Crafting the perfect layout for a wrestling PPV is an art form. While every booker wants to build a special show fleshed out with important matches that fans want to see, there will always be variance in fan interest from match to match. Making sure that a card has a proper layout is an important aspect of producing a top-quality show, and there are various different strategies that promoters use.

WWE has been the foremost practitioner of the “cool-down” match; the method of putting a match that has significantly less fan interest in between two matches that fans will be the most enthusiastic about. Logically, the company believes that crowds cannot sustain the kind of maximum energy level they are seeking in between matches, and by having a less-appealing match take place in between the big matches, it creates an artificial break in the show that theoretically allows fans to recover to get amped up for the next major match.

At WrestleMania Backlash, WWE had Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair in an “I Quit” match that was well-received by the live crowd and had the fans in a good mood-building towards the main event. However, before the main event six-man tag match could take place, WWE had a cool-down match.

Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss had a hideously boring 10-minute match met by crickets from the audience.

In a way, that was what the match was designed to do; it was easily the least-anticipated match on the card, and it was strategically placed at that point on the card to give the crowd a break. So while the match was very boring, it was in some ways designed to be boring. The goal was to get the crowd to calm down, so they could be ready for the main event.

As a viewer, this has become a very tiring experience. Fans at home don’t need to keep up a high energy level, so they don’t need a “break” the way live fans may need one. With shows often stretching over three hours in length, at some point in the card fans are just waiting for the main event, and mediocre matches with little interest from the fans become unbearable.

At least in the case of WWE, there is so much downtime between matches anyway, with lengthy video packages, backstage segments and entrances that drag out every show, the crowd already has a solid 15-minute break in between matches where they can chill out if they need to do so. They don’t need an entire match to catch their breath.

If you take a step back from things; the practice of doing a cool-down match is quite preposterous. Part of the challenge of being in the main event, and being a top star, is that you are being asked to top what has been done by other wrestlers on the show. The best talent is theoretically in the main event, and they are the talent the fans should be the most invested in, and the talent that are the most capable of being the stand-out performers on any show.

To intentionally deflate an audience so that they can recover for the main event almost defeats the purpose of having top talent in the first place. If a promotion has to book a “cool-down” match in order to make sure the crowd isn’t gassed out for the main event; maybe they should be concerned about the talent they have chosen to be in the main event? A true main event talent should never have to be protected like that; they should be counted on to deliver an intriguing performance every time out, no matter what the audience has witnessed previously.

New Japan Pro Wrestling, and many other promotions, do not book cool-down matches. Instead, each show is structured from the least-important matches to the most important matches. There is little creativity that goes into the structure of each card; it’s pretty straightforward with every show. The multi-man tags open up the show, then some of the mid-card titles, and then the top singles titles with the world title closing the show. In most scenarios, the crowd doesn’t necessarily need a cool-down match to remain hot, as the crowds are almost always hot for the main event, despite it usually having to follow some really excellent matches.

That isn’t to say that crowds don’t get tired over the course of the show, because they certainly do. Matches that take place earlier in a show genuinely always have good energy from the crowd, regardless of real interest from the fans. As the show goes later and later, the requirement for impressing the crowd gets higher and higher, but that is typically balanced out by the stars getting bigger and the matches getting more important.

AEW has a separate issue. Unlike WWE, AEW does not intentionally put lame-duck matches on later in its shows to give the crowd a break. However, the company doesn’t exactly build its show consistently the way NJPW does. Instead, it uses a diversity of different matches on the back half of PPVs to break up the major matches on the show; and it has led to mixed results.

At AEW Revolution, CM Punk and MJF had one of the biggest matches on the show, which the crowd was hot for. That match was followed by Britt Baker vs Thunder Rosa, who had a 17-minute match that struggled to capture the same energy from the audience. While Baker vs Rosa would not be a lame-duck match the way the Corbin/Moss match was on the WWE show; it didn’t have the level of work to match the standard set by Punk/MJF, and the match suffered.

It probably would have been better received if the Baker/Rosa match had led off the show. It ended up being a cool-down match, but more just because it was placed poorly on the card, not because the match lacked any intrigue.

The Baker/Rosa match was followed by Bryan Danielson vs. Jon Moxley, another hotly anticipated match that got the crowd fired back up. That match was not followed by the main event of Hangman Adam Page vs. Adam Cole, but rather by another different match, Darby Allin, Sammy Guevara and Sting vs Andrade and Private Party in a tornado six-man tag.

Unlike the Baker/Rosa match, the six-man tag, and despite not having a huge build and certainly not being as anticipated as either Danielson/Moxley or Page/Cole, the match was hot and the crowd was really into it. It wasn’t by any means a cool-down match, but because it was a different match, a fun multi-man brawl that didn’t overstay its welcome; the match kept the crowd energy alive building to the main event.

Cool-down matches make little sense; and if you closely examine the use of them, it really seems like a crutch promotions use to make up for lackluster crowds that are not invested in most of the product that is being presented to them. A well-run promotion can either consistently build a show by putting bigger matches on, one after another, or have a variety of different matches that make mid-card matches exciting enough to hold the attention of the audience. There is no need for a company to have cool-down matches on their shows, and it’s a problem that they have become so accepted and so common.

In the latest episode of the Gentlemen’s Wrestling Podcast, Jesse Collings (@JesseCollings) and Jason Ounpraseuth (@JasonOun95) sit down with Dave Coletti, a casual wrestling fan who talks about how he follows wrestling, what interests him about the product, how Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar turned his son against wrestling, why AEW Revolution was his first PPV purchase in a while, and more.