If we’re to believe WWE, the AJ Styles vs. John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose WWE world championship match was the main event of the No Mercy pay-per-view (PPV) last night (Oct. 9, 2016) in Sacramento, California. This despite the fact that it opened the PPV portion of the show.
Wait ... what?
They even made a video bragging about Cena making history by working in his 68th main event match while also outright saying it was the first time a main event opened a show:
That seems like a contradiction in terms, does it not? The main event, in the traditional sense, is the match that goes on last. Let’s see what Wikipedia tells us (cause Wikipedia is never wrong, right?):
A main event usually takes place as the final match of a title-match-system sporting event. The term occurs primarily with reference to combat sports such as boxing, professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. The main event, generally the most prestigious match on the card, has the most promotion behind it. The match commonly involves a contest for a top championship, but may feature another special attraction.
You’ll remember this is a distinction CM Punk complained about during his time at WWE, as Vince McMahon tried to tell him he worked the main event at WrestleMania 29 against Undertaker and Punk rejected that notion because the match did not, in fact, go on last. The definition provided by Wikipedia would seem to support that, but there’s also clear room for interpretation.
If the “main event” is the match that has the most promotion behind it, does that mean it isn’t required to go on last? That’s what happened here. You could certainly argue the term can be used to describe the most important piece of business happening at the PPV and there’s nothing that dictates said piece of business has to go on last.
Ultimately, it’s all a marketing trick for done for promotional purposes. As the consumer, it doesn’t really matter.
So WWE, right?