For the past few weeks, the top names of WWE SmackDown have been World Champion AJ Styles, and former champions John Cena and Dean Ambrose. Ambrose, losing the championship to Styles at the SmackDown-exclusive Backlash event, feels that he was robbed out of his rematch opportunity due to the heated rivalry between Styles and Cena.
Throughout 2016, John Cena and AJ Styles have inserted themselves as a potential Feud of the Year winner, having a fantastic series of matches in which Styles gained the advantage. For this second edition of a SmackDown-exclusive pay per view, the three combatants will settle their differences in a triple threat main event match for the WWE World Championship.
Until today, this match was being promoted as the final match on the card, which is no surprise, seeing how world championship matches usually close out the show. However, a recent tweet from the WWE Twitter account gave a very surprising announcement that this match will now be the first bout on the program to open the show. This leaves a number of speculations of why this last-minute decision was made.
For starters, WWE is competing this evening for the second time against the presidential debate. If these numbers even nearly reflect what happened at the previous ratings showdown, WWE has no chance of garnering new viewers for the No Mercy event. In fact, they have a much greater chance to lose a significant number of viewers, as they did on September 26. If WWE’s plan was to have John Cena win the title for the 16th time, having this match close the show would be an injustice to Cena tying Ric Flair’s world championship record due to the projected decline in viewers after their uncontested first hour.
The second possibility is the secondary feud that has been brewing for weeks between WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz and Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler, experiencing a slump in his career has gained the interest of many fans as a result of the stipulation involved with this particular championship bout. On a recent episode of SmackDown Live, Ziggler made the bold move of putting his career on the line at the stake of regaining the Intercontinental Championship and a much-needed revival of his career. With numerous reports suggesting that Ziggler could indeed by ending his WWE career, this may be a legitimate sendoff for the “Showoff”.
Whatever the reasoning may be behind the decision, it seems like a desperate attempt for WWE to avoid pay per view lows regarding live viewership.