Caught in the Ropes- A Poorly Titled Hiatus List (WWE)

Hey! Welcome back to so on and so forth. I’ll probably be doing another non-WWE related article next week, but for this week we’ll be talking about some aspects of the WWE and its business that need to be put on hiatus. The inspiration for the column comes from reader Zork, so…thank you, Zork. If any of you out there want to see me tackle a certain topic, no questions asked, comment with your idea or send me an e-mail. Make sure to check out my 10 Thoughts on Raw column Tuesday, and let’s get to it.

During the discussion following my 10 Thoughts on Raw column last week, reader Zork put forward an idea: maybe the WWE should skip Money in the Bank for one year. You know, give the gimmick a rest so Creative can take some time and develop an interesting story for it. That got me thinking; there’s a number of things, from either a personnel or business perspective, that the WWE should put on the back-burner.

Tag-Team Wrestling

Surprise, surprise. I often complain that the Divas division is an absolute mess, but no title is more worthless in the WWE currently than the Tag-Team Championship. The reason: there’s no teams, duh. There’s Otunga and McGillicutty, The Usos, Santino and Ryder (occasionally), and Kofi and Bourne. Literally, that’s the extent of the tag-team roster. Now there have been some rumblings regarding the Young Bucks and/or the Kings of Wrestling, but nothing’s set in stone yet. However, even if one or both come in, we can all agree that the WWE sees Kofi and Evan Bourne as singles wrestlers, so they’re not long for the tag-team division. Add to that the popular (and probably correct) assumption that once Otunga and McGillicutty lose the belts, one or both of them will either be out of a job or back down in FCW like most of their former NXT compatriots, and it becomes obvious that just bringing in two teams is not going to be a permanent fix.

The main hurdle is that the WWE doesn’t want to use up a lot of roster space on tag-teams. What they should do is put the division on hold for a year, build up the roster (Motor City Machine Guns and the Briscoe Brothers, anyone?), and bring it back with a lot of fanfare. Individual tag-team members can still be used for singles matches, so they won’t be a huge drain on roster space, and putting the division on hold for a year could give fans a chance to miss seeing a devoted tag-team title. The WWE also needs to keep their eyes open for new teams at all times, so when they need to break up a team, they can bring another one in to take its place.

Brand Warfare Pay-Per-Views

Bragging Rights is off the PPV list for this year, but there’s no word on whether the company will still have a Smackdown vs. Raw tag match at Vengeance. If they do skip it altogether this year, good for them. If not, well, they screwed up. No one cares about these 16-man tag matches because the WWE doesn’t give us a reason to care throughout the year. Laying off the inter-brand match could give Creative the time necessary to lay out a game-plan for the following year. The WWE could work in some cross-brand rivalries and intrigue over the course of a year to give the event the sense of importance it has sorely lacked.

Sin Cara

I like Sin Cara quite a bit, but I often feel like I’m in the minority opinion on that, at least when it comes to American fans. Overall, Sin Cara’s lucha libre history has been his biggest hindrance in the WWE. Mexican fans are willing to forgive botches and prefer fast, high-flying matches. American fans see Mistico as a flippy-floppy spotfest that is one huge botch waiting to happen. It’ll take him time to adjust to the more conservative style of the WWE. It seems that some feel that if Alberto del Rio (Dos Caras Jr.) was able to transition over easily, Sin Cara should have been able to do the same. But Alberto didn’t wrestle the way Sin Cara did in Mexico; Sin Cara was such a sensation because his style was so complex and unique. Give the guy some time off, have him train with Ricky Steamboat down in FCW, and then bring him back.

Kelly Kelly

I don’t care how over with the crowd Kelly is or isn’t; she’s a liability in the ring. I understand why the WWE wants her around, even though I don’t agree with it, but she needs a lot of work. They need to take her off the roster, have her work with a good coach for a year, and then bring her back. I could deal with her if she was at least mediocre in the ring. As it stands now, she’s awful.

Three-Man Broadcast Teams (Read: Michael Cole)

There is no chemistry on either Smackdown or Raw’s broadcast teams. Just last Friday, Michael Cole and Josh Matthews repeatedly talked over one another, and Booker T’s rambling pronouncements did nothing to help. On Raw, the returning JR feels lost in the shuffle, rarely able to call the matches which, as a play-by-play announcer, is kind of his job. The WWE needs to either utilize Cole as a backstage authority figure or as a manager. Anything that gets him out of the broadcast booth is preferable, really. King and JR need to find their rhythm together, as does Booker and Matthews (though Booker could be taken out as well). The broadcast teams have been shaken up quite a bit over the last year, and I believe they need time to get their footing. Cole isn’t helping matters, since his heel persona and inability to shut his mouth every once in a while means that he’s constantly disrupting whatever flow the other two are trying to establish. If the WWE had two announcers with a solid rapport, they could deal with having Cole dropped in their laps.

Brand Drafts

The issue isn’t so much that the WWE shouldn’t have talent moving between brands, it’s that the drafts don’t really add anything. This year’s draft drug out the old double-switch with John Cena just to try and make it interesting. I’d prefer it if the WWE kept the rosters pretty much the same for one year and found a way to make draft nights captivating. What about an episode of Smackdown that serves as a mid-season draft or exchange? What if titles could change brands? There’s a lot they could do to punch up the yearly drafts and make them noteworthy. The other problem is that, as I mentioned, stars tend to move between brands anyway, so what’s the point? Case in point: Alberto just had a match on last Friday’s Smackdown. That should feel like a bigger deal than it did; the WWE hasn’t done a good job of making the two rosters feel unique and separate.

Summerslam

Heresy, I know. Now, some have pointed out how disappointing the last few Wrestlemanias have been, and there’s no denying that. But the WWE does go out of its way to make Wrestlemania feel like the biggest event of the year, what with all the pageantry and the Road to Wrestlemania. Summerslam, despite its position as the second-biggest show of the year, feels like any other PPV. The company needs to step it up; the second biggest show of the year shouldn’t feel like Money in the Bank or Elimination Chamber. Taking a year off might do it some good, and the WWE could plan for a big 2013 Summerslam in the meantime. And on that note…

Extreme Rules, TLC, and Over the Limit or Capital Punishment

There shouldn’t be any extreme-rules PPVs in the PG-era, but never mind that. The problem is that the WWE is producing 13 PPVs this year, and the market can’t support that right now. The WWE has expressed concern over attendance and buy-rates, but the underlying factor is that most people, myself included, don’t want to pay for what amounts to a glorified episode of Raw. There just isn’t enough time, usually, between PPVs for the company to produce a full cards-worth of interesting feuds and storylines. I say, cut three PPVs and see how things look. I’m willing to bet that with some additional incentives, PPV buy-rates will probably increase. Storylines will be able to mature a bit more which would lead to a increase in interest, which would lead to an increase in revenue.

Oddly enough, this line of logic is the same one used by the WWE when they cut the PPV schedule down to 13. But they’re still putting on a PPV a month, and that’s just way too many. These PPVs aren’t cheap for the WWE to produce, and I imagine that saving on those costs while increasing the buy-rates for the remaining PPVs would more than offset the loss of revenue from those three additional shows. If it doesn’t work out, plug them back in.

There you have it. You might have noticed that one Mr. John Cena was not included on my list. Really, the WWE is sorely lacking in main-event stars, and like him or hate him, he’s one of the most popular guys the company has. Taking him out any time soon just doesn’t make sense. Got any ideas of your own? Share them in the comments section. One final piece of business: unlike Mike Gojira, I took the WWE’s somewhat hypocritical anti-bullying campaign to heart.  Newly inspired, I ain’t afraid to take a stand against peer pressure. Therefore, check out this week’s columns from CB, Mike, James Alsop, Kyle Fitta, and many others. I plugged; deal with it.

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