We’ll go in chronological order and start with last week’s “Monday Night Raw”. As we head towards the “2018 Elimination Chamber” pay per view, we had five of the six entrants into the men’s match. The final spot was going to be determined by a four way match held between the majority of the people who had already lost a qualifying match. Ignoring the idea of the fans needing to be interested in a match between a bunch of losers, this wasn’t the worst idea.
Since it’s WWE though, things were changed at the last minute with Seth Rollins saying he wanted in. The request was granted and the match was turned into a fatal five way instead of a four way. It was clear that this was going to lead to some sort of a screwy finish and that’s exactly what we got, in one of the dumbest possible ways to get there. The match ended with Rollins and Finn Balor pinning Bray Wyatt at the same time. With no ending in sight, the show ended with what seemed to be a logical conclusion: Balor vs. Rollins for the final spot next week.
Now that being said, since this is WWE, you know they’re not going to pull it off that easily. Instead, in a video released on Facebook Live, General Manager Kurt Angle announced that the two of them would BOTH be included in the Elimination Chamber match, making it a seven way match for the first time ever. There have been more than six people in the Chamber before (remember the tag team edition last year) but this was a bit of a stretch considering there are four pods and two people starts. We’ll come back to this in a minute because the blue show needs its turn.
Over on “Smackdown Live”, the upcoming “Fastlane 2018” pay per view already had a main event in the form of Smackdown World Champion AJ Styles defending against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a triple threat match. For some reason, Commissioner Shane McMahon decided to set up a singles match on the upcoming “Smackdown Live” with Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler facing off for a chance to make the title match a fatal four way. I think you know where this is going.
The show started with Owens and Zayn jumping Corbin and Ziggler in an attempt to keep the match from happening. Again, the logical move of just having the same match later, was ignored with the decision to split the match into two matches. Instead, Zayn would face Ziggler and Corbin would face Owens. If Corbin and Ziggler won, the pay per view title match would become a fatal five way. In the most obvious ending of all time, both Corbin and Ziggler won, setting up another multi person title match which is almost guaranteed to make my head hurt all over again.
Why is this supposed to make me want to see the matches more? We already had the classic structure of a six person Elimination Chamber match. How does adding another person to the mix make things any better? Why can’t we have one of the people left out and give them their own story? Is it really that much to ask Rollins or Balor, both former World Champions, to lose a match to another former World Champion? That leaves them open to doing something else at the pay per view in a story where they can stand out a bit more.
But no, instead the solution is to throw them into the same match with a bunch of other personalities, meaning they won’t have much of a chance to show off in the first place. Sure they’ll get in some spots, but it’s not like there’s going to be much for anyone but the winner. Does Roman Reigns really need another body to destroy on his way to his latest Wrestlemania World Title coronation (THIS TIME FOR SURE!)? Now you have two stories instead of one, as the writing staff (the still ridiculous thirty member writing staff) looks a bit lazy. This leads us back to “Smackdown Live”.
The fatal five way is another case of the same issue. First of all, Corbin and Ziggler didn’t need to be added to the match in the first place. The triple threat match on its own is perfectly fine for a pay per view main event, especially with the built-in story of Zayn and Owens possibly turning on each other, despite being best friends. Styles could win the match and overcome the odds before moving on to his big title match against Shinsuke Nakamura at “Wrestlemania XXXIV”. It gets Owens and Zayn out of the way and we can move on in a logical progression.Again though, that’s not what we got. No, instead the two of them were thrown into a match with people they don’t exactly hate in the first place. Clearly that’s the logical move instead of continuing the story that Corbin and Ziggler already have (Ziggler defeated Corbin for the title but then vacated it and left for about two months). That’s a pretty easy story to write, but instead we’re getting a five way match at the pay per view, meaning another case of people not being able to stand out.
On top of that, how does it look when you have the same thing happening on back to back nights? One of the most common criticisms of the company as a whole is how the two brands tend to run similar stories. We’re just a few months removed from the debuts of Absolution and the Riott Squad on back to back nights and now this happens in the span of twenty four hours. Are they really that creatively bankrupt that they have to use such a similar idea for two upcoming pay per views on two different brands?
I know I’ve said this before, but it comes off like the WWE creative staff coming up with one idea, doing it on both shows, and then throwing their feet up because their work is done. Why come up with something original and fresh for a pair of wrestlers when you can just add them into the story that is already a big mixture of a bunch of people who combine for one mess of a story? It comes across as a combination of lazy and the creative staff having almost no idea what they’re doing.
The “Smackdown Live” situation is the worse of the two with the number of challengers doubling, but it’s made even worse by coming a single night after the “Monday Night Raw” change. Despite how stupid the booking decisions are, it’s doing the same thing in the span of a week that makes things even worse. It’s not asking too much to come up with something different (or to just leave the already announced match as it was originally planned) as the creative department is supposed to be, you know, creative. Instead they’re coming off as a bunch of people who are proud of one idea, which isn’t a good sign as we go forward.
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