Could the WWE Network Devalue the WWE World Heavyweight Championship?
By Eric Darsie
One of the biggest moves the WWE has made in the last decade has to be creating the WWE Network. On the opening day, I subscribed to the Network, excited to watch older pay-per-views from World Championship Wrestling and from mid-90s World Wrestling Federation. Another thing I’m thrilled about being a subscriber to the WWE Network is getting the current pay-per-views for free (technically it’s included with the $9.99 a month).
The pay-per-view name is starting to be phased out and the term “special events” are being used over the traditional pay-per-view name, since cable providers aren’t carrying the cards as pay-per-views anymore. After WrestleMania XXX, I’m starting to be concerned with how these “special events” will be booked.
First off, I find the “special events” name to be silly because I grew up with the pay-per-view name and loved the “supercard” name that was thrown around whenever I watched 80s WCW or WWF television. Whenever there’s a title match on Monday Night Raw or Friday Night SmackDown, those matches should be seen as something special, because it’s not usual to see championship brawls on television.
I feel if WWE booked these “special events” like they did for traditional pay-per-views or old Saturday Night’s Main Events, current fans and old-school fans who bought the Network off of the classic programming would tune in to watch the monthly “supercard.”
But with how the booking, in my opinion, hasn’t been as good as it once was over a decade ago, I’ve been in-and-out interested on the current product the last five or so years, depending on what storylines are a-happenin’ on the television every week. The Shawn Michaels-Chris Jericho feud from 2008, or the 400+ day WWE title reign of CM Punk, or the rise of Daniel Bryan and the Yes Movement, feuds and storylines like such are a few things that peaked my interest in WWE since WrestleMania XXV.
Secondly, and the biggest problem I have with the WWE Network is the WWE World Heavyweight Championship being devalued with the “special events.” The reason why I’m concerned that the WWE World Heavyweight title will be devalued is I’m concerned that the WWE Creative Team would consider the “special events” as an extension of Raw’s and SmackDown’s that they write for every week. Since the buyrate of the pay-per-view doesn’t matter anymore, why should they build-up storylines and have them climax once a month or why should they book a storyline that ends with a plot twist or an ending to the story once a month?
I am sure I am overreacting on my concern, since WrestleMania XXX was the only pay-per-view to be offered on the Network and only way we would know the pay-per-views/“special events” are simply an extension to weekly television once a month is waiting for WrestleMania 31 and see how things were booked between WrestleMania’s, but I feel like this is something that should be a concern for WWE and for the fan of the WWE product.
What would I suggest WWE Creative to do with my concern? I hope they prove me wrong by booking these Network pay-per-views like they had before when they were still offered on cable providers and deliver on the “special events,” making people want to turn into Raw every Monday night and SmackDown every Friday night and keep subscribing to the Network for they can continue watching to see what’s next for the following “special event.”
Yes, I am saying the Creative Team inside the WWE should do what they’re hired to do and give us angles and storylines that brings us back every week and give us a reason (or better yet, reasons) to give up our hard earned money to see what they have next week-in-and-week-out, and more yet, month-in-and-month-out. I guess, in the end, I don’t have much faith in the WWE Creative Team. They have put on awesome shows the last three months with the Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, and WrestleMania. The build for Evolution versus the Shield for Extreme Rules. The beat-down that Kane gave to WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan on Raw on Monday, April 21st.
I am looking forward to seeing how the six-man tag match will climax at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view and I am excited to see how Daniel Bryan retains the WWE World Heavyweight strap in a Extreme Rules match against the Big Red Machine. I hope the Creative Team keeps this trend up because if they do, my faith will be built back up in them and they’ll bring me back into the current product.
So, could the WWE Network devalue the WWE World Heavyweight Championship? As a whole, I don’t think so. But the Creative Team can by how they book pay-per-views. That’s with any champion and any era. I feel like the WWE Network could help bring value back to the WWE World Heavyweight title, and any other title the Creative decides to put value back in. Like said above, I hope the Creative Team keeps up with how they’ve been booking feuds and storylines so far this year, things are slowly starting to look positive.