At UFC 204, Michael Bisping successfully defended his Middleweight Title against the legendary Dan Henderson in an absolute war. This was a rematch seven years in the making after Henderson brutally knocked out Bisping at UFC 100.
The build up to this fight, while not on the level of some bigger names such as Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey, was brilliantly executed. It focused on the Brit getting retribution for what he feels was an ‘excessive blow that could have given him brain damage’ in 2009.
The story also focused on Henderson as the veteran looking to claim the biggest title to elude him before finally riding off into the sunset. There was no definitive ‘heel or face’ and was left up to the fan to decide which story they wanted to see unfold.
The biggest part of this fight was that it was so long-awaited. They built it up over the last seven years, and portrayed it as a legit rivalry. They got the absolute most out of the rematch.
WWE could easily learn from this. So often we see matches wasted time and time again on consecutive PPVs or given away on television. Not every feud can be built up over long periods of time, but there are so many ‘special’ matches that often feel rushed or overdone.
One example would be the Shield triple threat match that took place earlier this year at Battleground. It had been spoken about and teased ever since the faction broke up, and was somewhat wasted on a B-level PPV and took place right in the midst of the brand extension.
Another example is the Sami Zayn-Kevin Owens feud. The story was perfectly done on NXT and was great on the main roster, but it became somewhat overexposed. Maybe doing the one match earlier this year, one later in the year and then separating them and saving a big blow off match for a Wrestlemania would have made it feel a lot more special.
The UFC is a well-run business and get the most out of their fighters. They make money because they invest in stories and don’t rush into anything. This is easily something WWE could learn to do with some marquee match ups.