To say that 2014 has been a tumultuous year for WWE is an understatement. Following the Royal Rumble in January, CM Punk walked away from WWE and essentially retired from pro wrestling because of professional, health and personal reasons that Punk explained in detail on Colt Cabana’s podcast over the past 2 weeks.
Then, following WrestleMania XXX in April, Daniel Bryan couldn’t capitalize on his amazing run to the top of the WWE because of an injury that has kept him out of action since.
In addition to that, the WWE Network was launched, officially killing the traditional WWE PPV business and thereby wiping out standard wrestler bonuses that came from that fading revenue stream. Network numbers are nowhere near where WWE thought they would be, and their stock has plummeted from its peak of $31.98 per share in March to $11.47 per share today.
On top of all that, WWE also lost another one of their best wrestlers — Alberto Del Rio — because Del Rio is said to have slapped their social media manager after hearing one too many racist remarks.
Throw in the fact that Brock Lesnar ended THE STREAK and has barely been on WWE programming since, and you are really looking at a company that has not gotten out of its own way this entire year.
Personally, my favorite show in the WWE lineup has been NXT on the WWE Network, and maybe it’s because the folks down there are given a little more creative freedom. Or perhaps the man in charge of NXT – Triple H – is allowed to do things his way from top to bottom without his boss getting in the way.
On NXT, there are no hokey guest hosts, there are no ratings that need to be cheaply popped, and the culture down on the farm just seems a lot more palatable than the environment up in Stamford, Conn.
As the year comes to a close and I evaluate my wrestling fandom, it’s really a shame that WWE has diminished my personal enjoyment of their product by the mere fact that I liked watching CM Punk and Alberto Del Rio wrestle. They put on good matches, could work with just about anybody, and I never fast-forwarded any of their stuff.
It’s a shame that Daniel Bryan got hurt when he did, but it’s also equally shameful that he wasn’t even in their WrestleMania 30 main event plans to begin with, and it took the biggest backlash in their fan base’s history to even give him the spot he deserved.
As for Brock Lesnar, his absence to me has become more and more disheartening over time. I especially feel bad for Seth Rollins, who has to carry around that meaningless briefcase everywhere he goes. The only time I’ve even seen Brock Lesnar recently was he was rocking the Canadian Tux at a college volleyball game in Minnesota, so unless Seth Rollins is going up north to find him, that Money In The Bank contract means pretty much nothing at this point.
I am not saying there haven’t been any bright spots in WWE this year. The Daniel Bryan double win at WrestleMania is something I’ll never forget, and the breakup of The Shield has paid off for all three members, though Roman Reigns is another guy who is hurt at the moment (at least he’ll be back soon). Dean Ambrose has been killing it though, both in the ring and in merch sales, so good for him.
I was also thrilled to see Dolph Ziggler as the lone survivor of Team Cena at Survivor Series, which was a nice feather in the cap of another guy I like who has worked extremely hard with usually nothing to show for it.
Damien Mizdow and The Miz have been pretty entertaining, and I do hope there’s a nice payoff for Damien Sandow at the end of this.
And say what you want about Rusev, but Lana is truly gorgeous. Finally, someone hot to look at who has a little depth to her.
Even with those bright spots, however, I do believe it’s time for WWE to really think about changing things around for their own sake. They need to stop being so brash in all of the wrong ways, they need to take care of their talent and not abuse them, and they simply need to get out of their own way.
They can start by getting some of those NXT guys up to the main roster to help out a depleted and tired crew. They can continue by giving wrestlers more breaks, and even instituting some kind of rotating schedule. They need to rethink their bonus payout structure quickly, and stop messing around when it comes to concussions and other health issues.
It’s time for WWE to grow up and play by the rules, especially as a publicly traded company who now relies on their fans to line their pockets on a monthly basis with subscriptions more than they ever have before.
They call us the WWE Universe, but if they keep going in this direction, they will find out how small their world really is.
That’s all from me — CB.
What do YOU think? Sound off in the comments section below.
Tags: alberto del rio, Brock Lesnar, CB's World, cm punk, Damien Mizdow, Damien Sandow, Daniel Bryan, dean ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Lana, money in the bank, Roman Reigns, rusev, seth rollins, The Miz, The Shield, triple h, vince mcmahon, WWE, wwe championship, WWE Network