This weekend featured a unique trio of three different promotions converging on the same location. WWE, NXT and ROH all surrounded my hometown of Brooklyn, NY for individual PPV events.
Having attended several PPV events and TV tapings over the past year, this led me to reason: what makes for the ideal premium/PPV event? Ten lessons learned, in no particular order.
- Contrary to mass perception, it’s not the match card serving as the foundation of a PPV event, rather a recurring theme. Is it redemption? Revenge? Passing of the torch? Ultimate evil or justice? A solid PPV adheres to a particular theme in its match styles and kayfabe. This is what draws and keeps audiences interested.
- With this being said, match types will make or break any PPV event. Too many of the same…or not enough diversity…will lull audiences to sleep. Endless cage or extreme matches can only go far. Conversely, a half dozen match types will likely confuse the bejeebuz out of live or television viewing audiences.
- Crowd enthusiasm will determine when matches go on just a l-i-t-t-l-e bit longer…those few minutes the highlights of almost any PPV. Perhaps only 10 minutes during a 3 hour event, these are where the magic happens. Athletes who can warm a crowd up just ahead of these moments will, in turn, receive the love back via ideal atmosphere. TV audiences can sense this, in tandem.
- Audience diversity is not a politically correct requirement, rather one recognizing that a variety of age groups, genders, and expectations will keep a constant buzz on what is going on in the match. Where veteran fans may tire, newer ones will emerge. Kids will cheer enthusiastically for some athletes, women others.
- A good merchandise stand – supported by athletes featured in front/behind them – is a surefire way to generate pre-event interest…and sustain it afterwards. Staffing these tables appropriately via energetic staff members creates a contagious feeling for all.
- Proper audio – more than anything – can make or break a PPV. Poor sound quality limits match entrances, mic work, also ring pop. Let alone the horror for a TV audience who can’t hear athletes, environs, or the crowd. Lighting can be compensated for. Sound, not so much.
- Too many PPV’s adhere to formulaic match sequencing. This creates long lull periods, ones where audiences crave for main events also ends to earlier squash contests. Staggering matches keep things fresh. Don’t assume title matches are all anyone cares about.
- Let at least one lower to mid card athlete shine…and leave audiences feeling a sense of discovery at a PPV event. Pre-shows are a great place for this to occur, as most expect little but provide the most love, if surprised.
- Involve the audience as much as possible. Find ways to safely use audience members, barricades, chairs and signs. Contrary to common perception, breaking the third wall does not equate to wrestling blasphemy.
- Finally, let the athletes have fun. Allow them to enjoy the spectacle, and the audience will smile back. Natural comedic reactions will inspire the same via opponents and viewers (in person or otherwise).