The first third of 2017 has been rather interesting for World Wrestling Entertainment fans. WrestleMania 33 was a show that lasted roughly seven hours for viewers who tuned in for every aspect of that event shown on WWE Network, and it served as a reminder that certain individuals working for the company have maybe lost their way as it pertains to what casual fans want to see on a monthly basis. Fans and viewers around the world have made a plethora of complaints about WWE booking decisions via social media platforms such as Twitter. Even NXT, which has carried the flag for the WWE Network for the past several years, feels somewhat flat heading into the summer of 2017 and future Takeover shows that will seemingly struggle to live up to events from previous years.
There are, of course, plenty of reasons to be excited about upcoming WWE programming and shows. The perception, as of the spring months, is that WWE won’t be shy about signing independent talents who are beloved by diehard wrestling fans, and the hope is that the company won’t squander such wrestlers once they are working underneath the WWE umbrella. With that said, there remains a long list of things we do not want to see happen in WWE between the middle of May and December 31, 2017, and most of those have to do with creative decisions and ideas that are out of the hands of paying customers. Make use of the deepest roster in company history, WWE, or risk losing fans for more than just a period of a few months.
15. Adam Cole on the Main Roster
Assuming you’re a wrestling fan on the Internet who is purposely reading this piece, you probably have read and/or heard the rumors that Adam Cole will be a member of the WWE roster sooner rather than later. That’s only a positive for the company, as Cole is a tremendous in-ring worker who is gifted on the microphone.
Still, the NXT brand needs an influx of younger talents who never before worked for the company and who didn’t make their names working in Total Nonstop Action/Impact Wrestling, and that is why we’d like to see Cole remain in NXT for the duration of 2017. Let Cole become the biggest star in NXT as did Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura, and then allow him to join the main roster at some point next WrestleMania season.
14. Brock Lesnar Losing
There is zero reason, none whatsoever, we can think of for why the WWE would even consider having Brock Lesnar lose the WWE Universal Championship at any point in 2017. Lesnar remains a unique act who is special because he isn’t on every show, and the former UFC Heavyweight Championship brings a realness to the product unlike any other performer on the roster.
Regardless of what anybody thinks of the idea that Lesnar will drop the belt to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 34, it’s undeniable the WWE needs to protect “The Beast” for the rest of 2017 leading up to the biggest show of 2018. Lesnar should remain an unbeatable monster who is able to conquer the likes of Finn Balor, Seth Rollins and even Braun Strowman.
13. Roman Reigns Being John Cena 2.0
Those who watch WWE programming on a weekly basis can see the WWE obviously wants to make Roman Reigns the company’s top babyface star and an updated version of the John Cena character who sold merchandise and drew both positive and negative reactions from fans for over a decade. Whether or not you like or dislike Reigns being in main-event angles, you don’t have to be a wrestling journalist or combat sports expert to see the company’s handling of his character isn’t working.
We don’t necessarily need to see Reigns turn heel. It would likely be best for all, however, if he was able to find his own voice as somebody who knows how to irk those who boo him and also as a babyface to casual audiences who still cheer him at live events and Pay-Per-View events.
12. Shinsuke Nakamura Losing
Critics who would claim the WWE no longer knows how to book babyface wrestlers need only review how the company treated Shinsuke Nakamura during the first half of his stint in NXT. Nakamura was made to be a big deal via vignettes and promos, and he then never lost on weekly programs or on Pay-Per-View shows. This is exactly how Nakamura should be treated as a member of the SmackDown roster for the rest of 2017.
We do not want to see the “King of Strong Style” lose once on a weekly show or at a Pay-Per-View in 2017 so that he can enter WrestleMania 34 with an unbeaten record and potentially with a championship match in his possession. It may even be wise to have Nakamura win the 2018 Royal Rumble to ensure he works in one of the biggest matches of next year’s WrestleMania card.
11. Shane McMahon Wrestle Again
We appreciate the work Shane McMahon and A.J. Styles put in at WrestleMania 33, and even those who weren’t looking forward to that bout would have to admit the two put on quite an entertaining match. Still, we do not want to see Shane McMahon wrestle more than once a year, and he’s already filled that quote for 2017.
The worry is that McMahon will get an itch to wrestle at a show such as Survivor Series and that he’ll feel a need to scratch that itch. McMahon and other members of his family can still offer quite a bit to WWE programming, but mostly in small doses. That is why we don’t want or need to see Shane-o-Mac make a return to the ring at any point in 2017, and it’s also why we feel strongly about the next point featured in this piece.
10. Return Of The Authority
We fully understand this one is wishful thinking, like hoping you’ll win the lottery when you buy a ticket. The lack of “The Authority” and of heel General Managers and Commissioners making the lives of babyface wrestlers miserable has been refreshing, and bringing those characters back to feud with acts such as Seth Rollins and Finn Balor isn’t going to help ratings or cause fans to spend money on the WWE Network.
Yes, we know both Triple H and Stephanie McMahon will be back on Raw before the end of 2017, but the hope is that both will realize they need to have limited roles that don’t involve being active members of important storylines. The era of the evil Mr. McMahon character began two decades ago. It’s a tired and old gimmick.
9. American Alpha Versus The Revival
This feud couldn’t happen as of May 2017 because Dash Wilder of The Revival is currently recovering from a real-life jaw injury, and also because American Alpha work on the SmackDown brand. It’s believed the WWE is going to do another roster shake-up/draft during the summer months, and the fear is that WWE may feel compelled to bring these acts back together so they can continue the feud that began in NXT.
While that’s not a horrible idea, it’s too early to go back to such a storyline. American Alpha versus Revival could be special with the right build and once both acts have been given true pushes on the main roster. These four wrestlers could produce memorable matches on major shows, but that shouldn’t take place until 2018.
8. John Cena Breaks Ric Flair’s Record
You may love it, hate it or be somewhere in between, but all need to realize that it is only a matter of time before John Cena wins a 17th World Championship and is viewed as the most successful professional wrestler in WWE history.
Cena may no longer appear on weekly shows as he did during the prime of his career, but there is also no reason, as of the posting of this piece, to believe he’ll be walking away from the ring for good anytime soon. Cena breaking the recognized record set by “Nature Boy” Ric Flair should be treated like a big deal, and it should happen on a WrestleMania card. That’s the main reason we don’t want to see it happen in 2017.
7. A.J. Styles Return to Heel
For whatever reasons, the WWE has not yet fully invested in a babyface run for A.J. Styles, who may be the best overall worker in the business today. Styles is largely beloved by diehard followers of the product and also by WWE fans, but even his character as of May 2017 has both babyface and heel elements.
The WWE needs to run away from this and also from the idea that Styles should again turn heel before 2017 comes to an end. Styles could and should be one of the faces of the SmackDown brand for the remainder of 2017 and up through WrestleMania 34. The WWE could even keep both Styles and Nakamura as babyfaces if the company wants to showcase a match between the two at next year’s ‘Mania.
6. Women Split Across Brands
The WWE has the deepest women’s roster in the history of the promotion, and yet the promotion continues to water it down by splitting female workers across the Raw and SmackDown brands. We do not want to see this continue in 2017. Every episode of Raw goes over three hours in length, meaning there would be plenty of time to showcase a full Women’s Division that includes every woman that is part of the main roster.
The WWE could even add women’s Tag Team Titles, which would breathe new life into a division capable of producing the best matches on any pay-per-view card. Imagine how awesome it would be to see the Four Horsewomen as the biggest and best stable of the Raw brand. That’s one reason why we hope the WWE will change things via a draft or roster switch.
5. The Cruiserweights Remain on Raw
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, we get our wish and we no longer see women on both Raw and SmackDown. It would only then make sense for the WWE to abandon the experiment that has been the Cruiserweight Division being part of the Raw brand.
That seems logical for multiple reasons. For starters, cruiserweight wrestlers already work on SmackDown shows as part of the 205 Live program that runs on the WWE Network after SmackDown episodes conclude. Cruiserweight wrestlers also, theoretically speaking, wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle during two-hour SmackDown shows as they have on Raw since the WWE reintroduced the concept in 2016. We’ve seen cruisereweights on Raw and it hasn’t worked. We don’t need to see it anymore in 2017.
4. Rush Braun Strowman Versus Brock Lesnar Match
While injuries should never be celebrated, it may actually be a blessing in disguise for all involved that Braun Strowman is set to be sidelined for much of the summer because of an injured elbow. Rushing a Braun Strowman versus Brock Lesnar match is something we did not want to see before SummerSlam 2017, and that feud can now be pushed back and given some time to naturally grow once Strowman returns to the active roster.
In time, Lesnar facing and, probably, beating Strowman will make sense and help build a future encounter between Lesnar and Roman Reigns, but that doesn’t mean Strowman needs to be thrown right back into the title picture once he returns. Perhaps giving Strowman a slow build back to the main-event scene could make him an even bigger star among casual fans.
3. Balor Getting Buried
Finn Balor was slated to be a big deal last summer and that’s exactly what transpired early on during his main roster run. However, the good times came to an end sooner than expected when he suffered a lengthy injury which forced him to relinquish the title. He’s now back on the WWE roster, but it’s safe to say he isn’t enjoying the same treatment coming off a recent loss to Roman Reigns on Raw.
The rumor mill suggests Balor might be next in line to face Brock, only to lose once again. The commentators are also taking subtle jabs at Balor calling him too small. We hope this treatment doesn’t continue as Finn remains one of the top and most over-stars in the entire WWE today.
2. Asuka Jobbing on the Main Roster
Probably the biggest fear WWE fans have about the company eventually adding Asuka to the main roster is that the “Empress of Tomorrow” will be made to job to other women on the roster en route to just becoming a normal act. This cannot and should not happen in 2017.
Asuka could be a major star on either Raw or SmackDown, so much so that she could carry the division as an undefeated worker up through next year’s WrestleMania card. The WWE has, thus far, done well to keep Asuka unbeaten. Even if she drops the belt before leaving NXT, that should be a one-off and the only “L” she takes this year. Protecting the NXT star remains an important component towards her WWE build.
1. Lengthy Jinder Mahal Title Run
The WWE pushing Jinder Mahal as a potential champion for business reasons, particularly in an attempt to tap into a fan base located in India, makes plenty of sense, but the company has done the Mahal character few favors, minus a handful of positive results, during his return to the promotion.
The company made Mahal a champion in 2017 after he beat Randy Orton at Backlash, and regardless of what fans in North American feel about it, the hope is that smarter heads will prevail and realize giving him a lengthy title run will do more harm than good in the long run. Watching Mahal serve as the baddest heel on the SmackDown brand who holds a major title throughout 2017 is just about the last thing we want. Avoid this at all costs WWE, have him drop it quickly.
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