We’ve arrived at one of the most dreaded times of the year: the stretch from the Royal Rumble to the day after whatever February pay per view the WWE happens to be putting on. Why is that the case? It’s a simple answer this time: February pay per views are terrible. This isn’t anything new but it happens every year. Let’s take a look back at this case and see why it’s not a huge surprise.

Just like last year, the February pay per view this year is “Fastlane 2016”, which gets us right to the point of the problem: it’s all about “Wrestlemania XXXII”. The name Fastlane is a reference to being on the road to “Wrestlemania XXXII”. There’s no secret about the fact that this show doesn’t need to exist and is just a way to help set things up for the biggest show of the year. Let’s take a quick look at the top of the card for “Fastlane 2015” and what we have so far for “Fastlane 2016”.

Starting with last year, we had the Authority (Seth Rollins/Kane/Big Show) vs. the makeshift team of Dolph Ziggler/Erick Rowan/Ryback, Rusev defending the United States Title against John Cena and Roman Reigns defending his already won “Wrestlemania XXXI” main event WWE World Title shot against Daniel Bryan. Now for a comparison to this year’s show.

We have a six man tag with Kane/Big Show/Ryback vs. Braun Strowman/Eric Rowan/Luke Harper (four out of six) in what has a very strong potential to be a one off match, Ziggler challenging Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Title in a match we’ve seen a few times before and Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar in a triple threat match for the chance to challenge for the WWE World Title at “Wrestlemania XXXII.”

In other words, aside from the six man tags with four of the same people in back to back years, we had a match that we would see again vs. a match we’ve seen already and a pair of matches to set up a later title match. What incentive do I have to see this? Yes the wrestling should be good, but how many other matches fit that same description? We have the biggest show of the year coming up in five weeks. I could go for some significant storyline development instead of hoping that the one important match might be good.

Then look at the other midcard action this year. We have a pair of Divas matches with Tamina/Naomi facing the team of Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks along with Charlotte defending the Divas Title against Brie Bella. While it seems that we’ll be seeing these feuds merged into one with Charlotte defending the title against Becky and Sasha at “Wrestlemania XXXII”, it makes me wonder why we don’t get more of this story set up in the time we have. Instead of having the two miniature feuds, why not spend the time setting up the one big match so the fans have a greater incentive to see it?

This isn’t just a Fastlane problem either. Before “Fastlane 2015”, the most recent February pay per view was Elimination Chamber, which ran from 2010-2014. These shows are hit or miss for me, primarily due to one problem: it came a month after the Royal Rumble. There’s already one big match for the main event of Wrestlemania and now a month later we’re having another one where the title (one of the two in some years) or the #1 contendership was on the line. In short, it’s too much too fast.

It also didn’t help that there were times when the Elimination Chamber match couldn’t even headline its own show. Of the five Elimination Chamber shows in February, the namesake match only headlined the show three times. The other two main events came at “Elimination Chamber 2012” when John Cena defeated Kane in an ambulance match and “Elimination Chamber 2013” when The Rock defeated CM Punk in a rematch for the WWE World Title. How exactly am I supposed to get excited about a show called Elimination Chamber when it doesn’t even seen to be about the Elimination Chamber?

Now that’s not to say that the Elimination Chamber series was bad. What I’m saying is the show was misplaced. You could have easily put the show in the summer and set up the main event of Summerslam instead, but for some reason we saw a show that had the potential to reset everything again before Wrestlemania. So many of the Elimination Chamber participants have to move on to something else after the pay per view with only a few weeks left to set something up. Shouldn’t Wrestlemania have more time than the normal show?

So what do you do? As is so often the case, you look down at Full Sail University and follow the NXT model. NXT’s most recent special was “Takeover: London” on December 16, 2015. The next edition isn’t until April 1, 2016 with “Takeover: Dallas” on Wrestlemania weekend. There’s a good chance that this is going to be the biggest show of the year but there’s a three and a half month gap. How did NXT solve it you ask?

They used TV. Instead of holding a big event between “Takeover: London” and “Takeover: Dallas”, they aired a series of major matches on television, giving them several weeks of main event caliber matches (sort of like a pay per view card) which set up “Takeover: Dallas.” Now why can’t WWE do that?

No really: why can’t WWE do that? Why do we need to have a pay per view in February? Instead of setting up everything on a February show that often comes off as a one match card which a lot of people don’t care to see (like say, the two Fastlanes), why not just put that one match on as a major main event of “Monday Night Raw”? They could even spend a few weeks building the matches up instead of just throwing it out there on two hours’ notice to draw a better audience (that’s a good suggestion throughout the year instead of just in February).

February does not need a WWE pay per view and it hasn’t in a very long time. Instead of just going with a big gimmick match to set something up because the calendar says so or having the #1 contender defend his status or not having the champion defend the title because they’re having him wait around for a few months until Wrestlemania, give us some big time TV instead. You remember a few weeks back when Roman Reigns won the WWE World Title from Sheamus on “Monday Night Raw” and it was actually exciting? Yeah imagine that for a few weeks in a row instead of one not great pay per view.

Unless you go all the way back to some of the older No Way Out shows, it’s really hard to find a solid build towards Wrestlemania. Therefore, why try having an extra big show thrown in there? Instead, go with something more simple and make Wrestlemania feel like a show you’ve spent more time preparing. Having a February pay per view isn’t the worst thing in the world, but there are a lot of better options out there which could serve the company (and its TV ratings) far better.

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