So I was rewatching “Summerslam 2016” before releasing it on the day before this year’s event (as I’ve done for every show, which you should be reading) and sweet goose liver on the good kind of crackers you can’t find at the dollar store that show is LONG. I kept thinking I was misreading the time but somehow it’s really the case and there’s no way to put it: the show is too long. Today we’re going to take a quick look at how detrimental this can be to the audience and the show itself.
I can’t remember when he said it but Paul Heyman once said that there’s one show of the year that is bigger than all others with nothing coming close to it and that show is Wrestlemania. While “Summerslam 2016” isn’t as long as either “Wrestlemania XXXII” or “Wrestlemania XXXIII”, it comes closer than any other show with a two hour Kickoff Show and then a four hour (and three minutes) main card.
Now, I love wrestling. Like, I love it a lot. However, there comes a point where you’re just filling time for the sake of filling time and that’s not a good thing. I see no real reason to have six hours of material on any given night. Last year, there were three matches on the Kickoff Show and nine more on the regular card. Simply put, some of that could be cut and it wouldn’t have hurt much of anything.
Like, look at this. Is anyone needing this whole thing?
Consider the three Kickoff Show matches: a twelve man tag featuring the entire “Smackdown Live” tag division, Sami Zayn/Neville vs. the Dudley Boyz and the first match in a best of seven series between Sheamus and Cesaro. These matches combined for over thirty five minutes of bell to bell wrestling to go with the four hour pay per view.
Was anyone going to miss that Dudley Boyz’ match? Or would it have been so bad to have Cesaro vs. Sheamus take place the next night on “Monday Night Raw”? No, instead we needed to cram those in on the extra long Kickoff Show. The general response to that would likely be “oh shut up and enjoy the wrestling”, but let’s think about this for a minute.
You have three matches over the course of two hours. The first one started about half an hour in, the second about an hour and ten minutes in and the third about an hour and thirty five minutes in with the last match ending about ten minutes before the pay per view actually started.
Here’s the thing: that’s a lot of extra material, which means taking a lot more out of the audience. That’s an extra three matches, meaning three times the fans have to get on their feet for entrances, three times they wait for the match to end and three times they have to react to a finish. The problem with that becomes simple: by the time the main card, as in the stuff that’s far more important, the fans are already starting to get a bit spent, meaning the regular show gets a bit less energy.
This match, an instant classic from last year’s show, certainly wouldn’t count as filler:
To go along with that, Summerslam has been called the Biggest Party of the Summer. How much of a party is it really supposed to be if you’re cramming in as much stuff as you possibly can? As of this writing, the show has eleven matches signed. If you put three of them on the Kickoff Show again, that’s still an eight match pay per view card, not counting the possibility of more matches being added in.
There are some matches on the card that I already want to see but that many matches on one show feels almost draining. There comes a point where you look at the card and start getting tired just by seeing the amount of stuff you’re going to be seeing. Look back at the last two Wrestlemania events. While there were other criticisms (something about Roman Reigns if I remember right), one of the biggest issues people had was the show just being too long. Is that really something you want to continue with Summerslam as well?
Finally, there’s the idea of drawing in new fans. Summerslam is easily the second biggest pay per view of the year and therefore, a chance to draw in some new fans. How do you think a lot of people are going to react when they find out they’re in for a sit nearly as long as the original Star Wars trilogy? There’s going to be a lot of filler on the show for the sake of filling in time, which isn’t exactly putting the company’s best foot forward.
How many people do you think you’re going to get to stick with a company if the first thing they have to do is watch a four hour show one night, then a three hour show on Monday, then wrap it up with a two hour show on Tuesday? I know the “there’s too much content” is a dead horse at this point but it’s hardly a secret with the masses seeming to agree that most WWE shows run too long.
I mean, is this the kind of thing that’s going to keep new fans around?
Now, not only is Wrestlemania going especially long but it’s expanding to Summerslam and beyond as well. “Royal Rumble 2017” was five and a half hours and “Survivor Series 2016” clocked in at about ten minutes less. Those are just the Big Four pay per views, but at what point do the rest of the shows all follow this pattern and then these four need to be expanded even further? There comes a point where it’s all just too much and we’re already past it with Wrestlemania. It really wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case with the other major shows, and I don’t think anyone (save for WWE that is) is really asking for that reality.
I think you get the point now. Maybe it’s just the idea of sitting through a show that long or maybe it’s the 90s kid in me (back when a big show was two hours and forty five minutes) but we’re eight days away from “Summerslam 2017” and I’m already starting to dread the weight of all the matches combined. Just cutting the Kickoff Show in half would be better but that might mean an hour less of meaningless chatter and valuable plugging of Mountain Dew drinks. As usual it feels like fans are being asked to watch WAY too much to see one of the biggest shows of the year, but such is life as a wrestling fan.
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