michaels for two years in a row, but the added gimmick of a retirement match rehabilitates it somewhat.
There's no real exciting clash of personalities here, the "bah gawd, they're finally gonna collide, one's gonna win, one's gonna lose!" element is missing, or at least its not there yet.
There's a 99 percent chance of Cena, Edge, and Taker taking these matches, and the only way creative wouldn't go in that direction is because they want a "swerve", which is another reason why PPV buys are down.
I don't order a wrestling PPV for a "swerve", I order it because I enjoy and support the wrestlers themselves, and because I want wrestling.
Screw your swerves, I'll look those up the next day.
Unfortunately, it looks like creative aren't interested in doing any of that stuff, and that's why I hate the new PPV schedule—not because I was so attached to the old shows, because, to be honest, I thought names like "Judgment Day" and "No Mercy" were a bit cheesy anyway.
Rather than trying to do what they should be doing, and what TNA and ROH are doing, pushing the wrestlers as the product, because that's what people want to see.
(Although TNA is having their own problems with PPVs as well...they have the substance, but not the promotion, whereas WWE has the promotion, but not the substance, if you know what I mean)
Instead, they're decided to go and produce more car crash television by putting on a bunch of gimmick shows that serve no purpose to the fans other than making the product even more predictable because people know the theme of the shows months before they actually happen. It's so sad to see.
There's nothing wrong with a gimmick PPV. Lockdown proves to be at least an interesting show very year, but I don't know what WWE is thinking by building a brand new schedule built entirely out of these things.
It takes even more focus away from the actual personalities and performers themselves, and it just seems like a desperate attempt to give the PPV buys a small boost.