WWE Money In The Bank was a show that raised a number of eyebrows amongst wrestling fans, mostly for the unique twelve person, ten floor, two murder, one T-Rex skull main event ladder match. That really was….something wasn’t it?
One other serious notable about the show was the rather shallow run time of just a shade under 2 hours, 30 minutes. This run time runs contrary to WWE’s policy of longer PPV run times in recent years.
Whilst nobody from WWE has ever gone on record about this policy, it is easy to speculate on why longer events would suit the company. For starters, the launch of the WWE Network in 2014 game Vince and co. their own broadcast platform which immediately took away the issue of having to bow down to the PPV platforms regarding run time.
From the time the networks launched, those platforms immediately became of secondary importance to WWE’s strategy. WWE had their broadcast platform of choice in house. If those media companies wanted their PPVs, they would have to take them at the length WWE was offering them at.
In addition, the extra length allowed the monthly shows to further stand out from weekly episodes of Raw which moved to three hours in length in 2012.
Finally, when you are reporting viewership in hours and minutes per month to investors, it doesn’t hurt to be able to tack on an extra hour or so to your most popular offerings.
So what’s the crack with Money In The Bank? Why go against a policy that has seen PPVs run a minimum of four hours for the last few years?
Well, according to Paul Davis at Wrestling News, it is part of a strategy set to be in place for however long we remain in the ‘Performance Center Era’.
It makes sense really. A wrestling match, by it’s very nature is meant to build to a crescendo, not unlike a great piece of music. Unlike a piece of music, a wrestling match needs the crowd along for the ride to provide a key part of that mix.
Without the feel of the crowd being brought up and down as the match goes on, it becomes almost impossible to sustain a match of any serious length. It’s like John Williams trying to write a score for a Steven Spielberg film using only one note. As a genius in his field, he could probably produce something compelling if kept very short. Try making a 16 minute score with one note? Yeah, even the greatest of all time is going to struggle. Same with wrestling.
With that in mind, it makes sense to keep the matches short to attempt to keep some semblance of viewer attention in the home stretch. The longest match to actually take place in a wrestling ring was Drew McIntyre vs Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship. A superb match no doubt and at over 19 minutes, it was almost seven minutes longer than the next longest match. Couple that with a need to keep performers on a card to a minimum makes it hard to replace 8-9 long matches with 13-15 shorter ones.
All in all, a shorter run time makes sense. It’s the same reasoning as to why WrestleMania was two nights this year. Can you imagine watching an event with no crowd for seven hours? Outside of fans of county level cricket, that’s just a total non-starter.
With longer PPV run times being a common fan complaint over recent years, this is likely to be one COVID-19 consequence that is likely to be met with a positive response from the global fanbase.