Network specials like Beast in the East and Starrcade are always fun ideas for house shows, attracting a larger audience attendance and Network subscriptions. The Beast in the East especially felt special and had memorable moments.
More recent house shows like Smackville consisted of matches we’ve already seen with nothing important happening. We are going to suggest five ways to improve Network special house shows and turn them into must-see events.
Spoilers: free beer at the events did not make it on the list as that would just lead to shenanigans.
1) Interesting Showcase Matches
Beast in the East had a first time match of Chris Jericho vs Neville. Both wrestlers had a past in Japan and would attract audiences to the show to see their return.
Neville had grown a popular following before NXT due to his time in Dragon Gate. Chris Jericho, while working with WCW, was also a part of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Both Jericho and Neville would return to these companies after leaving WWE.
Compare this to the Smackville showcase match. Again a first time match of Kevin Owens vs Elias. The match happened because Elias is allies with Shane McMahon, who Kevin Owens is currently feuding with. Elias comes out, sings a song bashing the crowd and Kevin Owens makes a request that Elias shuts up.
It’s not attracting audiences the way Jericho vs Neville did and that is a problem that needs to be fixed.
2) Women’s Wrestling On The Main Card
Beast in the East had a Diva’s Championship match of Nikki Bella vs Tamina vs Paige on July 4, 2015. That’s nine days before Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch made their debut on the main roster. That was the start of the women’s revolution in WWE.
Smackville had two women’s title matches. The IIconics retained their WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles against the Kabuki Warriors, and Bayley retained her SmackDown Women’s Title against Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss.
Unfortunately both of these title defenses were in dark matches, meaning no women’s match was on the main card shown on the Network. In 2019.
They were on the card in 2015, before the women’s revolution in WWE. Does that make sense to you?
3) Promote Future Talent
Beast in the East had an NXT Championship title match between Kevin Owens and Finn Balor. This was done to attract more fans with Finn Balor’s legacy in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. However, WWE gave Finn Balor and Kevin Owens the opportunity on a Network special house show to promote NXT.
On Smackville the closest we can get to that is Finn Balor’s illness causing Ali to replace him and compete for Shinsuke Nakamura’s Intercontinental Championship.
These house shows should be used to introduce new faces in developmental to the main roster audience.
4) Huge Title Changes
Finn Balor won the NXT Championship by defeating the champion Kevin Owens at Beast in the East. Winning the title means the audience and Network subscribers witnessed a pay-per-view moment at a house show, thus making them feel rewarded for tuning in.
Smackville would have given us two matches with three opponents who had already lost to the champions. Shinsuke Nakamura vs Finn Balor and Kofi Kingston vs Dolph Ziggler vs Samoa Joe. The idea of Finn Balor, Ali, Dolph Ziggler or Samoa Joe winning would have been interesting but unrealistic.
Balor, Ziggler and Joe have since started feuds with Bray Wyatt, The Miz and Roman Reigns respectively. It was only plausible that Ali could win, but he wasn’t in the plans until Finn’s illness, so still very doubtful.
5) Main Event Attraction
Beast in the East was promoted for Brock Lesnar appearing in Japan. Lesnar after leaving WWE was actually the IWGP Heavyweight Champion of New Japan Pro-Wrestling. He carried the title up until 2007, losing to Kurt Angle. At Beast in the East, he faced Kofi Kingston in a squash match that lasted minutes.
Smackville didn’t have a legendary main event attraction. It relied upon current WWE Champion Kofi Kingston, in a triple threat match against two superstars Kofi Kingston already beat one-on-one. We need more to invest in the idea of watching these shows.