On June 16th, WWE will be hosting the first Payback pay-per-view event. This show will be replacing No Way Out, which, in turn, replaced Capitol Punishment, which replaced Fatal 4-Way, which replaced The Bash, which replaced The Great American Bash. It seems that, out of every month, it’s June that really sets WWE off when it comes to new show names and ideas.
To help out, we’ve come up with our five favourite ex-pay-per-views that we think could take the ever-changing June spot.
King of the Ring
Years Active: 1985 – 2002
Concept: A sixteen man, one-on-one tournament to crown the official King of the Ring. The tournament would either take place over the course of one entire show or, as in later events, the preliminary rounds would take place on television, with the semi-finals and final taking place on the pay-per-view itself.
Pros: There’s virtually no other concept more useful for exposing young mid-card talent. The format give the winner and runner up four matches to put over their performance style, whilst the other matches in the tournament can be used to extend, start, or even end other mid-card feuds. Past winners of the tournament include “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Bret Hart, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Edge and Brock Lesnar, all of whom had their careers as main-event singles wrestlers solidified by their tournament victories.
Cons: By it’s very nature, the King of the Ring is a mid-card format. That it’s conclusion is the elevation of mid-card talent curses the tournament itself to be devoid of any established star power. As such, for the show to be a viable money maker, either the booking of the build up would have to be perfect, or the show would have to be supplemented with the usual array of titles and big name grudge matches, which would run the risk of over-shadowing the tournament itself.
Years Active: 1987 – 1997
Concept: Not strictly a pay-per-view in itself, the War Games match pitted two teams of either four or five wrestlers against each other in two rings inside one giant cage, with members of each team entering at two minute intervals. The match could only end in a submission, with no pin falls and no disqualifications.
Pros: This is another match that’s useful for elevating wrestlers by association. Like the Survivor Series match, only the two team captains need to be bankable stars, with the rest of the people involved being either up and comers, new guys in need of main event experience or tag teams. The advantage War Games has over the Survivor Series is that only one person needs to submit, making it easier to protect up and coming talents without them needing to directly win. Another advantage is that the timed structure of the match allows clever bookers to show off and hide wrestlers depending on their talents. Whilst Dean Ambrose and Daniel Bryan could work the entire match, The Big Show and Ryback would only need to enter at the very end.
Cons: The match itself is the problem. The rules are complicated, convoluted, and not particularly easy to follow without knowing them in advance. Also, the fact that the match requires two full sized rings would make the rest of the show awkward. WWE would have three options; one, to leave a second ring empty for the entire show, two, to leave a space for a ring to be lowered into or set up in for the main event, or, three, to organise the rest of the card to somehow incorporate the second ring into their matches. Either way, none of the options are ideal.
One Night Only / Capital Carnage / Rebellion / Insurrection
Years Active: 1997 – 2003
Concept: Although not strictly concept shows, all of these events had one thing in common; they all took place in the United Kingdom.
Pros: If the international reaction of the first RAW after WrestleMania has proven anything over the last two years, it’s the difference that a European crowd can make to a big show. Whilst it’s economically unfeasible to hold a big event like a WrestleMania, a SummerSlam, or a Royal Rumble in Europe, European fans have proven to the WWE that they deserve a show. Along the same lines as the various ECW themed WWE shows, the WWF’s forays into Canada at the peak of Bret Hart’s popularity, and even the use of CM Punk in his home town at Money in the Bank 2011, the opinionated, vocal, and smarkish attitude of the European crowd could be used as a unique tool to improve and influence story lines, whilst also forcing the more casual American audience to pay attention to lower level guys like Daniel Bryan and Fandango.
Cons: Financially, the event would be a write-off. With there being no possibility of airing the event live in North America due to the time difference, the show would have to be either replied on tape in America, at which point, most people would know the results, or it would have to be exclusive to the European market, which would result in a tiny buy-rate compared to normal.
Taboo Tuesday / Cyber Sunday
Years Active: 2004 – 2008
Concept: A standard pay-per-view card in which elements of each match are voted on by the audience. Such elements could be an opponent, a stipulation, a match type, a special guest referee, or even voting for the winners of the matches themselves.
Pros: In an age of online integration and media interactivity, no show in sporting history has involved so much audience participation. With the WWE going to such viewing-experience-ruining lengths to ram Twitter and Tout down our collective throat, a show entirely based around fans becoming personally involved in match making online seems like Vince McMahon’s wet dream.
Another, subtler benefit is that it allows the WWE to gauge audience interest in certain subjects. The wrestlers who win each poll can generally be taken as the most popular, and the match types that win each poll can generally be taken as the matches the audience most want to see. It’s market research at it’s most simple and, in the resulting effects on the show, it’s most immediately satisfying for those involved.
Cons: There are three, and they’re all relatively big.
Firstly, the voting itself often has to be ever so slightly rigged. Not fixed, but overtly tipped in the favour of one of the options. This ties into the second problem; wrestling’s pre-determined nature means that only the best of the best can put a match together on the fly. The two choices we’re left with are to either make the voting bias, and prepare for the most likely outcome, or have a clean vote, and attempt to ad-lib an entire pay-per-view. The only possible solution to this would be to end the voting before the show, say, on the Smackdown! before the event. That way, there would be a few days to prepare, with the WWE knowing the results. The only problem with this would be that the show itself would have no interactivity, and the ever present possibility that the poll results would leak out early.
The third, perhaps less serious problem, is the amount of internet fans who would take pleasure in highjacking the voting process. Whilst this would probably make the shows more interesting and varied, having Fangango beat John Cena for a place in the main event would kill the show’s buy rate amongst casual fans, and would provide unhelpful, inaccurate information about the opinions of the majority of WWE’s audience, who are less likely to use the internet, or to vote in organised coordination than the notoriously spiteful IWC.
In Your House
Years Active: 1995 – 1999
Concept: In the days of the big five (WrestleMania, King of the Ring, SummerSlam, Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble), the In Your House shows were mid-season half price mini-pay-per-views often themed around a specific match type (The Lumberjacks), location (The Great White North), cultural event (Season’s Beatings) or wrestler (Rock Bottom). Amongst the ever changing list of events, the format gave birth to future repeating shows like Badd Blodd, Unforgiven, Fully Loaded, Judgment Day, No Way Out and Backlash. All in all, there were 28 In Your House events over a space of just under four years.
Pros & Cons: The pros of cons of these events are the same; none, for either category. Because of the way in which every show was different from the last in terms of style, theme and content, there was no clear thread linking the shows together. Each succeeded and died on it’s own.
In fact, that may be a pro in itself. You expected nothing from the show, you didn’t even know it’s name, and so it was the perfect vehicle for logical booking. Hell in a Cell, TLC and Extreme Rules matches weren’t forced. The show could be what ever was needed, it could go wherever the WWE needed to go, it could be based around whoever the WWE needed a show based around.
If the WWE needed to bring the Undertaker back, we have In Your House 14: Revenge of the ‘Taker. If they had a feud which could only logically end in a buried alive match, we have In Your House 11: Buried Alive. If the main event of the show is based around a splitting up tag team, we have In Your House 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies.
The In Your House shows were the perfect all purpose pay-per-views, even if the WWE chose to abandon the half-price gimmick.
So there you have it, five old formats for next year’s June pay-per-view. What are some of your old favourite shows? Let us know in the comment section below.