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Wrestling Rematches: Are they an issue?

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  • Wrestling Rematches: Are they an issue?


    It is a common thing to see now, the same two people fighting each other time and time again. It tends to bore fans and create a disconnect to the product, so let’s have a look at Wrestling Rematches and how many rematches we have seen over the last 6 months – Stats provided by Wrestlenomics.




    As we can see above this is a Six-month TV match graph. Let’s break down AEW first and compare it year to year.


    AEW starts in 2019 with a 9% of all matches are rematches which is incredibly low when you consider the other companies, however it was also a new company at the time, so these matches where very new.


    Then we look at 2020 this is peak pandemic era TV and you would expect to potentially see an increase here, However AEW was still signing new talent and bringing in people from the Indies to work Dark/Elevation which helped to keep it down at 6%.


    Which leads us to 2021 and AEW drops to 5%. What all this shows us is that AEW are having constant fresh matches and rematches are very few and far between.


    Now let us look at NXT and how they have done. I’ll only go back to 2019 for all other shows to keep it in line with AEW. NXT starts off in 2019 with 18% of all their matches are rematches. This time NXT had transitioned to being aired on USA and a lot of the roster started moving to the “Main Roster” so this is pretty impressive.


    In 2020 NXT dropped to 15% for their rematches, again when we look at everything else going on and it being the pandemic year it’s actually really good numbers when we break it down to this level.


    Finally, 2021 NXT has increased to 19%, While they had a higher percentage of total matches in this period NXT were able to keep it low especially when we compare to other WWE products.


    Let us start with Smackdown, in 2019 we got 26% of rematches which is higher than NXT and AEW combined, Honestly very surprising to see the rematches this high especially when WWE still had a large roster. Again, we need to remember this is in a 6-month period.


    In 2020 Smackdown saw 30% of all matches were rematches, this is an increase of 4% compared to 2019, however we can say this could be due to Covid.


    2021 Smackdown saw another increase this time to 39% this is a massive jump of 9% in total, this means during the last 6 months you were getting at least 1 rematch per show.


    Now time to look at WWE RAW, we start with 2019 with 24% again this is low and still shows we are getting new matches regularly.


    In 2020 RAW was stable only raising to 29% again during the pandemic this is very low. Even though it did increase by 5% I would say considering it’s very low.


    Now onto 2021 this sees RAW move to 40% of all matches being rematches. This is an increase of 11%, this means you were nearly as likely to see a rematch as you were a fresh match.


    However, when we look at the historical graph we can see that RAW has had much higher rematches with a top of 51% in 2014. But when we break those years down for WWE we can see historically rematches did make up a large amount of the matches that was on both RAW and Smackdown. So it’s actually odd to see the lower amount of rematches that we got between 2018 – 2020.


    I think it’s not about the number of rematches but the stories being told about why we are having those rematches that’s causing the issue and the feeling of "Ohh, here we go again sigh." But historically rematches have been a large part of what we are seeing on TV.


    AEW is still young, and a lot of the potential matches haven’t been seen yet so seeing it still very low makes a lot of sense, but we would probably see an increase in a few years. It will be interesting to revisit this to see what the trends are.


    So, is there a Rematch issue with Wrestling? Based on the current numbers and historical numbers I’d say no, but when we see just how low AEW is and even NXT the main roster of WWE has a long way to go with getting those rematch numbers down.


    What do you think based on these numbers?


    Also I will cover the PPV rematches in a different article so be on the look out for that one.

  • #2
    I think the term rematch in and of itself can be misleading. When people think rematches they think of staleness. But there are many other factors to consider. Did the heel/face dynamic change? Were the wrestlers more or less over in the rematches? How long has it been since they faced each other? Was it for a title or not? These are all factors that can potentially make a rematch feel as fresh as a first time encounter. Technically, Cena/Brock at Extreme Rules 2012 was a rematch from 2003, but it factored in every question I just asked.
    Last edited by Buzzard Guts; 07-25-2021, 05:35 PM.

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    • #3
      Good point, Buzzard.

      There's no denying there is staleness on WWE main roster programming. But I feel the rematches are a symptom of that, not the cause.

      Look at Morrison vs Ricochet as an example. It started with the match that ended in the huge spot and the double count out. No matter what type of wrestling fan you are, you can understand that a rematch made sense. This doesn't mean you wanted it, or wanted it right away, but the booking was setup with the purpose of a rematch. When that rematch ended oddly (I think Ricochet won by count out, if memory serves), it setup the 3rd match. Admittedly, there's an argument that they were stretching it here. And, I think the bigger problem was that they didn't need to rematch the next week. But it feels like the 3 total matches happened in the span of 3-4 Raw episodes. The program deserved more matches, but squeezing it into that time frame is a problem. It seems they rushed this TV feud in time for Money in the Bank, and it ended up feeling sort of lame for that reason.

      This is where AEW does a great job. They let these angles have room to breathe more often than not.

      Also, the example I gave is a straight rematch. Was Angelo Dawkins vs Chad Gable on Friday's Smackdown a rematch? It's the same tag team feud, and members of each team have fought each other a bit over the last 2 months, but it feels like that particular encounter was unique.

      Rematches are a potential problem, and there's no doubt WWE has more of an issue than AEW, Impact, ROH, or even NXT. But at the same time, Are people who tune out really complaining about rematches? Or is it a problem invented by smarks who tune in every week regardless? There's no way to really know. This doesn't mean WWE shouldn't address it. Drew vs Lashley was quite played out by the time they got to Hell in a Cell. The feud and angle were fine, but they squeezed combinations of that match 4 of the 5 next PPVs (I'm counting the attack before the Miz Cash In at Chamber) in a span of 5 months. And the angle ended with Drew screwed over, so there's still a thread of the feud left unresolved. They also rushed through Drew vs Sheamus to get to Mania, and that angle had potential.

      To me the issue isn't the rematches, but the rushed aspect of it all. Drew vs Bobby 4 times on PPV if there were more shows in between. Austin vs Rock was on PPV quite a bit, but never so often in a short amount of time. 3 hours of Raw and the limited roster will have that effect with the way WWE books. I'm repeating myself from other threads, but WWE's formula needs a shake up. The shows are all way too structured, and lots of wasted time for entrances and setting up obvious segments (Miz TV being 8-12 minutes long just to build up a match after the next break). Addressing these issues will be more important overall than the rematches, in my opinion.

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      • #4
        I think like most things in wrestling it's about context, which Pen fleshed out very nicely. Spacing them out helps tremendously, as does avoiding automatic rematch clauses for titles.

        The '92 Rumble! The Brain's Finest Hour!

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        • #5
          Just playing devil's advocate here, but does so many rematches potentially leave the door open for higher profile fresh matches down the road? AJ and Omos might wrestle the Viking Raiders 3 times within a 5 week span, but if they're not facing a different team every week then that means a match with RKBro at SummerSlam is completely fresh.

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          • #6
            I don't think that rematches are an issue. That's the concept that the entire sport of professional wrestling as we know it was founded on; the idea that we can all make more money if I beat you, then I let you beat me, then we come back for a really personal third round that draws bigger than either of the first two.

            You had territories like Memphis where they'd be running weekly -- as in asking the same people in the same places to part with money every week to see the events -- with a roster of 20 guys. They'd have ample rematches. Mid South was the same deal. They might run the loop with a match three or four times in a row if it was hot.

            It lives or dies on the booking. Are we rematching and doing the same thing every single week? Are we trading 50/50 wins? Or are we doing something, even something small, to up the ante each time and make the rivalry more intense. Is the heel consistently fucking the babyface when he's got the win in his hand? Is the heel doing unspeakable things to the babyface? Can we mix it up by adding in a tag team match, or a violent brawl where the match ends in a no contest because both guys are trying to kill one another, or something else in there? Are we just booking the same match week after week for no real reason?

            If the booking around it is good, people will want to see that same match five weeks in a row because the babyface keeps getting fucked and they want to see the heel finally get what he deserves.

            As a rule of thumb, I'd prefer not to do a variation of the same thing more than three weeks in a row without something to break it up like a tag featuring the same guys or maybe an angle or something like that.
            https://youtu.be/wue-ZFnEta8
            My latest (and hopefully last) Covid-Era show

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            • #7
              Playing devil's advocate, just because the business was built on rematches doesn't mean that's the only way to do things. AEW seems to be doing decently with very few rematches, but I feel the strength of their approach is how spread out the big ones are. They got a lot of flack for the constant MJF vs Jericho stable wars, and that stood out because they never ever did anything like that. Most of their rematches, like Omega vs Moxley, are spread out. That being said, I don't think those angles were really hot based on the series of matches, but rather the pushes for each one. Similar to Omega vs Hangman (though admittedly I might be way off on this as I haven't watched any AEW since early into the pandemic.)

              It comes back to what I said earlier, and how COACH laid it out better, but rivalries get built up to get hot. There are many ways to get there, but a tried and true way is physical interactions escalating until the match people pay for. It can be a series of rematches, or it can be confrontations like Hogan vs Andre at Mania 3.

              The issue smart fans are harping on is semi-valid. Ryker vs Elias have had plenty of rematches, and the reception hasn't been great. Ignoring the Ryker complaints, the issue is that the feud has been so one sided, and felt like it was resolved back at the strap match. There was no reason for the symphony of destruction match. What the critics of this booking style miss out on is that this is a TV midcard feud, so the consequences of repeating the same match are minimal because their lower position on the card means less of a reason to pay attention. A glorified steet fight in front of a live audience who will enjoy the action with an existing rivalry makes sense, even if it felt resolved. Elias is the type of heel who can recover from losses, and Ryker getting a better face standing is best for his role, whichever role it might be.

              To complain about rematches for the sake of rematches is an online invented Meltzer BS complaint. But, complaining that WWE creative is in a rut, and a symptom of that is too many rematches is a different and much more valid argument.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mizfan View Post
                I think like most things in wrestling it's about context, which Pen fleshed out very nicely. Spacing them out helps tremendously, as does avoiding automatic rematch clauses for titles.
                I came in here to basically say it's contextual and see it's already been taken forward as the main point. The Ryker vs Elias feud that Pen mentions is a good example, in a way, because yes it felt like they resolved it at the strap match point but then they extended it further to the Symphony of Destruction thing the other week.

                I think the creative is in a rut, and I think that for someone like Ryker they got him to the point with Elias where they were ready to split the team and have them feud - but then had nothing else planned. So you get to this week and Ryker isn't even on the show despite having won last week. What's the end goal with Ryker? Is it to challenge for the US title? If so, why not have him move on from Elias this week by beating Carillo or Ricochet who have both recently beaten Sheamus? It's not a case of having Ryker beat Sheamus instead of Priest, they can keep going with the Priest storyline whilst working on the story after that with Ryker.

                Either they're stalling for time - and as a result stretch out feuds which gives multiple rematches - or they're just not planning well enough for someone to have something to do after a feud.

                On one note, though, I do dislike backwards booking. Cole vs O'Reilly I was an unsanctioned match, and then they went for a rematch as a singles bout. Couldn't they have done them the other way around? Heck, Cole could have got a dirty win in the first one (or they could have gone to a No Contest due to beating each other up too much or something) to lead to the unsanctioned one. It feels weirdly illogical to built to 'just' a normal match, in the same way that Edge vs Orton at Mania was Last Man Standing and then they had a normal 'Greatest Wrestling Match Ever' as the rematch.

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