All of those questions will undoubtedly be revealed over the next few weeks. However, I propose that WWE uses the brand split to also update an area of their product that is in desperate need of a revision.
I am talking, of course, about pay-per-views.
WWE typically produces 12 pay-per-views a year that are aired both on the WWE Network, as well as by various cable and satellite providers. They are the backbone of WWE’s programming, and are events that we all look forward to each month.
However, in recent years, WWE has made several revisions to their pay-per-views, including naming some of them after gimmick matches that we are guaranteed to see at the event.
I would like to propose a brand new concept and schedule for WWE pay-per-views each year, complete with the name of each event, and the reason for that name.
Before, we get into that, however, I would like to share some general thoughts on the overall structure of the schedule, as well as some improvements that need to be made immediately.
Step No. 1: GET RID OF THE GIMMICK PAY-PER-VIEWS!!! Having a guaranteed match on a card each year completely devalues the match, and rids it of its specialty. Before 2009, you knew that anytime a “Hell in a Cell” match was announced, it was because a feud had reached a boiling point that could only be settled in the most dangerous and brutal structure in WWE. Now, even though it is guaranteed every year, the writing staff may not have a feud that has reached a point in which “Hell in a Cell” is necessary. In addition, if you know that a HIAC match is going to happen in October of every year, the build to the match won’t be as organic, regardless of who is involved. During the month of September, it is easy to see who WWE is going to book inside of the cell, and the feud loses its luster, in my opinion.
The same holds true for “TLC,” and “Extreme Rules.” Get rid of these right away!!!
Step No. 2: Have Brand Exclusive Pay-Per-Views. One thing that I enjoyed about the original brand split, was when WWE decided to have brand exclusive pay-per-views. This allowed for more time to build storylines, as well as heighten the anticipation and excitement for a clash that was coming two months down the road. I propose that WWE does this again once the new brand split occurs, although most of the events will end up being combined.
Now that those general concepts have been discussed, allow me to present my proposed annual schedule for WWE’s pay-per-views. I’ll list the name of the event, why it should be called this, and whether it should be a brand-specific or combined event:
January: “Royal Rumble.” A tradition since 1989, this event is the perfect way to start the new year. Not only does it feature one of the most exciting and historic matches in wrestling history, but by deciding who will be in the main of WrestleMania, it sets up the opportunity for a two-month build into the “Grandest Stage of Them All.” Combined Event.
February: “Fastlane.” WWE started using this pay-per-view name in 2015. I like it, because it plays off the concept of the “Road to WrestleMania,” and gives the company the opportunity to change up the main event of WrestleMania. Hence, it gives the combatants the “Fast Lane” to the big dance. Combined Event.
March/Early April: WrestleMania. Duh. Combined Event.
Late April/Early May: “Payback.” Beginning in 2013, WWE began using the name “Payback” for the pay-per-view that followed WrestleMania. I like this name, because there are often several rematches that are held at this event, or new matches with feuds that begin at the “Super Bowl of Wrestling.” Whichever show is going to have the most issues to resolve following WrestleMania can be the host of this event. Brand-specific.
May: “Superbrawl.” From 1991-2001, “Superbrawl” was an annual event hosted by WCW/NWA, and featured some of the biggest matches of all time. The event was prestigious for its time; so much so that they made it an annual event, gave it a number each year. “Superbrawl I,” “Superbrawl II, etc.” Brand-specific.
June: “Money In The Bank.” Since 2010, WWE has turned “Money In The Bank” its own pay-per-view event. Taken from a concept that was originally used at WrestleMania, the winner of the MITB Ladder Match is guaranteed an opportunity at a World Title anytime within the next calendar year. Depending on whether there are one or two championships following the brand split, there may have to be one or two matches to determine who gets the contracts. This is a great way to get into the summer months, and bring a sense of uncertainty as to when the briefcase holder will cash in his contract. Combined Event.
July: “Great American Bash” / “Bash At The Beach”. “Great American Bash” and “Bash At The Beach” were pay-per-views that were used by WCW in the 1990s. I like either of these names because they both tie into the theme of the summer, and are historic events in the history of professional wrestling. Combined Event.
August: “SummerSlam.” The No. 2 pay-per-view of the year. Combined Event.
September: “Night of Champions.” WWE has used the “Night of Champions” concept since 2009. At this pay-per-view, every championship must be defended, giving all of the titleholders a chance to shine. I like this concept, as it brings a heightened sense of pride and prestige to all of the titles, even though they are simply props in modern wrestling. Combined event.
October: “Halloween Havoc.” “Halloween Havoc” was a WCW pay-per-view from 1989-2000. Over the years, the event featured some of the most famous and infamous matches in wrestling history. This is a great way to tie into the month of October, as well as continue a great tradition in the history of the sport. Brand-Specific.
November: “Starrcade.” One of the most historic pay-per-view names of all time, “Starrcade” was a creation of Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA in 1983. Continuing in WCW through 2000, this event also featured some of the greatest and most important matches in professional wrestling history. Bringing back this event would continue a tradition in wrestling that has been forgotten over the past 15 years. Brand-Specific.
December: “Survivor Series” / “Bragging Rights.” I cannot think of a better way to end the calendar year then with “Bragging Rights.” Used by WWE in 2009 and 2010, this pay-per-view pitted a team of “Raw” superstars vs. a team of “Smackdown” superstars, for brand superiority and a cup that would be held for an entire year. This is a great way to culminate the year of wrestling, and give a wonderful Christmas present to one brand of sports entertainment. If WWE wanted, they could add the concept of “Survivor Series” to this pay-per-view, to keep alive the tradition that goes with that name. Combined event.
A couple of items to address. I feel that “Survivor Series” is an outdated concept, so tying it into “Bragging Rights” is a good way to bring the event into the 21st century. Also, I know that “Starrcade” was always held around Christmas time, so if you wanted to swap that event with “Bragging Rights,” that would be OK with me. I just like the idea of having a themed event at the end of the year, to give extra incentive to finish on a high note.
I’ve felt that the WWE pay-per-view system has needed revamping for a long time. With the reformatting of the landscape on the horizon due to the brand split, this would be a wonderful opportunity for the company to rethink all aspects of their programming, which includes the most important part of their produced content, the pay-per-views. By bringing back some of the most historic events in history, as well as shuffling when certain events occur, the product could be more modernized and relevant than ever.