This is something we’ve touched on before but as usual NXT has given us another example of how to do things right while the “bigger” promotions have missed the mark. This week we’re looking at gimmick matches and the right way to set them up, unlike the more common ways that you see today.
Yeah think about that for a second. In all the time NXT has been around, they’ve never had a cage match. You often hear Michael Cole throwing out “FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER” every chance he gets and it really doesn’t mean much. Sure Sami Zayn might be fighting Zack Ryder but that’s not exactly noteworthy. In this case, we’ve got something big and it’s in the main event of a special show. For once, this is actually worth a mention.
The timing of this is very important as well. Balor and Samoa Joe have fought in the last two Takeover main events. The matches were both very good but it’s going to take something special to get the fans to care about the same match for a third time in a row. This is when a gimmick is the perfect option. A cage may not be the most interesting thing in the world but it’s something fresh and new in NXT.
I can’t overemphasize how important it is that this is a first in NXT. Let’s take a look at a gimmick match that is a little bit more frequent: the triple threat. Here are the number of WWE pay per views with at least one triple threat match included on the card over a fairly long stretch of years:
2012 – 4/10
2011 – 4/13
2010 – 3/13
2009 – 7/14
2008 – 5/14
2007 – 5/15
2006 – 4/16
2005 – 4/15
2004 – 4/14
2003 – 4/12
2002 – 4/13
2001 – 5/12
2000 – 4/12
1999 – 4/11
Over fourteen years, only 2010 saw less than three pay per views with a triple threat match. Can you imagine if that was any other gimmick? Picture say, four shows with last man standing or I quit or a stretcher match. People would get sick to death of these things in a hurry, which is why a triple threat match really doesn’t mean much anymore.
Now, this upcoming cage match is going to be held at the next NXT Takeover special, which is airing on June 8, 2016, or about three weeks from the date of the announcement. Three weeks might not be long enough to set up a big main event but with the story already in place and a history between the two, everything should be fine.
It would certainly be better than say, an hour and a half or about five minutes wouldn’t you say? Who would be crazy enough to try something like that? Why TNA of course, as this week on “Impact Wrestling” they announced a lumberjack match with less than two hours build and a last man standing match before a commercial with the match starting after they returned from a break.
What, if any, impact do you think these gimmicks had on the audience? The simple answer would be none, because there was no time to set them up nor any time to let them sink in on their fans. No one was going to have time to care about them because TNA hadn’t given the fans the time to care about them. If nothing else it makes little business sense as the point of a gimmick is to spice up a feud, not get you through to the end of a show and hopefully draw in some fans that talk about the match online.
That leaves us with WWE’s way of running things, which at the moment is with the upcoming “Extreme Rules 2016” pay per view. This is the annual event where most of the matches have a gimmick attached because the calendar says it’s that time of the year. It’s the same mentality they use with the Hell in a Cell pay per view and it still doesn’t work in this case either.
Here’s the thing: Samoa Joe and Balor started associating with each other way back in September 2015 when they teamed up for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Their partnership eventually caused Samoa Joe to turn on Balor and started their in ring feud. That’s a full story fleshed out over the course of eight months, with the grand finale being the cage match.
On this upcoming pay per view, we have AJ Styles vs. Roman Reigns in their second match which is under extreme rules. Why is that the case? Well it’s because the calendar says it’s time for the Extreme Rules pay per view and therefore we have to have an extreme rules match. It’s the case of a stipulation being dictated by a calendar instead of a feud and the storyline behind it. Simply put, this has never made sense and isn’t the best idea that they have.
The main event of the next Takeover special is going to feel like something special because NXT has put in the time and effort to make it into something special. They didn’t throw the gimmick on the card the week of (or even the night of) the show and they aren’t having a cage match because it’s June and that’s when it’s time to have cage matches.
Instead they’re doing things as wrestling has done them for years: taking a feud and having it slowly build up before blowing it off in a great big match that fans will pay money to see. Let the gimmicks come in where they should instead of at some random point. It’s worked for years and as usual, it would work again here if the people putting these shows together thought for a few minutes.
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