WWE is the land of stipulation matches that don’t offer any real value when they are added to storylines.
In professional wrestling, the action in the ring is an important part of storytelling. Therefore, some angles are so important that stipulations are added to raise the stakes and push toward finality. At least, that is the case in other promotions not known as the WWE. In this organization, stipulations are used as a selling point to PPVs. As War Games and TLC are set for December, this and other recent years show that WWE’s propensity to count on stipulation matches does not draw any overall interest in the matches.
Two War Games matches are planned for the like-named PPV on December 6. One is around the continuing feud that Pat McAfee has against the Undisputed Era. The other is around the idea of a toy tank being smashed. That does not speak to the quality of either match, as the ladies of NXT should be the betting favorites for putting on the better match. But if stories are an important aspect of big moments in professional wrestling, how does this story make this War Games event any more important?
The same can be said for Hell in a Cell, Survivor Series, Money in the Bank, and more. WWE now leverages these stipulations as full-scale matches, instead of one-off attractions that can infuse excitement into a specific event. Every October wrestling fans know that somehow feuds are suddenly going to become more violent so the participants can be thrown into a cell. How that is different from the supposed violence that occurred back in July at Extreme Rules is perplexing to most.
But that is still one of the multiple examples in how WWE uses the match stipulations as welling points instead of the men and women involved. Sasha Banks and Bayley delivered one of the best matches of the year at Hell in a Cell. But did they need that stipulation to deliver the believability in their battle? No, as they proved back during their time in NXT. Imagine if this match occurred at WrestleMania, without two other HIAC matches on the card. Shifts like that would greatly improve the interest in these monthly PPVs, the superstars, and the shows building up to them.
Unfortunately, stakes and long-term planning are not two of the strong points in WWE Creative. When properly leveraged, those two factors, along with properly-built stipulations would go a long way in building intrigue around these upcoming matches. The solution stands right there in front of the leaders directing the show backstage. But it is hard to see any change coming from the largest promotion in the industry.
Stipulation matches should add value to professional wrestling. Instead, WWE has turned them into checkboxes on the calendar. In doing so, the value of these matches has diminished to a point where fans are no longer turning in to watch. Yet another issue that is derived from the creative issues within the flagship promotion of wrestling.