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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Memo to Mr. McMahon: You're killing your own gimmick!

Sunday is the 24th annual Survivor Series, and on a more historical note, the nine-year anniversary of the “official” death of WCW. Technically, it was nine years ago Thursday, Team WWE defeated Team Alliance at Survivor Series 2001 to kill the brand once and for all, but you know what I mean.

Since then, WWE has been called to task for numerous things that have “ruined” the business; you name the factor, and it’s been pegged as the reason wrestling is in a down cycle.

Changing from WWF to WWE? Death! Brand extension and brand-specific pay-per-views? Stupid! The Diva Search and Tough Enough? Expose the business why don’t ya? In recent times, it’s been anything from not making new stars to drawing out feuds too long to Linda McMahon’s senate campaign causing WWE to go PG being blamed as the eventual cause of death.

Yet, we’ve all kept watching—or have we?

Alas, I think I’ve figured it out, and while the above factors may play into it, the real culprit is … wait for it ... gimmicks. More specifically, the pay-per-views touting them specifically.

The latest Wrestling Observer printed a list of the 10 Worst Bought WWE PPVs of all-time. Naturally, the dismal December to Dismember PPV in 2006 was number 1 on the list (and believe me, even many of us backstage wondered why we were subjected to it). However, of the other nine, a whopping SEVEN of them have happened since SummerSlam 2009.

Trivia Time: When was it that WWE officially went away from their old PPV schedule and turned every non-Big 4 PPV into an official gimmick-filled event?

If you guessed September 2009, you win the booby prize.

Yes, it was just 14 short months (and 16 pay-per-views) ago that Unforgiven became Breaking Point, Armageddon became TLC, Money in the Bank got its own event, and so forth … which means that almost half of the pay-per-views in that time rank in the bottom 10 buy rates of all-time.

Think about that for a minute. In 25 years, WWE has held probably 200 pay-per-view: 26 WrestleManias, 23 Survivor Series’ (24 after next Sunday), 23 SummerSlams, and 22 Royal Rumbles account for roughly half of those, with maybe 100 more “lesser” events in a quarter-century … and seven of the last 16 are among the worst of all-time.

It has to be the gimmicks, right?

It can’t be the “not building new stars” thing, because Sheamus and Wade Barrett have been all over the un-magnificent seven. It can’t be the drawn-out feuds because that’s been going on for years. And it definitely can’t be the “kid-based” strategy, because while they can’t make purchasing decisions, they can sure convince their parents to shell out $45 once a month for their love.

It has to be the gimmicks, because after all, remember rule number 1 of why WWE almost failed in the mid-1990s: Gimmicks sell t-shirts, storylines sell tickets.

Night of Champions and Extreme Rules can get somewhat of a pass because they were already conceived, and Elimination Chamber gets a pass because it’s at least an innovative concept and that show can vitally shake up WrestleMania (and in the process prevent the full nine-week stretch after the Rumble from becoming stale).

The rest? Shoehorn city.

I loved the TLC matches of 2001-02 as much as anyone, but the stipulation loses its luster when I get to watch Degeneration-X vs. Legacy main event a PPV in one. Hell in a Cell was once a violent feud ender, but this fall it was a mere prop to drag out the thrilling Randy Orton vs. Sheamus blood feud.

Even Money in the Bank, which was an exciting addition to WrestleMania that made the card, has become just another useless idea. Don’t even get me started on Fatal Four Way, which in addition to being obvious could also just be called “slap together the top two singles matches from 'Mania into one mess.”

I will not be watching either of WWE’s remaining pay-per-view events. I love Survivor Series, but I have tickets to the Eagles/Giants game that night; I’d say I’m missing out, but we’re seven days away and we know all of three matches.

As for TLC, though, I’ll be far away from my TV. While adding three legal weapons may make Sheamus vs. John Morrison or Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler that much more epic, I’ll pass.

Though, Vince, in 2011 you’ll get my money if you spend less time fitting the storylines around the stipulations, and more time doing the opposite.

-Louie Dee
Contributing Writer

1 comment:

Le'on Edwards said...

I totally agree. The idea of hell in the cell was a wonderful concept when it first came out. But if you have six per year, it doesnt have the same fire. Same with TLC. It should never have its own PPV,then its not special. With the WWE,i only order the "Big"PPV. With TNA,ive order plenty of the "lesser" PPV SIMPLY because the card was better. WWE spents to much time worring about the"name" and not enough about the wrestling.