Tuesday 29 May 2012

What's Old is New

In the middle of the 90s the then-WWF launched their In Your House line of pay-per-views. The idea was that in the seven months of the year during which one of their Big Five pay-per-views (WrestleMania, the Royal Rumble, SummerSlam, Survivor Series and King of the Ring) wasn’t broadcast they would air a shorter, cheaper show featuring matches that would help advance storylines for the bigger events and capitalise on the success of Monday Night RAW.

As the promotion was only just beginning to get to grips with producing a monthly pay-per-view the cards were of unpredictable quality but something that stands out when you look back now is the variety of men who were thrown into prominent spots in order to fill up the show. This happened, of course, because the WWF was struggling to create top line talent.

Sounds familiar yes?

The In Your House product of the 90s is similar to WWE’s pay-per-view product today. IYH shows usually guaranteed matches featuring the WWF champion and the Intercontinental champion while today we can usually expect bouts starring the WWE champ and the World Heavyweight champ. In a way the WHC has become WWE’s second tier title, replacing the once meaningful Intercontinental title.

WWE could learn something from its mid-90s approach to pay-per-view booking but the logo is best left in the past

In Your House cards generally featured a lot of random filler matches tossed together to fill time, also like WWE’s modern pay-per-view product. Let’s take the recent Over The Limit show as an example. While it was an enjoyable show four of its nine matches weren’t even advertised beforehand. If WWE is going to take this approach to its product I think they should really embrace the move and take some genuine risks when it comes to these filler bouts.

If shows are going to be built around two or three key matches then there’s no harm tinkering with the undercard is there? Give men like Ezekiel Jackson and Drew McIntyre feuds with established upper mid-card talent like The Miz or Dolph Ziggler, or even headliners like Randy Orton and Chris Jericho. Let Cody Rhodes wrestle the satisfying technical matches so many people are sure he’s capable of producing against the Yoshi Tatsus, Tyson Kidds and and Justin Gabriels of the roster.

Give this guy a pay-per-view match with Randy Orton and see if he can get over

The approach to the big matches featuring established stars shouldn’t change. They are what sells the shows. But there’s no harm in trying out different things and giving underutilised wrestlers a chance to succeed and make an impression. The regular pay-per-view roster could be thinned out a little in order to allow more young guys a chance to flourish. WWE’s buy rates for the secondary PPVs have been falling for years now. At this point they should be looking to the past and embracing their old approach rather than sticking with what has gotten them to this undesirable point in the first place.

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