WWE has seen better days as it pertains to making money and receiving attention from mainstream audiences. It was during the 1990s when the wrestling business drew millions upon millions of viewers across North America every Monday. The WWE, World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling all featured legitimate recognized stars, and all of those companies produced multiple entertaining shows, many of which live up to this day. What is now referred to as "The Attitude Era” is remembered fondly by wrestling fans and also by those running the WWE to this day. Because of this, many forget about all the bad things that occurred in the WWE and in the wrestling business decades ago.
One could easily make the argument that the WWE is better in 2016 than ever before because of a variety of factors that do not involve business, television ratings and the amount of wrestling companies that own cable TV contracts. The WWE is hardly perfect today. The company is far from it, in fact. Those who would suggest that nothing about the WWE entertains them in 2016 may have to consider the fact that maybe they are choosing to dislike anything that falls underneath the WWE umbrella, or maybe they just aren’t all that into pro wrestling these days. Anybody reading this who gave up on the WWE needs to give the company another try at some point before 2017 arrives. You may be surprised by at least some portions of the product presented on TV and via the WWE Network.
15 Health of Performers
We were all bummed to learn in February 2016 that Daniel Bryan had to retire from the WWE and from professional wrestling due to health problems caused by the amount of concussions he suffered during his career. With that said, it is only a positive for everybody involved that Bryan’s health mattered more than any amount of revenue he could have generated for the company as part of the main roster.
14 Corey Graves
Corey Graves is, simply put, the best commentator the WWE has produced in years and maybe even in decades. Graves is somewhat of an odd combination of Jerry “The King” Lawler, Tazz (when Tazz was featured as a SmackDown announcer), Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Jesse “The Body” Ventura.
13 Awesome Themes
We know this sounds silly, but the truth of the matter is that a great theme can help boost the legitimacy of an act. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, D-Generation X and so many other all-time great acts have had awesome themes throughout the years.
The WWE is giving standout themes to the best wrestlers on the roster in 2016. A.J. Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode, Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Sasha Banks and American Alpha are only a few examples of top-tier talents being given great themes.
12 Brand Split
We understand why diehard WWE fans would have multiple concerns about the WWE Draft and WWE brand split that occurred in July 2016. Remember, though, that the brand split is better than the alternative.
Before the brand split, there was not enough time even on three-hour editions of shows to feature all of the great talent currently signed by the WWE. Fans also had little reason to go out of the way to watch editions of SmackDown, as any major important storylines and feuds played out on the company’s flagship program.
11 Amount of Content
There are many complaints one could make about the WWE in 2016. Nobody out there, however, can even joke that there is not enough new content produced by the WWE each and every week.
Every edition of Raw runs over three hours. SmackDown gives fans an additional two hours each Tuesday night. NXT programs are often between 50 and 60 minutes in length. The Cruiserweight Classic, that has been praised by fans and by wrestling journalists, provides another hour of action each week. This does not include other programs that air on WWE Network (more on those shows later).
10 Quality of Matches
Here is something that some wrestling fans out there possibly take for granted: It is realistic that any WWE pay-per-view could, depending on that show, give you multiple four-star matches. The WWE could even produce a handful of five-star matches each year if the right wrestlers were put together for a feud. Even the most cynical wrestling fan who turned his back on the WWE years ago can no longer deny that some of the best wrestlers in the world in 2016 have worked for WWE shows this year.
9 Special Programs
Say, for the sake of argument, that roughly seven hours of fresh wrestling content every week is not enough for you. You still have no reason to find yourself bored or without WWE programs. The WWE offers podcasts featuring “Stone Cold” Steve Austin interviewing wrestlers. Mick Foley has hosted multiple programs. The Talking Smack wrap-up show that follows every edition of SmackDown is a nice change of pace and a fine addition to that two-hour cable show. This does not even account for the more wacky shows that air on the WWE Network, such as Holy Foley.
8 Working Relationship With UFC
Those of us who do not work for the WWE and for the Ultimate Fighting Championship can only speculate about the type of working relationship the two companies are enjoying as of the summer of 2016.
We know Ronda Rousey had an in-ring part of a WrestleMania angle. Brock Lesnar was allowed to step away from the WWE for a brief period of time so that he could compete at UFC 200. Conor McGregor has recently cut promos on WWE performers in such a manner that suggests McGregor is, at the very least, attempting to earn some type of role at a future WWE show such as a WrestleMania.
7 WrestleMania Weekends
One of the best things about the WWE in 2016 and about the company moving forward is that WrestleMania weekend continues to get bigger and better with each year. Anybody lucky enough to attend multiple shows that take place in a WrestleMania city over that weekend can attest to this.
6 Women’s Wrestling
Women’s wrestling in the WWE in 2016 is better than ever before and there really is not any good argument against such a take. Sasha Banks and Bayley stole the show at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn in August 2015, so much so that it had to be at least a candidate for WWE Match of the Year among fans and journalists. Banks and Charlotte gave fans a tremendous championship match in the summer of 2016, and those two will likely face off multiple times in the future.
We fully understand that NXT lost a lot of talent over the past couple of years. Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Finn Balor and American Alpha are only some of the talents who moved on from what was once deemed as the developmental brand of the WWE to the company’s main roster.
Those who yearn for the old days of NXT have still had plenty of entertaining programs to watch in 2016. Samoa Joe, Bayley, Asuka, Shinsuke Nakamura, Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Bobby Roode and other great performers have been featured on NXT shows.
4 Cruiserweight Classic
We do not, as of August 2016, know if the Cruiserweight Classic featured on the WWE Network is a one-off of a competition or a glimpse of things to come as it pertains to competitions and tournaments that will occur in the WWE.
What we do know, however, is that the Cruiserweight Classic is incredible and one of the best things the WWE has given fans in years. Wrestling fans have historically embraced tournaments, even if those tournaments did not always involve in-depth storylines and great wrestling. There are no such concerns with the Cruiserweight Classic, as it has included different pieces that make pro wrestling fun and entertaining.
3 Open Mind
Pockets of WWE fans continue to voice their frustrations at shows due to the fact that the company seems determined to make Roman Reigns into the next version of John Cena. While we do understand those emotions, all would do well to realize that those scouting for and signing talents for the WWE are keeping an open mind in 2016. It was, after all, only a decade ago when the Cruiserweight Classic never would have been featured as a serious competition.
Not everybody on a roster of any wrestling company can be a star or a World Champion. That is the nature of the business. With that said, the WWE roster in the summer of 2016 is as deep as it ever was during "The Attitude Era” or any other time.
John Cena, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar and other similar acts are who one would expect to see on WWE shows. They are joined by A.J. Styles, Sami Zayn, Neville, American Alpha, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and others. Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura will both likely be on the WWE main roster at some point over the next 12 months.
1 WWE Network
The WWE Network keeps getting better and better as of the summer of 2016. We have already mentioned the NXT and Cruiserweight Classic shows that air on the WWE Network. WWE Network is the home to every new WWE pay-per-view produced by the WWE in 2016 and in the future.
The company continues to add new content, such as older versions of Raw and Nitro, to the WWE Network. Other classic shows and promotions are also included with any subscription to the WWE Network. Passionate wrestling fans who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s recorded all of the shows they could find. It is how many of us were introduced to the National Wrestling Alliance, Extreme Championship Wrestling and other products.
There are still plenty of shows missing, but the WWE Network nevertheless remains a gift for younger versions of fans who once dreamed of being able to watch wrestling at any point of any day.
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