It’s an interesting time to be a fan of World Wrestling Entertainment for a variety of reasons. WWE followers can watch at least five hours of live television programming every week of the year, and that doesn’t include Pay-Per-View/special events that are produced once a month and also original WWE Network shows such as weekly editions of 205 Live and NXT. Despite all of the available live and recorded WWE shows available to fans and also the fact that the company’s overall roster is as deep today as it has been in decades, some, nevertheless, find themselves feeling nostalgic and wishing the promotion would bring back certain gimmicks, stipulations and storylines from previous times such as the “Attitude Era” and “Monday Night Wars” of the late 1990s.
In some instances, bringing a former idea back can benefit an organization such as the WWE. We’ve seen multiple sports leagues change certain rules, only to then go and undo those particular changes because of the wishes of fans. There is also, however, something to be said from learning from history and not repeating mistakes and other decisions that would do more harm than good for the promotion as of the summer of 2017. Recent television ratings and also current perceptions of the product all suggest the WWE should take steps to improve certain aspects of shows such as Raw and SmackDown. Bringing the right elements from the past back to television and to shows that air on the WWE Network could result in some fans giving the company another chance.
15 Bring Back: One World Champion
We start with what seems like an obvious one. The WWE Champion/World Champion should, in theory, be the top overall wrestler for the promotion, even if that organization has elected to split its main roster into multiple groups. Combining the WWE Championship with the Universal Championship would allow one man to jump back and forth from Raw and SmackDown, which would create multiple fresh and interesting storylines and would prevent that person from becoming a stale title holder.
Just as importantly, one World Champion would, theoretically, would boost the importance of mid-card belts such as the Intercontinental and United States Championships. The WWE had a good thing going over a decade ago when Brock Lesnar served as its main champion during the original brand split. Bring this idea back as soon as possible.
14 Stay in the Past: Heel Authority Figure
Say whatever you will about Raw and SmackDown shows throughout 2017. At least we’ve been able to enjoy a slight break from heel Authority figures running programs and making babyface wrestlers seem insignificant and downright silly.
It's been nearly 20 years since the Mr. McMahon character debuted on WWE television following the “Montreal Screwjob” that resulted in Bret Hart losing the title to Shawn Michaels. WWE has repeatedly attempted to catch fire with similar storylines over the years, and none have been as good as the original. The idea of a heel Authority figure has become a thing of the past as of the summer of 2017. Let it remain there for at least the foreseeable future so that some new storylines can be presented to fans.
13 Bring Back: Respected Managers
Paul Ellering may not be your favorite part of weekly NXT shows while serving as the manager and the voice of tag team the Authors of Pain, but at least he's proof that certain people working for the WWE understand such a character can help an act get over among fans.
Imagine, if you will, how much better Enzo Amore could be as a babyface or heel manager rather than as a wrestler who cuts entertaining promos before and after matches but who only bumps for bigger opponents during contests. Paul Heyman is obviously the best of the bunch among any managers who could feature on the main WWE roster today, but Heyman could help others get to such a level if the promotion embraced managers returning to both Raw and SmackDown.
12 Stay in the Past: Divas
While the so-called WWE “Women’s Revolution” introduced to the main roster in the summer of 2015 has not been without flaws and bumps in the road, it's still only a positive that members of the deepest and best women’s roster in the history of the promotion are treated with respect and as more than just eye candy for male members of the audience.
It’s because of impressive workers such as Charlotte, Bayley, Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss, Asuka and others that some followers of the product cannot help but feel nervous when acts such as Lana and Eva Marie are given pushes seemingly because of their looks rather than because of their in-ring abilities. Keep the idea of WWE Divas and such storylines well into the past forevermore, and allow real women’s wrestling to thrive.
11 Bring Back: Tournaments
Those who subscribe to the WWE Network have been able to enjoy multiple entertaining tournaments over the past year or so. For whatever reasons, however, those who make decisions regarding the two parts of the company’s main roster have decided against hosting such competitions in recent memory.
While some may immediately think of the former King of the Ring tournament whenever they read or hear about such ideas, any type of tournament to crown a champion or even a contender could get over among fans if booked properly. If nothing else, a tournament establishes a competitor as one who's able to notch multiple victories en route to proving he should be viewed as a serious act. The “Cruiserweight Classic” featured on the WWE Network last year is only one example.
10 Stay in the Past: Invasions
While fans who watched World Championship Wrestling in 1996 understandably remember the early days of the New World Order storyline fondly, one could easily argue that idea did way more harm than good to WCW and to pro wrestling, in general. After all, organizations such as the WWE, Total Nonstop Action/Impact Wrestling and others have attempted to re-live this type of feud over and over again throughout the past 20 years with little to no success.
What has become clear since 1996 is that WWE is either unable or unwilling to correctly book such a story, even when the “invading” group includes contracted acts such as those who were in “Nexus.” You can’t get an invasion storyline right, WWE. Please keep this idea in the past.
9 Bring Back: Unscripted Promos
Those who read behind-the-scenes stories about WWE performers are probably aware that many, including respected veterans, are given “scripted” promos that they must memorize before addressing audiences or other wrestlers on Raw and SmackDown shows. It wasn’t always like this, as wrestlers used to be trusted to remember a set amount of talking points while, at the same time, being given an open microphone and time to cut promos via their own voices.
Remember the famous CM Punk “pipebomb?” It was awesome, largely because Punk was allowed to be Punk and not a robotic WWE act. There are plenty of good talkers currently signed to the WWE main roster. It would be nice if the company trusted those acts to get themselves over without ridiculous scripts.
8 Stay in the Past: Supernatural Gimmicks
Some pockets of wrestling fans may not agree with this notion because of the success enjoyed by The Undertaker during his WWE run that lasted multiple decades. That’s just about the only “supernatural” character the company didn’t ruin since the late 1980s. Kane became more of a joke involved in absurd and even offensive storylines, in time. More recently, the Bray Wyatt character has been squandered to the point that his entrance is the only positive thing remaining about the act.
The WWE could potentially have something special in the Aleister Black character currently dominating in NXT so long as they don’t make him magical or the next Undertaker. Outside of Matt and Jeff Hardy potentially playing their “Broken” gimmicks on WWE shows, the promotion needs to shy away from these storylines for at least a few years.
7 Bring Back: Cruiserweights On One Show
When the WWE announced the promotion was bringing the Cruiserweight Division back to the main roster following last year’s Cruiserweight Classic, the hope was that the company would push that division on one show and treat it as seriously as the Women’s Division has been treated over the past two years. Instead, cruiserweight wrestlers have been handed forgettable matches and storylines on editions of Raw and then relegated to the Live 205 show that only airs on the WWE Network.
The WWE needs to do something to save that floundering division, and putting all of those wrestlers on either Raw or SmackDown and allowing them to create entertaining matches could do the trick. If nothing else, we can all agree Live 205 is not doing anybody any favors.
6 Stay in the Past: Inter-Gender Matches
The WWE has done well to eliminate inter-gender female-versus-male matches and also male-on-female violence in recent years, and the hope, moving forward, is that the trend will only continue up through the end of the decade and beyond. Companies such as Lucha Underground have received criticism from wrestling journalists and observers for airing these types of matches and storylines, and one can only imagine the WWE would garner even more negative attention if the promotion went back in time and brought these types of bouts back.
There are good reasons for why female mixed martial artists don’t grapple with male opponents during Ultimate Fighting Championship events. Those reasons and explanations are also applicable for why the WWE needs to keep inter-gender contests in the past.
5 Bring Back: Halloween Havoc Pay-Per-View
Not everything WCW did during the 1990s was a horrible idea. The old sets and stages used for the Halloween Havoc Pay-Per-View events produced by that promotion were incredible to behold, and the name, alone, is one that would generate positive memories for multiple WWE fans around the world. We’ve already seen the WWE bring back former WCW ideas such as the Great American Bash, so we know they’re open to taking from that failed organization.
Yearly Halloween Havoc shows scheduled for every October could be a lot of fun, particularly if the WWE scheduled certain gimmicky matches — maybe a casket match, for example — for those events. Most importantly, such a move could result in the WWE (finally) bringing the very best of WCW to the promotion; we’ll touch upon that notion again later in this piece.
4 Stay in the Past: Hulk Hogan
Logic suggests that it's only a matter of time before the WWE welcomes Hulk Hogan back to the company as an ambassador or in some other role regardless of all that has occurred regarding the Hulkster outside of the company over the years. The question has to be asked: What, if anything positive, could Hogan really provide to the WWE as of the summer of 2017?
He obviously can’t work anything resembling a believable match at this portion of his life. Hogan wouldn’t be a draw other than for a one-off edition of Raw or SmackDown. He’s not selling Pay-Per-View buys in an era in which those types of shows are available on WWE Network. The WWE should leave Hogan in the past, as bringing him back won’t be worth any negative press the company would receive upon his return.
3 Bring Back: Women On One Main Roster
Following the original WWE brand split in the early 2000s, there was a time when the WWE Women’s Championship was, for the most part, defended and won only on Raw-branded shows. There has never been a better time to bring that idea back and group all of the main roster’s female performers on either Raw or SmackDown than 2017.
While the overall women’s roster is currently filled with an influx of talent, splitting those performers up has largely watered the product down and been more of a negative than a positive. Having only one main Women’s Champion and grouping the entire division on either the Raw or SmackDown roster could provide a spark for WWE women’s wrestling, and it could also allow the promotion to create what could be a fun women’s Tag Team Division.
2 Stay in the Past: Hardcore Championship
There was once a time when hardcore wrestling and a WWE Hardcore Championship both deserved to be featured by the promotion. It’s 2017, though, and we all now know better and realize those types of matches aren’t worth the risks performers faced during such battles. Besides, both casual wrestling fans and also passionate viewers are flocking towards better overall wrestlers and matches that showcase the likes of A.J. Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kenny Omega, Kevin Owens and other similar great in-ring performers.
The last thing the WWE needs this year is yet another mid-card title, particularly one that centers around types of matches that should only occur in the promotion a handful of times, at most, per year. Those who miss the Hardcore Championship can remember its supposed “glory days” via the WWE Network.
1 Bring Back: War Games
The WWE already utilizes the Hell in a Cell match, almost too much at this point. Combining that contest with War Games, a concept made famous by the old WCW, is the next logical step. We’re not even sure the WWE should produce one of these matches every year, as doing so could strip away the importance of what should represent a definitive end of a feud or rivalry.
Imagine, if you will, the excitement the WWE could generate with a long-term build for a War Games bout that occurred in the final 45 minutes or so of a Survivor Series Pay-Per-View. When done right, War Games represents the best way for groups of wrestlers to squash beefs and do so during a single battle.