I have no idea how many times I’ve looked at an upcoming pay-per-view (PPV) match and said to myself, “This one could steal the show if it gets enough time.”
I felt that way about New Day versus The Bar heading into Crown Jewel, and while their match was one of the longer bouts of the night, the truth remains that it’s really hard to put on a great match with just 10 minutes and 32 seconds (10m 32s) of bell-to-bell match time. For some context, keep in mind that I have timed all 597 WWE PPV matches since the start of 2013, and the median match time is 12m 08s.
I decided to look back on all of New Day’s tag team matches on PPV (including pre-shows) in 2018 to see how they have fared for time, and I was shaking my head in frustration after seeing the numbers. Here is the full list, in chronological order:
- 8m 58s: New Day vs. The Usos (Fastlane)
- 5m 55s: Bludgeon Bros vs. New Day vs. The Usos (WrestleMania 34)
- 7m 35s: New Day vs. SaniTY (Extreme Rules Kickoff)
- 9m 27s: Bludgeon Bros. vs. New Day (SummerSlam)
- 8m 50s: New Day vs. Rusev Day (Hell in a Cell Kickoff)
- 9m 41s: New Day vs. The Bar (Super Show-Down)
- 10m 32s: The Bar vs. New Day (Crown Jewel)
Their match at Crown Jewel is the only one that has surpassed 10 minutes in 2018, which seems like a huge wasted opportunity to me.
For comparison’s sake, I decided to look back at New Day’s tag team matches on PPV (including pre-shows) in 2017. Here is the full list, in chronological order:
- 12m 16s: The Usos vs. New Day (Money in the Bank)
- 13m 45s: The Usos vs. New Day (Battleground)
- 19m 18s: New Day vs. The Usos (SummerSlam Kickoff)
- 21m 53s: New Day vs. The Usos (Hell in a Cell)
- 21m 31s: New Day vs. The Shield (Survivor Series)
- 12m 54s: The Usos vs. New Day vs. Rusev Day vs. Gable & Benjamin (Clash of Champions)
Every single entry from 2017 is longer than every single entry from 2018, without exception. Not surprisingly, the quality of their matches on PPV in 2017 blows 2018 out of the water.
So what’s going on here? I think part of the blame can go to the push of the Bludgeon Brothers earlier this year. The Bludgeon Bros were presented in a way where it did not make sense for them to wrestle great back-and-forth 15 minutes matches. I think the idea is their gimmick demanded matches that were short and brutal.
Interference from the Bludgeon Bros played a role in the short match at Fastlane 2018 between the Usos and New Day, and the Bludgeons were also involved in New Day’s matches this year at WrestleMania 34 and SummerSlam.
Looking beyond that, I think the end of brand-exclusive PPVs could also be a major factor in shrinking match times for New Day this year. Four of the six matches from 2017 came on brand-exclusive PPVs. Brand-exclusive cards were generally compact and more focused than the dual-brand PPVs of 2018, which tend to be more about cramming as many names as possible onto a card. There’s only a finite amount of time to go around, so perhaps brand-exclusive PPVs were simply better suited for allowing mid-card matches to breathe a little bit more.
A third factor in play here could be that Vince McMahon simply doesn’t care much about putting a big spotlight on tag team wrestling. After all, Braun Strowman didn’t even need any help to defeat The Bar for the Raw tag titles at WrestleMania 34, and it’s taken the Raw tag titles a long time to recover from that booking decision. If the booker doesn’t care about tag team wrestling, then it’s going to be really hard for tag team feuds to be built up well enough to warrant longer matches on PPV.
What’s your best explanation for these numbers, Cagesiders?