We knew that there would be a change in philosophy when Triple H took over as head of creative when Vince McMahon “retired” from WWE, and while some fans will jump on the Triple H band wagon because they think it makes them “better fans” (WWE is still getting their money and Vince is still the biggest stockholder) a specific segment from last night’s Raw became a topic of discussion on social media.
Drew McIntyre and Kevin Owens had an intense exchange, where the words “pro wrestlers” and “wrestling” were used, something that was almost unthinkable when Vince had the headset backstage. It wasn’t the actual verbiage, but rather the organic nature of the delivery that created the entertaining segment. Sure, Drew and Owens probably had most of what they said scripted, but it wasn’t phrased to sound like a manufactured WWE sales pitch. Drew wasn’t trying to shine the term “WWE Universe” so that the sponsors might be less apprehensive to buy commercial time, he was selling a big time match at a Stadium show at Clash At The Castle in two weeks.
While I understand why Vince McMahon wanted to package and market his product as sports entertainment, the level of convoluted language that was used for the past several years has taken away from the presentation of the product. In my view, the sports entertainment aspects were Mr. T being used as a part of the main event of Wrestlemania or Steve Austin driving a beer truck to the ring. Sports entertainment, in its most basic form, is simply more of an emphasis on show business instead of the purist aspects of the sport. “WWE universe” and “local medical facility” sound too blatant to be considered authentic or organic. We all know that pro wrestling, sometimes for good reason, will have a stigma attached to it, but that’s still what WWE is selling, regardless of how its package. All things considered, Vince McMahon and the corporate machine have been very successful with the marketing of the genre to the general public. That being said, the blatant marketing spin can hinder the effectiveness of certain segments. nobody has ever said, “we have tickets to the sports entertainment matches tonight!” or “Did you see Steve Austin push Mike Tyson on that sports entertainment show?”
At it’s core, it’s still pro wrestling and the building blocks of what make it successful, whether its promoted as sports entertainment or not, are still the same since it’s based on psychology.
That’s why the promo from Raw, particularly Drew McIntyre’s delivery, creates some intrigue ahead of the Clash at The Castle pay-per-view in Cardiff. It should be noted that the expanded technology of the WWE Network and the ability to have an on-demand option for programming is what makes this special event possible. As some might know, because of the time difference, it wasn’t realistically feasible to have live pay-per-views in the UK because of the time difference, which is why the vast majority of WWE PPVs were shown of free TV there for years since the broadcast didn’t start until 1 AM in the UK. That’s also why there were exclusive pay-per-views held in the country in the early-2000s as a way to generate a UK buy rate. When The Bristish Bulldog beat Bret Hart for the IC title at Wembley Stadium, it was before the internet existed so there wasn’t a risk of the results being known and it could damage the buy rate.
Still, logistically, the travel involved in going overseas makes WWE live events rare, and that’s why there’s usually a strong demand for tickets. From what I’ve read, Clash at The Castle is selling tickets so far, and that creates somewhat of a predicament for management. Drew McIntyre is booked in the main event, mostly because the event is being held on his home turf and it would undoubtedly be quite a moment if he won the championship with a stadium full of enthusiastic fans, the scene that he would’ve had at Wrestlemania a few years ago if the pandemic didn’t shutter the entire world. Truthfully, Drew never got the chance he deserved, he was the champion of a show held in an empty building during a time when the company was trying to figure out how to produce live television from a venue without fans. You can’t necessarily blame the company either because there was rightful an adjustment process before they found somewhat of a solution with the thunder dome concept. The fumble was the way he was booked after he dropped the championship, a feud with Jinder Mahal that had zero heat behind it and then the mid-card comedy feud against Baron Corbin.
Drew never got his proper coronation, despite the fact that he carried the company on his back during an unprecedented time of uncertainty for the industry so does Drew get his moment at Clash at the Castle in front of his hometown crowd?
For the moment and for the crowd, it makes sense for Drew to finally get the stadium pose with the championship. However, the bigger picture with a bigger payoff is further down the road. Don’t get me wrong, Drew is great and deserved better when he won the title, but that was over two years ago and his momentum was reduced considerably since that victory. When Roman Reigns finally drops the belt after such an extended and dominate reign, there must be an angle that fits the event. Cody Rhodes finally winning the championship in honor of his late dad, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes is the story worthy of the title switch. That’s not a knock on Drew, but rather how the dynamics of the company progressed since Wrestlemania 36. The story writes itself and the video packages of Cody Rhodes’ comeback from injury just add to the drama of the match where he challenges Roman Reigns for the WWE championship.
The intrigue though is management somewhat booked themselves into a corner since the setting would be perfect for Drew to win the title in the UK, which will be a historic show with it being the first live pay-per-view there in thirty years, and it would definitely be a disappointment for those in attendance if McIntyre doesn’t get the celebration. The promo on Monday proved that Drew can still be a top guy so it will be interesting to see what decision is made for the UK pay-per-view.
What do you think? Share your thoughts, opinions, feedback, and anything else that was raised on Twitter @PWMania and Facebook.com/PWMania.
Until next week
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