KELLER'S TAKE KELLER: An idea to shake up how wrestling TV shows present the final hype for PPV line-ups
Aug 11, 2012 - 1:31:43 AM
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By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
As I was watching TNA Impact on Thursday night, once again my eyes glazed over as Mike Tenay and Taz began to run down the line-up for Sunday's Hardcore Justice PPV.
Twenty years ago, and maybe even ten years ago, the graphics on the screen of the wrestlers facing off would have been state of the art. Now, though, it feels stale. The way TNA promotes PPVs just feels too routine, too by the book, too zombie-like in its execution. WWE isn't any better in a meaningful way, although they have the "moving gifs" of wrestlers to add a little animation.
How about instead, on the last show before the PPV, TNA or WWE have all of the wrestlers who are scheduled to wrestle walk out onto the entrance stage. They line up on opposite sides and one match-up at a time, are called to center stage for a final staredown.
I imagine an augmented, abbreviated version of UFC's surprisingly popular weigh-ins that they conduct on the Friday before Saturday night PPVs. Without the actual weigh-in portion, it'll be more of a parade of stars having a staredown one after another.
With pro wrestling's creative license, this of course on occasion could result in a brawl breaking out. I, though, would vote for restraint here. The shoulder butt by Anderson Silva to Chael Sonnen amped up anticipation for that fight 24 hours before they fought on PPV. Just an intense, realistic, non-cartoonish staredown can sell a fight like Austin Aries vs. Robert Roode or Zema Ion vs. Kenny King. It gives a sports-like big-fight feel feel to the pending event.
An announcer would M.C. the segment, which really wouldn't have to last more than five minutes of TV time. Jeremy Borash or Michael Cole or Mike Tenay or Jerry Lawler could stand center-stage, and one at a time call competitors for each individual match to stand face to face, toes lined up with two strips of tape on the stage, with instructions not to cross that line "or else."
In this age of three-hours live Raws and live Impacts driving the revenue streams for the respective promotions, so much is thrown at viewers for free in terms of big match-ups (James Storm vs. Kurt Angle last week, John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan earlier this week, Angle vs. A.J. Styles this week, etc.) that it's tough to elevate PPVs to that "must purchase" status.
With Summerslam's Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H match, yes, that's a level above what WWE delivers on Raw and Smackdown. Brock simply doesn't wrestle on TV (although I wouldn't be shocked to see them deliver his first TV match up against Monday Night Football's kick-off game). WWE doesn't have big unique match-ups like that every month to offer to sell PPVs. TNA has almost nothing, as there's very little differentiation between matches offered on Impact versus TNA PPVs.
If TNA or WWE offered a parade of staredowns on the final show before every PPV, it would hardly be an eyes-glazed-over segment, like the current segments where announcers list the matches as images of the competing wrestlers appear on the screen. The anticipation for seeing the opponents get in each other's personal space and lock eyes for a final intense moment where all of the hype, boasting, insults, sneak attacks, promises, vows, and conniving culminate would be a monthly segment in a TV show I believe viewers would look forward to. It would make it unmistakable and unforgettable that the PPV is "this Sunday." It would make the line-up less forgettable as that imagery of the staredowns would really drive home what the line-up is and the intensity and dynamic between opponents would build anticipation to see them unleashed inside the ring the following Sunday.
TNA, especially, has been open to trying new ideas. Not all have been great (Gut Check), and some have been dropped quickly (the weekly rankings ideas back in the short-lived Monday Night era of Impact; the weekly TV Title defenses just this summer), but others have been nice shake-ups to the format (Open Fight Night). TNA has more room to experiment because they have "less to lose." I think the pre-PPV parade of staredowns would make for compelling TV while also doing a much better job selling the PPV as a must-see event and driving home what is scheduled for the PPV.
(Wade Keller is supervising editor and founder of Pro Wrestling Torch. He hosts the PWTorch Livecast on Tuesdays and Fridays, presents the daily Wade Keller Hotline for VIP members, and publishes the PWTorch Newsletter for VIP members every week, among other duties. He has interviewed pro wrestling's top stars in their longest insider interviews in their careers including Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Goldberg, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Vince Russo, and many others.)
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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
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He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
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