Ruse's Muses

WWE: Too Many PPVs?

The old adage that less is more certainly applies to WWE pay-per-views – the fewer there are, the better they seem to be. At the moment, however, Vince McMahon does not agree. While he has been talked into reducing the 2010 PPV number to 13, that still leaves at least one Sunday-night spectacular a month and two in the case of next October, a number that is just too high.
With the WWE haut monde needing to fill up endless PPV cards, we are often forced to see matches with very little in the way of a storyline and bouts that are solely used as a stopgap. Witnessing a fast-paced or technical wrestling showcase is great but we also want a bit of substance with our style and with the crowded number of PPV offerings, a lot of the time we do not get it.
When I try to explain why I am so enamoured with wrestling to my non-believing friends, I not only list the brilliance of in-ring performances. I also insist it is because of the twists and turns and intricate, weaving tales that the creative team come up with; I cannot say that with such regularity right now. It is easy to ridicule the writers for what we perceive as lazy storytelling but with so many extra dates that occupy their attention, why wouldn’t they be imaginatively worn out?
What we need to see is more build and less action. Narratives that are well constructed, ones that are given time to simmer, boil and then eventually explode into life. WWE have proved they can do that on countless occasions over the years, it just appears that in the current climate the requirement to present another PPV gets in the way of riveting TV.
Fewer shows would mean longer gaps and longer gaps would mean more time to construct multi-dimensional plots. Presently, we get so many rematches it beggars belief but with added weeks in which to story-tell, characters could be invented and believably elevated into matches and the trend of repetition would not be so necessary.
And funny as it sounds, reducing the total number of PPVs could also have a positive impact on the WWE up-and-comers. While the extracurricular Sunday nights could be left to the already established members of the roster, the new breed could be given main-event opportunities in the less high-profile surroundings of Raw or Smackdown.
John Morrison, for example, was given just that break amid this summer’s captivating CM Punk/Jeff Hardy feud. The Shaman of Sexy fought the Charismatic Enigma for the world heavyweight title on Smackdown – a main-event chance without the pressure of headlining a PPV. The Morrison model could become a precedent as with time on the creative team’s side, youngsters could get their moment on network TV without it interfering in the build up to a main-event PPV battle.
The other problem with the cornucopia of PPVs is that with one having just passed by and another right on the horizon, WWE strives to be different. The gimmick PPV has burst onto the scene in recent times; Breaking Point, Hell in a Cell and the upcoming TLC gala which replaces Armageddon in mid-December to name but three, but not all of the affected matches deserve, or indeed need, any added impetus.
Others may disagree but Hell in Cell seemed like overkill to me. The Cena/Orton rivalry was worthy of its steel setting and so was the well-scripted (see they can do it) feud between Legacy and DX, but the Undertaker and Punk?
Yes, Mr. Straight Edge had f**ked Taker over at Breaking Point and the Deadman is one of the protagonists of the ‘Devil’s Playground’ but it was only the second match in their period of conflict. It felt like the cell was the most important factor and not the competitors, which should never be the case. The gimmick should always be a tasty, worthwhile side dish and not dominate the main meal. I have a feeling, though, that some of the contests at TLC will follow in the Punk-Taker vein.
The most intriguing time in the wrestling calendar is almost upon us – the Road to Wrestlemania. The fans’ appetites are whetted in anticipation of the matches but also because the storylines which culminate under the bright lights are given time to evolve and run their course. With a rescinded amount of PPVs, that could be the case all year long.