My philosophy is simple: I like when weekly TV builds logically to a pay-per-view, and when one pay-per-view builds to a bigger pay-per-view. The simplest example is when guys have to fight to get a spot in the Royal Rumble, because we all know if you win the Rumble you earn a title match at WrestleMania.
I have to wonder if predictability is part of the problem. Because we know one thing has always led to another, we come to expect it. WWE has done an admirable job in curbing expectations for the Rumble winner by making them lose 4 times in a row (and something tells me Sheamus will be no different), because they want us to think differently about Wrestlemania. But it sounds like Star of Savage (as I’ll call him from here on) is looking for more regimentation, more predictable structures. That’s why he brings up King of the Ring.
WWE’s PPV structure over the last two years has geared towards predictable match gimmicks, and they’ve worked towards making stories fit. But I think it’s been to their detriment: attempts to tell stories using Money in the Bank and Hell in the Call PPVs have, I believe, diluted those concepts. I feel the same way about Elimination Chamber. Because a date has been set for this kind of match, any story is going to feel shoehorned into it.
But the other way doesn’t work, either. If we allow for stories to dictate the gimmicks, there may be long swaths of time between high-concept matches like the EC, and there may be no opportunity for things like MiTB. It may make more sense to the narrative to have much longer, drawn-out plots, but it doesn’t work as a way to sell monthly PPVs.
The answer to that question becomes, well, why not only hold PPVs when you’ve got 6 stories that require a conclusion? This mode of thinking destroys the notion of a schedule entirely, and allows the writers to build to organic climatic scenes when appropriate. We can extend this, of course: if we’re going to have a year-long narrative with no true endings, why have PPVs at all? By extension, why don’t we have to pay for season finale’s of network shows? Why do we have to pay money to see episodes of premium cable shows? Why are these business practices the way they are?
WWE has decided that the best way for them to present their product is through a bevy of different mediums that all play on a single timeline. Some of these moments are not free. Their attempt is to get you to pay for moments they deem important enough, but if not, they’ll give you plenty of moments for free.
But what constitutes a good enough moment to charge for? That’s what this is really about. How do we cluster together three hours of entertainment that’s so much better than the stuff on free network television that it seems worth it?
For my money, I’d go with memorable moments in character growth more than title changes, wins, losses, etc. When you think of really unforgettable moments in WWE history, what really comes to mind? Is it a big win? A big loss? Maybe. But I’d bet that it’s how a character reacts to events. It’s all in how a thing is done, not that a thing is done.