These are definitely exciting times in the world of professional wrestling, especially around the WWE. Since last month’s brand extension draft, which split the roster up between Raw and SmackDown, fans have been curious as to what other corresponding changes will be coming to WWE television in the next few months. Think about what new changes are on the horizon when things start to heat up with the Road to WrestleMania right around the corner?
It has already been announced that the Raw brand will feature the return of the Cruiserweight Division, and a new Heavyweight Championship due to the departure of WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dean Ambrose. There is now doubt that fans all over the world have been elated to see a shake up in the WWE Universe. However, there are fans who are fearing the worst, with thoughts that their favorite superstars will still live in the WWE creative cemetery.
But this is a new era in the WWE and it’s a good time to begin brainstorming ideas, and there's no better place to pull from than the past. Sure there have been some horrible, horrible, hooooooooorible ideas in the past, but hindsight is 20/20, and we are here to guide WWE in the right direction. Today we will be looking at 10 things they should bring back to television, and 10 they should never mention again.
20 Do – Bring Back The Hardcore Championship
While there are some talks about new titles possibly being brought to WWE television, there are a number of fans who would love to see the return of old titles, like the Hardcore Championship. There is some give and take with the Hardcore Title being restored, as the concept of hardcore wrestling established during the 1990s and early 2000s is something that cannot be brought back to the current era of WWE programming.
At the same time, many of the concepts from the Hardcore division can still be worked in. For example, having a title that is defended on a 24/7 basis can present a number of entertaining matches and segments for television. Scheduled matches can also be held under rules like no disqualification, no count-outs and falls count anywhere. The Hardcore Championship is the type of belt that can bring a much needed depth to WWE’s low card roster.
19 Don’t – Bring Back The European Championship
While we’re on the subject of returning championships to the WWE, one of the titles that shouldn’t be brought back is the European Championship. Sure, it was a title that was worn by a number of great superstars in the mid-card tier, as that list includes the likes of D-Lo Brown, Owen Hart and X-Pac. However, there are already two championships that are expected to boost the mid-card – the Intercontinental and the United States Championships.
Having a third mid-card championship will not help boost the status of the other two titles, but in fact lower their stock. If the WWE is going to bring back a second Heavyweight Championship (the Universal Championship) to Raw and possibly the Cruiserweight Championship, then the addition of the European Championship would make things feel extremely crowded. Having too much gold can only negatively impact the value of WWE’s champions.
18 Do – Bring Back Former Superstars
When splitting the current WWE roster into two different shows, WWE understood that it meant there was a need to add a few extra superstars from other places. The WWE can't completely raid all of the top stars from NXT, due to it helping the company make money as a nationally touring developmental promotion. So it’s been nice to see a number of former superstars returning to WWE television to add some extra veteran experience to the WWE roster.
WWE has already started to sprinkle in some veterans since the draft. While the news about Shelton Benjamin’s shoulder injury may have halted his WWE return, he will likely be kept on the company’s radar. It was also fun to see Rhyno come to SmackDown and give Heath Slater a Gore, and Jinder Mahal might provide some extra depth to the lower half of the Raw roster. Others that could be brought back would include MVP, or maybe some veteran cruiserweights like Brian Kendrick, Tajiri or Super Crazy.
17 Don’t – Bring Back Every Superstar
Sure, it would be great to see some familiar faces return to the WWE. While the ones mentioned earlier can provide depth and proven experience, not all former WWE superstars are going to help the overall program.
Specifically, it’s actually good news that Kurt Angle is not on his way back to the WWE. While he should be given one more match, he doesn’t need to be brought back to a full-time schedule that his body may not be able to handle. It's not so much Angle as what he represents, which is older guys who can only wrestle part time.
The new Cruiserweight Division doesn’t need too many veterans either, with the influx of young stars that we were introduced to through the Cruiserweight Classic tournament on the WWE Network.
Veteran additions also have to make a lot of sense and not just be sitting on the roster holding up space. They have to bring something different to the table, or there really isn't any reason for them to clog up the young roster.
16 Do – Expand The Tag Team Division
The fact that the NXT development brand has been a great resource for the new era of WWE programming goes without saying. NXT has given us strong independent wrestlers, who have become even stronger WWE superstars like Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Finn Balor. However, one of the strongest traits that NXT possesses, is a deep tag team division which features teams who are already prepared for their main roster debuts.
American Alpha (Jordan and Gable) are going to be a great boost to the current tag team division. While better than five years ago, the tag team division needs new and fresh teams who aren’t just pairings of aging veterans like the Golden Truth. It seems like WWE is pulling teams up to the main roster every day, with current NXT Tag Team Champions The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) being the next likely duo to be called up.
15 Don’t – Activate A Second Set Of Tag Team Titles
Unfortunately, this has been announced to happen, but it's a big mistake by WWE.
While the WWE should consider bringing new tag teams into the fold, they don’t need two separate sets of titles. Because The New Day currently holds the WWE Tag Team Championship belts on Raw, SmackDown is technically without a set of champs for the time being. The depth of the WWE’s tag team division was questionable before the brand split, and trying to rebuild two tag team divisions seems too difficult for WWE to sustain.
As stated before, too many championships will only decrease the value of being a champion in the WWE. Title holders may need to rotate between SmackDown and Raw in order to preserve prestige for the already active titles. This could be tricky however, given that WWE has already decided to activate a second Heavyweight title, and may feel that they can now handle two of every championship with their added depth.
14 Do – Bring Back Previously Underused Female Talents
The WWE is not going to bring back female veterans like Trish Stratus or Lita to the new era of WWE. But what the company can do is continue to scout for the best female wrestlers competing in the independent circuit, similar to how they have scouted much of the current NXT roster. There are loads of talents that can be found throughout the country, especially in independent promotions like Shimmer Wrestling in Illinois.
The WWE could also continue looking in international markets like Japan and Mexico. Since they have already showed they can try and sign someone from Lucha Underground, maybe someone like Sexy Star or Taya can make great additions to the WWE roster in the next few years. The goal would be to continue finding established wrestlers to help improve the overall wrestling product on WWE television. It will be important when others like Natalya and the Bella Twins eventually leave the WWE.
13 Don’t – Create A Second Women’s Championship
While we’re on the subject of improving women’s wrestling on the WWE, one of the things that is feared is the company may bring a second women’s championship to television. The WWE has just reinstated the WWE Women’s Championship and retired the Divas Championship, which was originally a SmackDown exclusive title to give the B-show women’s roster a title to fight for in an effort to keep them relevant.
The blue brand may need to keep their female talents relevant on their show, but it would be better to have their best superstar challenge for the current WWE Women’s Championship. Part of helping the current brand split era have success is have a reason for inter-promotional matches to help make championships like the WWE Women’s Championship and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship feel more important and prestigious.
12 Do – Feature Interpromotional Matches
Remember the successful video game franchise “SmackDown vs. Raw” that the WWE used to bring us? A huge part of the video game’s storyline was a war between the Raw and SmackDown brands that would culminate with a final match at WrestleMania and the person you selected for the career mode would hope to play a big role in that WWE war. One would assume that is going to eventually happen in the current WWE era as the WWE Tag Team Championship and the WWE Women’s Championship currently on the red team.
One would assume that Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon are going to challenge Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon to having those titles put on the line against their best tag teams and their top divas. These would be great matches to have included at Survivor Series, the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. The WWE is about to have their first inter-promotional match between Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton, but it would be great to have a champion vs. champion rivalry between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose.
11 Don’t – Have Brand Specific Pay-Per-Views
Remember how dull many of the older pay-per-views from the original brand split era were? That’s because the WWE tried to have some months where they presented two pay-per-views in 30 days where superstars from both brands had an equal chance to be presented to the audience in big, marquee match cards. The problem is that the current depth doesn’t really allow for having multiple pay-per-views in a single month.
Sure, the WWE fan can just pick up the WWE Network and not have to pay the $50-60 they would have to pay for each PPV like they did back in the original brand split era. However, the importance of having a match at one of these special events begins to diminish when there is more added to the WWE schedule.
This is once again going to the earlier mentioned statement that more is not better for the overall WWE product; just like adding championship titles.
10 Do – Bring Back The Cruiserweight Championship
It hasn’t been officially confirmed by the WWE, but there’s writing on the wall that the WWE is going to bring back the Cruiserweight Championship to television. Raw announced that they were going to be the home for the new Cruiserweight Division on their Monday night program and there’s going to be plenty of ways they can help form their own take on a division that has created a number of stars over the years that include Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero and Juventud Guerrera (at least when looking at both WWE and WCW). This is one of the few examples of a returning championship being extremely beneficial to the WWE product.
The fans are definitely interested in the division returning, which is seen through the growing interest in the WWE Network’s Cruiserweight Classic. It would be great if the winner of the annual classic – featuring independent superstars – would be given a guaranteed contract to WWE’s Cruiserweight Division, with the runner-up going to NXT.
9 Don’t – Repeat The Former Cruiserweight Division
It was mentioned earlier that the WWE should bring back a few of their former employees to add veteran depth to the new era of WWE’s roster. Among the names that shouldn’t be included is the last man to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship – Hornswoggle. His character as Finlay’s little friend was great for comedy on WWE television, but having him revealed as Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son did not entertain us as the creative team likely hoped.
What’s worse, they made the pint-sized leprechaun a regular wrestler on the roster. While there’s nothing against having someone small enter the ring, having Hornswoggle win the title and successfully defend the championship hurt superstars like Chavo Guerrero, which was just part of his fall from grace in the WWE. He was often seen failing to capture Hornswoggle in segments that seemed to be straight out of a Looney Tunes episode. No wonder Chavo left the company.
8 Do – Feature Celebrity Guest Hosts
While it may not be one of the best ways to help ensure storylines with a lot of depth, having celebrities come in to make an appearance once in a while might be good for bringing in some extra viewers. If nothing else, it will help the television ratings for the WWE. That’s how they make money and it’s going to be what might allow the WWE to have five hours of live programming on primetime television.
In the end, the WWE is a business and it’s going to be necessary to help draw interest in getting people to watch wrestling again. At the same time, many of the celebrities are also happy to get some advertisement for something they are working on – a new album, a charity they might be starting or a new movie. Sometimes, the segments can be entertaining. One of the better examples of this working well is when Bob Barker had his own version of “The Price is Right” on the stage of Raw and involved a very grumpy Chris Jericho.
7 Don’t – Feature Celebrities In Matches
While there’s no harm in allowing a celebrity or professional athlete to make an appearance on Raw or SmackDown, having them involved in actual matches is not a very good idea. This is where the line should be drawn. Non-wrestlers shouldn’t really be allowed to have a 10-to-15 minute match at a big event like SummerSlam or WrestleMania. Remember how WCW often had celebrities like Jay Leno and David Arquette involved in matches?
There are only rare cases where it does work out to a small degree, like Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone. But one of the big things that hurt WCW was them booking Arquette to win the World Heavyweight Championship. While one would assume that the WWE creative team isn’t going to make that kind of mistake, it’s better to just cut out that possibility altogether. And even if we would have been interested in seeing Shaquille O’Neal face the Big Show in their prime, it might not be as good with both in their 40s and on their last wind of athleticism.
6 Do – Have The King Of The Ring
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin made his initial splash to help start the WWE’s Attitude Era shortly after defeating Jake “The Snake” Roberts in the finals of the 1996 King of the Ring tournament. It was the birth of Austin 3:16 and the rest was history. While it has had sporadic appearances at best, it was always a memorable tournament that helped establish future superstars. Other names that benefitted from the tournament included Bret Hart, Triple H, Kurt Angle and Edge.
It was an annual tradition until about 2002, then a brief return in 2006, again in 2008 and 2010 before last being seen in 2015 – where Wade Barrett won the tournament. The recent list of winners hasn’t really been impressive, but that could change if King of the Ring was used to help establish a new star like Shinsuke Nakamura or Samoa Joe. That’s what it was in the earlier years of the WWE and could be a vital part of growing main event talents in the new era of WWE.
5 Don’t – Feature International Pay-Per-Views
It’s okay to see some expansion of WWE with the new brand split, which allows for one or two championships returning from the grave and maybe the King of the Ring tournament. But as mentioned before, certain things should be left in the WWE creative graveyard. Having pay-per-views in other parts of the world would mean that the WWE is going to have to either air them early in the morning our time or have them shown on a tape delay. Wasn’t that the reason the WWE moved SmackDown from taped Thursdays to live Tuesdays?
It’s hard to expect a fan to be able to get up early in the morning or stay up late, based on where American viewers were in terms of the time zone. Fans on the East Coast had to wake up at 5:30 a.m. for last year’s “The Beast in the East” while fans on the West Coast were expected to watch the show at 2:30 a.m. While it was a good show overall, viewership probably wasn’t very high for the WWE Network at the time.
4 Do – Cut Raw To Two hours
How often have fans complained that there seems to be too much filler for the three hours of Monday Night Raw? The problem with having an extra hour of programming is that it means more work for the creative team that is expected to help fill that extra hour. It’s now a lot harder with the brand split and having only half of the WWE roster on that one three-hour weekly show. It would be okay if the WWE actually devoted more of that extra hour to actual matches.
Sometimes, less is more and having only two hours puts a lot less stress on the creative team that has reportedly been asked to do a lot of last-minute rewrites and changes to each episode’s script. Besides, it doesn’t seem fair that one show has more airtime than the other and fans often complain that SmackDown feels like the B show for reasons like the one-hour difference.
3 Don’t – Bring Back Sunday Night Heat And Velocity
One of the least enjoyable shows on WWE television was Sunday Night Heat (the secondary show for Raw) and Velocity (the equivalent for SmackDown). There’s a reason both shows only got about a million viewers on a good week. The one or two matches were usually involving jobbers in squash matches or two guys on the lower part of the card who the creative team felt they couldn’t fit into the main show.
Outside of the quick matches that usually lasted only five to seven minutes each, the rest of the one-hour show was usually highlights of what happened on Raw or SmackDown and “analysis” on the upcoming pay-per-view. However, the WWE Network provides a chance to get that “analysis” on pre-shows every week and there’s no need for having that one-hour show. Here’s to hoping this is one “staple” from the last brand split era is left in the trash.
2 Do – Use Triple H As An Authority Figure
It’s been awhile since we saw Triple H on WWE television. The man who was in charge of The Authority was someone who was the perfect heel figure with power in the WWE. Someone who could speak well on the microphone and have the psychology to help get a storyline to progress made him the best fit as the “C.O.O.” on WWE. We haven’t seen him since he lost to Roman Reigns earlier this year at WrestleMania for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Since then, we’ve seen new authority figures with his wife Stephanie McMahon leading Raw with Mick Foley and Shane McMahon teaming with Daniel Bryan on SmackDown. One storyline that would help get Triple H over as a heel would be knocking off Foley to join his wife to reunite the WWE’s true power couple. Or maybe there will come a time when Triple H is revealed to be the main authority figure over both shows and can trump both group’s decisions.
1 Don’t – Use Triple H As A Wrestler
The time for the Game in the WWE has passed and it would be a shame if Triple H came back for another run as an in-ring competitor with the results being negative. How often do fans complain when their favorite superstar stays active a little too long and the results of their matches show that they are past their prime? Triple H is getting up there in age and probably should consider remaining in the authority role he does have in the WWE as Vince McMahon’s heir apparent.
At the same time, it’s questionable what Triple H has to prove as an active wrestler. He has pretty much done everything one would want to do in the WWE, short of breaking Ric Flair’s record of 16 world championship reigns. While he was one of the best villainous champions in recent WWE history, it’s better that he hang up his boots for good before our last memory is someone who should have retired earlier.
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