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Here's Why SummerSlam Needs The 4th Hour

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I have recorded the match times for every WWE Pay-Per-View (PPV) event since the start of 2013.

WWE has produced 32 unique events in that time span.  29 of those 32 events have been limited to a 3-hour format, and those 3-hour events consistently produce between 90 to 100 minutes of match time.  That might not sound right considering that they have 180 total minutes to work with, but that is how it often works out.

20 out of those 29 events had a total match time between 90 and 100 minutes.  The average and median match time for these 3-hour events both round up to 95 minutes.  As Scott Steiner says, the numbers don't lie.

That leads me to the rumored card for SummerSlam 2015, which currently consists of 8 matches.  Here are my very simple estimates of how much match time I expect from the 8 rumored matches.

First there are the top three matches:  Brock Lesnar versus Undertaker, Seth Rollins versus John Cena, and The Wyatt Family versus Sting and Ambreigns.  I would be shocked if any of these matches fell under 15 minutes of match time.  There is only one PPV in my data set where the 3 longest matches combined for under 45 minutes of total match time.  If you add up the 3 longest match times of the night for any 3-hour PPV (excluding Royal Rumble events), the average and median times are each just north of 59 minutes.  There is a pretty good chance that these 3 matches will combine for 60 minutes of match time, but I'll go with a conservative guess of 50 total minutes for now, to compensate for Undertaker and Sting being old.

The divas division is in a very interesting position right now as far as match time is concerned.  The triple threat match between Charlotte, Sasha, and Brie at Battleground 2015 received 11 minutes and 28 seconds of match time.  It seems pretty clear that a triple threat tag team match featuring these 9 wrestlers should get more time than that.  Putting down a divas match for 15 minutes might sound unlikely prior to this divas revolution, but I think there is a pretty good chance that this one gets right around 15 minutes at SummerSlam 2015.  However I'll put this one down for 12 minutes just to be conservative.

The New Day and Prime Time Players have fought each other on two straight PPVs, with the first match at roughly 6 minutes and the second match closer to 9 minutes.  So I'll stick with something in that range and go with 8 minutes for their rumored rematch at SummerSlam 2015.  There is also a chance that more teams are added to this match, which would probably increase the match time it receives.

Ryback versus Big Show should never be allowed anything more than 5 minutes, so that's my guess for that one.  But sadly, that is probably a conservative guess by a couple of minutes.

Ziggler and Rusev can easily go for 15 minutes, but my hunch is that WWE will treat this as one of the lesser matches on the card and give it 10 minutes.

That leaves Cesaro and Owens.  My body is ready for 20 minutes from these guys, but I don't trust WWE to even give them 15 minutes.  I'll go with 12 minutes just to stick with being conservative.

If you add up all of these mostly unscientific guesses, the total match time comes out to 97 minutes.

Now while that does fall in the expected 90 to 100 minute range of total match time for a 3-hour show, keep in mind that many of these guesses are on the conservative side.  Even if you ship off Ryback and Big Show to the pre-show, there is a pretty good chance that Randy Orton and Sheamus will be hovering around somewhere to steal 15 minutes of the show.  The bottom line is that this SummerSlam 2015 lineup was going be be facing a serious time crunch within WWE's typical 3-hour format.

One other factor to keep in mind is that WWE loves to put in extra filler segments for SummerSlam shows.  Here are the match times for the last decade of SummerSlam shows, rounded to the nearest minute.  I graded the events from 2012 to 2014 myself, and the prior data was taken from ProFightDB.

  • 2014: 89 minutes
  • 2013: 91 minutes
  • 2012: 80 minutes  
  • 2011: 85 minutes
  • 2010: 87 minutes
  • 2009: 95 minutes
  • 2008: 79 minutes
  • 2007: 79 minutes
  • 2006: 82 minutes
  • 2005: 93 minutes

With these past numbers in mind, it is more tempting to think that even if WWE squeezed down the 8 rumored matches to my very conservative guess of 97 total minutes and also left Randy Orton off the card, they would still have some trouble fitting it all on a 3-hour SummerSlam card.

If a Randy Orton match is added onto the card and some of my conservative estimates are each bumped up a few minutes, there will probably be 110 to 120 minutes of match time at SummerSlam 2015.  And as the last few WrestleMania events show, WWE needs 4 hours of total show time to include that much wrestling on a PPV.

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