Last night was Extreme Rules, one of the many Pay Per View events that is built around gimmick matches. Go see the Intercontinental Fatal Four Way and the main event, but everything else is skippable. What I’m going to talk about instead is the whole idea of “Extreme Rules” and why the WWE does it wrong.
That’s not a revolutionary statement. Lots of people think WWE does gimmick matches wrong. I really started to see a bunch of people talking about it when they made “Hell in a Cell” a PPV. They took a match that was previously reserved for the direst of blood feuds, and threw a bunch of matches in the cell that had no purpose being there. Before, the cell was the focal point of the match, now they were just having regular matches in the cell. It devalued the gimmick, and nowadays, Hell in a Cell means nearly nothing.
Stipulations have to have meanings in order to be important. Take a steel cage match. There could be several reasons to have a steel cage match. If the heel has people helping him, the cage can keep them out. If the heel keeps running from the face, the cage can stop him. If neither of those things are true, then why have a steel cage match? NXT is having one between Samoa Joe and Finn Balor, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. They justify it by saying these two can’t keep their fight in the ring, but there are better stipulations for that, like a Falls Count Anywhere match. No, NXT just wants to have their first cage match, so they’re going to have a cage match, logic be damned.
Stipulations can also be overused. Ladder matches, Hell in a Cell matches, we see these every few months these days and they lose some of their appeal. This is one thing NXT does right. They’ve had two ladder matches since they started running TV. They are about to have their first cage matches. They’ve had one Ironman (er, IronWoman) match, and two 2 Out of 3 Falls matches. When you don’t overdo stipulations, the match has more importance when it happens.
And that’s the problem of a show like Extreme Rules or Hell in a Cell or TLC. Feuds that have no passion are thrown into matches that don’t fit their story. It’s pretty ridiculous every year when guys in a random feud start hitting each other with chairs, just so the WWE can have a chairs match at the “Tables, Ladder, and Chairs” event.
But hey, New Japan will have it’s first Ladder Match in 9 years soon. Can’t say it’s being overdone there at least.