Bring Back ____
It’s odd how often I’ll want to watch wrestling, and instead of watching today’s product that I feel is vastly superior to older WWF, I tend to always end up watching something from the 80s. If I want something new, it’s NWA or non-PPV collections from WWF (like Saturday Night’s Main Event, or their Best of WWF Coliseum Video collections). If I want something I’ve seen before, it’s a WWF PPV from that era (87-92). In no way am I saying these WWF events had great matches. In fact, it may be the poorest excuse of actual in ring content in the history of the sport. WWF was riding high on the Hogan train, and it led to empty cards, headlined by mediocre main events. Rarely did a match captivate without a storyline attached to it, unlike WWE today where even with the weekly TV, we’re apt to see 3-4 great matches within the confines of Raw/SD/NXT/Superstars/PPV.
Why would I prefer to watch a substandard event, knowing that I have a great collection of DVDs, best ofs, downloads, independents, Japanese, and UFC?
I think it’s because as much as today’s WWE is very solid in terms of in ring work, it still lacks not only the personas and charisma of the former stars, but the little touches of older wrestling that I miss. So, today I will list a few things missing today that I’ve seen in WWF/WWF in the past, and would benefit the modern world of wrestling.
2 out of 3 Falls Matches (2/3 falls)
The WWF used these matches often on house shows, as well as Saturday Night’s Main Event shows. They were mostly reserved for tag team matches, which I think is the PERFECT place for them. With tag team matches, you have a larger variety of ways for the falls to occur. While tag teams may have a duo finisher, today’s teams usually have 2 singles fighters with their own finishers. This weekend’s Night of Champions Tag Team Championship match could have falls ending with a “Trouble in Paradise”, a “Lie Detector” (flying spinning forearm), a “No Lock”, a Chokeslam, or a Tombstone Piledriver. And those are just the straight singles finishes. We saw Kane win the match against the Prime Time Players with a chokeslam to his partner onto the opponent. There can be roll ups, DQs, count outs, cheating, interference…etc. Lots of options to leave it unpredictable. I think one of the bigger and better examples of how well this match type can work is at SummerSlam 1990. While not the best version of a 2/3 falls match, other examples won’t be as widely known or accessible.
These days, this match type is used sparingly. We saw a great match at Extreme Rules between Daniel Bryan and Sheamus. That match was glorious, and would have been match of the night, were it not for the brutal main event between Cena and Brock. It seems that the only time these matches are used these days are in singles matches with top quality in ring performers. I can understand that. But the problem is that this match type is for purists, it’s not a top drawing stipulation. Much like Iron Man Matches, the stipulation doesn’t add a lot of excitement to most fans, only those who know the subtleties added by the extra falls. This is why most of the modern 2/3 falls matches are 3 Stages of Hell, with 3 different gimmicks, and therefore reserved for only top headliners.
This is a shame, because this is exactly the type of gimmick that suits undercard guys. There’s no reason to put Sin Cara vs Cody Rhodes in Hell of a Cell. It would be stupid. But, 2/3 falls? Suddenly, there’s a gimmick that suits the action. It allows them lots of options, more ring time, and gimmick matches add to the angle. I think one strong thing that the Attitude Era gave us were gimmick matches outside the main event. Something as simple as saying 2/3 falls can make a midcard match a tad more interesting. Tag or singles, these should make a return.
Time Limit Draws
Rougeaus vs Bulldogs, SummerSlam 1988. The Rougeaus were often viewed as a cheap heel team, without any real prospects in the tag division. And honestly, that’s not far off from the truth. But to see them go toe-to-toe with the Bulldogs for 20 minutes straight showed that these guys were more than flag waving frenchies.
Today, there are a lot of wrestlers and storylines that could benefit from this. Any angle where someone is trying to prove themselves in any way can be improved with a time limit draw. Hell, have Zack Ryder challenge John Cena, and have Zack last 20 minutes. At the end, they shake hands, and Zack is a contender to the IC title overnight.
It also can extend feuds without actually wasting a finish. Christian vs Orton was a great feud, but I think it would have been well advised to have a time limit draw early on to show that they were equal.
Tag Team PPV Main Events
Honestly, I just am sick of too many WWE Title matches. Consider this: CM Punk’s WWE Title reign is not as impressive in terms of length by the days, but by the number of TV/PPV title defenses. With that in mind, he’s more successful than even Hulk Hogan circa 1984-1988. Hogan had the title for over 4 years, with only 2 PPV title defenses, and a handful on TV. He spent half his time as champion headlining TV and PPV events in a tag team. This NEEDS to return.
This would have several changes within the programming, all of which I’ll attempt to address. First, there are 2 main event titles right now, so having the World Title defended on PPV would allow the WWE champion to have a non title defense match. Use the name power as much as you can, but spread out the title matches. This can be done with tag teams. I painted a decent picture for you in my last column when I described a Survivor Series main event of Brock/Punk (and 3 partners) vs Cena/HHH (and 3 partners) in an elimination tag match. I understand that these sorts of combination are going to be hard to come by every month. But as much as possible, use it on PPV, and not TV.
Look at the current feuds. Now, the Jerry Lawler incident has definitely put a damper on this possibility, but let’s pretend he didn’t have any health scare this week. How easily would it be to book a PPV match of John Cena/Jerry Lawler vs CM Punk/anyone? This would be effective for a PPV like Hell in a Cell, where the gimmick can add to the scenario.
Even on Smackdown, Sheamus is in an angle where he can’t use his Brogue Kick. Use the deposition segment on Raw where David Otunga was bringing up other victims of the Brogue Kick who are angry at Sheamus. I could see the draw out of a handicap match pitting Del Rio, Otunga and Daniel Bryan taking on Sheamus and Christian, with Chad Patton as the referee. Again, the Cell can help this match draw the extra viewers.
Of course, if we are to have more of these PPV matches, we’d need to cut down on the TV tag matches.
Less Matches for Main Eventers on TV
Was there really any need for Punk to face Orton, and then have the tag match? The show ended with a non-wrestling segment between the top 2 guys in the company talking. And it was a tremendous battle of promos. Both guys looked awesome. Now, I understand you can’t repeat this every week, but you don’t need to. These guys should be held away from the ring when given away for free as much as possible, and make the viewers pay to watch them. Exceptions can be made, but lately it’s been too much.
It would take an entire overhaul of the TV booking, which I am not expecting to happen. Too much pressure is on WWE to have specific segment ratings. You can tell by how quickly the main page reports which stars bring in viewers, and which drop. If you want to have these guys wrestling on TV, make them fit into matches that draw for free, but not to pay. There’s got to be a perfect balance. I have an idea to help this out
6 Man Tag Matches/Tag Matches (mixing feuds)
When I played Extreme Warfare Revenge, which is a game that’s essentially Sim-Promoter, I would often have the main events of my TV shows be tag matches that mixed up the angles. Again, take a look at today’s angles: how easy would it be to have a TV main event of Ziggler/Rhodes vs Rhodes/Sin Cara? When I say main event, it can be top of the hour match as well. This is the type of tag match that wouldn’t exactly fit on a PPV, but would still be important enough to start the 9:00 hour of Raw. And have the finish be unrelated to the angles. Example, if Cara pins Ziggler, there’s still juice for his hatred with Rhodes, while Orton and Ziggler hasn’t even moved an inch in terms of storyline advancement. But we get a great match out of it.
And if we see too many tag matches, make it a 6 man tag. Make it Heath Slater/Dolph Ziggler/Cody Rhodes vs Zack Ryder/Randy Orton/Sin Cara. 6 man tags have been missing for entirely too long. With this scenario, you can give guys like Ryder and Slater in ring time with the top audience, help give them the rub. Not much would make Slater look impressive more than getting the advantage on someone like Orton on TV in a top of the hour match.
Mix up the card a bit. Put main eventers in a team with guys lower than them.
Well Hyped TV Midcard Main Events
There seems to be an ongoing angle with The Miz, Cody Rhodes, and Rey Mysterio. This could easily involve the Intercontinental Championship. Now, we’ll most likely get a last minute IC title match booked for the PPV this weekend involving these 3 men, and/or possibly Sin Cara due to his involvement with Cody Rhodes and Mysterio recently. Let’s have it be a Fatal Four Way, for the sake of discussion. Let’s have The Miz win, by pinning Mysterio. This would leave it open for The Miz to defend in a Triple threat against Cara/Rhodes on Smackdown in 2-3 weeks. Announce that match on Raw the night after Night of Champions. Build up the Title match with a week or two notice. And let that match top the hour. This wouldn’t steal the spotlight from anyone, nor would it take too much effort on WWE’s part to make happen.
Double DQ/Count Out
Nothing says GRUDGE MATCH in my opinion like a double DQ. Let two guys get so heated in their rivalry that they throw the rules out, and just brawl until they need to be separated by officials. The same works with count outs.
Now, this shouldn’t happen on PPV. I don’t think anyone should pay for this sort of finish. But putting this on TV would be a tremendous build to any storyline currently going on outside of the main events since there is more than enough heat between those guys. A better example would be letting Orton and Ziggler go nuts, as it would add a necessary level of drama to their current developments.
I know I recently covered this, but it deserves to be repeated. The United States Title is easily a level lower than the White Strap at this point in the midcard. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But instead of putting it on a guy like Cesaro who is still blossoming, and use the title as a crutch in getting him to catch on with the WWE Universe without any real direction, give the title direction like transforming it into a TV title. It worked wonders for Devon in TNA, and turned him into a true singles star. He might not be headlining any TNA PPV events, but his value as a singles star rose from weekly title defenses. This would be even more important to someone like Antonio who is trying to gain some footing. There’s a wealth of opponents for him to work with, and it wouldn’t damage anyone’s career.
I’m not saying have him defend against Randy Orton, and win clean next week. But having Cesaro defend against Kofi Kingston one week and win wouldn’t hurt the co-tag champion in the slightest. Same goes for any guys in a tag team currently, as well as those appearing on Superstars on a regular basis.
The best case scenario: make this a time limit division. Make it only 10 minutes. Also, no back to back title matches, outside rematches for the former champion. Skip the introduction of the wrestlers. Come back from commercial to a backstage segment with Cesaro in one corner, Brodus Clay in another, and ring the bell. Let them fight for 10 minutes. Let Cesaro cheat to win. Brodus would deserve a title rematch because of the cheap loss, but he’ll have to wait the extra week before getting his chance. This gives opportunity for feuds to develop.
If a 3 hour Raw can have throw away matches like Heath Slater vs Ryback, then you can have a United States Television title defense.
Too often do we see guys just be named as challengers to titles. We need more matches to determine contenders. Not only does it give a win to a rising star, and therefore a push towards a new level, but the opponents end up getting a boost as well. If on Smackdown, there’s a Triple Threat Match for us to determine who should face The Miz at Night of Champion between Rhodes, Mysterio and Sin Cara, the 2 guys who don’t get the shot are going to be on everyone’s mind after the Pay Per View. Everyone wins.
This isn’t a demand for another Sin Cara, or Rey Mysterio. I just mean using a masked persona to retool existing talent. If Curt Hawkins showed up under a mask and new ring attire, he could have a brand new career. This would also be great for a team, like the Conquistadors once were. Edge and Christian helped give a great idea on how the masks can used, but instead think long term. Jack Swagger has been taken off TV it seems. Put him and Drew McIntyre under masks with matching attire, and make them the “Elite.” Elite Red, and Elite Blue. Give no indications that they are former WWE stars, just use them in the tag division without telling anyone who they are. Don’t make an angle on “who could they be?” Just make them like a modern Masked Destroyers duo.
Along the same lines, we need face painted bruisers. Bring back Demolition/Powers of Pain/Road Warriors. Or Ultimate Warrior. Why? I don’t know, it’s just cool. Not to the level of Jeff Hardy maybe, but something needs to be done for some guys to distinguish themselves.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Jesse “The Body” Ventura was the best thing to happen to a WWE announce booth. His heel persona has never been matches or bested. BUT, it doesn’t mean the idea should be dropped. Get JBL back at the booth. Turn Foley heel, and let him do it. Flair even. Get someone under a headset to tell me why Dolph Ziggler is a star of the future. No one is doing that today. At least, not well (sorry Cole, you should just be the straight man).
We’ll be seeing some changes in the booth very very soon, obviously. If they can’t bring in someone new, they do have some decent talent on the roster to fill in. I’m hoping that if Regal gets promoted, he ends up using his Born Villain character more than he does on NXT. Matt Striker would be amazing in this position as well, as we’ve seen from his heel work as a manager for Big Daddy V in ECW. I think HHH could do a decent job of it, were it not for his soon to return in ring character. And if WWE has Paul Heyman showing up at Live Events, I say use him in the booth. He can be Punk’s personal hype man during his matches, much like Cole did for The Miz for a long time. But he could also add a lot to anything outside of the Punk angle for other heels. I think Heyman is in the top 5 heel announcers in history, and I wouldn’t mind his return at all.
Brand Specific PPVs
This is going to be a tough sell, but I think WWE needs to do it. I don’t think it’s reasonable to charge full price on every PPV every month. Especially not with lame ass shows like Over the Limit and Vengeance. I think a brand specific PPV for each brand a year, still be 3 hours, but maybe be $35 instead of the $49 would be the way to go. Concentrate on the depth of the brands. Let others have some PPV times, and with the reduced price, you’d have just as many viewers with half the roster. Switch gears with the PPVs, and offer something cheaper with less included. Test the waters, because with the cheaper price tag, I expect more people would order a show than an average no gimmick PPV utilizing the complete roster.
And on that note, peace out.
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