Let's be absolutely honest with ourselves here. The Extreme Rules PPV has never lived up to its name. Back when it was One Night Stand, maybe, but today I would say it would be just as "Extreme" to wear flip-flops to the dinner table.
With that in mind, let's say four weeks ago you paid $54.95 for WrestleMania and now four weeks later you are asked to pay $44.95 for a PPV that will not live up to its name and will most likely fail to be as desirable to watch as last month's major event. WWE in reality is asking a lot from its fanbase.
We all complain that there are too many PPV these days and we are correct. The monthly PPV structure exists purely because of the competition between WCW and WWE in the late 90s. Today we seem to be paying for the fact that wrestling was popular enough (and well written enough) to support a huge amount of PPVs. Back then we may have seen a particular match type several times, but it was worth seeing each installment.
Financially, it is not viable for WWE just to drop three to six PPVs. WWE have partially structured their expenditure on how much these PPVs intake. A loss of this magnitude would force the WWE to make huge cuts and most would be made on the lower end of the roster and staff. I for one do not want to see mass job loss.
So if WWE cannot just remove the PPVs and should not keep expecting us to shell out for 13 annual events, a middle ground has to be discovered. My solution would be budget price PPVs.
Admittedly this was done previously from 1995-99 under the In Your House moniker. They were shorter events that used to put on a good show but would not have all the pzazz and glamor of the major PPVs. For all intents and purposes it was like watching an extremely good edition of Raw that included World title matches and very little storytelling.
Today you would need something to hook the average fan into departing with their money. Personally, my PPV schedule would look something like this.
- January (Major PPV) - I would keep this as the Royal Rumble event. It's the best way to start the year by naming the No. 1 Contender to the title at WrestleMania. Throw in a few World championship matches and you have a bang to the start of the year.
- February (Budget PPV) - No Way Out/Elimination Chamber always has a hard time to get a decent buy-rate because of its placement between the Rumble and Mania. Instead, I would make a Tag Team Based Budget PPV. Make the World Champions team up against their No. 1 contenders or the SmackDown WrestleMania main eventers vs Raw WrestleMania main eventers. It could consist of many variations of tag team contests. It is also possible that the event could start to revive the lifeless division.
- March (Major PPV) - WrestleMania of course.
- April (Budget PPV) - With the wallets of potential customers near empty after WrestleMania, WWE needs a cheaper event to take place a few weeks later. One that does not require a title match yet still holds significant importance. This is where I would place the WWE Draft. It would be hard to market it purely for the draft since it has been a free event for the past few years, but a few tweeks could make it marketable.
- May (Major PPV) - The new rosters are set and thus new feuds are in action. To get the fans to realise how important these new changes are, the championships have to be involved. May would host Night of Champions from this point on.
- June (Budget PPV) - We start off the summer with the rise of a new star. The King of the Ring tournament may have lost a lot of prestige in recent years, but the event is still one of the WWE's finest tournaments. Charging people less for this event will allow it to make a triumphant return and hopefully the necessity to be taken seriously.
- July (Foreign PPV) - WWE have an international audience to cater to and the fact that there are no more PPVs held outside of North America is possibly their biggest omission to the foreign market. Now I fully understand that the last time a major PPV was held outside of North America (SummerSlam 1992) it resulted in a financial disaster because of the time zone difference, but this was because the event was marketed like any other PPV. WWE could host a PPV of Rebellion/Insurrexiton's caliber where it is all adjusted to whatever country it is being shown in. For example, if it was held in London then it could be a full price PPV for Europe and the Rest of the World whilst being highly reduced (or dare I say free) to the American audience. I'm not a financial genius, but I'm sure something could be worked out.
- August (Major PPV) - SummerSlam is an August tradition so I see no reason to change this.
- September (Budget PPV) - I like the Money in the Bank contest but I feel it cannot support a whole PPV by itself. Since the match itself is full of mid-card to on/off main eventers it could realistically be the star of a cheaper priced PPV.
- October (Major PPV) - I would move Survivor Series to a month earlier to accommodate the fact people will have less money to spend at the end of the year due to Christmas and New Year (plus the impending Rumble).
- November (Tribute to the Troops\Charity PPV) - This could be in the form of a PPV where WWE do their annual performance for the American military but with a portion of the buy rates going to a charity. I know a good deal of people who buy something just because charity is mentioned. It could even encourage non-regular wrestling viewers to purchase the event.
- December (Budget PPV) - To close out the year WWE need something big but nothing that is really going to cost too much to put on. I like the idea of a SmackDown vs. Raw PPV, but it needs to go the whole way. World Champion vs. WWE Champion, IC vs. US, ect. No titles need to be put on the line, brand superiority is all that is needed.
Well that's only a brief outline and it's not going to materialize, but the budget PPVs could convince people to shell out a few more times a year. When major PPVs roll around they would feel slightly more special and the cheaper PPVs offer a unique experience not offered at any other point of the year.
Believe me, I would be more likely to buy my kid a $25 PPV after WrestleMania than a $45 one.