FACT or FICTION: The "SummerFest" Edition (Part 2)
Aug 18, 2013 - 1:57:41 PM
Part one of FACT or FICTION is in the books, so it's time for part two, leading right up to SummerSlam. Let's get it on and poppin..
FACT or FICTION: SummerSlam will top the 400,000 pay-per-view buys mark, behind the strength of Daniel Bryan's quest for the WWE Title and the CM Punk VS Brock Lesnar "dream match". For reference, last year's event had 358,000 buys, 2011's had 296,000 buys and 2010's had 349,000. The last time SummerSlam topped 400,000 buys was in 2008.
Crow: Very rarely these days do I hear many people I know say that they are going to actually pay for a wrestling PPV. They'll watch them, sure, but usually through… less than legal mediums. Something seems different about Summerslam this year though, in that I'm actually seeing even the most cynical (and cheap) of my friends actually looking forward to dropping the $60 for the show. Between Cena/Bryan, Punk/Lesnar and even Wyatt/Kane, something about this show is making people willing to actually pay for it. Because of that, I'm going to go with FACT on this one. I don't think we're going to see Wrestlemania numbers or anything, but I do think the show is going to do well.
Tito: Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk is going to draw strong at SummerSlam and seeing Daniel Bryan finally get a shot at John Cena on a Pay Per View is a bonus that puts the buyrate over the top. FACT. Non-Wrestlemania events requires casual adult fans to want to buy WWE programming and CM Punk, Brock Lesnar (attracting MMA crowds), and Daniel Bryan will draw them in. I also think Daniel Bryan is not only popular with adult fans, but kids like him too. The Summer hasn't seen a ramping up in Gasoline prices as it normally has towards $4 per gallon nationally, so the extra disposable income might be there to buy another WWE Pay Per View for the year.
Hustle: Maybe I'm being too hopeful. Maybe I'm putting too much faith in people that I shouldn't put faith in. Whatever it is.. I'm siding with FACT on this one. This event is the proper mix of attractive to both casual and hardcore wrestling fans. Brock Lesnar is a proven draw, and he brings in the crossover fans who are MMA fans and want to see him do his thing and/or the older wrestling fans that only watch the sport now when the part-timers are around. John Cena, hate him or love him, is the top draw on the WWE roster, and shines even brighter in a "big match" atmosphere, which this will be. CM Punk is someone that can sit on both sides of the casual/hardcore fence, as he's over with both, and in a big fight with Lesnar, where the build has been done successfully, you have more people that want to see the match. It really comes down to Daniel Bryan, though. I've said it before, and I'll say it again.. nobody in all of wrestling gets the level of face pops that Bryan gets on a week-to-week basis, and a large portion of those people are the casual fans that are (obviously) more willing to spend their money on things like tickets, merchandise, and pay-per-views. However, it's the internet fans (aka the "hardcore" fans) that are the key here. To that group, Daniel Bryan is "their" guy. Having him in this situation, on this grand a stage, should be enough to get a lot of them to legally acquire SummerSlam, instead of watching it illegally via live stream like they would with every other event. In talking with enough people (I've tried to make the group as large as possible so I can come up with my own accurate assessment), there will be plenty of people ordering SummerSlam that don't or wouldn't order other pay-per-views minus maybe WrestleMania or Royal Rumble. I'm putting my trust in the IWC, which is a scary thought, but I think they do the "right" thing, and we'll get a buy total that exceeds 400,000.
Mazza: I guess you could break this down as whether Daniel Bryan can draw more than Triple H! Of course in reality it is not that simple and there will be a lot more factors involved. To be perfectly honest it is not an area I totally understand or particularly care about. With no Rock or other big name returning aside from Lesnar at the event, it pretty much boils down to whether the rise of Bryan can garner an extra 40 thousand buys or so. There is not really a great frame of reference but if you look back to the buyrate during the Summer of Punk, you’d have to say no. An argument could be made I guess that the vocal minority refused to put their money where their mouths were as they weren't happy with how the storyline was going, but the same can be said this year too with people already convinced the company will totally screw things up. So I am going to say FICTION but I hope I am wrong because if Bryan gets some of the credit for a strong buyrate, it has to be a good thing for him.
Chrisss: It's never easy to predict how successful a WWE Pay-Per-View will be. There's always going to be different factors that can come into play: the time of the year, the card, the strength of the preceding PPV, the Raws and SmackDowns leading up to the show, etc. But I think John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan and Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk have the drawing power to get SummerSlam over 400,000 bus this summer. After all, you have three of the most popular stars on the roster booked for what many people are calling "Wrestlemania-quality" matches. Pretty much every wrestling fan on the planet - mark, smark, young, old - wants to see Daniel Bryan face John Cena for the WWE Championship as well as Brock Lesnar and CM Punk beat the hell out of each other. I'll be SHOCKED if SummerSlam ends up doing under 400,000 buys, I really will be. FACT.
TripleR: FICTION. As much as I would love for this to happen, I just don’t think the buys are going to be there. While they didn't wrestle each other, all four of these men were on last year’s SummerSlam card. Lesnar was in the Main Event against Triple H, Punk and Cena were in a Triple Threat, and D-Bry wrestled Kane. Yes, the configurations are different here, but I don’t see another 40K+ people plunking down their money for SummerSlam. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the buy rate was lower than last year; not significantly, but lower still. I've said it before, but your average WWE watcher can’t afford to spend money month after month for a WWE PPV. They need to lower the price by about $10 or else more and more people are going to find ways to stream them.
FACT or FICTION: As a follow up to the previous question, you will be ordering the pay-per-view, no matter what your "usual" method of watching wrestling pay-per-views happens to be.
Mazza: Probably FICTION. If I was at home, I would 100% be spending the money on the event but I will actually be away. As of now I have no idea how I will be watching it but I really hope I can get to view SummerSlam live.
TripleR: FICTION. Mainly for the fact that I might not be able to see SummerSlam as it happens this year. Unfortunately I might have to rely on reports to see it. But if I were able to see it live, I think this is one that I would actually order from the WWE, but that’s after the FACT.
Crow: FACT. I may not be watching it live, since I can almost guarantee I'll be working that night, but luckily I can always record the show and watch it later. I have a feeling this is going to be the kind of show that is best watched on a big screen, so that's exactly how I'll be watching it, either late Sunday or sometime on Monday before RAW. WWE has me hooked right now, and that's not something I often say anymore.
Tito: Yes, I will be buying SummerSlam 2013 in High Definition on Pay Per View. FACT. I'm an old man with kids to spend money on, so I'm selective on my WWE Pay Per View purchases. And I don't steal the WWE Pay Per Views via illegal streaming. So far for 2013, I've bought Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania here at the house, while going over to a friend's house and splitting for Money in the Bank (as my column reviews will show). The quality hasn't been there for the other WWE Pay Per Views to merit my hard earned dollars, and ditto for my time on a Sunday evening. That, and RAW recaps everything that occurs on a Pay Per View anyway. CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar had me buying the Pay Per View no matter what the rest of the card was. It's that unique of a match.
Hustle: I have to go with FACT here. I've been championing this event, this build, and the double main event for too long to go back on it now. Nothing has changed. I'm still super excited for the show. They have my attention, but honestly, SummerSlam could go a long way in deciding my WWE viewing habits for the fall months, once football has officially returned.
Chrisss: Hell yeah I'm ordering SummerSlam! In fact, this will be the first SummerSlam I legally order since Team Nexus faced Team WWE three years ago. Why? Because WWE is giving us a great card this year, and treating it like it's a big deal. As a result, WWE has my money this year. FACT.
FACT or FICTION: Cody Rhodes VS Damien Sandow should be for the Money In The Bank title shot.
Hustle: While I'm not really a fan of the logic that comes with wrestlers putting things like this on the line (whether it's their Money In The Bank briefcase, WrestleMania title shot they won in the Royal Rumble, etc), I think it could have worked had it involved other people. If someone like John Cena does it, it almost fits his "never back down from any fight because he's confident in his abilities" character, and while people would still say that it makes little sense, they would accept it and move on. For Damien Sandow, who is portrayed as an intellectual that is smarter than everyone else, I fail to see a scenario where him putting his briefcase on the line would make any sense. I don't want to hear about "pride", and how, as a man, he could be coaxed into doing it by Cody Rhodes, who gets in his head and frustrates him. It just wouldn't work. FICTION all the way on this one.
Chrisss: I'm glad this topic brought up, because I've been wanting to address it for a while now. I HATE when people pop up on Facebook, Twitter, etc. and complain that Sandow vs. Rhodes should be for the MitB briefcase. What sense does that make? Why does the MitB briefcase holder ever have to put his briefcase on the line? What does he stand to gain by agreeing to that kind of stipulation? It's not like Sandow illegally won the briefcase (let's say he wasn't an official participant and ran down and stole it from Cody), because if he did, I could understand the logic of Sandow having to defend it. Can't we all just enjoy a midcard feud between two midcard wrestlers who will try and steal the show at SummerSlam (which will be nearly impossible to pull off, considering the top matches on the card)? Sandow vs. Rhodes does not need the briefcase to be on the line, end of story. FICTION.
Mazza: FICTION. I don’t see why the briefcase should be put on the line aside for in extreme circumstances. Sandow won the suitcase fair and square. There was nothing contentious about it to force Vickie into putting on the line. It would have been different if say Sandow had paid off the Mean Street Posse to interfere and cost Cody victory at Money in the Bank. I could also see Sandow being coaxed into it if Rhodes had something of similar value he could put on the line. It would have to be something pretty special to match up to an almost guaranteed world title run and the most valuable thing Cody has right now is probably his mustache.
TripleR: (a thousand times over). No one in their right mind should EVER put their MITB briefcase on the line. That’s one of the stupidest things a wrestler could do. You have a briefcase in your hand, with a contract to cash it in whenever you want, virtually guaranteeing you that you will be the WWE or the World Champion (except for John Cena) and you’re going to put in on the line in a match? Why would you do that? There is nothing for the holder of the briefcase to gain from a match like that. And considering Damien Sandow is supposed to be the most intelligent wrestler in the WWE that’s even worse. Get the hell out of here with that nonsense.
Crow: 100% FICTION. I absolutely detest any booking where somebody puts a guaranteed title shot on the line for no reward because I find it impossible to believe that anybody would do that. For instance, if you were guaranteed a big promotion at work, would you put it on the line in a game of poker just because somebody else wanted it? It's stupid, and it's cheap booking. If WWE wanted to put the briefcase in somebody else's hands, they should have done that in the first place. We're supposed to believe that every wrestler's sole ambition is to become World Champion, but then they expect us to buy that a wrestler is putting a guaranteed shot at the belt on the line because…why not? Unless there's some extremely tempting motivation that would make it worth the risk, for instance a big cash prize or something, it's just too unbelievable for me. Even if someone was "forced" to put the shot on the line, that's backwards ass booking too. Whoever wins that briefcase has earned that guaranteed title shot, and nobody should be able to take that away. That is their contract, plain and simple.
Tito: No way, FICTION. The Smackdown Money in the Bank is already second-rate with the way the WWE took the top Smackdown stars (Sheamus, Randy Orton, Christian) and inserted them into the All-Star Money in the Bank contest for the WWE Title shot. Cheapening it further by having the briefcase switch hands will continue to diminish the credibility of the World Heavyweight Title. That, and Cody Rhodes is not ready for the World Heavyweight Title. Neither is Damien Sandow, but to somehow have both claim to have owned a World Title shot when they are midcarders at best just hurts the WHC title picture.
FACT or FICTION: WWE picked the right name, in Christian, to contend for the World Title.
Crow: I've been a huge fan of Christian for a very long time now, and even if he never wins another championship, he's had one hell of a career. Now, as a veteran of the ring, he's in a position where he can help the current crop of wrestlers make it to that next level. Or, on a less prestigious sounding level, he's a relevant and big enough name that he can be a transitional opponent for a champion. The other obvious names to be feuding over Del Rio's belt are otherwise occupied, but keeping him off the card isn't an option either. Enter Christian. As a former World Champion and respected ring veteran, Christian is the perfect wrestler to be in this match at Summerslam. I don't think there's much danger in the belt changing hands, but I think the match itself is going to be worth watching. Easy FACT here for me.
Chrisss: Does the world title really matter anymore? Almost overnight, the world heavyweight championship has gone from being the equivalent to the WWE Championship to being barely more prestigious than the Intercontinental Championship. And I think a lot of the blame goes to the end of the brand extension and the debut of three-hour Raws. When you have the world champion wrestling in an unannounced match every single week on Raw while the WWE Champion almost never travels to SmackDown, how can you expect the fans to consider both titles to be on equal footing? At this point, it doesn't really matter who's challenging for the world title because it no longer feels like a world title. Not until someone like Cena, Punk, or Orton becomes world heavyweight champion will the fans start caring about the belt again. I like Christian, and at this point, I'm ready for just about anyone to take the world title from Del Rio and keep it far, far away from him. FACT.
Tito: Absolutely not. FICTION. The REAL opponent for Del Rio should be Dolph Ziggler. That's the SummerSlam match that could have not only made the event look *that* much better, but to give the Smackdown brand some credibility on a Pay Per View event for a change. Instead, Ziggler has to suffer through a feud with AJ Lee and Big E Langston while Alberto Del Rio wrestles a WWE veteran who is looking older these days. Seriously, we've been watching Christian since 1998 and when was he worthy of wrestling for a World Title at previous SummerSlams let alone this one? WWE's fascination with AJ Lee is dragging Ziggler through the mud and keeping him from a high profile SummerSlam match that could steal the show.
Mazza: This one very much depends on what you are looking for. If you want to have a great in-ring contest which has the potential to outshine higher profile encounters, then it is definitely FACT. Del Rio and Christian have proved time and time again that they deliver as well as anyone between that starting and finishing bell and have proved they have excellent chemistry together. If it was thrown together as a midcard filler match it would make a great addition to the card but the World Heavyweight Championship is on the line here which points to FICTION. By all kayfabe logic, this should be as big a deal as Cena vs Bryan, and that is just laughable. Christian became number one contender barely back from injury and with about as much momentum as one of his spears. Del Rio struggles enough to get decent reactions as it is and as much as I love Captain Charisma, he is not going to change that. I think the feud with Ziggler easily had the legs to carry on here but the fact that the writers just can’t seem to deal with a character having two simultaneous story arcs cast that aside. Even then there are higher profile faces who could have had a shot at the strap. So on the balance I think that the FICTION is stronger than fact on this one.
Hustle: I'll have to go with FICTION here, but not because I dislike the placement of Christian. While his booking was iffy before he became the #1 Contender, he's still one of the more solid and dependable workers on the roster, capable of putting on entertaining matches whenever he steps in the ring, and he has a proven track record with his opponent at SummerSlam, Alberto Del Rio. However, in the exact context of this question, the "right" person to face Del Rio would be Dolph Ziggler. I can't complain too much, though. I like having Christian get the World Title shot, and I think there's a very good possibility the match could steal the show, when all is said and done.
TripleR: FACT. He’s as good as anybody else they've pushed recently right? With Dolph Ziggler embroiled in his feud with Big E. Langston and AJ, they've effectively taken him out of the picture for the time being. Will he get his shot at the belt again? Absolutely, but I think the WWE is waiting to do that until Dolph is solidified as a solid face. So who do you have left? Sheamus is hurt. Orton is holding the WWE MITB briefcase. Miz isn't even on the card, and he’s certainly no better than Christian. The only other person that could possibly fit that role is RVD, but I’d rather see Christian in that spot than him. And that’s the main problem the WWE has. Where are all the Main Eventers?
FACT or FICTION: SummerSlam, throughout history, is an overrated event.
Mazza: FACT. It is billed as the company’s second biggest PPV of the year and is very very rarely in the best couple of events quality wise. Most years it is not an event I look forward to more than any other “lesser” PPVs and whilst I am extremely hyped for this year’s event, that is more the exception rather than the rule.
TripleR: FACT. Back in the day, this was one of the big four, because honestly there only WERE four. You had the Rumble, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and Wrestlemania. As the years went by, the sheer amount of PPV’s saturated the market to the point that almost EVERY PPV has lost its importance. The Survivor Series, which was unique in that it had elimination style matches, is right now just a standard PPV. The great thing about that PPV was that you’d see wrestlers who never interacted get to go against each other on teams. Now they ALL interact with each other, so there’s nothing special. I think SummerSlam has gone the same way. There’s really nothing special about it anymore. Probably the only two “special” events for me in the WWE are the Royal Rumble match, and Wrestlemania. I think it’s time to spot calling it one of the big four. It’s a fine PPV on its own, but it does nothing to make it stand out from the others.
Chrisss: Overrated is a bit of an exaggeration. Has SummerSlam lived up to it's moniker throughout the years as the second-biggest PPV of the year? Not with the Royal Rumble around. Hell, I'd argue that since Money in the Bank got it's own PPV a few years back, it's overshadowed SummerSlam in one way or another (although that might change this year). But calling SummerSlam "overrated"? Not in my book. FICTION.
Crow: FACT. As hard as WWE might try to make us believe Summerslam is a major event, it just isn't. It doesn't have the traditional gimmick of a show like Royal Rumble or Survivor Series, and it doesn't have the money, promotion, celebrity involvement, or prestige of Wrestlemania. Summerslam is just like every other PPV, just with a catchphrase. Once again I feel compelled to say that I'm not saying there has never been a great Summerslam moment ever in the history of the event, because that would obviously be false, but overall I think the most prestigious thing about it is that it's survived for 26 years now. Other than that, I don't see it as anything special.
Tito: How is it overrated when the show has delivered huge as the second best show of the year, only behind Wrestlemania? FICTION. Certainly, the shows have been watered down because of the WWE's monthly Pay Per View schedule, but this show has had impressive moments and matches that fans don't forget. It's only second to Wrestlemania in terms of consistently delivering great singles or main event matches. This is the show that preps the WWE for the "Fall Season" of RAW and begins to set the table for Royal Rumble to Wrestlemania by often blowing off the top feuds of the summer. Historically, a great show that has delivered and made many stars overnight, just as Wrestlemania has.
Hustle: The show tends to bring in good ratings on a yearly basis. The company tends to load up the card, or make special happenings take place at the event. From the Bret VS Bulldog match to The MegaPowers teaming up to Shawn Michaels making his return to wrestling to the wedding of Randy Savage and Elizabeth to the beginning of the Brock Lesnar Era to Team WWE VS Team Nexus to Hulk Hogan VS Shawn Michaels to Jesse "The Body" Ventura returning to wrestling to The Undertaker VS "The Undertaker" (shut up, it was big at the time), and so many more things in between.. this is an event that the company continues to bankroll heavily, and that isn't going to change anytime soon. FICTION all the way. If anything, the Royal Rumble is the historically overrated event. People take their love for the Rumble match itself and proclaim the pay-per-view as the second biggest event of the year when that isn't true. In kayfabe, the Rumble is a huge event, where 30 (or 40) people get an opportunity for a main event spot at WrestleMania, but the company puts more of an effort into the booking and promotion of SummerSlam, on a year-to-year basis.
Writer's Note: As is always the case with pay-per-views, don't forget to join LoP Radio for our post-show. Tonight, at 11pm EST, immediately after SummerSlam ends, join us as we break down what is guaranteed to be one of the most talked-about events of the year, no matter the outcomes that we end up seeing. We'll review the show, take calls from anyone who wants to discuss the show, and look ahead to Raw. It'll be a fun time. Click the following link for the BlogTalkRadio player so that you can listen in live when the time comes..
LoP Radio's SummerSlam Post-Show
That wraps up another edition of FACT or FICTION. I'd like to thank the esteemed panel for their participation. It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad a bunch of MP writers were able to work together on a project like this. Keep your peepers peepin, ladies and gentlemen, because you never know when FoF will make its return. Until then, aloha.