As I’ve been doing for the past few events, after it’s over, I look back on what I feel were the biggest booking mistakes on WWE’s behalf for the night. Sometimes, those examples boil down to the winners and losers, while other times they are more about the build leading up to it.
With WWE’s Live from Madison Square Garden event, there weren’t too many little things to nitpick here and there, thankfully, but there were two big glaring flaws that seriously hurt the value of the event.
Big Show is a Little Threat
Let’s just get this one out of the way really fast and point out that anyone in their right mind could see through Big Show’s challenge. There was absolutely no way this match would be anything other than something to put over Brock Lesnar. In theory, that’s perfectly fine, as the entire purpose of this was to make Lesnar look strong going into Hell in a Cell. However, as far as this show goes, does it mean anything when you know that the biggest selling point of the program is to watch someone squash someone who has no chance at beating him?
If I were on the creative team, I’m almost 100% certain that I would do the exact same match, but just because I agree with the decision doesn’t mean that I think this was a flawless, perfectly executed build to an amazing match. The wrestling fan in me that has watched year after year just sees how transparent this is, so while part of that burden is on me to just suspend my disbelief and go with the flow, part of the responsibility is also on WWE’s shoulders to give me a reason to believe Big Show had even the slightest chance.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Paul Heyman’s made a catch phrase out of “eat, sleep, conquer, repeat” but with this show, everything felt like it was just the repeat with nothing extra added to spice things up.
We started off the night with Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler against Sheamus and Rusev. Granted, WWE made the right decision here to combine those two singles matches together in a tag team match, as it cut down on the time wasted. Fifteen minutes for this tag match is much better than thirty minutes for two separate bouts.
Still, does anybody care about these two feuds anymore? They’ve been dragging on for MONTHS and it isn’t as though this is the first week that these programs have outstayed their welcome. Both the storyline between Ziggler and Rusev and the feud between Orton and Sheamus (which has never really been about anything all that much to begin with) have been stagnant for such a long time, yet they just keep happening over and over again. Orton has even moved on to a feud with The Wyatt Family, yet instead of wrestling someone like Bray Wyatt or Braun Strowman here, we got this, again.
Despite how it was a better decision to make it a tag team match, that doesn’t actually upgrade the quality of it or really change things up to be something different like a true gimmick stipulation would be. Instead, it just makes it seem like the go-to booking decision for an episode of Raw or SmackDown.
Stardust and Neville has been done in various different ways leading up to SummerSlam and continuing on past that. We saw nothing new in this match that we haven’t seen before. Granted, both of these guys are very talented and I have nothing bad to say about the match, but in the grand scheme of things, I would have preferred to see something that I haven’t watched numerous times this summer. Even a match like Neville against Luke Harper, which has absolutely no context whatsoever, would be more interesting to me as it hasn’t been exhausted.
Team Bella vs. Team PCB is another match that has been done so many times that it no longer has any major value. Ask yourself if you really got pumped when this was announced. If you did, I’m happy for you, as that probably means you got considerably more out of it than I did. What I took out of this whole segment was that I still find Paige’s promos somewhat ear-grating and that Charlotte and Becky Lynch acted more like heels than she did. You’re the babyfaces, ladies. Be a Star, not a bully.
As big of a fan of The New Day as I am, and as much as I liked their match overall and the pre-match antics, the ending was such a sour note for me because it’s literally a redo of what happened at Night of Champions. If you’ve seen that pay-per-view, then you’ve seen this one. Let’s just assume The Dudley Boyz win the belts at Hell in a Cell. If that happens, in retrospect, would it have killed WWE to have the titles switch hands here instead? The match still could have happened at Hell in a Cell as it would have been The New Day’s obligatory rematch clause coming into effect, but the added bonus of having the titles change at this show would be the unpredictability factor. Also, it adds credibility to these special events, as people will look forward to them in the future as must-see. If a title changes, then you never know what’s in store, but if nothing ever happens, then what’s the hook? It’s just a televised house show, and they all have poor records of having title matches that lead nowhere, so you can’t expect any of them to really be worth something.
These matches weren’t terrible travesties or total snoozefests, sure, but booking them on the card to begin with did nothing but hurt the credibility of the event. Yes, it can be argued that this is just a glorified house show and that generic live events are never anything outside of the ordinary, but the fact that this was advertised as a WWE Network special show upgrades it to a new level that should be booked in a different light. If the operative keyword is that this is a “special” event, isn’t it the total polar opposite when the card is made up of things that are commonplace, not extraordinary or rare in any way?
Credit where credit is due, at least Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho put on a good match and were something a little outside the norm. These two haven’t been wrestling every other week on television in tag team pairings or anything of the sort, so watching them go at it was fresh and interesting.