Mistakes WWE Must Avoid Making While Booking SummerSlam 2021
SummerSlam is always a special event for WWE, but few years feel as important as this one. The company has just returned to the road, with loud and excited audiences ready for a return to normalcy in professional wrestling.
The company has already brought back John Cena to challenge Roman Reigns while Goldberg has demanded a shot at Bobby Lashley. And rumors abound over the potential return of stars like Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks for major title matches.
WWE is employing the tried-and-trusted tactic of using familiar stars to sell the August 21 pay-per-view, but it is already falling into potential pitfalls along the way. Whether it be losing track of reliable stars or bringing in too many former talent, the company is taking a dangerous approach to boost SummerSlam.
It must avoid taking too many shortcuts or making missteps in building The Biggest Part of the Summer as something special. Many fresh eyes will be on the event, questioning whether it is time to get back into watching the WWE product.
WWE should not let those fans down by setting up SummerSlam to fail. That would be one misstep that could well spell disaster for the company.
Forgetting the Deep Roster That Carried the Company Through the Past Year
WWE has always had a tired formula for drawing in fresh eyes to major events. It is all about relying on familiar names. John Cena and Goldberg were the first brought back, but more could be on the way.
While there is nothing wrong with building media attention for the product with Cena, it is vital that the ultimate goal should be to present the current talent on the roster rather than putting over a former top guy who has returned for a short run.
The last thing WWE should do is present a product that is not indicative of the talent that will be working each week on the road. Fans will quickly tune out if they are given one idea of the company at SummerSlam only to see another on Raw and SmackDown after the pay-per-view.
The WWE roster is deep, even if it does not always feel like that due to booking. There is so much talent that carried the company through a year without crowds, keeping the energy high each night in spite of the small venues and lack of natural excitement.
ThunderDome era MVPs like Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, Sasha Banks, Asuka and others should not be forgotten for the sake of an easy spotlight. This roster has earned the chance to compete in front of a live crowd in Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on August 21.
Putting Too Much onto Veterans No Longer at the Top Level
While veterans will return to pop the crowd and get people talking, it is vital that those who are brought in can perform at the level they are expected to.
John Cena will likely be competing in the main event of SummerSlam in a 20-minute clash with Roman Reigns. After more than two years without wrestling a full match, can he still compete at that high a level?
Goldberg has been working on borrowed time for years, and time seems to running out for him. Even at his peak in this last WWE run, he was only able to work for five minutes. Is he ready to have a serious match with WWE champion Bobby Lashley?
The best example of utilizing a veteran who can still go lately has been Edge and Rey Mysterio. Both are competing at a high level on SmackDown and should have a role at SummerSlam. There is no limitation that needs to be put on their role at the event.
If WWE continues to bring in familiar faces over established talent, those stars need to be able to compete. It is vital that no one is brought in who will simply drag down the product.
Choosing Shock Value over Long-Term Booking
Back on the road, WWE is sure to want major surprises each week. Surprises draw media attention, but it is easy to get wrapped up in that mentality and lose track of what is more important.
However, title changes for the sake of a quick headline are not valuable in the long term. WWE should not be devaluing champions to make a quick sell. Fans tune in for relevant stories to invest in.
Roman Reigns could well lose to John Cena at SummerSlam, giving the veteran his 17th world championship reign, while Bianca Belair may lose the SmackDown women's title just to crown a familiar Superstar like Sasha Banks. Every belt could change hands.
However, decisions like this won't make for a more compelling product. It may see fans tune into Raw and SmackDown that week, but they will lose interest in these champions who have built a legacy all their own.
It is vital that WWE not fall into this trap. It was not that long ago that no one was allowed to hold a championship longer than a few months unless WWE forgot about them entirely. It is not time to return to that farce.
Running SummerSlam Like a WrestleMania Week
There is no bigger wrestling event than WrestleMania, but that is not always a positive. In the previous few years before the pandemic, WWE had made The Show of Shows a weekend event, clocking in over seven hours each Sunday as well as a NXT TakeOver event for three hours the previous night.
SummerSlam should not go the same way, though. It needs to be a focused show that highlights talent without overstaying its welcome. A PPV can be just as big if it runs for three hours as if it runs for seven. Sometimes, that makes it feel even bigger.
Not everyone will be able to make the card on August 21, but WWE should be focused on making sure every match matters and focuses on boosting the spotlight on talent who deserve it.
Keep Bobby Lashley vs. Goldberg short. Don't push Roman Reigns vs. John Cena beyond what both can handle. Don't give more than 20 minutes to any match on the card. Avoid booking unnecessary massive multi-man contests.
The Allegiant Stadium crowd will tire quickly if put through a number of matches that go on for hours past the normal length of a WWE event. And that crowd is essential to making SummerSlam special.