Last week, WWE debuted “Main Event” on ION Television. The program, which is also available next-day through Hulu Plus, brings a new format to pro wrestling television.
Professional wrestling on television hasn’t changed its structure much since the mid-'90s; the content has changed, but it is delivered in essentially the same way. Programs from the major wrestling organizations WWE and TNA will usually open with a long monologue delivered by a top star, followed by matches broken up with backstage interactions and interviews with wrestlers.
There are occasional variations on the style, but mainstream shows like “RAW,” “SmackDown,” “Impact,” and formerly “Nitro,” keep things in that format. The difference with WWE’s new “Main Event” program is that it plays more like a legitimate fight, like boxing or MMA.
Last week’s and, according to NoDQ, this week’s episode both start with announcers Michael Cole and The Miz in the ring previewing the night's matches. This is followed up by pre-taped vignettes about the participants in the big match, as well as interviews with the performers.
At this point the new show hasn’t been entirely part of the WWE storyline. It gets mentioned on “RAW” and “SmackDown,” but the bouts aren’t grudge matches, or at least they haven’t been so far.
Last week’s "Main Event" did feature a tag team match that was part of the current tournament, but the Sheamus vs. CM Punk Champion vs. Champion match had no effect on the rest of the programing. Punk did hand the Celtic Warrior his first loss in recent memory, but aside from that it was an isolated matchup.
Even though the match didn’t change the angles Sheamus and Punk are involved in, it was excellent. The vignettes and interviews built up drama for the fight, and the two champions performed like it was a pay-per-view main event.
This week seems to be the same as Randy Orton lost a match to Big Show. The Viper and the Giant haven’t been feuding in recent weeks, so the theme so far seems to be a show fans don’t need to see to follow the stories, but one that has high caliber matches.
One innovation in the show is that it starts with the big match and then moves on to less-anticipated bouts. Last week, Sheamus and Punk opened, and were followed by Santino Marella and Zack Ryder facing International Airstrike (Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd).
This week, the Show vs. Orton match was followed up by Kofi Kingston beating Michael McGillicutty. Putting the mid-card matches on after main events is a strange tactic that has been done before, but not usually on a show that only has two matches to offer fans.
Each week one match for the next “Main Event” is announced. Next Wednesday’s program will feature Kofi Kingston once again, this time fighting Intercontinental Champion and “Main Event” commentator The Miz for the IC Title.
After the sharp decline in quality seen after the debut of WWE’s other B-show “Superstars,” fans can only hope that this format doesn’t change. Reviews of the show have been positive, with Bleach Report calling its style a “recipe for success,” so the company may be inclined to keep things going.