The Wrestling Backfire: Thoughts On WWE’s Future “Blockbuster” Summer Idea (John Cena, Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, Triple H, Undertaker)

Before I get started, I would like to at this moment address the Benoit column situation. As many of you know, I deleted my Benoit column, one that I put a lot of effort into and was pleased with. The reason I deleted it was because people were saying negative things about Benoit. I planned on the column being a tribute to the man’s wrestling work, the work that entertained us for 20 plus years, but it turned into something I hoped it wouldn’t and that was people talking about unrelated things than his work. Instead of arguing with people over a catastrophic moment, I decided to delete it, so it wouldn’t turn into a chaotic comment section where people bicker over whether Benoit deserves a tribute or if he’s a good or bad person.

With that out-of-the-way……

The Wrestling Observer Newsletter is reporting WWE creative is working on a major angle for the summer. Reportedly, they are working on coming up with a “knocks your socks off” storyline similar to how the Nexus angle captured attention in 2010 and CM Punk did in 2011. There is a lot of pressure to come up with something because of the low ratings and current product.

Before we get started, I think we must be able to construe what  a blockbuster means. Of course, many people will have contrasting presumptions of what one may be; some may believe that Big Johnny/John Cena was already a blockbuster angle, while some may believe that CM Punk’s angle last year wasn’t even a blockbuster angle. At least to me, a blockbuster angle would be something that’s astonishing and sustains a widespread of attention.The idea doesn’t necessarily have to be innovative, not saying it wouldn’t help, but it does have to be something we never saw coming and acquires mainstream attention for it. For example, last year’s CM Punk anti-WWE promo. It was both catastrophic and received a lot of mainstream attention from it. I mean even  Colin Cowherd, an ESPN journalist that  isn’t fond of professional wrestling, admitted the promo was well-said and gave it the attention it deserved.

The only current angle in WWE that’s brewing  is the Brock Lesnar versus Triple H angle. I must say, since Brock Lesnar has limited date, the addition of Paul Heyman was a smart idea, because not only can Lesnar take time off while his angle develops with HHH,  but Paul Heyman is more than capable of keeping the feud moving as well. And for a long-term angle (gee, I know; a few months is considered long-term these days), they have booked it well. Everything has been booked soundly and there is nothing that has rendered the moot yet. With that all being said, the feud just doesn’t seem groundbreaking or what I would call blockbuster thus far. The main reason I feel this way is because Brock Lesnar lost his aura of a dominant figure when he lost his return match to John Cena. It makes it seem nonsensical to me they’re going to do a WWE and its roster are in peril because of Heyman/Lesnar if they’re going in that direction (which it feels like they are).

That is unless they do an angle that explains that Heyman is the mastermind behind Lesnar’s success because his game plans are more well-crafted, opposed to when he’s by himself he’s overzealous. I’m not holding my breath for WWE to dig that deep, though. Unless WWE pulls a rabbit out of a hat by elevating this feud from adequate to groundbreaking, and making Brock Lesnar feel like a threat again, I don’t see this being the “rock your socks off” angle.

There are rumors stirring around that CM Punk and John Cena will be having a match at Summerslam. I know people are outraged about Cena being back into the title picture, but let’s face it, even though he hasn’t been feuding for the title, he’s been in every main event since Survivor Series. So think of this way: CM Punk will finally be in a main event feud instead of being treated as second-rate material. In my opinion, this could be the blockbuster angle that WWE is talking about for the Summer, especially since CM Punk is a miracle worker on the mic because he can make almost anything seem compelling.

In any event, the WWE cannot perform another anti-establishment/anti-WWE angle nor can they do another Vince McMahon injury angle.  With Vince McMahon’s limo exploding, Randy Orton punting Vince McMahon in the head,Nexus, CM Punk  last year and recently  Big Show punching Vince McMahon and Brock Lesnar/Paul Heyman currently being the anti-establishments of the WWE, they’ve milked those two ideas out for a way too long time.

Considering WWE’s shows have been in cruise control for the past months, with no signs of improving until the 1,000 episode, and considering it feels like the shows are written by 12-year-old kids with crayons, it would be a gargantuan testament of how atrocious the WWE’s writing staff has become if they cannot pull off something newsworthy. Whilst I do believe the team is sub-par, I don’t believe they are *that* bad. However…….

The Nexus angle had potential to shake up the WWE, but ended with Team Cena coming out on top. The Age of Orton was really steaming, but lost its steam because of bad booking and Triple H winning. CM Punk was white-hot, but it ended with him  losing the belt because Del Rio cashed- in, all because to Nash powerbombed, leading to a feud that went nowhere and perplexed the audience. Thereafter, the nearly impossible happened: John Cena defeated Brock Lesnar, killing Lesnar’s dominant aura and anti-climatically ending Cena’s losing streak.

For  years, the WWE has triggered off something that felt like it was going to shake the company up and give the fans something that we haven’t seen for the past years. Unfortunately every time that’s happened, the company just winds up doing a complete circle and becomes the same formulaic and cut-and-dry television program again. Therefore, the question doesn’t become whether or not the WWE can pull of a big angle; the question becomes whether they can follow through.

Something equivalent of what the WWE has done in the recent past is if Stone Cold lost against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania (let’s pretend he wasn’t injured), so the WWE had the same old Shawn Michaels hold the belt for awhile. Meanwhile, Stone Cold Steve Austin went back into the mid-card and lost most of the momentum he had going for him when they built him up for this big match. Then maybe down the line they would  put the title on Stone Cold, but, of course, without nearly close as the amount of momentum he had during the Wrestlemania build up.

The main two problems are two things. One, Vince McMahon’s ego. And two, WWE plays things too conservative.  Whenever Vince McMahon says he doesn’t care what we think, he isn’t playing his gimmick; he’s playing himself. McMahon is at the end of his career and has made tons of money, which doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about his product anymore; it just means its his way or the highway. When McMahon was desperate because he was close to bankruptcy, he gave the fans everything they wanted. After WWE became a monopoly, he barely ever gives the fans what they want. After all, did we want to see John Cena, Randy Orton and Batista as the next big things to break-out? Not really, but McMahon did.  Do we want to see more of Zach Ryder?  Yes. Does McMahon? No. Don’t get me wrong, I’m surprised that WWE allowed Daniel Bryan to become this big, so I will give them kudos for seeing his talent; however, he could be so much bigger now, but McMahon hasn’t allowed him to branch out as far as he could go because he doesn’t fit the future plans. I got another one. Alex Riley, for whatever reason, is over. Do we ever see him on Raw or even Smackdown? Hardly. The fans could honestly give two shits about the Ryback, but Vince McMahon likes him so guess what, we have to watch him.

The second part, WWE being too conservative, is something that has plagued the WWE with a heavy dose of boredom . It’s the main reason to why there aren’t any heat-magnet and/or dominant heels; everything’s just happy-go-lucky. It’s why John Cena does almost the same routine each week and why nobody can get to the level they could be at if there wasn’t a “nobody can surpass John Cena’s popularity” rule.  It’s also why the only time a major change occurs is when someone is leaving, i.e Punk winning a feud over Jeff Hardy or Batista turning heel.

Plainly put, it’s just why hardly anything is exciting. If I knew every single huge sports game would wind up ending the same 99 out of 100 times, I would stop watching it. Sometimes, unexpected things are supposed to happen in sports. Not to mention that WWE has the biggest advantage over every other sport (except basketball),  and that is it’s a fake sport that has outcomes which are picked before the match.

Ultimately, the WWE not only needs to come up with a blockbuster idea; they need to finish properly and, most importantly, spin this company in a novel direction. Like I said, the product has done things that have created a spark, but it never amplified sufficiency to create a fire. McMahon needs to stop making decisions based upon his ego,  needs to stop being conservative, and needs to stop purposely hindering wrestlers talents because they’re exceeding expectations.  Or the ratings, gates, merchandising, buyrates and so on will continue to tediously but surely keep decreasing.

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