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By Dave Scherer on 2017-06-12 10:00:00

Do you think one thing that could help ratings and possibly help PPV buys is if they only held 12 PPVs a year the big 4, which are joint PPVs, 4 Raw and 4 Smackdown?

This is a very complex question due to the fact that WWE has a few masters to serve.  Obviously, they have NBC Universal, who is part of the group of networks that buy WWE programming and pays WWE their largest chunk of revenue.  WWE needs to serve that group (even though they seem to work against them at times by putting so much on YouTube, which makes it easier for fans to skip watching the shows on USA).  Obviously, they give away a lot of first run content on TV as a way to serve those broadcast partners.

But, they also want to sell subscriptions to the WWE Network and part of their philosophy in doing so is to give subscribers as much as they possibly can for their $9.99.  That includes original content, tournaments, NXT, the new UK show, etc.  It also means two PPVs on the months that they don’t do a big four show.  It’s a strategy that I understand but I too wonder if it’s actually working against them.

Now usually it would sound crazy to make that statement.  I have even said many times that if someone doesn’t want every show that WWE does, they don’t have to.  But my view on that is starting to change.  Last weekend was a great example of why.

To me, and many others, the wrestling business is at its best when a strong storyline leads to a great match.  Conversely, for people like me, if the booking leading up to the match doesn’t excite me, I don’t get excited for the show.  I can appreciate the work of the talents, but without a good story, something is missing to me.  

That is exactly how I felt about Extreme Rules last weekend.  While I loved the last few matches, and the talent worked hard, the booking for the first 90 minutes or so did nothing for me and because of that I was not excited for the show.  So this was a case where WWE had to do a show for the Raw brand because it was their time, not because they had hot programs, and I think it hurt in the build up to it.  

As point of comparison, let’s look at NXT.  Now to be fair, that brand only has one hour of TV to do a week and that makes life so much easier for their booking team, no doubt.  They also don’t have to answer to another party when ratings fall.  Those two things make life a lot easier for the creative team of the brand.  With that said, they had about a two month break between their last two Takeover events and that really helped them in their build to the May show.  They had more time to build it up and get the fans excited.  And when each of the matches hit the ring that night, I was already excited to see what would happen because they spent the time building them up and getting me interested.  The Smackdown PPV the same weekend was the perfect contrast to what happens when you have to churn out too much product (and to be fair fill high revenue producing TV time on USA) but don’t get the issues over in leading up to the show.  Extreme Rules was the same way last weekend.

So does that mean WWE should cut back on the shows?  It would be a risk.  I am sure there are some people would feel like they are getting less than they were.  But to me?  I think it’s something worth trying.  They already have Takeover events.  They have the UK show coming.  They have the Women’s Tournament.  And they have other ideas that are percolating in the head of Paul Levesque.  Plus, they would still have one PPV every month, which in and of itself with make the subscription price worth it.  If they really felt the need to put a show on from the other brand, they do a house show once a month and call it “Sunday Night At The Matches” or something like that.  It wouldn’t have PPV expectations and fans would know it’s just “a night of wrestling”.

Cutting back the brand only PPVs from 8 to 4 a year should make those shows seem more special.  It should make building to them easier.  And, I think it would be a positive for the company on the whole.  I believe that this is a case of less is more so yes, I would cut back the number of PPVs if it was up to me.

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