The debut of WWE’s Main Event on ION possessed a remarkable old school charm. Whether it was intentional or not, Main Event didn’t come close to replicating the big budget experience of both Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown!. Yes, you had your video package introducing us to the show and the Raw stage set remains in tact, albeit with new graphics, but Main Event never tried to be another standard show.
Instead of a dizzying array of pyrotechnics leading up to our first match, viewers were met with commentators Michael Cole and The Miz standing inside the ring and welcoming us to the premiere of WWE Main Event on ION. They told viewers what they could expect for the night and even ran down brief profiles on both combatants competing in the main event: WWE Champion CM Punk and World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus.
As a matter of fact, the first ten minutes of the show seemed dedicated to introducing fans to the aforementioned Superstars for the first time ever. Brief video packages chronicling both Superstar’s careers were complimented with prematch commentary with the wrestlers backstage.
What followed was better than anything you saw on Raw Monday night or anything you saw earlier tonight on Smackdown!. Both champions went at it and displayed their strengths. For two individuals who have never worked together before, you couldn’t ask for a better level of chemistry.
Plenty of good offensive exchanges, reversals and near falls kept the action moving quickly, despite a somewhat slow start. ION even ran not one, but two commercial breaks during the match and we were 40 minutes into a one hour show before the aftermath of this main event had even concluded. Disqualifications and count-outs seem to plague any match between two top superstars of this magnitude on Monday nights.
Going into this, it had disqualification written all over it. Neither star could lose any momentum and they both needed to be protected. CM Punk needs to look strong because of the ongoing issues with John Cena and Ryback on Raw, but Sheamus needs to look perhaps even more dominant because he’ll be defending his gold against the 7 foot, 500 pound Big Show in just over three weeks time at Hell in a Cell.
WWE found a solution to both issues without taking the easy way out. CM Punk used an exposed turnbuckle (yes, when was the last time an exposed turnbuckle was the focal point of such a big match) and grabbed the tights to pick up as clean a win as you’re likely going to ever see when it comes to a main event heel beating a main event level face.
Literally seconds after Punk had left the ring, Matt Striker enters the ring to interview Sheamus on the spot!
Again, commentators introducing us to the show, exposed turnbuckles and post-match interviews not several segments later backstage, but in the middle of the ring immediately following a hard fought match all help create the old school charm I previously referred to.
We caught up with CM Punk and Paul Heyman backstage and Michael Cole and The Miz even announced next weeks key matchup back at the commentary position. We’ll be seeing Randy Orton looking for revenge on the Big Show after the Big Show turned Randy’s lights out last week on Smackdown! with a WMD (short for Weapon of Mass Destruction) which is WWE talk for a straight right hand to the face.
We heard from the Big Show backstage who promised to make Randy Orton’s first appearance on WWE Main Event his last and we closed the show with tag team action. Santino Marella and Zack Ryder picked up a victory over Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel to advance to the second round of the WWE #1 Contender’s Tag Team Tournament that has featured as many as eight teams vying for a shot against Team Hell No (Kane & Daniel Bryan) for the WWE Tag Team Championship.
The match itself was quick and of the 5 minute variety, but Gabriel and Kidd worked so well together that it really didn’t matter. They carried their opponents to a quick but solid match with various new tag team maneuvers. It’s too bad Kidd and Gabriel couldn’t pick up the win here.
Neither of these two teams are going to go all the way, so you might as well have had Kidd and Gabriel continue for another round so we can see what else they’d be able to come up with. Not that it was ever in WWE’s cards, but how fun could Kidd and Gabriel vs. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara been in the finals if they let all four Superstars loose and had given them the freedom to do what they wanted to do inside the ring.
It might even help the wildly inconsistent Sin Cara who would be working with wrestlers his own size and weight class, but I digress.
The end result was very much WWE but a somewhat different experience for all of the reasons mentioned above. Even video packages highlighting CM Punk and Sheamus were different than the standard packages you’d see on Raw. Instead of focusing on storyline, they focused on the wrestler and featured commentary both from the wrestler themselves as well as fellow WWE Superstars.
Main Event was a success and next week we’ll likely see more than two matches because there’s no way you’re going to see Randy Orton and the Big Show carry 20 plus minutes of in ring action the way CM Punk and Sheamus did a few nights ago.
However, WWE managed to give us an hour of relevant programming with a tag team tourney match and a match between two champions that they teased on more than one occasion the past several weeks on Raw. If WWE can continue giving us an additional relevant hour of wrestling every week, viewers are going to tune in.
I enjoyed the show and the way the show seemed centered around building up the “Main Event” which is quite fitting considering the title. There’s a lot of potential here, including the potential to build towards what is essentially a one match show that they might not have time for on Raw or Smackdown!.
Keep relevant main event stars on your Main Event program, give us relevant matches that people (in general) want to see and WWE will keep this from going the way of past mid-week experiments such as ECW, NXT and Superstars.