Saturday, May 25, 2024
EditorialWWE Mixed Match Challenge Finals Reaction: Tournament Recap & Post-Show Review

WWE Mixed Match Challenge Finals Reaction: Tournament Recap & Post-Show Review



The WWE Mixed Match Challenge has concluded with the finals taking place earlier this evening, meaning its time to go back and look at the tournament as a whole as well as the results which transpired.

As always with these events, click the video at the bottom of this post for the Smack Talk Pay-Per-Viewpoint post-show podcast review, but before diving into that, I think it’s important to step back and assess the entire tournament for its positives and its negatives.

The Idea Itself

From the onset of this, my reaction has largely been “meh” as the concept just wasn’t all that interesting to me. At no point did I find myself actually wanting to tune in to see what would happen next, including the very first episode when it was all still a “what if” with a lot of potential.

If it wasn’t my job to be reporting on these kind of things and I were just a fan, I would have watched one week of it to see what it was all about and then skipped everything else, as it just wasn’t worth the time and effort to sit and watch.

There was very little intrigue to me to announce a tournament of mixed tag team matches, as that’s one of the least entertaining gimmick matches that I can think of (and the stipulation didn’t do well at all in my currently ongoing Smark Madness tournament of gimmick matches)—it just isn’t something I’m fond of for more than a rare appearance here and there.

The original idea was supposedly an all women’s show and I think that would have been more worth the time, but it also would have potentially not worked given the parameters of the charity donations.

That in itself was something that, sadly, I have to admit I’ve had no interest in. It’s great that WWE is giving money to all of these organizations, but I don’t have a personal investment in any of them, so I’d almost rather overhear through the grapevine that WWE cut them a check and then move on with the day. I also thought it was very strange to book a tournament with charities on the line knowing that you have full control over who gets the win, but at least they had the decency to give money to all charities and not just the winner they had in mind.

All in all, I think this just wasn’t a good enough idea to begin with and it had very little potential to work with.

The Facebook Watch Platform

One of the main reasons this had to have been planned was to test out the market for Facebook Watch for both companies. Surely, Facebook was looking to have something with a popular fan base to see if they would migrate to that platform and draw attention to it, while WWE was looking to explore alternatives for broadcasting in the case they could leverage that option against networks like USA and FOX. It doesn’t hurt to say “well, if you don’t pay us enough, we can always go to Facebook.”

That isn’t going to happen, though, as this experiment proved that both the concept wasn’t good enough to draw people to want to go check out this platform and that the platform itself didn’t do anything to make it easier for people to digest the content.

The first episode had the highest amount of viewers at 135,600, which dropped to 91,900. That dropped even more the third week to 62,400, where it had a slight uptick to the 77.7k, 72.4k, and 76.5k totals, before dropping again to 62.2k in week 7. Things started to pick back up in week 8 to 88.5k and then 81.2k, with 93.7 in week 10 being the best since the debut. This past week was 65.6k, proving that even the semifinals didn’t have enough interest behind it to get people to tune in, and it revolves around the participants themselves, but has a limit.

If this would have stayed at a steady 100k following the drop from the premiere episode, maybe it would be worth talking about as a potential venue for future content, but it doesn’t seem like that’s feasible with these numbers.

From a personal perspective, I disliked watching this on Facebook. Not a single week did I get the notification of the episode going live on time and there were always buffering issues despite how I don’t come across that problem with other similar things. The quality of the video itself seemed lower than normal and I couldn’t care less about random people’s emojis flying across my screen.

Also, frankly, it was more than a little annoying to go from SmackDown on USA to Mixed Match Challenge on Facebook and then switching over to the WWE Network for 205 Live. Making the viewer do more work is never a positive, as I’m sure there were plenty of people who decided they didn’t want to go through the effort of going to a different device or something, particularly just for this show.

I’d imagine Facebook Watch as it stands right now is a dead idea for WWE’s future programming options and should only be brought back into the discussion for something like the Hall of Fame red carpet and pay-per-view pre-shows, but not for a dedicated series.

The Teams

For the most part, the teams were one of the best aspects of this and some of them were quite entertaining through and through.

It was nice to see the married couples of Jimmy Uso and Naomi and Rusev and Lana teaming up. I would have liked a match between the two, but that never came to pass. I’m sure that was a highlight for their careers, though, as it’s probably the only time they’ll get a chance to really do that and have some fun.

Team Little Big was the standout, by far, and it was great to see the budding awkward relationship between the super tiny Alexa Bliss and the monstrous Braun Strowman. “We’re going all the way” and the sexual tension was charming and funny, as if it wasn’t already worth a chuckle just to see the two standing next to each other.

I loved the name The Robe Warriors and it was interesting to see what looked like a crush developing between Charlotte Flair and Bobby Roode (but yeeesh does he do a terrible “woo!”) and even Big E and Carmella could have been great if we had more time with them.

Other teams weren’t quite so enthralling. I’ve never been into the “creepy Goldust makes that weird oooh noise around someone and makes an ass of himself because he’s surprised all the time” gimmick, so he and Mandy Rose was a bust. The Ginger Snaps were bland, even though Sami Zayn was one of the most entertaining when it came to the Mic’d Up specials.

Shinsuke Nakamura and Natalya were just awful. Finn Balor and Sasha Banks were as boring as could be and just mind-numbingly serious. Elias and Bayley had nothing going on that struck me as interesting. Apollo and Nia Jax was just a thing for a week and didn’t have much substance behind it.

This could have been worse with the teams, but it could have been better, too, as really only half of them worked in my mind and the other half were duds.

The Execution

WWE is so oversaturated with content that I find myself ignoring almost all of the online material and since this was heavily marketed as being a web-based experience, some of that fell by the wayside.

I just don’t have the time to watch 7+ hours of WWE’s primary shows (8 technically, but who watches Main Event?) along with checking out the specials on the WWE Network after Raw and then checking the YouTube for little snippets of the Mixed Match Challenge teams interacting with each other, especially if the first few videos aren’t good enough to convince me that the rest aren’t going to be as superfluous.

It’s good that they tried to tie social media into this, because you never know what will work unless you try something different, but I don’t think this will create too many benefits outside of maybe some lessons learned about how just because kids these days are glued to their phones doesn’t mean they want to be looking at everything YOU do unless it’s good enough to get eyes on it.

I also got so sick and tired of that song they used. It was just obnoxiously loud. NOT GIVING IT UP! THIS IS MY ZONE……..ugh. Every single advertisement that jumped into that drove me crazy, because this was the only thing I would hear associated with MMC for over a dozen weeks, multiple times per episode.

The matches themselves were fine, but nothing that I ever caught myself telling other people to check out if they missed it. Frankly, I don’t remember half of the pairings that took place during the bracket, even.

Speaking of the bracket, the second chance vote for a team to re-enter the tournament was a good enough concept to boost the social media coverage, but I don’t think it did much of anything in the long run. It’s better to have that option than to not and just have an extra few weeks of a tournament with more teams to have a more stable bracket, but I imagine the thrill of voting a team back in wasn’t so immense in the grand scheme of things.

Final Verdict

This was a bust. It’s great that charities received donations and some attention, and if you were fond of the tournament, then you had more WWE material to watch every week, but this definitely didn’t resonate with a lot of people, for a lot of different reasons.

It’s worth experimenting with different ideas and different programming avenues, so I commend WWE for trying something out and would never say a failure is devoid of any positives, as you can always take away lessons you’ve learned from your mistakes and apply them to the future, but this isn’t something I’d like to see return in any capacity whatsoever. There shouldn’t be a Mixed Match Challenge II tournament in a few months or next year, or God forbid picked back up to continue following this.

I also feel like this hindered the revamp of 205 Live by pushing it further back during the night, as I’m sure there were some people who didn’t want to stay awake to watch it at 10:30 at night. It might not have made an enormous difference, but it couldn’t have helped at all.

If they were to ever do this again, I think they would need to change quite a bit of how it was done. It should air BEFORE SmackDown or Raw, not after, it should have something other than charity donations on the line, the presentation should be as top notch as possible and there should be some kind of incentive to participate in the online chat other than seeing your name pop up in a feed. Maybe there could be a contest where one person every week would be chosen to win a prize (even if it’s as simple as a WWE Shop gift card). Maybe this could be a King and/or Queen of the Ring tournament instead of a mixed tag team match affair.

There’s room to explore some different options, but I’d be perfectly fine with WWE not revisiting this at all in the future and just letting this fade away as one of those random things that happened and was quickly forgotten about.

For more opinions on the tournament as a whole and the finals, check out the latest edition of the Smark Out Moment wrestling podcast SMACK TALK as the panel reviews Mixed Match Challenge with my immediate reactions following the event before the dust has fully settled.



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