After WrestleMania 32, the WWE vowed to bring some “changes” to its product. Fans were hyped, hoping that they will finally see new stars shine and new exciting feuds develop. Some were even looking forward to the departure from the PG content. WWE called it the New Era and it definitely started out strong. From bringing in some notable NXT wrestlers to naming AJ Styles as the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, it seems that the company was serious about having a fresh start. In addition to those changes, Shane and Stephanie McMahon also announced the return of the brand split. By having a distinct roster, Smackdown had an opportunity to be relevant again.
Changes were made indeed, but not all of them were good. The heavily-promoted era still repeated some of the mistakes from the previous years. Part-timers and authority figures continue to hog the spotlight, 50/50 booking still exists, and beloved full-time superstars remain underutilized. These mistakes not only led to overwhelming negative criticisms, but also a huge decline in ratings. Basically, people are saying that it’s the same old stuff in WWE. With only a few months left before the New Era’s first anniversary, it’s the perfect time to look back and relive the events. We bring to you 15 moments from the New Era that made us cringe so much, we decided to change the channel or turn off the TV. These are the reasons why we all miss the good old days.
15 Constantly Promoting The Name
Do you remember the Divas Revolution? WWE promoted it too much, making it look inauthentic. They did the same with the New Era by mentioning it over a hundred times in every episode of Raw and Smackdown. We already know it’s the New Era, so there’s no need to remind us of it every minute. It sounds forced and desperate, and it decreases its organic nature. The Attitude Era was successful because it delivered, not because it kept hyping up its name. Even the Ruthless Aggression Era didn’t resort to force-feeding. The term was only mentioned a few times, and it was the matches, angles, and fan reactions that solidified the moniker. Instead of constantly saying it’s the New Era, WWE should just go with the flow and let the fans do the hyping.
14 Still The Same Old Stuff
As stated in the introduction, the New Era is basically just a new year in the WWE. Despite a few changes, Vince McMahon’s influence is still all over the product. Did we finally see Cesaro get a main event push? Nope. Did Roman Reigns turn heel? Nope. Did Monday Night Raw go back to two hours? Nope. Are part-timers still headlining most of the major shows? Unfortunately, yes.
It seems that the company didn’t really go all in on the New Era, despite heavily promoting it. The brand split made things a little exciting, but it didn’t solve all of the problems. Smackdown, which is considered as the better show than Raw, is currently struggling with its Tag Team Division. If Vince and company are serious about this era, then they should learn to take more risks. It may produce low ratings at first, but it will pay off in the long run.
13 SummerSlam 2016
SummerSlam may have given us Styles vs. Cena, Balor vs. Rollins, and the formation of JeriKO, but the rest of the card simply didn’t deliver. The Tag Team title bout was badly booked, the Intercontinental title match was too short, and Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler for the WWE Title was boring. To make things worse, the main event had an uneventful finish. Everyone expected Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton to give their one hundred percent, but for some strange reason, the creative team decided to go for shock value. The match ended in a technical knockout after Lesnar repeatedly elbowed Orton in the head, busting him open. It was a dangerous move by the WWE, and they were lucky that no lawsuits were filed. SummerSlam 2016 is certainly one of the New Era’s downs.
12 Playing Hot Potato With The Raw Women's Championship
Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte could’ve been the 2016 rivalry of the year, but bad booking prevented it. For about half a year, these talented ladies battled it out for the prestigious Raw Women’s Championship. They’re also part of the first-ever Women’s Hell in a Cell Match. So, what exactly went wrong? The WWE tried to be unpredictable by playing hot potato with the title. We saw The Boss win the belt at an episode of Raw only to lose it to The Queen on pay-per-view. It has been done a couple of times last year, which left the fans confused. The whole angle did nothing to elevate the status of both athletes. Would you still believe that Sasha Banks is “The Boss” after failing to hold the championship for at least one month?
Now that Charlotte is feuding with Bayley, fans are expecting to see the same angle this year. Let’s hope it will all change. Make Bayley a more credible athlete by giving her a decent run with the belt. Hopefully, they will give Sasha Banks another chance as well.
11 Stephanie McMahon
One of the biggest fan expectations of the New Era is the absence of authority figures on television. It was a fresh concept in the beginning of the Attitude Era, but now, people are getting sick and tired of storylines involving the bosses. Unfortunately, the WWE didn’t listen. Stephanie McMahon, who is the commissioner of Monday Night Raw, continues to steal the spotlight from the wrestlers. She usually opens up the show with a long promo and verbally abuses general manager Mick Foley and other members of the roster without some sort of payback. Stephanie is like the evil boss in a video game that you just can’t beat no matter how hard you try. Good thing there's Smackdown, which is more focused on the wrestling aspect and not the people running it.
10 Byron Saxton
Michael Cole used to be the most hated man on the commentary table, but the New Era has found a replacement for him. After being eliminated from NXT Redemption in 2011, Byron Saxton decided to continue his WWE career as a color commentator. In early 2015, he joined the Raw announce team and the rest is history. Saxton may be in the big leagues now, but majority of the fans want him to quit. He’s often included in the worst commentators of all time lists.
His delivery of his lines is one of his many flaws. He sounds childish every time he puts over a baby face and his attempts at humor often falls flat. It doesn’t help that he stays silent when Michael Cole and Corey Graves start getting serious in calling the matches. Viewers love hearing Graves insult him though, so it’s not really a bad thing. Still, Saxton needs to improve in order to be an effective commentator.
9 Kevin Owens As A Weak Universal Champion
When Kevin Owens won the Universal Title on August 2016, the hardcore fans rejoiced. Finally, we saw a huge indie star holding the WWE’s top prize. Unfortunately, his run is hard to be taken seriously. He loses mostly on television, and when he defends the belt on pay-per-view, he’ll either win by DQ or by interference. DQ and interferences are normal for heel champions, but it shouldn’t be done all the time. WWE still needs to make Owens look strong to add credibility not just to the superstar, but to the belt as well. Plus, it will make the babyface challenger look good when he claims the title. With Kevin’s current booking, everyone is now expecting him to lose to Goldberg in quick fashion at Fastlane.
8 Noam Dar, Cedric Alexander, and Alicia Fox Love Triangle
Last summer’s Cruiserweight Classic was a huge success. The tournament gave us countless four-star bouts and reignited a division that was once treated as a joke by the company. So, when WWE announced that the cruiserweights will be part of Raw, the fans expected to see more exciting high-flying and technical action. It did give us some memorable moments, but it wasn’t as impactful as the CWC. One of the most cringe worthy angles is the love triangle between Noam Dar, Cedric Alexander, and Alicia Fox. It was absurd, and it didn’t help Dar and Alexander’s careers at all. The backstage segments looked like scenes from a bad and cheesy soap opera and the matches were not up to par. This feud would’ve worked if the WWE just stuck with a simpler “who’s the better cruiserweight?” storyline.
7 Enzo Amore and Lana
Here’s the summary of this storyline: a naked man walks up to a married woman and attempts to flirt with her. He looked like he was successful at first, but then the woman’s husband came in to give him a much-deserved beating. Do you know what makes this story strange? The married couple is portrayed as the bad guys.
It looked like the company tried to tell an Attitude Era-style story with this feud involving Enzo Amore, Lana, and Rusev. The angle would’ve probably clicked in 1998-1999, but things are different now. People prefer to see simple-but-effective storylines in wrestling than something from the Jerry Springer Show or those exaggerated reality shows. Also, how can anyone root for the Certified G if he was the a-hole all along?
6 Roadblock: End of the Line
2016 in WWE had an anticlimactic end, thanks to this pay-per-event. Roadblack: End of the Line took place on December 18, and despite the promising card, it didn’t produce enough awesome moments to make it an awesome show. The 30-minute Iron Man Match between Sasha Banks and Charlotte was dull compared to their previous matches, and majority of the fans already knew that Charlotte will win back the Women’s Championship. The Rollins vs. Jericho match looked good on paper, but it was just an average bout that we already saw on television a few times. As for the main event, Kevin Owens looked weak again when he won the match via disqualification against Roman Reigns. End of the Line was just like a regular episode of Monday Night Raw with no backstage segments.
5 Smackdown’s Tag Team Division
Ever since the brand split, Smackdown has been consistent on giving us quality episodes every Tuesday. With their emphasis on wrestling and simple-but-effective storylines, the blue brand is often hailed as the better show than Raw. Despite the praises, there’s no denying that Smackdown still has its flaws, particularly in the tag team division. The roster only has 7 tag teams, and most of them are underutilized. Breezango has the potential to be great, but they’re treated as jobbers every week. The same can be said to The Ascension, who was once a dominant team in NXT. Turning the Usos heel was a great idea, but their lack of direction made them ineffective. There’s basically nothing left for the current tag team champions, American Alpha. Smackdown’s writers need to give more attention to the division instead of putting out random matches.
4 Underutilized NXT Call Ups
Since WWE promoted the New Era name like there’s no tomorrow, they should’ve given every NXT call up an opportunity to shine. Baron Corbin, Finn Balor, Enzo and Big Cass, Bayley, and Nia Jax are doing well now, but it’s a different story for the rest. Former NXT Tag Team Champions The Vaudevillains are now a joke, Apollo Crews is involved in a meaningless feud with Dolph Ziggler, and Carmella is dating James Ellsworth. Mojo Rawley had a good start with the Hype Bros, but when Zack Ryder got injured, he has nothing to do in the main roster right now. The WWE should find a way to make these superstars relevant again this year. They’re all too talented to be involved in filler matches and storylines.
The first few vignettes of “The Makeover of Emma to Emmalina” hyped the crowd, with photos showing the female superstar’s sizzling hot transformation. However, after numerous delays, the videos began to annoy viewers. Seeing the “premiering soon” line way too many times has led to fans thinking it was only a troll move and that she won’t be debuting at all. She finally appeared on the February 3rd edition of Raw only to say that she will go back to being Emma again. Yes, that was basically it. There was no follow up to the promo, which makes us think that the WWE really has no plans for her. We may see some progress in the coming weeks, but it’s definitely a thumbs down for now.
2 The Old Day
So, how do you put over former Bullet Club members in the New Era? According to the WWE, you should put them in a comedic segment. On the September 5 episode of Raw, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson introduced us to The Old Day, which is basically the older version of Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods. Gallows and Anderson mocked them in the ring, and that was it.
There’s nothing wrong with doing a comedy segment, as long as the right people do it. Everyone knows that Gallows and Anderson were badasses in NJPW, so watching them try to be funny is just cringe worthy. The jokes were so unfunny it didn’t get a reaction from the crowd, even when The New Day made the save.
1 Super Reigns
No matter how loud the fans boo him, Roman Reigns is WWE’s next top babyface. Even after the universally negative reaction at WrestleMania 32, Vince McMahon was still bent on pushing the former Shield member hard. It was evident when Roman Reigns defended his WWE Title against AJ Styles at Payback and Extreme Rules. Reigns won both matches in a very Superman-like way. Despite falling victim to multiple chair shots and Styles’ finishing moves, he still managed to kick out at two. All it took was one spear for him to get the victory. What made it more cringe worthy is the fact that he won against a very over superstar. It just proved that the company likes to mock their fans by having the favorites lose.
Roman may be out of the title picture for now, but he’s still often featured in major storylines. It won’t be long until we see him go Super Reigns again and become the Universal Champion. When will you ever learn, Vince?