What To Make Of Recent WWE Television Changes
WWE has an issue with their product. it's something they are trying to fix, with mixed results. Now, Vince is tinkering with TV, and it's not going well.
A lot has already been said about the latest changes to WWE television. No, it’s not that The Undertaker showed up on RAW again. Nor is it that WWE can no longer have the over-run. Rather, last week Vince McMahon declared that he no longer wanted wrestling to happen during commercial breaks. It’s not really clear why, after thousands of episodes, McMahon chose now to care about it, but with that said, what are we to make of recent WWE television changes?
His edict does, at least on it’s face, make sense. Professional sports have TV timeouts for a reason. Very rarely does a sport actually miss out on live action due to a break, though sometimes there are technical issues. In professional wrestling, there is no option for a timeout (at least, not yet). So, in place of a timeout, it appears as though we are going to be getting artificial breaks in the form of matches often becoming best two out of three falls. We’ve seen this the last couple SmackDowns, as well as a bit on RAW. It didn’t seem to go well for this week’s blue brand effort.
Now, what could be worse than two out of three falls? How about adopting rounds, just as MMA and boxing use? That has also apparently been kicked around, but not yet adopted. I do remember a wrestling brand, like twenty five years ago, attempting this. Though in that case, the brand was employing some over the hill name guys, so they really needed the breather.
I have a few thoughts on these ideas, so let’s walk through them.
First, the idea of employing more matches using a two out of three falls gimmick? The gimmick itself isn’t bad. Using it for every match is. Also, as we’ve seen over the last few shows, using it how they’ve been using it? Horrible. On a PPV, a two out of three falls match could end up giving us a 20 minute spectacle. NXT recently used this for a TakeOver main event, and I believe that clocked in at closer to 40. WWE isn’t doing that for either weekly show, however. We are getting quick pins that are entirely too quick and too unbelievable, all for the sake of a commercial break. Watering down the gimmick match and giving us uninteresting matches is not going to help things.
On the rounds? That remains to be seen. I really can’t see how that will work well. Professional wrestling isn’t boxing and it is not MMA. Best I can say here is…stop trying to make it something it is not.
Another point to consider: all of these changes are being kicked around for RAW and SmackDown in particular. What about on the PPVs? Since a PPV does not have the commercial break concerns that a RAW or SmackDown does, does that likely mean we would not use those gimmicks on a PPV? That’s all fine and good…but then, it just seems an odd world to be in, where the only times we usually get a traditional wrestling match is on a PPV. The flow is just wrong there.
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A couple suggestions they could try, that I have not heard floated out.
First, bring back the TV time limit. I mostly remember this from WCW, and I know ECW employed it too. It was common for the Television Championship, but in general you’d hear the match announced, along with a ten or fifteen minute time limit. If they brought back these time limits, it makes things interesting and would fit in the commercial scheduling. Maybe allow the main event slot to not have a time limit if that makes sense. Worst case, for that, do what SmackDown had been doing, where the station cuts to a commercial, but we get the wrestling match in a smaller window at the same time.
If you don’t like that, then consider a points system. I wasn’t an amateur wrestler, so forgive me if I get the details wrong. However, why not use some form of the time limits, along with a points system, where certain things earn a Superstar points, and at the end of the match, the outcome is determined by the score cards. Heck, you could even use some WWE Legends as scorers, or injured or otherwise underused Superstars. Plenty of drama and story could be generated from that too.
In the end, you’d think a scripted television product could figure out a way to maneuver matches around commercials. Or, just stick with what they’ve been doing. As much as I was good to complain about a bad break in the middle of a good match (or some matches where, inexplicably, we had a couple breaks in under 15 minutes), that option has generally been better than what we’ve gotten recently.
WNZ readers, what do you think? What would you propose?