Gimmick pay-per-views are hurting the WWE and here's why

Vince McMahon

You don't need me to tell you that the WWE has changed a lot in the past 20 years.

The genesis of many of the popular gimmick matches you see in the WWE today started in either the 90s or the 2000s.

The first ever ladder match was between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels - who would go on to be in the first four ladder matches in WWE history with a 2-2 record - in 1992. The first Hell in a Cell - also featuring Shawn Michaels but against The Undertaker - came in 1997. You may also recall the debut of Kane that day.

The first ever TLC match occurred at SummerSlam 2000 between The Hardy Boyz, The Dudley Boyz and Edge and Christian - the latter of whom would also feature in the first ever four TLC matches, Christian would also hold a 2-2 record.

WWE had their first Elimination Chamber match in 2002 and then their first Money in the Bank match in 2005. Since then, the production of gimmick matches has slowed somewhat, but all of these matches remain staples of WWE.

Of course, to capitalise on their popularity, the WWE would eventualy make the vast majority of what we have just rattled off standalone pay-per-views.

All of Elimination Chamber, Hell in a Cell and Money in the Bank have already taken place this year and TLC will represent the last WWE PPV in 2018 this Sunday.

The Extreme Rules pay-per-view brought us a table match, a steel cage match, an Iron Man match and an Extreme Rules match, which for the elder WWE fan is essentially a hardcore match. All of these match types were developed in the '90s.

And yet, this writer has a great problem with the gimmick-led pay-per-views.

Why I hear you cry out? Because the formula has become stale.

Take the Hell in a Cell for example. In the last six years, only Shane McMahon and The Undertaker have battled inside Satan's Structure without being on the Hell in a Cell PPV.

Hell in a Cell used to be the last stop for the most intense feuds. That essentially trains fans to believe that rivalries only reach their peak every October? That's hard to buy.

Hell in a Cell

In 2001, 2002 and 2006, each year had four ladder matches. Of course, we were blessed with the incredible six-man ladder match at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, but there have only been three main roster ladder matches in the last two years.

TLC matches have lessened the impact of a ladder match, but two men fighting it out for a title on top of a ladder is still a very worthwhile blowoff match and has created some of the most memorable moments in WWE history.

The reason that Fastlane, Great Balls of Fire and all of those other generic PPVs fall flat a lot of the time is because they have no character about them and feuds are restricted becuase those kinds of matches are reserved for the other PPVs. WWE have effectively booked themselves into a whole in that regard.

MITB

Even a PPV like Backlash or Unforgiven did over 600,000 buys back in their prime at the turn of the millennium. And yet, Fastlane in 2016 did the lowest buyrate in company history with 43,000 sales. Wow.

You could say that is a sign of the times and business is different now, especially with the WWE Network now boasting over 1.8 million subscribers. If all of those are paying £9.99 a month (or $9.99), that's just under 18 million the WWE would be making monthly. I don't think the WWE are that upset about the PPV drop off.

3D

There was a time where the WWE felt like anything could happen. Fans need to feel like a rivalry could go in any direction, things could escalate or something could steal the show the way the tag teams did at WrestleMania 17.

Having everything so scheduled is ruining the fun, frankly.

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