Tonight’s episode of WWE Main Event on the Ion television network marks Week Six of a newly produced, newly formatted program that gives WWE an extra revenue stream and, apparently, a sandbox in which to play.
To the point of the new format, right out of the box, WWE placed an active superstar in, what looked at the time to be, a permanent color commentator position. The announce team of Michael Cole and The Miz had potential, both in calling the action and in growing the stagnant “Miz” character, even preparing Miz for a future in broadcast should he choose to accept it.
My eyes were opened even wider to the new format when only two matches were announced, then recorded, then broadcast on each show: one headline match and one “undercard” bout. And the headline match lasted a good 20 minutes. And, week to week, the headline matches were set up by something that had happened on the previous episode. AAAAND, the wrestlers were still given promo time – not soliloquy time, but just enough time to get themselves and their match over.
So many thoughts went through my head as the weeks went on:
- How great is it that WWE hypes one match for a whole week on one of their shows?
- How great is it that WWE doesn’t try to cram 10 pounds of shit into a 5-pound bag?
- How great is it that WWE is employing the pre- and post-match promos with Matt Striker, often in the ring or at ringside, fight-night style?
Furthermore, WWE appears to have learned from its previous thrust into the one-hour basic-cable limelight – WWE Superstars on WGN, which debuted in April 2009 – and didn’t overhype its new show as “the place to see all of the biggest WWE stars!!!” Three years ago, the opening match featured the Undertaker, WWE’s resident part-time legend. Two years and 51 weeks ago, Superstars became the Fit Finley Fiasco, with your occasional Big Show here and Jericho there.
With WWE Main Event, you’re probably going to get a Randy Orton or a Sheamus or an Alberto del Rio, you’re probably going to get them in a six-man tag team match, they’re probably going to have a really good, made-for-free-TV match, and they may even cut a nice promo.
Then in the undercard, you’re likely to see someone climbing the ranks like Dolph Ziggler or Cody Rhodes get a win over a floundering but memorable Brodus Clay, when it could be worse, like Jey Uso or Epico. And if you do see Jey Uso or Epico, it’s probably in a tag team effort with their respective partners, Jimmy and Primo, in a decent 10-minute match. The point here: WWE is also utilizing its talent base as best it can here. Rather than feeding Zack Ryder to Kane in a meaningless match, you might get Zack Ryder & Santino Marella – Team CoBro – in a fun, well-worked, 10-minute tag match against the super-over Kane & Daniel Bryan. And then everyone wins.
Everything I have typed above comprised the list of things I love about WWE Main Event, not to mention the fact that the name and, to an extent, the format are throwbacks to days of yore, when I would record the WWF’s sporadic network TV show, The Main Event, on VHS. So now, for the thing I hate about Main Event: None of these formatting positives will translate to the A-show, Monday Night Raw, or the B-show, Smackdown. These are the shows where my dreams go to die. I don’t want 20-minute promos by Brad “Show Your Teeth, Boy” Maddox. I want 90-second promos from Sheamus, something I can digest, not cram. I don’t want three hours of scattershot bullshit. I want 60 minutes of well-planned programming that strikes a balance between wrestling and talk, with getting yourself over as the fulcrum. I don’t want main events that were thrown together last hour by a crooked general manager. I want seven days of hype for a match between two men who have a score to settle.
Pro wrestling is not that hard. I am not that hard to entertain. Maybe I’m in the minority by feeling this way, but WWE Main Event nails both of those things far more often than either Raw or Smackdown.