Back in 1999, WWE held the first-ever Halftime Heat special. Mankind defeated The Rock to win the WWF Championship in an Empty Arena Match while Super Bowl XXXIII was in intermission.
In 2000, WWE followed it up again with just an interview with Stone Cold Steve Austin. Nowhere near as big of a deal, nor as much of a reason for people to tune in, but it was still something.
Halftime Heat sat on the shelf all the way until February 3, 2019. Out of nowhere, an NXT special took place at the WWE Performance Center during Super Bowl LIII and it seemed like the gimmick event was back in good graces.
Last year, however, there was no Halftime Heat. Triple H spoke about this and said it was primarily due to their relationship with Fox. Understandably, with Fox broadcasting the big game, they wouldn’t want people tuning out at any point, even to watch a WWE show. FS1 would be covering the Super Bowl and if WWE would put something on USA, it would be a direct competitor taking views away.
This year, however, circumstances are different. Super Bowl LV will be broadcast by CBS, rather than Fox, and I think WWE should take advantage of that.
There’s no debate what will get more eyes this Sunday. The Super Bowl is always and will likely always be the most-watched thing that year or close to it, period. Nothing WWE ever does will match those numbers unless Donald Trump stepped in the ring with The Rock. I don’t know about you, but I doubt that’s happening.
But what’s likely going to happen is that every station other than CBS will be one of two things: football coverage or filler material. Advertisers won’t pay big bucks for a commercial to run opposite the Super Bowl, so networks will run cheap movies or reruns to fill the time slots, make whatever revenue possible and not put a lot of emphasis on it.
Some networks will undoubtedly do coverage of the game just to get some spillover attention, but most people will just watch CBS and that will be it. You’re fighting an uphill battle trying to be FS1 with football coverage when there are plenty of avenues people will probably have a stronger preference for.
This is WWE’s chance to get a boost going for Friday Night SmackDown by doing something to put more attention on its own product during the lull of halftime for anyone who just wants to see “something else” other than football, necessarily.
On top of that, WWE has the perfect name to use to capitalize on this: SuperBrawl.
We’ve seen more of a resurgence of old school pay-per-view names in the past year or two than ever before. WWE woke up and realized a lot of trademarks are being wasted and should be used. We’ve seen In Your House, Halloween Havoc, New Year’s Revolution, The Great American Bash, Starrcade, WarGames and more pop up in recent years and we know Cody Rhodes has been trying to get everything else possible, too.
SuperBrawl is an old WCW event that ran from 1991 through 2001, mostly in February. It’s an obvious play off Super Bowl and, frankly, in my opinion, a pretty damn good name overall. It’s a bit hokey, but not too much, and it evokes a competitive “this is a wrestling event” sort of feel to it, unlike something more generic like Unforgiven or Fastlane.
I can just imagine WWE recording some interstitials with football and WWE talent hyping up “Take a break from watching the Super Bowl and check out SUPERBRAWL as WWE presents Halftime Heat this Sunday!” It works too well to be passed up.
Just like there has been “NXT TakeOver: In Your House” presented by WWE, the name isn’t too confusing. “WWE presents Halftime Heat: SuperBrawl” in theory says everything you need to know. It’s a WWE show during halftime that they call SuperBrawl because of the Super Bowl. Done.
It can be filmed at the Capitol Wrestling Center or inside the WWE ThunderDome. The latter is more impressive, but the former is easier to control, likely, and better if you want to show off “fans” in attendance.
It can be recorded ahead of time. WWE has manipulated the ThunderDome stuff in the past, so there’s already a precedent for that. Or, even better, it can be broadcast live and the ThunderDome fans can watch as it goes on, so as to get more social media coverage.
As far as the card, it doesn’t have to be much. Maybe Bobby Lashley defends the United States Championship against Matt Riddle in an I Quit Match and Riddle wins the title. It could be a 10-man tag team match to cram lots of stars in there. Ideally, the WWE main roster would be utilized, rather than NXT talent, and it would make sense for it to focus on SmackDown, rather than Raw, as the blue brand is what’s tied to Fox. So maybe Roman Reigns teams up with Apollo Crews and Jey Uso (if he’s available) against Kevin Owens, Daniel Bryan and Big E. Or maybe Big E defends the Intercontinental Championship against Sami Zayn and Apollo Crews in a Triple Threat match. Whatever. There are options.
Of course, that doesn’t seem like that’s going to be the case this year, which I think is a shame and a missed opportunity.
The more WWE uses these old names, the better. If they are tied to a specific time in the year, like SuperBrawl or Halloween Havoc, and you can make a show feel special by tagging it with that name, you should utilize your tools. Taking advantage of the Super Bowl to try to boost Fox viewership for SmackDown going forward would only be a benefit that would help relations with that network after this Peacock deal and I see no reasons why this isn’t happening, other than that Fox simply wants to run football analysis during halftime instead.
If that’s the case, well, it’s not WWE’s call to do anything else for fear of making enemies.
Maybe once the deal with Fox dries up, SuperBrawl can return as a Halftime Heat special on Peacock instead in February 2025.