“Hot-Shotting: A rushed feud, climax of a feud, or big match on television instead of at a pay-per-view in order to get a short-term boost for business. Also applies to angles or turns that are done for shock value rather than acting as a part of an ongoing storyline.“
That needs restating since it appears that many on social media are confused as to what Hot-Shotting actually is.
There is a huge difference between putting a pay-per-view quality match on free TV and Hot-Shotting a match. Before we get into the (stark) differences in this weeks’ massive main events for both Monday Night RAW and AEW Dynamite Grand Slam, let’s rewind the clock and get a refresher on arguably the biggest hot-shot in professional wrestling history.
On June 29th, 1998, WCW Monday Nitro suffered a huge loss to WWE’s Monday Night RAW in the ratings. Not only was that a particularly rough showing in the ratings for Nitro, a 5.4 to 4.1 loss, but it was the 10th consecutive week that the Turner-based promotion was unable to eclipse WWE in the ratings. Eric Bischoff could feel the vise-grip he had on Vince McMahon’s flagship show slipping after an 83-week ratings win streak from June 1996 to April 1998.
The companies response? Book the biggest match they possibly could for the following week. Even if it meant doing so with just three days build.
Of course, the match I’m referring to is the iconic Hulk Hogan Vs Goldberg World Heavyweight Championship match. Live from the Georgia Dome in front of over 40,000 fans in attendance. Hogan defending his World Championship against the undefeated United States Champion was a match deserving of a Starrcade main event, but the company panicked and gave it away on free TV to stave off the barrage coming from Connecticut. While the plan worked in the short term, Nitro would defeat RAW in the ratings that week, they still gave away a match that almost surely would have shattered the WCW PPV record.
Fast forward to the present day, and you see WWE making the same exact mistakes that they were on the other side of 23-years prior. The red brand has been beaten in the key 18-49 demo by AEW Dynamite in consecutive weeks, and the prospect of it happening for a third time in a row has seemingly left the company scrambling for a big draw.
The main event of tonight’s RAW is a match many fans had fantasy booked for the main event of the upcoming Survivor Series PPV; a six-man tag between The New Day, and newly-crowned WWE Champion Big E, against the Bloodline. The Smackdown Tag Team Champion Usos and the man who has held the Universal Championship for over a year, Roman Reigns.
Let’s get the obvious issues with this out of the way before we dive into the deeper issue. The how: This match was announced with less than a week’s build. The when: As previously stated, this is a big 4 caliber match-up being given away on RAW for no real rhyme or reason. The why: Why is The Bloodline coming to RAW? Why are they even allowed to come to RAW? Why are these six men having a match of this caliber completely out of nowhere? I hope the answer of “why not?” to these questions is sufficient for you because I can’t think of anything else (other than ratings, of course).
The much-anticipated match may or may not succeed in getting RAW above Dynamite this week, but the rushed execution of it is almost certainly destined to fail in the long run.
Why? Because Hot-Shotting is not, has not, and never will be a long-term solution to better ratings.
When WCW ran Hogan Vs Goldberg on Nitro it was a resounding success in the moment, but it didn’t last long. Not even a week as a matter of fact. RAW went right back to dominating Nitro just seven days later. No offense to the very talented men involved, but the New Day/Bloodline six-man tag is nowhere near as big of a match as the one that took place that fateful night in Atlanta.
Some of you may be asking yourself, “Well what’s the difference between WWE booking the New Day and the Bloodline for RAW and AEW booking Kenny Omega Vs Bryan Danielson for Dynamite?”
The answer is a lot. The two could not be more different.
First off, Bryan Danielson and Kenny Omega aren’t just headlining a random Dynamite, like the six-man tag is main eventing a regular episode of RAW, but the biggest Dynamite in AEW history. That match is going to take place in front of the largest crowd AEW has ever had, and it’s a fight fitting of the moment. Tony Kahn, as is evident by the rest of the loaded card for Wednesday’s show, is treating it more like a PPV than he is an episode of TV.
Secondly, and more importantly, this match was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. It’s obvious to see Omega Vs Danielson has been the plan since the literal moment The American Dragon first stepped foot inside an AEW ring. It wasn’t hard to figure out when that match was taking place either, despite it not being officially confirmed until last Wednesday night. Point being: Telling a story, building a match, and deciding to have the payoff to said story and build happen on free TV is not Hot-Shotting (at least not necessarily). Booking a huge match by the seat of your ass, with little to no build whatsoever, for the sole purpose of popping a rating is the textbook definition of it. A rushed big match on television instead of a pay-per-view in order to get a short-term boost in business.
If history is any indication, don’t count on it being successful.