It’s the summer. That means cookouts, baseball, being off school and REALLY lame wrestling. Over the years, WWE has made no secret of the fact that the majority of summer means absolutely nothing, often times basically admitting it on their TV shows. While it doesn’t happen every single year, there are times when WWE is clearly not putting in the slightest bit of effort, which makes the summer months a complete waste of time. Today we’re going to look at why this is a problem and a few potential solutions to a rather annoying problem.
Now ignoring the fact that we have FOUR pay per views from the end of June to Summerslam or the annoying trend of having a wrestler book one of the biggest matches of the year because he can, this is really bad booking all around. If the upcoming “Great Balls of Fire” is going to be little more than a buildup to “Summerslam 2017”, why would I really need to pay attention to the show in July? It could get even worse if they do the same thing over on “Smackdown Live”, which really wouldn’t surprise me, especially with John Cena returning on the Fourth of July.
June isn’t exactly much better either with Money in the Bank. The problem here is something I’ve gone over before: while the ladder matches are entertaining on their own (more often than not at least), the ending is about setting up something for the future instead of something on its own. The briefcase can go on for another year and that doesn’t exactly keep things going in the short term.
Now that being said, there are ways to make both Money in the Bank and whatever name they have for the July pay per view this year (seriously just stick with something, like the Great American Bash) more important than they already are and it’s not even that hard to pull off.
Very simply put, have something big take place over the summer. Thankfully the “Monday Night Raw” side has already dealt with this problem by having Brock Lesnar defend the Universal Title against Samoa Joe at “Great Balls of Fire”. Just having that big of a title defense (or a title defense at all in this case) helps quite a bit, though it’s not exactly enough to get over the bigger issue.
With Reigns already looking forward to “Summerslam 2017”, there’s only so much you can do to make the summer that exciting. It’s similar to saying that everything coming up doesn’t matter because we’re already moving on to the new stuff. At this point, WWE is only going to be able to draw in so much interest as they put into it, which is where the scheduling for the summer comes in.
Ignoring the fact that there are just WAY too many pay per views (because that’s just not changing anytime soon), it would make more sense to set something up that ties into “Summerslam 2017”. In other words, make “Great Balls of Fire” and “Battleground 2017”, two shows with little appeal on their own (because they sound like some of the most generic wrestling shows ever) something that is going to set up one of the big matches at “Summerslam 2017”.
Look at “Extreme Rules 2017” for an example. The main event of that show led into the main event of “Great Balls of Fire”. Doing the same thing, especially with a big match between interesting competition, at least brings you into the big story. One of these people are going to be wrestling the World Champion (as in Lesnar) at one of the biggest shows of the year in just over a month.
That’s where I think Money in the Bank falls short more often than not. Yeah it’s a concept that sets up something for the future, but it’s not setting up anything for any particular point in time. Sure the match might take place at or before that year’s Summerslam, but it also might not take place until a full year later. Based on that, Summerslam would be the same as any other night of the year, which again defeats the purpose and makes Money in the Bank a show that could take place at any other time of the year.
The best example of making this work was a short lived experiment in 2002 when the winner of the King of the Ring tournament was awarded the WWE World Title shot at “Summerslam 2002”. The tournament was won by Lesnar, who went on to defeat the Rock and become one of the biggest stars in the company. It was a simple idea and you had two months to set Lesnar up as the next big thing (thereby making his name all the more appropriate).
Now no, I’m not saying that the King of the Ring needs to come back because I think that’s been covered to death over the years. What I do think they need to do though is find something (a big match, a series of matches, a feud over being #1 contender etc) to tie these shows together. Otherwise, you’re looking at a few things over June and July that have next to nothing to do with what we’re getting at the big show in August. Again, there are multiple ways to do this but there are versions that show this either working or making the July show a waste of time.
First of all, the summer of 1998 was all about the build to Steve Austin vs. Undertaker for the WWF World Title at “Summerslam 1998”. While the show was probably the biggest Summerslam of all time, the show between “King of the Ring 1996” and “Summerslam 1998” was “Fully Loaded”, which the company basically said was going to be a speed bump on the way to the big show. Austin and Undertaker won the titles, lost them fifteen days later, and then went on to main event “Summerslam 1998”. In other words, just skip July and go straight to August, meaning it’s a waste of time.
On the other hand, consider 2011. The July pay per view that year is something you might remember: “Money in the Bank 2011”, featuring John Cena vs. CM Punk with the World Title on the line. That would be the masterpiece where Punk won the title and then left with the title, setting up the just slightly less great rematch at “Summerslam 2011”. The story tied together, making everything an important part of one narrative.
There’s the difference in a nutshell: would you rather have a show that is clearly just there to set up something obvious or a followup to what was already a great match? It’s not hard to come up with something that stretches out for the span of a few months for some reason WWE would rather waste our time by wrapping up Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal and then moving on to whatever is next. It’s bad storytelling, which has plagued WWE for years now. Fix the problem by putting in some more thinking. It’s really not that hard.
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