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I think it’s been long enough since I actually wrote something here.  Let’s go straight into a subject that’s been brewing over the past few weeks (and, for those of you who watch TNA, for years).

The gimmick Pay-Per-View is a very controversial subject indeed.  The wrestling community, be it the IWC, the regular fans, and even the writers backstage, are all at odds when it comes to this particular type of show.  For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, a gimmick PPV is a show where at least a few matches are all contested under one specific set of rules that deviate from the standard one-fall match.  If you want to get technical, the first ever gimmick PPV was Survivor Series.  I feel that, because it’s been around for over 20 years, that this PPV should be grandfathered in.  And besides, Survivor Series hasn’t focused on the elimination matches in years, so it really doesn’t even apply to this discussion.  TNA has one main gimmick PPV on its schedule, that being Lockdown, where every match is contested inside TNA’s answer to the steel cage, the Six Sides of Steel.  It has been maligned over the years for having every match be inside a cage, creating unrealistic expectations for the wrestlers to perform inside.  They are forced to take more punishment than usual just because the PPV has a gimmick attached.  On the plus side, the TNA cage matches are very rare, so Lockdown is a once-a-year affair.

WWE, on the other hand, has been getting very gimmick-heavy with its PPV shake-up over the past year.  There’s been Survivor Series, but I’ve already discussed that.  They’ve had One Night Stand for the past few years, which is now called Extreme Rules, where every match is some form of no-DQ, no-count-out match, usually with more stipulations like Last Man Standing or I Quit or Ladder Match.  You could even go so far as to say that Night of Champions is a gimmick PPV, with every match being a championship match (honestly, every PPV should contain only championship matches, and leave the other feuds for television).  But now we’re getting even more PPVs with these specific gimmicks attached, and it’s causing the importance of these gimmicks to lessen.  Three weeks ago was Breaking Point, where, as WWE puts it, “every main event match is a submission match.”  First off, stop trying to be like MMA.  You’re never going to be held on the same ridiculous plateau that MMA is on.  MMA fans will likely never accept pro wrestling as a legitimate sport, and pro wrestling fans (your typical fan, anyway) will not enjoy MMA, finding it too violent and bland, without flash or bang.  They might watch MMA to see Brock Lesnar or Bobby Lashley, but beyond that, your typical wrestling fan won’t enjoy MMA.  Second, if you’re going to advertise the PPV as “Submissions only,” then why not make every match a submission match and just get it over with?  When they say “every main event match,” they mean “the matches with the biggest draws.”  Which is why the only matches that will be subjected to this gimmick stipulation will be the two world championship matches and anything involving DX.  Which is exactly what we got at Breaking Point, and it’s going to be exactly what we get at Hell in a Cell, the next gimmick PPV coming up this Sunday.

Now, let’s talk about the PPV in and of itself.  The first time I heard that this was going to replace No Mercy, I thought it might be fun.  Every match inside Hell in a Cell.  Sure, HIAC isn’t all that it’s hyped up to be, but at least it usually provides an end to various feuds.  But there’s a big problem with having a PPV dedicated to it.  Matches like Hell in a Cell, TLC, I Quit, and the like, are special attractions.  There should never be more than maybe one or two matches a year of these types.  Why?  For business reasons and health reasons.  First, having one or two of these matches a year will heighten the anticipation for these matches and cause more people to consider purchasing the PPV, either live or on DVD when it’s released.  You’re also going to get a higher chance of selling out the arena you’re working at by putting a marquee match like Hell in a Cell at the top of the card, so more people are going to come to your show from further away just so they can experience this match first-hand.  Second, having these matches less frequently is going to keep your wrestlers healthier for a longer period of time.  If you have one HIAC match a year, yes, it’s going to headline the show, and the competitors are going to put on a hell of a show.  But they’re going to be hurting a hell of a lot, and might be at a greater risk for injury.  If you have three of these matches a year, that’s three times as many wrestlers put at risk for injury.  With WWE’s rosters stretched thin already, they should be avoiding any unnecessary high-risk matches that they can.  But now, with the Hell in a Cell PPV less than a week away, you’re putting eight mens’ careers in danger by putting them inside a giant cage, weapons-a-plenty under the ring, and the chance to fall 20 feet onto an announce table (okay, so nobody’s going to purposefully do what Mick Foley did, but the possibility is always there).  You’ve got three men in their forties, who, even though they’ve been in a large number of these matches before, are at greater risk for injury then their younger competitors.  You’ve got young guys who could potentially cut their careers short with one botched bump.  It would benefit WWE to limit matches like HIAC and TLC to once or twice a year, simply for health reasons more than anything.  Nobody wants to see Shawn Michaels or John Cena have to leave the arena with a broken leg or a fractured spine because they took a bad bump off the cage.  I honestly don’t want to see anybody hurt in the ring and have to end their career years early.  Putting so many peoples’ careers at risk is a dangerous idea, and it should be done as few times as possible.

Another problem with having entire PPVs based around a specific gimmick is that the match itself tends to lose the mystique and importance that usually surrounds it.  A Hell in a Cell match is an event by itself.  You don’t need three of them in one night.  It’s going to get bland.  You’re just going to watch an hour of cage matches in a row.  That’s not necessarily entertaining.  The point of a Hell in a Cell match is to watch two guys do things they don’t normally do inside a ring for 20 minutes, and end a feud that has been going on for months.  Hell in a Cell is the final nail in the coffin of a feud.  Or, at least, it should be.  By putting THREE HIAC matches on one card, you’re diminishing the importance of the match itself.  It will mean that the next time a HIAC match rolls around, people won’t care as much, because you’re obviously going to have them more often over each year.  Pretty soon nobody will care if a match is contested inside a steel cage or on the roof of the arena, because the match will become the norm.  And that is something nobody wants.

So, instead of fixing their foolish mistake, WWE is now introducing TWO MORE new PPV events for the end of the year.  The next PPV is Bragging Rights, which will be taking the place of Cyber Sunday, though apparently it’s going to retain the audience participation aspect.  Instead of just a bunch of matches with various fan voting deals, it’s going to be a kind of Raw vs. Smackdown show.  I’m guessing that they’re doing this solely to promote the Smackdown vs. Raw video game.  More marketing bullshit.  There’s no point to having a Raw vs. Smackdown PPV.  Sure, there are matches that some of us would enjoy watching (Miz vs. Morrison anyone?), but that can happen basically anytime, since the whole Draft issue and brand split is paper-thin at best.  I don’t think it’s necessary, and it’s definitely not going to have many championship matches.  Then, after Survivor Series, we’re getting a TLC PPV.  Haven’t we already had two or three of these matches already this year?  And several more ladder matches?  A PPV dedicated to this stipulation is unnecessary.  TLC is, I think, the most potentially dangerous match in WWE.  When you’ve got guys falling 15 feet off a ladder through ANOTHER ladder and down to the floor, the chance of serious injury is very, very high.  And since most of the people taking these ridiculous bumps are usually your most over guys (Edge, formerly Jeff Hardy, Mysterio, etc), you’re setting yourselves up for even more problems down the road.  Sure, 2/3 of the men I just mentioned aren’t going to compete in TLC, but you’re risking getting your currently over wrestlers (Punk, Taker, Cena, Orton, HHH, MVP, etc.) badly injured, and unless you can come up with some more guys to bring up from FCW, you’re setting up yourselves for failure.  If you put those six guys on the shelf right now, what happens?  Who moves up?  Do you bring guys from ECW over, and bring up guys from FCW who aren’t ready for the big arenas and TV time?  Do the guys who’ve been toiling in mid-card hell move up immediately, or do they get passed over for other guys who aren’t ready for the big time?  It puts WWE’s balls in a vicegrip, and every major injury tightens that vice just a little bit more.  Frankly, I hope these gimmick PPVs don’t last long, because WWE is putting their talented men and women at serious risk, and as a result, putting the company at risk of losing even more money.

Bottom line: keep the big gimmick matches to once a year, MAYBE twice, and keep the health and safety of your wrestlers your top priority.

I’ve got a couple more tidbits to talk about, and since I don’t think another column is required, I’ll put them here.

First, I’m getting really tired of John Cena’s miracle comebacks.  Can’t he for once just be left in a crumpled heap, loomed over by his competitors, unable to move for fear that he’ll get his chest stomped in?  Why does he always turn into fucking Superman after he’s gotten his back broken?  It’s ridiculous.  I know he’s the face of the company, and I genuinely like the guy, but the miracle comebacks have got to stop happening every week, and he really needs to focus one one character.  I’d prefer he either stick with funny Cena or determined, angry Cena instead of switching back and forth every week.  Stick to one persona.  If you’re going with Funny Cena, fine.  But remember, you don’t need to really focus on that, because we’ve got Santino Marella for comedy.  (Side note: Santino is really coming into his own as a great comedy wrestler.  I love his attempts at breaking the Masterlock, only to pass out a few seconds after that final angry push.)

I’ll admit I watched Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader just to watch Miz and Morrison compete.  I think WWE dropped the ball when it came to those two.  They had one of the most successful tag team runs in recent memory, and after their break-up, nothing.  Those two could have gone on feuding for a few weeks, ending in one of them banishing the other to a different brand or something.  Still, they were both entertaining on the game show.  I thought Miz’s energy was fantastic, and he was quite gregarious at times.  I actually enjoyed his segment.  Morrison was much more low-key, but still fun to watch.  Good for them for doing this.

Last thing: for those of you who watched ECW (or for those of you who don’t mind spoilers), how surprising was it that Yoshi Tatsu got the pinfall victory, over William Regal no less?  This has got to be a sign that Creative approves of Tatsu’s work and they’re getting ready to push him soon.  I won’t say he’s green by any measure.  But he’s still got a little work to do.  He’s a bit sloppy, and I have to imagine that the language barrier will limit him to a point.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching the guy compete.  He brings some crazy energy to the ring, and he’s using a bunch of indy moves, which should make the IWC happy.  Hearing Matt Striker yell out, “LARIATO!” and “Whoa, Roaring Elbow!” probably makes the smarks pee with happiness.  But he’s got a ton of talent.  Let’s hope he works on his delivery and smoothes out the rough edges, and he’ll be fighting for the ECW Title in no time.

Okay, I lied.  Speaking of lariats, this past weekend was the final ROH match for Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness.  I think they have a couple more indy matches left, but this means that they’re moving to WWE very soon.  I truly hope that they both get on the main roster immediately (or, at leat for McGuinness, time to heal his arms before jumping to the roster).  I am looking forward to the first Jawbreaker Lariat we get from Nigel, and hopefully we’ll get some Cattle Mutilation or a Triangle Choke or three from Danielson.  I also pray that WWE doesn’t give them alternate personas.  I hope they keep them who they are, much like they did with CM Punk and, to some degree, Evan Bourne.  Nobody wants a repeat of Scotty Goldman (though I did find him hilarious for the few short weeks he was employed) or Braden Walker.  Let them be who they are, not someone you think they should be.  Put Dragon in a feud with Regal, and watch the sparks fly.

So that’s it for now.  I’ll put up picks for Hell in a Cell once the final card is set.  Most of the matches should be good.  I’m just not keen on the gimmick itself.  We’ll see how it turns out on Sunday.  Until then…

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I was going to do a post every day, seeing as how it’s the biggest weekend for professional wrestling all year, but I got side-tracked by City of Heroes.  So I’m going to try to do a double post tomorrow.  One will definitely be my “Ultimate Wrestlemania Card” and the other…well, I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see on that one, won’t we