WWE has been making major strides as of late to increase their viewership and listen to their fans when they say that sometimes, less is more in terms of content. WWE has previously made a point to make their pay-per-view events much shorter as a way of listening to this request; besides these monthly shows WWE has two other weekly events, RAW and Smackdown that are both two hours in length. However, recently WWE placed two pay-per-views, Super ShowDown and the Elimination Chamber, just 10 days apart from each other, leaving fans once again overwhelmed.
One of the biggest “main event” matches for the Elimination Chamber will be Aleister Black versus AJ Styles, two of the companies best performers. However, the two wrestlers have little to no backstory with one another. Most fans feel that WWE just threw this match into the event to fill space, because their rivalry is so barely developed it makes no sense that they would be going head-to-head.
WWE Superstar Kofi Kingston at Super Showdown
This is also a response to the fact that Super ShowDown, which occurred just last weekend, had heavily developed backstories behind every match. Of the six matches that have already been announced for the Elimination Chamber event, only two (the matches for the US and Intercontinental Championships) have a genuine rivalry behind them that has been occurring for more than just a month, the others are being seen as “forced.”
“This year’s event [Elimination Chamber] is riddled with matches that look solid on paper but carry less meaning than ever before. While it is nice to see Superstars who otherwise may have been relegated to lower positions on the card spotlighted in high-profile bouts, the placement of Super Showdown between the Royal Rumble and Sunday’s extravaganza has diminished any and all of the significance of the WWE Network presentation,” (Bleacher Report).
The backlash also comes in response to the fact that the Tag Team Championship match that’s been announced for the event is between The Street Profits, Seth Rollins and Murphy, the same exact match also occurred during the Super ShowDown. The ShowDown event itself featured championship changes and blockbuster matches with saturated story lines and built up animosity amongst all performers, ten days later and fans have barely recovered.
The pay-per-view itself was about three hours, and the following week forced fans to sit through a three-hour episode of Raw and two hour episode of Smackdown to get the aftermath results of the event; something that’s not uncommon for WWE. When pay-per-views occur, WWE is delivering up to 10 hours of wrestling content throughout a given week, which is a lot to keep up with for the average individual.
The general consensus among fans is that the Elimination Chamber itself feels like a total afterthought that WWE is pushing heavily to compete with rival wrestling company AEW, who just held their own pay-per-view event, Revolution, which brought in huge viewership for the network.
“It’s a show for the sake of a show, one that has no real impact on any of the top matches scheduled for WrestleMania. It lacks the star power that was plentiful on the Super Showdown card and the story line significance of AEW’s event,” (BR).
So while WWE has been making strides to better listen to their fans and fall back on their over-saturation of events, they still have a ways to go. This is an especially significant time of year for the WWE, as every match and rivalry is connected to Wrestlemania, the Super Bowl of pro wrestling. Typically, the pay-per-views leading up to ‘mania are meant to entertain fans with major match ups while simultaneously planting the seeds for its biggest event of the year. So it will be interesting to see how the next few months leading up to Wrestlemania play out in terms of fan engagement, and viewership.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.