Time to vent.
Why, WWE, why? You’ve been promising us a “New Era” for a while now. You have been teasing us with some greatness in NXT. You even pushed a new brand split to drum up artificial excitement for the product. Now look at where we are – basically the same place we were six months ago, except with more confusion and more contempt for the fans.
I didn’t want to write this column. I was holding out a little bit of hope that I would be the slightest bit excited by the WWE’s newest direction. I even watched Raw and then the draft on Smackdown Live this week. And here, as Battleground is right around the corner, I throw my hands up in the air and declare that I just don’t care. Why am I discouraged at this point? Let me count the ways. But to be fair, I will also count the good things that came out of the draft.
- In order to show that they are going to do new things, Vince McMahon names the two people who have been running things already to oversee things.
- After all the talk about changes, and Shane losing his match to Undertaker at WrestleMania which made this whole storyline pointless in the first place, Stephanie is still in charge of Raw and Shane is taking over Smackdown like most people predicted.
- But wait, not only do we get the added joy of more McMahon time, both Shane and Stephanie are required to name a General Manager of their respective brand.
- Just to make sure we are clear: Prior to all this, Vince McMahon had one GM for each brand reporting to him (where he could overturn any decision as he deemed fit). Now, there has been another level of mid-management added. Now, Vince McMahon has one “Commissioner” of each brand who have one General Manager reporting to them. I am guessing, because we have to have McMahons on TV as much as possible, that the Commissioners can override their GMs the same way Vince can override them.
- You know one of the things that ruined the Star Wars prequels? Too much bureaucracy. If they start talking about trade agreements and midi-chlorians, we can assume George Lucas has made his way to their writer’s room.
- Stephanie chooses Mick Foley as her General Manager. Why? Who knows. Is it because he is fresh and new and will do things differently (which is what they have been promising for weeks)? I doubt it, seeing how Mick Foley had the authority role back in 2000. Remember his reign then? No? Then I guess we can expect the same now.
- Shane chooses Daniel Bryan as his General Manager. I understand that Bryan is popular and they want to get him on TV even after his retirement. But this is really out of left field. I can understand the pick though.
- Recently, Bryan has been doing color commentary for the CWC tournament on the WWE Network. So, natural synergy would transfer with him onto a show with some cruiserweights. (Stephanie McMahon announced the return of the Cruiserweight title just last week.) It makes sense, right? Of course it does. So obviously Bryan is now the GM of the brand WITHOUT any cruiserweights. My head hurts.
- Apparently they have decided not to keep the World Title “outside” of the brands. So whomever wins the title match at Battleground will bring the title to their respective brand with no hope of it being won by anyone on the other brand. Ever.
- In fact, apparently all the titles move with their champions. And Raw has the World tag team titles, the Women’s title, the United States title, and will have a Cruiserweight title soon. Smackdown has the World title and the Intercontinental titles. That seems a little lopsided.
- At Battleground, two of the three combatants for the World Title are on the Raw brand. So there is a 2/3 chance the World belt moves over to Raw as well.
- Both the Intercontinental and United States titles are on the line with the champions facing someone from the other brand. So, technically, Raw could hold all the belts at the end of Battleground. How exactly is that an incentive to watch Smackdown?
- Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens were supposed to be facing each other “one last time” so they can move on with their careers. It had been widely hinted that they would be on separate rosters, making their Battleground match that much more important. And whatever happened, they would be done with each other. But now, they are both on the Raw brand, so they can move on after their match and fight with new opponents. Like, each other. Ad infinitum.
- Raw is definitely the place to go for your pharmaceutical needs with Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar picked back to back.
- What exactly are Carmella, Eva Marie, Alexa Bliss, Naomi, Natalya, and Becky Lynch going to do on Smackdown? With no title opportunities, they can only feud with each other. And Becky Lynch and Natalya are already feuding. What is the endgame for that division on Smackdown.
- Smackdown drafted Baron Corbin pretty high. Apparently, their goal is to make people not watch. But don’t worry, they drafted Dolph Ziggler after that, so we can expect that disaster to continue.
- We can expect to see the following matches on Smackdown every week – American Alpha versus The Vaudevillains and the Usos versus Breezango. Yeah, I know The Ascension is on Smackdown too, but how long do we really expect them to be employed?
- They split up the Wyatt Family again. Why? Who the hell knows. But they sent Braun Strowman over to Raw. Maybe he can feud with other big guys like Big Show or Mark Henry. *yawn*
- Speaking of the Wyatts, where the heck is Luke Harper going? Just because he is hurt doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be drafted. Maybe they will do a free agent angle with him.
- Actually, more likely is a free agent angle with Heath Slater, who wasn’t drafted at all, despite being an active wrestler and his Social Outcasts partners were drafted. Thinking about it, that could be the start of a cute and/or funny angle with Slater, but I don’t see how it will get him over in the long run.
- Jerry Lawler is no longer going to be announcing. Actually, I’m okay with that.
- To be honest, the wrestlers I am interested in watching from Smackdown are AJ Styles, Bray Wyatt, Becky Lynch, and American Alpha. The Miz can be interesting as well. As for the rest, snooze city.
- It was nice to see Daniel Bryan draft his former partner in Kane.
- Does Shane McMahon think “fresh and new” means putting John Cena and Randy Orton on our television screens?
- Of the six draftees from NXT, Mojo Rawley is the only one I really question. But, purely kayfabe, are we being told that neither Stephanie nor Shane value the NXT champion Samoa Joe over these six picks? Or Shinsuke Nakamura? Or Austin Aries? Way to back-handedly bury your third “brand” there.
- I’m just going to leave this one here without comment – Summer Rae was chosen 14 picks before Curtis Axel, a former Heyman guy and the son of Mr. Perfect.
- Lastly, Shane McMahon has come across as very chauvinistic since his return. This has Stephanie defending feminism and women in general. Since Steph is the heel in this equation, it is set up for us to boo her no matter what. Therefore, the crowd winds up booing her even when she is in the right. It makes me angry and sad that the WWE would go that route.
If the WWE was trying to excite their fanbase, I am not sure they accomplished their goal. In fact, they may have just swatted away a fair portion of those fans.
From my perspective, they might have made Raw a little more watchable by dumping some dead wood onto Smackdown. But Raw is still a three hour show which struggles to captivate or find usable material for that timeframe (seriously, how many video packages of things we saw just fifteen minutes earlier do we need?). I have very little, if any, desire to watch Smackdown now. And I would doubt the wrestlers would have any reason to care either, especially if the World title doesn’t come over with Dean Ambrose after Battleground. Finally, I’ve been told that the wrestlers in NXT are not that good so I shouldn’t watch it.
Finn Balor on Raw, and that alone, is the most interesting thing to come out of this whole fiasco. No pressure or anything there.
I used to watch WWE just because it was the “major leagues” of professional wrestling. It was the most mainstream and the company everyone first thinks of when they hear about wrestling. I know I am not owed anything as a fan, but I can’t help feel , yet again, that the WWE would be just as happy playing to empty arenas.You can only get screwed over so many times.
I am not about to switch allegiances to TNA (I’m not completely insane and masochistic), but my wrestling viewing will include much less WWE now. ROH, NJPW, and even NXT are just better choices. No matter what problems these other companies may have, at least they don’t spit on their fans the way the WWE continues to do.
To crib from the Million Dollar Man, everyone may have their price, but everyone also has their breaking point. Vince McMahon and the WWE has finally broken me. It will take quite a bit to repair this time.
Tags: AJ Styles, American Alpha, Baron Corbin, Big Show, Bray Wyatt, brock lensar, Daniel Bryan, dean ambrose, Finn Balor, Heath Slater, John Cena, Luke Harper, Mick Foley, Samoa Joe, seth rollins, Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, VInce McMahon