June 18, 2005
WWE HQ pulls out all stops
Creative teams stack Vengeance
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun

A Hell in a Cell match is usually enough to sell a pay-per-view to the masses but WWE bosses are taking no chances with Vengeance next weekend.

In addition to the caged main event, the loaded lineup includes John Cena's PPV debut for the Raw brand, Christian's first crack at the WWE title and the long-awaited rematch of the Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle classic.

On any given Sunday, any one of the above bouts would be enough to top the bill.

After all, we're not talking about Wrestlemania here. Vengeance is a B-level Raw show, typically headlined by a snooze-inducing filler match to stall for time until SummerSlam rolls around.

Which is why it's odd the company is putting all its creative eggs in this one seemingly insignificant basket next Sunday. It's almost as if the WWE writing team has something to prove -- and maybe they do.

For weeks, insiders have wondered how WWE executives would react if the ECW pay-per-view -- which got minimal promotion and had no matches announced on TV -- drew a better buy rate than their own Vengeance offering.

It looks like we're going to find out.

Last Sunday's ECW show was a phenomenal success, both creatively and from a business standpoint.

The figure of 800,000 buys -- more than double WWE's usual PPV take -- has been floated around the Internet but since the cable companies don't even have enough data to make preliminary estimates yet, that number is purely speculation.

However, with the ECW DVD on its way to becoming the highest-selling wrestling DVD of all time, last week's PPV will likely follow that route.

It's no secret Stephanie McMahon and the rest of the WWE creative team aren't fans of Paul Heyman and never really understood the appeal of ECW.

They had very little input in the scripting of the ECW PPV, failed to promote it properly until the very last minute and were completely unprepared for the rabid reaction of the ECW (and WWE) fans.

Many at WWE HQ publicly attribute the show's popularity to their own wrestlers being booked in the main angle. Privately, they realize the success was in spite of their storyline meddling, not because of it.

Rather than be left with egg on their face when the final numbers for Vengeance come in far below the ECW show, they seem to be pulling out all the stops to make sure it at least makes a respectable showing.

WWE Vengeance goes down June 25 at 6 p.m. on pay-per-view.


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