The Miz may not have an official challenger at Night of Champions until the bell rings for his match.
Lately it feels like WWE is delaying the announcement of pay-per-view matches further and further back.
WWE's overloaded pay-per-view schedule and the creative team's indecision are preventing them from announcing matches earlier.
Other than the biggest stars, wrestlers rarely have the opportunity to build towards a match, instead having to hurry storyline hatred and rob fans of fully developed feuds.
The Night of Champions 2012 match card was still a work in progress just six days away from the event.
The tag team title match wasn't set until the go-home episode of Raw and fans won't know who will face United States champ Antonio Cesaro until the end of the Night of Champions pre-show.
Just five days away from Night of Champions, WWE.com did not list a match for Intercontinental Champion Miz. Raw did hint at a possible Cody Rhodes and Rey Mysterio Triple Threat, but there may not be official word until after SmackDown or later.
Inserting Rhodes into the mix is a great idea, but why wasn't it done with enough time to tell a fuller, deeper story? The first answer is a lack of time.
With 12 WWE pay-per-views scheduled a year, bookers have to turn the art of building a feud into a cram session. The dust settles on one event and the buildup for the next has to begin immediately.
Years ago, when WWE had four pay-per-views, it allowed itself months to drum up interest for matches.
Tangible motivation could be created over time. Twists and turns aplenty could be had along the way.
As it stands, WWE has six days to make us care about Kane and Daniel Bryan (Team Friendship?) vs. R-Truth and Kofi Kingston. Since Kaitlyn was named No. 1 contender for the Divas title, there hasn't been much time to build up to that battle.
This is partly why we have such top-heavy promotion. Judging by the promos leading up to it, it sometimes felt like SummerSlam 2012 was Brock Lesnar and Triple H and that's it.
The lower card feuds are patchwork, hurried pairings designed to fill in the holes.
WWE does an incredible job at times with such limited space to work with.
Kane and Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam 2012 didn't have a ton of backstory, but ended up yielding a compelling ride down an unexpected road.
Other times, it takes the air out of a match before it begins. As well as two wrestlers may work, it has far less entertainment value without the benefit of a pre-match story.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via EWrestlingNews.com) reports that Vince McMahon "regularly demands partial or full script re-writes on the day of the show."
If writers don't know for sure what's going to happen on any given Raw, how can they write with the long term in mind? The short answer is that they generally can't and don't.
So when a WWE pay-per-view approaches and fans aren't sure what matches are going to happen, it could very well be because WWE doesn't know either.
With shifting stories all over the card, it's hard for the company to promise a match weeks in advance.
What if that person turns heel by then? What if the WWE think tank just changes its mind and wants to put another wrestler in that slot?
It's far better not to disappoint fans by changing matches around and instead keep them in the dark.
Surprises have some entertainment value anyway.
When The Miz stands in the ring at Night of Champions waiting for his opponent, we could hear Rey Mysterio's or Cody Rhodes’ music hit, or who knows, Christian could come stomping down the aisle.
Leaving the card subject to change can come off as unprofessional. Just not announcing matches until the last minute could be seen as creating suspense.
Can This System Work?
Clearly it can. WWE has put together some unbelievably good pay-per-views in 2012.
Some of the great matches on those cards were announced as early as a year in advance while some got just a few days to gather steam.
Just because it has worked doesn't mean that it's the ideal route.
To paraphrase Chris Rock, "You can drive with your feet if you want to, but it doesn't make it a good idea."
Trimming the pay-per-view schedule would ease some pressure on WWE writers. More time may mean more changes and second guessing, but at least it allows for sufficient storytelling space.
The midcard feuds can be developed more, gaining momentum over time.
Until the current method of announcing pay-per-views seriously lowers WWE's buyrate, it likely won't change a thing. Vince McMahon may seem it as working well enough for now.
At least WWE can say to itself that it isn't as bad as TNA in the announcing matches late department.
Fans didn't know a single match on the No Surrender 2012 card until the episode of Impact Wrestling on the Thursday before the event.
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