Now is not the time for WWE bashing.
No, really, it isn’t.
The WWE is going through – and has been going through for a while – a rough patch. We, as fans of professional wrestling should be doing all we can to support and help the WWE through this time of uncertainty, and we should definitely not use it as a source for bloody-minded amusement.
I mean that.
Sorry. Better now.
But, seriously, the WWE is the juggernaut of that strange pseudo-sport we like and when it suffers, it seems that all involved in professional wrestling, from dodgy backyarders to local promotions to up-and-coming international branded promotions, suffer. When people get too put off by WWE, many then channel that to giving up on all aspects of pro wrestling. Sure, some will switch allegiances, but many will assume it’s the same across the board and, well…
Okay, first, let’s acknowledge that the WWE has started to instigate some changes. Right? Heyman and Bischoff as the new executive whatevers of Raw and Smackdown have…
Have done what, exactly? I mean, I can’t see a real difference in the products. The stories still don’t really make sense. The same people are still pushed. The
wrestlers superstars are still doing the same things they always did. Oh, hang on, that’s right. Smackdown had some more fat jokes. That’s… a thing. Right? Christ almighty. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…”
Pete Townshend – Nostradamus of our age.
Okay, so what are the problems? To my mind, the first is the over-bloated rosters the WWE has. I went through the rosters doing what I shall call research for this and more than half haven’t been on TV in weeks. Look, if you’ve got too many people to put on TV, then maybe you’ve got, you know, too many people?
Solution is simple – tell those who are not happy they can go off somewhere else. AEW, NJPW, ROH, whoever might not pay as well, but I’ll bet some guys would actually be happier in those surrounds. Give them a blanket clearance, no they can’t use their WWE names, don’t be dicks about it (Jericho is a great example of giving credit where it’s due to the WWE and Vinnie Mac), and go off and have fun. This should get rid of maybe a third of the bloated rosters. And with the unhappy gone, I’ll bet the alleged backstage morale issues will also fade. (That is but a rumour, so I won’t use it as a thing “wrong” that can be “fixed” here.)
And stop hiring any indie wrestler who gets even a mild pop just to stop the competitors getting them, adding to an already over-sized roster, and then not using them.
Then, I don’t know, have more than 3 f’n teams in the tag divisions? How about getting rid of 95% of the “segments” and let these guys have matches. In the ring. Wrestling. I’ve said before that if wrestling treats itself as more of a real sport then maybe it will help maintain that shroud of suspension of disbelief. So have them fight to get closer to challenging for the title/s. That way you don’t need insane convoluted storylines, but you also don’t just have two guys fighting because… why not?
This brings me on to the women. The WWE has done something I did not think possible (looking back at old IP columns, especially reading when Charlotte was considered “green”, this seems to have been an issue for some time) and that is make televised women’s wrestling entertaining. To a point. WWE has maybe 8 female wrestlers (across both brands) who are quite good in the ring. A few okay. And then we get Lacey Evans, Alexa Bliss, et al. and the ability gap is freakin’ huge. (By the way, I don’t rate Sasha Banks; she’s been around forever and her skills have remained the same.) So what would I do? Raw is 3 hours long – put all the women who can wrestle there and have a tight competition with good matches. Those who can’t wrestle well (or at all), go back to training, back to NXT. Stop promoting women because they “look the part”.
THIS is what I want my female wrestlers to be willing to do! And do well!
Speaking of promotion, why do we see the same old faces all the time? I thought the brand extension would give different people screen time, but, no, it’s still the same people on both shows. Now, look, I understand, these people are top and both networks carrying WWE programming want legitimate stars, but if it’s to the detriment of the whole product, everyone loses. The “Wildcard” rule might be helping keep the networks happy, but very few others. Including the audience… you know, the people who drive ratings?
Now, in complete contrast to that statement, I believe there should be a “big star” that the WWE has to carry the promotion on. Who is it today? I thought it could be Daniel Bryan, but now he’s a heel, and, to be perfectly honest, he doesn’t have the appeal outside the ring. I don’t think there’s been one since John Cena, not really, although I can honestly see Becky Lynch and (when she’s healthy) Ronda Rousey stepping into that role, if allowed. But then what happens if they become bigger than the WWE? I mean, Rousey’s already done films (Expendables 3 was not too shabby) and Lynch could easily slide in there. Are the WWE worried about stars becoming big and then becoming part-time, like Cena, like Batista? Still, without that marquee name that becomes a cross-pop-cultural phenomenon (Hogan, Austin, Cena, Piper), what is there to hang a casual viewer’s hat on?
Can you feel the love tonight?
Oh, and get Shane McMahon off my screens! He is taking up the space and time a genuine wrestler could have, and I wouldn’t be watching a glorified stuntman get closer and closer to a mid-ring brain aneurysm.
While I’m there… do we need to see the Undertaker all the time? Do we? He botched a tombstone against an out-of-it Goldberg, he botched a tombstone on an almost-heart-attack-having Shane McMahon… Look, I get it. He is big. Use him for special appearances with people who can help carry him. And maybe tell him to modify the way he does the tombstone so he doesn’t risk creating another Droz. Not even to Shane.
Note to self: WWE fans can be strange creatures…
Well, there’s too many words written from the point of view of a whingeing Australian who never got past the seriously low-key indy stage of a wrestling career that lasted 10 years too long (if you ask his ex-wife) and who now makes a living as a professional student and a writer of no note. Please, sound off in the comments. What do you think is wrong with the product and how can it be fixed? Or is everything hunky and/or dory and peachy-keen in WWE-land? Go on; Disqus won’t bite.
Tags: Becky Lynch, Bischoff, Brand Extension, charlotte, Daniel Bryan, Droz, heyman, Hogan, John Cena, NXT, Piper, Raw, Ronda Rousey, Shane McMahon, smackdown, Tag teams, undertaker, wildcard, WWE