State of the WWE (Survivor Series, MITB, Road To Wrestlemania, Ratings)

            So, I’ve been gone for a few weeks and the reason for that was simple: I wanted to wait for after Survivor Series, see what the WWE does and I wanted to wait for the outcome of everything. I did not get to watch Survivor Series (I had to go to bed early for work the next day) but I read enough reviews, listened to enough video reviews and took in all of the columns and written articles to get an idea about the event. To sum it up: many have called it the worst Survivor Series PPV in history and if not that, it’s one of the worst or at least, it’s at the bottom of the barrel. A lot of people said that the matches weren’t horrible and that they weren’t the problem, it was the booking and the predictable nature of the show that people hated. One of the biggest killers of movies, TV and even the WWE is predictability: if everybody knows the outcomes and if everybody knows where the story is heading, what’s the point of watching? Hell……I’m currently watching the 2012 RAWs and Smackdowns (for years, I’ve been going back to watch every WWE PPV ever and I just started 2012. The next PPV will be Elimination Chamber) and Teddy Long told Drew McIntyre that the worst thing about TV is PREDICTABILITY!!! If a show is predictable, there’s no point in watching…….the WWE, in 2012, literally referenced that predictable TV is a ratings killer and they STILL continue to give out predictable TV every single week!! But……we will get to that. Let’s get started by looking at the buildup to Survivor Series.

            The first thing to talk about (which I have not commented on) was Seth Rollins’ knee injury. On one hand, it was necessary because it finally is giving Seth some much needed time off, allow him to come back refreshed (and probably as a babyface), fans will probably cheer for him and it ends one of the most disappointingly booked title reigns in WWE history……..on the other hand, WWE lost a key part of their show, lost a valuable asset at Wrestlemania and lost their best wrestler in the company for the next few months. Now, that put the original Survivor Series main event (Rollins vs Reigns for the WWE Title) out of the equation and it forced the WWE to book TWO tournaments in the span of a month: the #1 Contender’s Tournament the night after Hell in A Cell that Reigns won and the SS Vacant Title Tournament……that Reigns also won…..technically. A lot of people enjoyed the one night tournament on RAW and looked at it as one of the best RAWs of the years (it also did pretty solidly in the ratings, too)……so, people were kind of excited about the potential for the Survivor Series Tournament. People thought we were getting the Deadly Games Tournament from 1998 all over again, including the swerve heel turn of Roman Reigns after he wins the title, but instead, WWE decided to span the tournament out over two episodes of RAW and Smackdown each before we got the semifinals of the tournament at the PPV. A lot of people didn’t care for this tournament too much……..due to the predictability of the whole thing. Now, honestly, being predictable can be a good thing……just look at Austin winning the 1998 Rumble and winning the belt at Wrestlemania 14, that was predictable but in a good way. However, it has to be done in a way that can be memorable, be entertaining and suck the fans in……despite them knowing the outcome at the end.

Many thought that Cesaro should have beaten Roman Reigns to get to the Semifinals to change things up (although we know now that the likelihood of that happening was even lower than before due to the shoulder injury), many thought we should have seen Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose in the Finals, Cesaro and Owens in the Finals, Ambrose and Cesaro in the Finals, KALISTO and Cesaro in the Finals, etc. but the WWE was never going to do that. Outside of Kalisto defeating Ryback to advance to the Quarterfinals, the entire tournament, despite having some good matches, was entirely predictable. We got Reigns vs Del Rio and Ambrose vs Owens…….both of which were very predictable in their outcomes because the WWE would have been fucking stupid to have ADR win the damn thing and Owens was not going to win whatsoever so it was down to the former Shield members. These two, however, did not tear the house down whatsoever: they got fucked for time, they had a disappointing match and all we got was the predictable outcome of Reigns winning and neither one turning heel. Then, in an act that pretty much surprised nobody, Sheamus cashed in on Reigns and became the new WWE Champion! Now…….I have seen QUITE the mixed reaction to this, much more mixed than I initially thought. I thought EVERYBODY was going to hate this, I thought EVERYBODY thought this was going to be stupid and I thought EVERYBODY was going shit on this…..surprisingly, not everybody is. There are some who have written columns in praising the WWE for the decision to give Sheamus the belt to continue the story of Roman Reigns, some have praised Sheamus being the champion over Roman Reigns and some have praised the potential of the WWE replicating the Daniel Bryan story with Roman Reigns.

Here’s my thoughts on this situation: I personally do not like this decision. First off, what has Sheamus done to become WWE champion? Ok……he’s the MITB winner…….good for him? Sheamus joins the likes of Jack Swagger, Daniel Bryan, Damien Sandow, CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins as guys who the WWE proceeded to job out for months after they won the MITB briefcase only to expect them to cash in and regain heat because they cashed in and became WWE Champion. I mean……it’s become such a predictable formula that it’s not a surprise at all when the MITB holder cashes in because they usually have them lose for months and in most occasions, they have them lose the night of the cash-in to “make people think” that they have no chance in hell of cashing in……..ONLY TO CASH IN!!! No offense, but when it’s been done numerous times, it’s not shocking anymore. I mean, Sheamus lost his Survivor Series Elimination match earlier in the show and that was, in the WWE’s mind, an attempt to “throw people off the scent” before he actually cashes in and then he cashes. Hell……you know what represents a swerve at this point? The MITB winner WINNING MATCHES BEFORE HE CASHES IN!!! It’s ridiculous that I have to say that but that’s how it is: the WWE feels that the MITB winner doesn’t need to win matches, that having the briefcase is good enough and honestly, that’s bullshit as we’ve constantly seen. Secondly, many believe that because Sheamus is SO HATED that the fans will eventually come around on Roman Reigns and start cheering him. There’s a problem with that line of thinking: the fans don’t hate Sheamus because he’s a bad guy……the fans hate Sheamus because they are just sick and tired of him. Sure, they might “cheer” Roman Reigns because they would prefer him as the champ more than Sheamus…….but that doesn’t mean Reigns is going to continue to get babyface pops once he’s done with Sheamus. The fans are just fucking tired of guys like Sheamus, Miz, Big Show & Kane and unless Reigns is ONLY going to fight those guys if he wins the title, his title run is going to, as I quote Jim Cornette, suck a dick!

Finally, the Reigns redemption story doesn’t necessarily work unless the fans are 100% behind him. It’s not organic, it’s manufactured. A lot of people believe that the WWE is genius for continuing to pull the belt out of Reigns’ grasp to make him more sympathetic but it honestly makes him look like a fucking loser who can’t get the job done. Let’s look at Reigns’ record: he lost a MITB Ladder match for the vacant title at MITB 2014, lost a Fatal 4 Way match for the belt at Battleground, lost the WWE Title match against Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania 31, failed to win the MITB briefcase at MITB 2015 (thus taking away another title shot) and he won the belt at Survivor Series only to have it taken away from him due to a cash-in. And, if we are being completely honest, he’s probably going to lose again at TLC. This proves two things: A) the MITB briefcase is the bane of Reigns’ existence and B) this is fucking Lex Luger all over again. When Luger eventually won the WCW Title, it was too late and it wasn’t even against Flair, the man he NEEDED to beat for the belt. For Reigns to win the belt, the only person he needed to beat for it was Rollins……and just like Luger, THAT didn’t happen either. Sheamus isn’t the guy Reigns should beat because who gives a fuck about Sheamus……hell, the only two other people Reigns NEEDS to beat to solidify himself as THE MAN and the man who deserves to be the WWE Champion are John Cena (the top guy) or Triple H! So what’s next for Reigns? Well, there are two roads the WWE can take: either redo the Road to Wrestlemania story by having him win the Rumble and this time win the belt at Mania or he faces Triple H at Mania (since Triple H’s two other reported matches, Rollins and Rock, aren’t happening). There is the potential for a Reigns/Lesnar rematch but that will only happen if Lesnar beats Sheamus for the belt or Reigns beats Sheamus for the belt……without the belt, there is no sense in having the match and that would also mean Sheamus goes to Mania as the champion.

Roman might get cheers but there is not that LOVE that the fans had for Stone Cold, the LOVE that fans had for Randy Savage, the LOVE fans had for Bret Hart, the LOVE that fans had for HBK, the LOVE fans had for CM Punk and the LOVE that fans had for Daniel Bryan……that is essential for this storyline to work and without it, it fails and fails HARD! Plus……..if the RAW ratings are anything to go by……this storyline is already failing because the WWE hit their lowest RAW rating since 1997……it’s been compared to that overseas RAW from 1997 that was so bad that Vince fired the entire booking staff and made Vince Russo the head booker. To me, I think the WWE could honestly give a shit about ratings at this point. THEY want to tell their story and that story is the Roman Empire beginning and continuing to throw obstacles in his way until he finally reaches that goal because, you know, it worked so well for stars of the past. Why else would the WWE continue to put out this piece of shit product that we get each and every week? I mean…….just look at Survivor Series for instance. Imagine that you were a fan going to that show…….it was reported that there was a chance for a potential terrorist attack occurring at this show……..you weather that to go watch Survivor Series and what do you get? The Brothers of Destruction burying the Wyatt Family. Two lifeless SS Elimination matches. A bland Divas’ match that didn’t even feature any intensity or heat from THAT comment from RAW. A bland and predictable tournament with a bland and predictable winner followed by a bland and predictable cash in. You survived potential death to watch THIS piece of shit show? And that’s followed up by that bland and predictable piece of shit RAW that continues to get worse and worse in the ratings each and every week? Speaking of that, by the way, because boy ARE THE EXCUSES ROLLING IN OR WHAT? “It was a holiday week!” “It was going head to head with Monday Night Football!!” “They don’t have John Cena!” “They don’t have Brock Lesnar!” There’s an old saying: Excuses are like assholes, everybody’s got one and apparently, the WWE and a lot of their misguided fans have been throwing them around like candy to try and justify these shit ratings.

However…..to be quite honest……ratings were already heading into the toilet WITH John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, HBK, Triple H and Ric Flair all being a part of RAW. Plus, it’s basically denial on the part of the WWE and their fans to continue to believe this. A lot of people love jumping onto guys like Seth Rollins, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan for being “low ratings draws” but what does that say about Roman Reigns, who has been the top guy on RAW for over a month and has been positioned as the top babyface in the company in Cena’s absence? What does that say about Sheamus, whose first night as champion saw the RAW ratings hit a record low? What does that say about John Cena, who couldn’t even bring RAW ratings up when he was feuding with Seth Rollins for the WWE Title and being part of the major storylines before he left? What does that say about Alberto Del Rio, who fans have been caring about less and less each week ever since he came back? What does that say about Triple H, who just isn’t the ratings draw that Austin, Rock and Taker are? What does that say about legends like Austin, HBK, Lesnar, Flair, Cena and Taker, who couldn’t even save the ratings when they all appeared on ONE episode of RAW and those ratings were a then record low as well? To be completely honest, I don’t think there is one individual or giving the belt to somebody like Cena that can save these RAW ratings. RAW is no longer must watch TV: reviews of the show are posted all over the Internet, you have Youtube, you have Hulu, you have Metalhead here on Inside Pulse…….I don’t think there is anything the WWE can do to save these ratings. And sure, ratings might pop back up slightly during Mania season but so far, WM 32 has been kind of a train wreck due to injuries and people not wanting to come back. The intended main event is, at this moment, Cena vs Taker but outside of that, we know NOTHING else of what could happen at Wrestlemania and that’s not good. The Rock will not be there, Rollins will not be there, Austin will definitely not be wrestling, Ronda Rousey probably won’t be there (especially after her brutal loss), we have no idea what Brock will be doing, we don’t know what will be happening with the WWE Title, we don’t know what Triple H’s role will be at Mania and we don’t know if Sting will be there.

But, I do not see the WWE making any changes whatsoever. USA is clearly in their corner because RAW is still #3 on Monday Nights on the “Most Watched” list and they still deliver the best ratings USA has. Plus, you factor in Youtube and Hulu views, which also play into the WWE’s favor (it’s not part of the actual ratings but they can be factored into overall viewership because RAW is one of the most decent watched shows on Hulu), WWE Network numbers are remaining pretty steady and Wrestlemania still brings in a lot of money for the city it takes part in (although……I don’t think they are going to be 100,000 fans in attendance unless they do something fast). The WWE arrogantly remains in control of the wrestling world without any real legitimate competition and that’s what sad: for years, the company mocked WCW for its low ratings at the end of its run but the WWE is, quite honestly, rivaling WCW’s ratings at that time! A lot of people like to throw shade at Vince McMahon and believe he is the problem, a lot of people blame WWE Creative and that they are the reason why things suck and believe that Vince has no fault……I honestly believe that it’s a combination of both! I think Vince no longer has what it takes to take ideas and turn them into gold and I believe WWE Creative has not given him any ideas worth trying to turn into gold for years! Vince McMahon’s success in the wrestling business has solely been due to one thing: his ability to take others’ ideas, exploit them with his machine behind them and tweak them slightly to fit the needs of his company. Hulk Hogan and Hulkamania was already born before Vince brought Hogan in…..he just made it better. Austin already had the promo and wrestling ability to be a major star before the WWE…….he just gave Austin the platform to become the star everybody knew he would become. Starrcade was the first ever major wrestling super card in wrestling history…….Wrestlemania surpassed it. Outside of maybe the Undertaker, who was a Vince idea all the way, everything else was somebody else’s idea that Vince borrowed or was given to him. That creative pool is VERY thin at this point and quite honestly, there is nobody in WWE Creative that had the creative mind of somebody like a Dusty Rhodes or a Pat Patterson…….two fantastic wrestling minds ever seen in the business. They have Paul Heyman on their payroll but he’s just a manager at this point and nothing more!

So what can save the WWE at this point? What can get them out of this current pit of despair that they are in complete denial of being in? Well…….I do not have the answer. We can dream of endless possibilities of what the WWE could or should do. We can fantasy book the hell out of the company and think we know how to turn things around. We can write column after column, GUARANTEEING that we know to solve the WWE’s problems but at the end of the day, our voices are on mute. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been writing columns for a few months or for 17 years, the WWE does not give TWO SHITS about our opinions and will continue to do things their way because that’s just the way it is, despite the fact that they have no idea how to run an entertaining wrestling promotion anymore. This isn’t just a WWE thing anymore, this is a massive epidemic that has plagued wrestling, music, TV, movies, etc. for many years and it’s a trend that will not stop. It’s no longer about creativity, it’s about money. Even though the WWE continues to put out a shit product, they still make money and that’s the sad thing about it. So honestly, the only thing to honestly do is……and I hate saying this……is to stop watching wrestling…..or least the current WWE product anyway. Watch NXT, watch Lucha Underground, watch NJPW, watch ROH, watch PWG……watch whatever makes you happy. Stop going to shows, stop buying merchandise, stop watching RAW, stop watching Smackdown (well……I’m pretty sure everybody has stopped watching Smackdown at this point outside of the poor bastards who have to review it), stop watching PPVs……just stop watching. If you legitimately enjoy the product, then this message isn’t for you…….continuing watching if that’s what makes you happy. But for people who can no longer stand this product……..stop watching something that legitimately no longer makes you happy and that legitimately no longer gives two shits about your opinion whatsoever. Many long time wrestling fans are just about done with the WWE, even more have given up on the product in general. I get it……it’s habit for wrestling fans to watch WWE and it’s so easy to just say “STOP WATCHING IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT!!!”

I’m basically telling wrestling fans the same thing non-smokers tell smokers: Just stop doing it, it’s not healthy for you!! Yet what people don’t understand is that it’s not something you can just stop and it goes away……it takes practice and time to stop. I should know this: I’m a smoker so if someone told me to just stop doing it, it isn’t just going to be that easy. It’s the same thing with the WWE and WWE fans in general: it’s not that easy to just stop watching. However, while I do admit to being a smoker, I will admit this as well: I have not watched a full episode of Monday Night RAW live since 2007 (yes, I’m watching the 2012 RAWs and Smackdowns but there is a point to that……I’m doing it for research). The last PPV I watched live in full: Summerslam 2015. Before that…….I can’t tell you the last time I’ve watched a full PPV while it was going on live!!! What’s my secret: I watch things that I like to watch. I’d much rather go back and watch old ROH shows than watch this shit RAW product. I’d rather watch old RAWs, Smackdowns and PPVs than watch this shit WWE product. I’d rather watch WCW than watch this shit WWE product……even the shit years of that promotion too! I’d rather watch ECW, I’d rather watch old NWA shows, I’d rather watch the Indies, I’d rather watch Japan, I’d rather watch Lucha Underground……I have literally cut out live episodes of RAW, Smackdown and PPVs from my life because I know I can just find a website and read reviews. Hell, watch your WWE Network and go watch things that make you happy. If going back and binge watching the Attitude Era RAWs make you happy……go watch them instead. Basically, all I’m saying is that I believe it’s time that fans tested the WWE. If the WWE wants to test our patience, let’s test theirs. Let’s see what they do when their ratings eek closer and closer to 2 million viewers. Let’s see what happens when people just abandon Smackdown altogether. Let’s see what happens when attendance goes down, let’s see what happens when buyrates go down, let’s see what happens when people are NOT watching during the Road to Wrestlemania and let’s see what happens if the WWE is unable to fill AT & T Stadium in Dallas, Texas. No longer allow yourself to be in this abusive relationship with the WWE……take a stand and stop watching their current product.

People want change……DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!! That doesn’t mean write columns, that doesn’t mean make podcasts and that doesn’t mean make lists of things that should happen……that means literally find something else to watch on Monday nights and that means finding something else to watch on Sundays when they have PPVs. Look at it this way: the ratings have been going downward over the span of 14 years and the WWE continues to do whatever it is they want to do despite this. I’m a wrestling fan……I have been one for about 15 years now…..I’ve seen almost every single WWE PPV from 1985 to 2011 up to this point……I have reached my point of caring for this company at this point. It reminds me of an actual TV show: the show had some major ratings highs earlier in their run but as the seasons wore on, the show got lesser ratings and reviews until it just crawled to the finish and people just didn’t care by the end of it. That’s not how every TV show goes but that’s how a majority of them end…….the only difference is that the WWE is not in any danger of being cancelled or ending their run……they are here to stay but that doesn’t mean you have to be compelled to watch them, especially when you are given the same predictable crap each and every episode of RAW. At least with the TV show, there is potential for something different and new to happen when ratings are low and viewership is down………with the WWE, they just continue to do the same ol’ thing over and over again. So…….are you gonna continue to watch or are you gonna take that stand and actually watch something that you enjoy?

 

My last and final point is that I’m planning my next column already and it will be done for next week for one simple reason: IT’S MA BIRTHDAY!!!! Yes, I turn 27 next Saturday and for this momentous occasion I will review a show from the past. The show I have chosen falls in line in chronological order……meaning it’s the next show of this particular promotion that I am set to watch. I mentioned that I’ve been going back to watch WCW PPVs, all the way from 1983 to their demise in 2001. Well, to celebrate my birthday, the next show that comes next in line for me to watch for WCW will be………drum roll please………THE 1991 GREAT AMERICAN BASH!!!! Yay? I know what you’re thinking……why am I choosing potentially the worst wrestling PPV in wrestling history to watch for my birthday? Because I’ll probably have alcohol, I’ll probably be ready with some jokes and I’ll probably be looking forward to having a good time in potentially ripping this fucking show apart. What I will be trying to prove is that is this show the worst PPV in wrestling history? I’ve personally never seen it before so I’m looking forward to it in sort of a sick sadistic way. So, expect that column to come some time next week and I look forward to any comments or criticisms that will come my way for that. So, I hope everybody had a Happy Thanksgiving and I wish you all well!!!

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