World Wrestling Entertainment unofficially kicked off what is currently being referred to as its “New Era” following the WrestleMania 32 show that aired in the spring of 2016. Roman Reigns was once again crowned as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, a decision that was met with mixed reactions among pockets of the fan base. That title has since been changed to the WWE Championship due to the fact that the much-maligned brand split of old will be returning during the current summer months. Raw and SmackDown will be shows separate from each other for some time, and this will lead to wrestlers linked to the NXT brand receiving call-ups to the main roster so that they can be drafted to one of those shows.
Wrestling fans cannot be blamed for feeling skeptical about the WWE going in this direction. We have, after all, already seen a WWE version of a brand split and we know how that movie ends. The hope, moving forward, is that those tasked with executing storylines have learned from mistakes made last decade and will get things right this time around. There are, of course, a plethora of booking decisions that would theoretically set the WWE up for success. Some of them have to do with which wrestlers are featured on which brand, while others have more to do with programming than with the in-ring product. In a perfect world, those of us in charge of making such important choices would be able to decide the length of a certain program that airs live every Monday night.
15 Get Ronda Rousey
We understand that this technically is not a booking decision as of the posting of this piece, but we are in charge in this fictitious world and thus we are running with the idea. Ronda Rousey is a known fan of professional wrestling, a legitimate Ultimate Fighting Championship Superstar and somebody who is seemingly winding-down her fighting career, even if she does decide to make a return to the cage before the end of 2016.
14 American Alpha Become Stars
NXT is filled with an excess of talent. Many of those wrestlers should be on the active roster even before the draft the precedes the brand split takes place. American Alpha may, all things considered, sit atop the list. The duo of Chad Gable and Jason Jordan make for the best overall team signed by the WWE today and the two can go with the best of them inside of the ring. Sure, American Alpha may need some work on the microphone. We have a solution for that: Kurt Angle.
13 Use Shinsuke Nakamura Correctly
There was no reason, even before he signed with the WWE, that anybody should have believed that Shinsuke Nakamura could not elevate anybody on the roster just by having a match with that person. Nakamura has left no doubt of that during his brief, albeit memorable, stint in NXT. We’re obviously calling Nakamura up to the main roster immediately.
12 Use NXT
NXT exists for multiple reasons. It is a developmental system for up-and-comers and also for established talents who need to adapt to what the WWE wants from performers. NXT is also a stand-alone brand responsible for touring shows. Why not, then, have NXT serve as a second chance for wrestlers who maybe did not originally make it on the main roster?
11 Turn Seth Rollins
The WWE had a perfect storyline presented to it when Seth Rollins went down to a serious knee injury in November 2015. Rollins had to forfeit his title even though he never lost a match, and Seth working to return to full fitness and make it back to the ring to win back his title is enough to make for one of the top babyfaces in the WWE.
10 The Club
It is almost hard to imagine that some fans could have doubted that A.J. Styles could play a good heel in the WWE as leader of “The Club.” We love the idea of a faction of outsiders joining together to form a heel stable, so much so that we are going to add to The Club to a point.
9 Female Wrestlers on One Show
Remember that we are booking in a world where the brand split exists and also where the WWE is pushing female Superstars as equals to their male counterparts. While NXT has churned out several noteworthy women’s wrestlers over the past several years, the overall division is not nearly deep enough to split it up among two different shows. Thus, we are putting the women on either Raw or SmackDown and then giving them adequate time to shine on television and during special events such as a pay-per-view card.
8 Split Up the New Day... For Now
We can actually see the disappointment and even anger in the eyes of those of you rushing to the comments section to respond to this portion of the piece. Sorry guys and gals, but New Day ran its course some time ago. Those three wrestlers deserve so much credit for taking a joke of a gimmick and turning it into something that fans around the world embraced.
7 Finn Balor
It does not take a market expert to see Finn Balor has the “it factor” required to draw attention to casual fans and also to sell merchandise to adults and children. Bringing Balor up to the main roster immediately is a must, if only because he has nothing else to do in NXT.
6 Samoa Joe vs. Brock Lesnar
This is admittedly no long-term answer for any company, let alone for the WWE. Booking this feud is nevertheless one of the first things we are doing if given the opportunity. No championship would even have to be on the line to make Samoa Joe versus Brock Lesnar fun. The two monsters would simply have “mean guy matches” over and over again, and every one of those contests would delight fans. As we will mention later in this piece, Lesnar would only be used for special occasions. That makes this feud all the better, as it could theoretically be spread out over years. Assuming that Lesnar only has so much left in the tank or that he may consider making more of a full-time return to the UFC, Joe would have to emerge victorious when all is said and done.
5 Properly Use Bray Wyatt
Maybe the biggest mistake made by the WWE during the current decade involved the mishandling of Bray Wyatt. Wyatt could have been this era’s version of The Undertaker, a character straight out of the 1980s but one that remained over among fans because the person playing the role could sell it inside of the ring and on the microphone.
4 Let Roman be Roman
Roman Reigns doesn’t actually suck, regardless of what anybody may say or think about the matter. The problem with the babyface turn of Reigns, other than the fact that some fans prefer Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose over Reigns, is that Reigns was positioned to be the next John Cena. There is only one person who is able to perfectly play the Cena role.
3 Keep Brock Lesnar Special
You do not need to possess inside knowledge on buyrates, television ratings and merchandise sales to see that some of the shine is off of the figurative apple as it pertains to Brock Lesnar. This was unavoidable in some ways, as the WWE never intended on making Lesnar this unstoppable force who won every match and who headlined every major show.
2 No Multiple Monthly Pay-Per-Views
Even hearing pro wrestling journalists such as Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez suggest that the WWE is going to use the brand split as a reason to have multiple monthly pay-per-view is enough, to steal a phrase once used by Owen Hart, to make our blue blood boil. One reason NXT became such a fan favorite among viewers is that the brand followed a classic formula for building feuds. Storylines have months to grow before a Takeover show and those Takeover shows only occur a handful of times per year.
1 Length of Raw
In this simulation, we are given control of more than just storylines and who gets to be a champion of a specific brand. We also get to work with NBC and decide the lengths of the shows that air on USA Network. It is hardly a hot take to suggest that three hours is too long for any weekly wrestling show regardless of how good or how bad Raw may be at any stretch of time.
Viewers currently have to watch between 12-15 hours of live programming if they do not want to miss anything, and that does not include SmackDown, NXT or any other shows that air on television or on the WWE Network. It is all too much. The best way to improve the New Era in the WWE is to drop Raw back down to two hours. This would give wrestlers, writers and fans breaks that everybody needs.
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