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For and Against: WWE Extending PPV Lengths

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Earlier this week, news broke that WWE will be extending the length of their PPVs from three hours to four. This is set to start with Money in the Bank on June 17th. The rumoured reasoning for this is that this is to compensate for the new co-branded nature of PPVs and the extra hour will allow for more people to get onto the card.

This extension isn’t just for the regular PPVs; it will also leak into the big 4. The likes of Wrestlemania and SummerSlam, that already usually overrun anyway, will potentially be another hour longer. Again it is believed to give more superstars a chance to get onto the match cards and pack out what is usually a stacked card. This does also mean that pre-shows shall start earlier as well as the events starting earlier. It has been said that WWE have contacted their PPV broadcasters warning them that Money in the Bank will be starting an hour earlier and confirming the hour overrun.

The Positives

More Time for Talent

As previously stated, the rumoured reason was to provide more time for superstars to get on the card. This allows for more matches on the card and more people getting a payday. Despite it only being up to an extra hour per show it can provide space for two to three more matches if required. This could be used to provide those who would normally be relegated to multi-person tag events or pre-show matches the chance at the main card. The most common victim on this treatment is the cruiserweight division and some tag teams. Now there will be time for their matches and a bunch of other talent to get a spot on the card and provide lesser known undercard talent the chance to be in a pre-show match and get some exposure.

These new extensions could also provide the extra time for matches to breathe. A common problem with WWE PPV’s is that matches can feel rushed due to time restrictions or bad booking. Giving certain matches another five to ten minutes could be the key to taking a mundane, average match to the next level. An opportunity to go from three stars to four stars by allotting more time to story sections or providing more spots. This DOES NOT mean filling matches with another ten minutes worth of rest holds. No one wants to see that at all.

Bigger Events?

A regular complaint of the own brand PPV era was that each show felt more like an extended version of Smackdown or RAW. These events didn’t feel particularly special or worthwhile. You might find one or two excellent matches but overall most of the bouts on the card could have been covered on the regular show instead of PPV.

By co-branding and extending the run times, WWE can at least make PPV’s feel like big events again. To elevate them above the average status that a lot of PPV’s are stuck with. Even if the quality isn’t there, the feel can be. Instead of extended episodes these are actual PPV’s. This is a very loose positive but, if WWE do this right, then there is a chance that PPV sales can go up or they gain more Network subscribers because it feels and looks like people are paying for something worthwhile.

The Negatives

Filler Increase

Unfortunately, as previous shows have shown, a bigger runtime can lead to more filler. Remember the Wrestlemania where we watched the Rock set his name on fire in an overly tedious section? What if that became the norm because WWE need to fill an extra hour. There is always the chance that instead of providing quality matches or extending the action in worthwhile matches, we are treated to more mediocre matches, extended dance segments (a la Backlash) or just extra fluff implemented to pad out the show.

This could just be me being cynical but it isn’t too hard to imagine each PPV now having an extended promo segment or a pointless talking section. This has happened in plenty of PPV’s beforehand. There is also the scary likelihood that the rest holds comment from earlier could be a real thing, if a show is looking to finish early, some wrestlers may be told to extend their matches. Plus I highly doubt increasing the runtime of shows will give us a Brock main event longer than 20 minutes.

Saturation

Whilst it would be nice to see more superstars make it onto a PPV, there is also the problem of too many people being included. For the big 4, it is not unusual to see massive cards with a lot of matches. Transferring this formula to the lesser PPVs may potentially cause more problems than solve them. Instead of getting longer, compelling matches, audiences may be subject to more boring, build-up free matches where two or more wrestlers have been thrown together for no reason. WWE will have to create new feuds to fill in some of the newly created gaps in schedules. If not PPV quality may suffer as a result. Our last point covers this in a bit more detail…

Backlash

Backlash has already received plenty of beat downs from fans and critics for its pointless nature and dodgy booking. It was also an incredibly boring show on a reduced runtime of about three and a half hours plus the one hour pre-show. If PPV’s can suffer on lesser run times then it’s difficult to be optimistic for future PPV’s down the line. While Money in the Bank should be fine with a longer runtime, it could be hard to see them finding material for other gimmick free shows in the future.

Not to mention that with the pre-show these shows will now be five hours long. That’s a lot of time to invest in something. If a show has the same quality as Backlash on an extended runtime then WWE should expect some very unhappy customers in the future. The quality will need to increase alongside the quantity.

In Conclusion

This is an interesting this to see WWE do. It seems the company may be going all in on making PPV’s a big deal again after the own brand era may have devalued them. Whilst an extra hour may not seem like a lot, the potential is there for it to be incredibly beneficial to the WWE product. I’m cautiously optimistic that this will lead to some interesting developments for future PPV’s but as with most things only time will tell.

John is a UK based wrestling obsessive who still wants to believe the Bullet Club is fine. He is always tearing the business apart and first realised wrestling was for him when he saw Mankind fall from the top of the cell at King of the Ring 1998.

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