The longer a person has been a fan of pro wrestling, the more likely they are to agree modern day WWE is almost entirely off the rails from a creative standpoint. Before we let the rage run loose, let’s take a brief second to acknowledge that yes, plenty of current WWE superstars are still putting in expert work and wrestling some amazing matches. However, the corporate side of the company is having no such luck, with these occasional flashes of greatness inside the ring generally invalidated immediately by whatever backstage segment or interview follows it.
Easily the worst part of this trend is that there is absolutely no end in sight. Vince McMahon’s response to a hostile audience hasn’t been to try and set things right, but rather to double down on the thing they hate most, on the logic he can do whatever the hell he wants and people will keep watching. As it would turn out, that logic is starting to fail McMahon and his family spectacularly, with Raw and SmackDown ratings plummeting to all-time lows and fans in attendance at live events almost always bored out of their minds. How could things possibly get worse from here? Well, at the risk of giving McMahon any ideas, keep reading to worry about 15 potential nightmare scenarios modern day WWE is heading towards.
15 Part-Timers > Regulars
Kicking things off with a major problem WWE has had for nearly a decade now, it seems like almost every truly major event the company puts on is headlined by at least one wrestler who makes less than five total appearances per year. We’re talking about WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and any other WWE Network special the company actually puts any effort into promoting. This is fine for casual fans who only tune in to the big events in the first place, but fans of wrestlers who actually show up on Raw and SmackDown each and every week are starting to feel seriously shortchanged when their favorite wrestlers are left out in favor of part-timers. Should this practice bother you, take heed, because the fact of the matter is that the part-timers always provide buy rates the regulars can’t.
14 No One Will Be Willing To Speak Up
As is the case with virtually every job in America, if the current WWE superstars are unhappy about how things are going in the company, they always have the option to either speak up about it and complain or simply quit their jobs outright. Plenty of wrestlers in the past have taken up this ability, including CM Punk, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, or John Cena. These wrestlers had the pull to reject ideas they don’t like or feel would hurt their character, something no modern-day performers (except Cena, of course) still possesses. The last people to try are guys like Ryback or Cody Rhodes, who found themselves repeatedly ignored until getting forced out of the promotion altogether. For fear of risking their jobs, it’s unlikely anyone else will soon follow, simply doing whatever complacent nonsense WWE demands until they retire.
13 A WrestleMania With Only Part Time Talent
This list has already covered the issue that part-time talent headlines all major WWE events these days, and it makes sense the trend would get especially bad around WrestleMania season. More so than any other show of the year, the results of recent WrestleMania’s haven’t mattered in the slightest, largely because the needs of wrestlers making one or two appearances per year are outweighing week-to-week plans for Raw or SmackDown. Should this trend continue to its natural conclusion, WWE fans might be faced with a future where full-time wrestlers are no longer welcome to the Grandest Stage of Them All. If we’re lucky, WWE might let them kick around in the André The Giant Memorial Battle Royal before some celebrity’s friend wins, but every real match will be bound to have at least one wrestler fans won’t see for months afterwards.
12 Championships For Everyone!
Just about every wrestling fan has had the thought that their favorite wrestler deserves more championship gold than any promotion is willing to give them. Look no further than websites like this one for dozens of lists filled with men who should have been WWE Championship, and the top prize in the company is appropriately just the tip of the iceberg in that regard. Despite this inclination, WWE’s new practice is to give out gold like it was candy to any random wrestler or tag team Vince McMahon thought had a good workout that week. With the promotion trying to brand outwardly around the world as always, this probably only means more specific championships for ultra-specific locations around the world, muddying the waters even further and making the honors all meaningless in the process. Of course, the company has already started down that path by giving the WWE Championship to a total jobber.
11 …But None Of The Titles Matter!
Somehow or another, it’s pretty much become accepted that the most prestigious belt left in WWE is the Intercontinental Championship. How could this possibly happen in a world with both a WWE Champion and Universal Champion? Believe it or not, it only took Vince McMahon about two months to completely invalidate those two top titles by giving one to a wrestler who hardly ever makes appearances, and the other to a career jobber thrust into the main event with absolutely no justification anyone is buying. Looking downward, the United States Championship was never on par with the Intercontinental gold, the Raw Women’s Championship has barely existed a year and has already changed hands almost a dozen times, and the SmackDown Women’s gold is in even worse shape than that. This leaves only the Cruiserweight and United Kingdom Championships, which never get defended, and we’re back to the Intercontinental gold being the sole one of 8 singles belts with any meaning whatsoever.
10 Network Specials Every Week
In 1985, Vince McMahon revolutionized sports entertainment by introducing a concept that defines his company to this day—WrestleMania. Despite the fact WCW beat him to the punch with Starrcade, McMahon’s achievement nonetheless changed the world with how successful it was, soon inspiring him to hold gigantic supercards like it once every couple of months. Then it became once every month, and fans were already complaining some WWE Pay-Per-Views were obviously not as good as others. Now we’re at a WWE Network special once every two weeks, and one would be hard-pressed to find a fan who remembers the last special by the time the next one hits the air. It’s bad enough most fans don’t have the time to watch regular WWE programming without the specials, and the fact so much pomp and circumstance is given to shows that almost always prove entirely pointless is borderline offensive. The more specials there are, the worse this feeling will get.
9 Announcers Exclusively Trading In Catchphrases
Ironically, based on the dictionary definition of the word vintage, “of high quality and lasting value, or showing the best characteristics typical of the person who created it,” Michael Cole is probably the longest tenured WWE superstar who has never once had a career moment worthy of this term. Regardless of this harsh criticism we’re hardly the only ones to lobby, Vince McMahon and company seem to view Cole as the quintessential announcer, and are now having him train everyone who sits behind the booth to match his irritating, thoughtless style. Of course, this is little surprise to anyone who heard the leaked tapes of McMahon yelling at Cole and getting a barrage of “yes sir, okay sir” in response. Knowing McMahon’s personality, anyone who refuses to follow Cole’s obsequiousness will never get a job in the company, making commentary more unbearable than ever.
8 Ridiculous Pre-Filmed “Matches” Become The Norm
In all fairness to WWE, this entry might be a little reactionary, considering the company has thus far only presented two matches to fit this theory. That said, the two matches were easily amongst the worst in recent WWE history, and one of them might be the most embarrassing thing the company ever produced. Naturally, we’re discussing two specific bouts between Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton, first their WrestleMania 33 bomb, and then the spectacular failure that was Payback’s House of Horrors match. It’s extremely rare a crowd turns on WWE as harshly as the one in attendance did that night, booing the horribly filmed pastiche of horror movies clichés out of the building before the wrestlers even officially hit the ring. The fact WWE didn’t learn their lesson the first time and produced something even worse on round two doesn’t bode well for any subsequent attempts, which we’re almost certain will happen before long.
7 John Cena Beating Ric Flair’s Record
All right, just for a little while, let’s cut WWE some slack. John Cena has been the most famous athlete in sports entertainment for well over a decade now, and still has the ability to inspire a good half of wrestling fans into a frenzy in one way or another. With this in mind, it’s reasonable enough he would achieve 16 World Championships throughout his career, thus matching the record long held by twice-over WWE Hall of Famer “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Some wrestling traditionalists are furious that they would even tie, and we regret to inform Cena beating the record outright is just a matter of time. Again, Cena is definitely the person to make history if WWE decides its necessary to do so, but there’s a problem in the way they’re making it happen. Cena’s last reign as WWE Champion lasted all of two weeks and was entirely meaningless, and they might only get worse from here.
6 More People Beating Ric Flair’s Record
So, there are pros and cons to John Cena beating Ric Flair’s 16 World Championship record, and if WWE did it the right way, we might not even be complaining about it in the first place. Unfortunately, the way things look right now imply Cena won’t be the only one to pull this off, with Randy Orton edging ever close behind with 13 turns holding the top prize in wrestling. This is only three away from beating Flair and Orton is definitely young enough to win them. Unlike Cena, Orton possesses almost nothing special as a worker, he's bland and boring in every way in the ring, even more boring on the microphone, and only pushed to the position he has due to a long family friendship with the bosses. Once WWE gets in the habit of beating these records, not to mention the fact it can be done with a series of week long championship reigns, it’s possible there will be no end in sight, and we’ll have 25-time World Champion Jinder Mahal before we even realize it.
5 Every Match Will Be Exactly The Same
Back in our introduction to this very article, we had to admit one area WWE still thrives is their ability to put on great matches when the circumstances are right. Obviously, not every single bout is going to be as good as the last, because different wrestlers have different styles—or at least that’s been the case from the time pro wrestling was invented until today. Thanks to the WWE Performance Center, new sports entertainers are all getting taught to work the exact same match, which happens to be the match Triple H used to wrestle when he was getting in the ring. A few talents shine so bright they have no choice but to break this mold and strut their stuff properly, but the way things are going, WWE could one day be comprised almost entirely of NXT graduates, and by then, it will be hard to even tell the difference between them.
4 Scripted Promos Turning Into Corporate Gibberish
From the day Stephanie McMahon took over as head writer of WWE, the company has entirely changed the very concept of writing in professional wrestling. Back in the day, a promoter and a few agents would come up with some general ideas for a feud, sometimes with the wrestlers themselves offering input. Beyond that, wrestlers pretty much came up with their own stuff on the microphone, needing to rely on personal charisma and creativity to turn mere ideas into compelling wrestling. Nowadays, a team of Hollywood writers produces highly specific scripts, detailing each and every word the wrestlers have to say. Worse than that, the wrestlers are forced to use words no real human would ever say, worst of all being Roman Reigns yelling out “suffering succotash.” Is there even room for things to go down from here? We’re terrified to find out.
3 Triple H Pushing His Friends And Well Wishers
Before Vince McMahon turned WWE into the be all end all of sports entertainment, there were dozens of smaller territorial wrestling promotions throughout the United States who were just as ambitious as he was. Many of these men happened to be wrestlers themselves, and part of why their businesses never reached McMahon’s scope is that egomania would always get in the way of the booking. Nine times out of ten, a wrestler who owned his own promotion would also win that company’s World Championship a couple dozen times, and the only people who could take it off him were his nearest and dearest in the industry. From the look of it, WWE could be headed towards this very problem, with still semi-active wrestler Triple H ready to take over the company. The COO still gets in the ring and sees himself as the King of Kings when he does, so it isn’t much of a stretch to think he might give himself and his buddies a few more belts once full control is assumed.
2 All Fan Responses Getting Muted/Piped In
One of the biggest selling points of live television has always been the unpredictability factor; the idea that absolutely anything can happen while cameras are rolling. Of course, this is also one of the biggest drawbacks for a wrestling promoter wanting to control every last detail of his show, down to the reactions his audience give to the wrestlers. Unfortunately for WWE fans, Vince McMahon is one such promotion, and the fact eliminating his crowd seems counterintuitive to making money hasn’t stopped him from editing them into silence on a shockingly regular basis. Worse than that, crowds are being manipulated to look like they’re cheering when in fact they are furiously booing, cutting and pasting crowd shots into random parts of the show wherever they so please. Were WWE at all concerned about honesty, this practice would end immediately, but since the industry is based on a lie, we have to assume it will only get worse from here.
1 All Roman All The Time
In all honesty, a few of the nightmare scenarios presented on this list are probably a bit severe, at best present exaggerations of the worst problems plaguing WWE today. However, worst case scenario number one with a bullet has reached this position because it’s practically a reality already. Despite crowds despising The Guy, despite a lack of any discernable skills on the microphone, and despite a full roster of men better suited for the role than he will ever be, Roman Reigns has been anointed as the new babyface hero of WWE. At this point, there is clearly nothing that will make Vince McMahon realize this dream of his is impossible, and he’s simply not going to give up until crowds either start cheering Reigns or abandon wrestling entirely. Once a few more of these scenarios start coming true, it would be hard to blame anyone joining those who already said goodbye.