This Sunday sees the final brand split PPV in Fastlane before WWE rejigs their plans and makes all PPVs both Raw and Smackdown Live shows. While the traditional ‘Big Four’ PPVs (Wrestlemania, Royal Rumble, Survivor Series and Summerfest Summerslam) have usually piled all the WWE talent onto the cards, the lesser shows throughout the year such as Payback and the afore-mentioned Fastlane have usually been one brand shows in that they’ll feature story-lines and stars from either Raw or Smackdown, but not both. With all that set to end post-Wrestlemania, how will this bode for WWE going forward? I believe there’ll be good and bad points from them doing this. Let’s take a look:
Pro – It adds to the star power
For most WWE PPVs, they run at least three hours with an hour kick-off show thrown in for good measure. To keep fans entertained, WWE must have matches that will keep eyes on the product. Fastlane looks pretty good and there are four titles on the line on Sunday, but there are only six matches advertised. We’re guessing the main event will be a lengthy affair, given the number of participants, but as with the big four PPVs, WWE can stack the card even more by having another four belts defended, plus an addition of another roster to boost the star power.
With so many titles able to be defended, every match can become interesting or ‘must see’. There’s a very real possibility of a title changing hands, and with so many on the line, chances are you’re going to see a belt switch. Improving the star power also gives each show more interest and draws in more fans. Some of the WWE Universe favor one show over another so may choose to pass on a Raw or Smackdown brand PPV. By having both shows on a PPV means fans of each brand are that more likely to watch, thereby boosting viewing figures.
Con – Lower-card wrestlers will miss out
A three-hour show showcasing eight title matches means there’s little room for any star that isn’t feuding for a title at that time. Even though Fastlane has managed to shoehorn as many of the blue brand onto the card as possible, we’re still not going to see Zack Ryder, Mojo Rawley, Liv Morgan, Aiden English, Chad Gable, Fandango, Eric Rowan, Luke Harper, Jinder Mahal, Lana, Sarah Logan or Tyler Breeze. Though some will undoubtedly find their way onto the kick-off show, whatever your opinions on if those missing out should be on the card in the first place, it still proves the point that even on a Smackdown Live brand PPV, some will miss out. Once the brands come together, it’s fair to say even more will miss the cut which can’t be good for them.
Pro –It gives the main WWE titles more airtime and credibility
I’ve gone on about my dislike for Brock Lesnar’s current title run many times here, but if he had to defend his title once a month, WWE would’ve (hopefully) got more mileage out of him and his title run. He would’ve defended it more, gave the belt much more credibility and also faced a wider variety of opponents. Having Brock defend his belt every other month if we’re lucky, hasn’t done him or the belt any favors. That being said, Alexa Bliss’ recent defense at Elimination Chamber was her first in 2018 and not many people have been griping about that, even though it’s no different to Brock. Just goes to show you; title reigns matter and champions should be seen defending their gold. Having a minimum of 12 defenses a year would give the belt more prestige and also build the credibility and belief of the champions holding said titles. Imagine Asuka winning a belt at Wrestlemania and defeating all comers for 11 months, only to have a big finale at mania once more. It would build the character so much and the hype for a huge showdown would be incredible.
Con – ‘Lesser’ titles could suffer
Aside from the eight titles I’ve just mentioned; WWE Universal, World Heavyweight, Intercontinental, United States, Tag (x2) and Women’s (x2), there’s also the Cruiserweight Title and the NXT men’s and women’s titles on WWE programming. Though NXT usually reserve their title matches for their own brands, or for their Takeover events, the Cruiserweight Title would likely drown or find itself permanently moved to kick-off shows. All it takes is for a cross-brand feud or a one-off match (think Undertaker at WrestleMania) to have any WWE PPV card so stacked that some matches will find themselves relegated. This has happened in the last twelve months with both the United States and Intercontinental Titles dropped completely from the main PPV show; either moved to the kick-off in front of a half-filled arena or forgotten about only to be shown again on mainstream TV in a day or two’s time.
To have fans miss out on The Miz, even just for his promos on a PPV is a bad move. The guy has brought so much credibility and an air of prestige to the IC title that to have it relegated off the main card is a damn shame and devalues one of the most iconic belts in wrestling history. The same can be said of the US Title, although not as prestigious, the belt means something in that it represents the best of the mid-card and usually is held by the next star waiting to break into the main title picture. Are the weekly defenses on Smackdown Live a good idea? Yeah, and John Cena did a great job doing that, but I’ve always been of the opinion that titles should be defended every month.
I guess by WWE bringing all the stars together for every PPV may devalue shows such as Night of Champions, but if that’s the only loss the fans will get in the long run, it’s something I’m willing to sacrifice if it means every PPV after Wrestlemania will be must see and filled with star power. How about you?