It’s hardly revolutionary to claim that WWE need to cut back on the number of PPVs they do (although with the Network they can’t really be called PPVs now), however Payback was one of those shows that reinforced that point. The post Wrestlemania season is always a bit flat in WWE, as they take the foot off the gas after the ‘Showcase of the Immortals’ and you can’t help but feel that the long-term implications of Payback are, well nothing.
Of course, there were some big moments. You could argue Cena ending his feud with Rusev is noteworthy, but at the end of the day it’s basically another example of ‘Cena Wins LOL’. While Bray Wyatt finally getting a win on PPV is nice. However, with the way WWE books things I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ryback returning the favour on Raw tonight in some style and the feud going on. Who is it in the WWE that believes that trading wins is the only way to get anyone over?
Even with these small moments, it didn’t prevent the rest of Payback just being there. Not that it wasn’t entertaining, but it didn’t mean anything. Ziggler and Sheamus put on a solid encounter, although it was overshadowed by Ziggler getting a horrific looking cut to the head which seemed to cause them to rush into the finish. While New Day and Cesaro and Tyson Kidd could become the cornerstones of good tag team division, although I question the logic of making it a best of 3 falls match and then giving it the same amount of time as a one fall match. Even the big matches were all pretty enjoyable, but what changed? This was just a slightly fancier episode of RAW, with even the setup of the arena not looking any different apart from the graphics.
So what should WWE do? Well, the simple answer is cut back on PPVs, something that they were never going to do in the past, because they made more money. With the Network however, this suddenly does become an option. Does the Network need to build to a monthly show? You could argue that they want a monthly show to promote, but why should it continue in the style they currently use? With the Network the WWE can put on special events, but ditch the PPV format. It’s something we are actually already beginning to see them do. We had a King of the Ring tournament and we are heading towards an Elimination Chamber later this month. Neither of these are full shows, but rather small special events. In fact, with both the King of the Ring and Elimination Chamber, they have focusing on the mid card who get a chance to shine without having to compete with the main eventers.
Of course, WWE actually ditching PPVs still seems unlikely. People like attending them and people will watch them. Christ, I still do. Plus, you have to assume a show like Payback doesn’t cost them anymore than putting on an episode of Raw. This isn’t ‘Mania, they don’t have to go all out. Yet at this time of year you can’t help but wish that WWE would throw a spanner in the works. That they would ditch a few of the generic PPVs and look to do something different. With the whole company feeling stale, the chance to move to more long form storytelling or have special shows focused on different parts of the card, might just be the kick up the arse it needs.