I know that Ring of Honor has a major event Sunday, but I’m going to begin Heel Turns by examining WWE’s “No Way Out.” Most of you already know the outcomes, so I’m not reviewing No Way Out to pass along winners and losers. I’m reviewing No Way Out to point out the mistakes WWE makes in promoting its pay-per-views.
The biggest problem WWE has with its pay-per-views is there are too many of them. The pay-per-views are often bunched too close together, which doesn’t allow the proper time to promote them. WWE sometimes compounds the lack of time by adding matches at the last minute.
All of these elements came together at No Way Out. This should have been a good pay-per-view. In fact, the event featured some good matches. The problem was in the promotion.
Let’s start with the best of the pay-per-view. The WWE Championship match between C.M. Punk, Daniel Bryan and Kane was terrific. Not only did it feature Punk and Bryan, both masters of the ring, but the storyline made sense. And WWE was wise enough not to have the storyline, mostly involving A.J., overshadow the excellent in-ring action.
The steel cage match between John Cena and Big Show was what you would expect. Whether that’s good or bad is up to you. It was a solid cage match with a storyline payoff at the end, with Cena winning and John Laurinaitis getting fired. The ending would have had more meaning if Laurinaitis hadn’t shown up on RAW the next night or – and this made absolutely no sense – having made a match pitting Cena against Big Show, Laurinaitis and David Otunga before he was fired.
Two other championship matches featured good action, but the fans didn’t have a lot of reason to care. It’s tough to fault WWE for the lack of buildup to the World Championship match between Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler. Alberto Del Rio’s concussion created the need for a last-minute challenger. I’m hoping this is just the beginning for Ziggler in terms of being in the championship picture.
The Intercontinental Championship match between Christian and Cody Rhodes was also very good. The crowd, however, didn’t seem to care very much. There needs to be an issue between these two wrestlers for the fans to care. The buildup for this match seemed like an afterthought the week before No Way Out.
Now we get to the really big problems. It has become a pattern for WWE to add unannounced matches to pay-per-view events. At No Way Out, Sin Cara defeated Hunico, Ryback beat two local wrestlers and the Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O’Neil) won a four-way tag team match to determine the No. 1 challengers for the tag team championship.
We’ve seen the Sin Cara-Hunico match multiple times on Smackdown. Why should we care that it’s on a pay-per-view. Unless there is a tremendous payoff down the road (at Summer Slam?), the Ryback squash matches have no place on a pay-per-view. The four-way tag-team match needs its own paragraph to detail all the problems.
The first problem is that many fans probably can’t even name the tag team champions (Kofi Kingston and R-Truth). Kingston and Truth have been used more as fodder for Big Show lately than as honored champions. Second, many fans probably aren’t aware that Young and O’Neil are a team. The same goes for the team of Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd. Finally, the finish involved A.W. (Abraham Washington) turning his back on former champs Primo and Epico to help the Prime Time Players.
The storyline with A.W. and the team of Primo and Epico has been ignored for several weeks. How are fans supposed to react to a manager turning on a team when WWE hasn’t established that he’s with that team in the first place? The act of betrayal seems less heinous if the fans don’t know the manager is with one of the teams.
Finally, all these unannounced matches detract from the announced matches. During these additional matches, I often find myself thinking “how much time is this going to take away from (for example) Punk, Bryan and Kane?” If the fans expected the four-way tag-team match, the feeling I just explained wouldn’t occur. With a proper buildup, this could have been an interesting match. Instead, it’s viewed as filler.
WWE needs to cut back its number of pay-per-views to allow proper time to build storylines. And fans need to know what they’re buying before purchasing the pay-per-view rather than have it filled out with several unannounced matches.
BEST IN THE WORLD: This is a big weekend for Ring of Honor, which hosts “Best in the World 2012: Hostage Crisis” on Sunday at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. This event is also huge because of Ring of Honor’s recent Internet pay-per-view problems, which it hopes to rectify this weekend. Another Internet pay-per-view plagued by technical problems could turn off the faucet on this potential revenue source for Ring of Honor.
“Best in the World” is headlined by Kevin Steen defending the Ring of Honor World Championship against former champion Davey Richards. Ring of Honor tag team champions Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin defend their titles against The All Night Express (Rhett Titus and Kenny King), with, due to their last two meetings, the titles changing hands on a disqualification.
Other matches include Fit Finlay vs. “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin; Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly in a hybrid rules match; TV champion Roderick Strong defending his title in a
three-way elimination bout with Tommaso Ciampa and former champ Jay Lethal; Eddie Edwards vs. Homicide; and former tag team champs Jay and Mark Briscoe vs. The Guardians of Truth.
LEGAL EAGLES: I’d like to thank my excellent lawyers, who earned their money this week by keeping my name out of the Stacy Keibler pregnancy rumors. Those rumors are false, by the way.
Achilles Heel is extremely pleased his lawyers were able to keep his name out of the tabloids and Internet blogs. I don’t need George Clooney becoming more jealous than he already is.
NEW CHALLENGER: TNA continues to garner my praise. I think this makes three weeks in a row for a positive comment from the Greek god of Wrestling.
My praise this week comes from Austin Aries giving up the X Division title in order to challenge World Heavyweight champion Bobby Roode at Destination X on July 8. Aries has been excellent since joining TNA. Unlike Sting, who is a higher profile name, Aries can deliver a four-star or five-star match with Roode.
Aries is a pseudo-heel, which makes for a personality clash, but he will clearly be the fan favorite against Roode. This gives TNA a terrific match at the top of the card. Unfortunately, we don’t know the rest of the card, even though it’s just two weeks away. (See my criticism of WWE at the start of this column to understand why this matters.)
CHIKARA HITS ROAD: CHIKARA goes North of the border this weekend for shows in Strathroy, Ontario on and Syracuse on Sunday. The Young Lions Cup gets underway that weekend. Then CHIKARA takes a break until late July. The next opportunity to see CHIKARA in Pennsylvania will be a special charity event in conjunction with the Reading Phillies on Aug. 12.
SABU RETURNS: Sabu will be involved in Extreme Rising’s June 30 show in Philly at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory. This is a big risk because Sabu had to pulled from the main event of Extreme Reunion’s last show (as Extreme Rising was known then) after being found passed out in his hotel room and, subsequently, hospitalized.
Sabu is being given a second chance with Extreme Rising. If he blows it, he might not receive another chance.