If you’re a fan of the WWE, and based on KENS 5 coverage of pro wrestling you are, then you’ve probably noticed something strange and, in my opinion, awesome about what we’ve seen on TV over the past few months.
We’ve had the privilege of watching major pay-per-view-worthy matchups given to us on free TV recently:
John Cena vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, John Cena vs. Braun Strowman, Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles, The Usos against the New Day, and even Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks.
(Can't see the videos? Click here.)
But one of the weird complaints that’s come with these marquee matchups has been: Why isn't the WWE saving these matches for big pay-per-views like Money in the Bank or Wrestlemania?
That’s an odd complaint to have. If you’re watching Game of Thrones and a bunch of dragons fly in to save Jon Snow’s army, you’re not going to complain if it happens three episodes in. You’re not going to say, "Oh man! They should’ve saved that for the season finale!" You’re just going to sit back and enjoy dragons making meat out of white walkers.
Obviously the WWE and Game of Thrones are two very different products. WWE is live every week while Game of Thrones is down to just seven episodes per year. So it’s much easier for Game of Thrones to build suspense and drama between seasons. WWE has to find a way to build up a feud every week for several weeks or even months before the payoff.
But that’s getting harder and harder now as the reality of the brutal nature of WWE competition becomes evident every week. Superstars can get hurt, sometimes badly, and WWE could find themselves stuck with no payoff for a story that’s been developing for a long time.
So now we’re seeing the WWE not waste any time in pitting some of the best talent on the roster against each other. Fans should be loving this because that means that the weekly shows aren’t just setup for something way down the line. You’re getting must-see matches nearly every week and being rewarded for your willingness to tune in live on a regular basis.
The best cautionary tale showing why this is a great strategy is one of the WWE's most popular figures: Daniel Bryan.
Before Bryan’s incredible win at Wrestlemania XXX, Bryan was the perfect example of long-form storytelling. It took nearly a year to build to that moment in New Orleans. But the WWE certainly wishes that what happened afterward was handled a bit differently.
While we didn’t know at the time that Bryan would spend most of the next two years out with an injury before ultimately retiring, the current strategy would have made his reigns more memorable (definitely no pun intended).
You’d have to be a really hard core fan to remember who Bryan feuded with right after he won his last two titles. And you wouldn't be blamed for forgetting. Bryan faced Kane after winning at Wrestlemania XXX and then didn't have a proper feud with anybody after winning the following year.
That’s the point of why we should be happy with what WWE is giving us throughout the year, rather than saving the good stuff for SummerSlam and Wrestlemania.
I know I’m looking forward to watching John Cena take on Roman Reigns on Sunday at No Mercy rather than having to wait for it and maybe never get it.