WWE Capitol Punishment 2011: John Morrison and the Lost Art of PPV Buildup
It has been almost three years since the WWE went PG. Since this drastic change in WWE programming, numerous aspects of World Wrestling Entertainment can be mentioned in the same sense as some of its older performers.
As I observed the events of Monday Night RAW, I found myself unsurprised at one particular angle.
WWE Creative decided to construct a campaign in which they teased the in-ring return of John Morrison. Instead of following up the planned R-Truth vs. John Morrison match, Creative had Truth attack John Morrison backstage.
In what can be describe as a failed attempt to boost Truth’s character value, John Morrison found himself (once again) on the receiving end of an R-Truth beat-down. As I observed the scene play itself out, the events of Capitol Punishment’s WWE Championship match became apparent.
R-Truth was in line to lose his WWE Championship match this Sunday.
The sequence of events will consist of a decent match by Truth and Cena that ultimately leads to a moment of opportunity for R-Truth.
But before Truth is able to exact his revenge on Little Jimmy, John Morrison will run in, effectively costing R-Truth the WWE Championship.
This angle will reignite the feud Creative set in motion before Morrison suffered a neck injury.
R-Truth and John Morrison are few of the numerous examples of questionable booking by WWE Creative. As I gaze upon the event that is Capitol Punishment, I’ve noticed the lack of substance each match possesses.
From Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston, to CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio, to Del Rio vs. Big Show, the WWE has displayed its lack of ideas and proper planning.
As RAW concluded, I hung my head and asked myself: "What happened?"
What happened to WWE Creative and its ability to produce exciting buildup for its pay-per-view matches?
Has Creative lost its artistic edge to the point that it produces filler matches that subsequently collide with its various storylines?
For example, Alberto Del Rio’s personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez, ran over Big Show’s leg three weeks prior to Monday Night RAW. After Del Rio’s match with Kane, Big Show runs to the ring as if the angle never occurred.
In addition, CM Punk/Rey Mysterio and Dolph Ziggler/Kofi Kingston lack the basis that must accompany a substantial feud. These pay-per-view matches revolve around matches that have occurred on Monday Night RAW since Over the Limit.
Simply put, these matches will occur with practically no prior buildup or proper reasoning behind them.
This effectively triggers a moment of reminiscence.
As I sit here, fewer than 24 hours away from the event, I’ve taken a moment to ponder the first time I ever watched WWE programming.
The one thing that Mania 17 had that its successors haven’t is the lost art of match buildup. Fueled by the heavy rock tune My Way by Limp Bizkit, The Rock vs. Austin was the diamond that made WrestleMania 17 the greatest.
In case you missed my point, it was a mistake for the WWE to exile the legendary pre-match promos.
The WWE should also focus on three aspects on buildup: mystery, intensity and continuity.
In 2007, the WWE began airing promos alluding to the impending debut of a "savior." The Matrix-like video segments contained hidden video messages relating to a former WWE Superstar. After three months of the recurring 15-second videos, Chris Jericho returned to the WWE.
Despite the frequency of the promos, the WWE retained our attention throughout.
In the end, the WWE was building towards another PPV as Chris Jericho was immediately placed in a feud with Randy Orton and subsequently received a WWE Title match at Armageddon.
This was successful due to the mysteriousness of the promos.
The next aspect would be intensity.
One angle in particular exemplifies mystery and intensity as it occurred in the late '90s. Despite my age at the time, I am still able to remember this one vaguely.
The Icon, Sting, was the franchise of the WCW when Hogan, Nash and Hall started the NWO. Because of the frequency of turncoats and the level of uncertainty among WCW wrestlers, NWO began using an imposter Sting to tease the fact that Sting had switched sides.
A number of WCW Wrestlers questioned Sting's allegiance to the company.
This subsequently upset Sting as he felt betrayed by WCW. Sting then “left” WCW.
As the imposter Sting paraded around with the NWO, Sting began utilizing the appearance of the protagonist from The Crow.
The Icon attacked his imposter once more, triggering an extension by Hogan to join the NWO.
Sting declined and spoke his most famous line to date.
“The only thing that’s for sure about Sting is that nothing’s for sure!”
Sting remained silent on WCW programming for a year, effectively rising WCW ratings—every fan wanted to know which side Sting was on. When would Sting show his true colors?
Sting made his decision when he single-handedly decimated the entire NWO.
Multiple attacks on NWO members triggered WCW Management's offering Sting matches with NWO Members. The Franchise informed WCW that Hulk Hogan was his only target.
The angle paid off, with Sting facing Hogan at Starrcade for the WCW Championship.
The Icon won the World Championship, much to the delight of the live audience.
The WCW revolved around this one angle for a whole year, but it was successful in maintaining the company's ratings dominance over World Wrestling Federation.
The last aspect of a proper buildup is continuity.
The two angles I just referenced are perfect examples of continuity.
In this day and age, when there are only three weeks in between PPVs, it’s difficult to obtain the commodity known as continuity.
If the WWE can continue its angles/feuds either with or without matches, the matches themselves would be more worth watching.
Tonight’s match between Alex Riley and The Miz could be a golden opportunity for the WWE. If a suitable finish is booked, as fans, we can enjoy the feud, and the WWE could very well create its next Megastar in Alex Riley.
If the WWE were to follow these three aspects, just maybe their PPV matches would be a little less predictable.
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