No wrestling promotion is perfect. To be fair, there are many companies out there that commit mistakes more often than they do the right thing, and depending on how you see WWE, the company may be in the right more often than it's in the wrong, or vice versa. But with WWE being the self-proclaimed "worldwide leader in sports entertainment," the mistakes made by company officials and creative team members, not the least of them being Vince McMahon himself, are greatly magnified.
With four full months having passed in 2018, WWE has indeed made quite a number of mistakes. But we've still got a little less than eight months remaining before we say goodbye to 2018 and hello to the final year of the 2010s, which means it's very likely that WWE will keep on making high-profile mistakes that fans will immediately notice. Of course, we still wish nothing but the best for Vince, Triple H, Stephanie and Shane McMahon, and the rest of the company's movers and shakers, but basing on what we've seen so far, and how the company usually acts in given situations, we've taken the effort to predict 10 mistakes WWE may likely make sometime in 2018, alongside 15 mistakes they've made thus far.
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25 Mistakes They've Made: Not Pushing Fan Favorites - Male Edition
You can only give top-caliber pushes to so many people at the same time, but if you come to think about it, WWE pushing Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar like the only guys who truly mattered on Monday Night Raw has resulted in a ton of talented individuals getting the short end of the stick. Chief among these is Finn Balor, who was infamously removed from consideration for a Universal Championship match against Brock Lesnar because he "wasn't over."
Fast forward a few months later, and we now see Balor separated from his Balor Club (who are pretty much back to their old tag team afterthought role on SmackDown), losing time and again when it counts the most. Sure, WWE might be gradually turning him heel, and he's already confirmed for the men's Money in the Bank Ladder Match, but think of all those months he's spent mired in the mid-card.
Prior to this month, we've also seen Sami Zayn as the designated fall guy in his partnership with Kevin Owens, Rusev getting booked like a jabroni despite having his own "holiday," and until his team-up with Matt Hardy, Bray Wyatt being booked like Bray Wyatt has been booked since 2014 or thereabouts. For WWE, "fan favorite" or "indie darling" is oftentimes their code for "jobber to the stars."
24 Mistakes They've Made: Not Pushing Fan Favorites - Female Edition
Alas, it's not just some of WWE's men who are struggling to get a good push and trying their darnedest to stay relevant. Some of WWE's more popular and talented women are also going through such hardships, and we've mentioned a couple of them – Bayley and Sasha Banks – elsewhere in this list. Over on SmackDown Live, Becky Lynch has pretty much become the blue brand's "jobberette to the stars," and that's included taking the pin when she and Asuka recently lost to The IIconics, and losing to Mandy Rose. Who's not related to, or as big a jobber as Adam Rose, but was nonetheless lacking in direction after the breakup of Absolution.
It's been well-documented that Lynch's problem has nothing to do with her in-ring talent, which she has a lot of. Apparently, Vince McMahon's right-hand man, Kevin Dunn, does not like Lynch's thick Irish accent, which has led to WWE having her cut fewer promos. Or is WWE perhaps unhappy that she's dating a rather tiny (albeit dangerous) man in UFC bantamweight fighter Luke Sanders? You know how size matters for Mr. McMahon, and how he might find it odd that an average-sized female talent of his is dating someone who fights in UFC's second-lightest men's weight class.
Regardless of why Lynch isn't getting pushed, she needs something to boost her flagging fortunes, and fast. Perhaps a long-overdue heel turn would be good for what's ailing the Irish Lass Kicker's push?
23 Mistakes They'll Make: Asuka As A "Third Wheel" To Charlotte And Ronda
We were tempted to include the end of Asuka's winning streak as a mistake WWE made, but think about it for a moment – would you rather have had Carmella cash in on an undefeated Asuka, or against Charlotte Flair, who's booked pretty strong but has taken her share of losses? That said, we don't doubt the possibility that the Empress of Tomorrow will be holding the SmackDown Women's Championship at some point this year. What we doubt are the chances of her being booked as one of WWE's female "franchise players."
As she famously says, no one is ready for Asuka, and that can certainly be said about WWE and its officials, who appear to be seeing dollar signs in a possible Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey match at WrestleMania 35. Both women are still in their early 30s, are highly marketable, and have the potential of putting on a good match on the Grandest Stage of Them All. And it's very likely we'll be seeing WWE build up to this match toward the end of the year, as we could finally be seeing that rumored WWE vs. MMA Horsewomen match at Survivor Series, assuming Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke prove to be fast learners.
All that could prevent Asuka from being featured, or even pushed as the dominant force she was on NXT. With her winning streak over, it won't be surprising if WWE pushes her as just another women's champion, or worse, just another member of the company's female roster.
22 Mistakes They’ve Made: Ruining The Styles Vs. Nakamura Feud
AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura should have been a money match at WrestleMania, with both men revisiting their Wrestle Kingdom classic in front of a WWE audience. Instead, fans got a solid “B” match at ‘Mania, but you don’t expect a solid “B” from the Phenomenal One and the King of Strong Style. Thankfully, Nakamura hit the first of many low blows on Styles after ostensibly congratulating him for the win, so that did somehow make up for some of the disappointment brought about by the actual match.
So WWE gave Nakamura a great heel character, made pretending not to know how to speak English a part of his gimmick, and extended the feud with Styles beyond WrestleMania. Fair enough, but what have we seen since then? A couple of rematches, and a couple of unsatisfying finishes, including a double count-out at the Greatest Royal Rumble, and a weird no-contest at Backlash where neither man got up after they low-blowed each other. That, despite the latter match already having been made no-DQ.
Instead of properly showcasing the talents of two of WWE's biggest signings in recent years, the company has overbooked Styles and Nakamura, though all is not lost for a conclusive finish to their underwhelming-thus-far feud. But that might not be the only mistake WWE will end up making when it comes to these two men...
21 Mistakes They'll Make: Not Allowing Nakamura To Reign As WWE Champion
If WWE really wanted Shinsuke Nakamura to be their first Japanese world champion by now, they'd already have done it. Instead, what we're seeing is a hot mess of a feud with Styles that, as mentioned above, has included two matches where nobody won. In a perfect WWE Universe, Nakamura would be WWE Champion as of this writing, and could theoretically lose the title back to Styles, with AJ then moving on to a feud against Samoa Joe. But WWE still appears to be gun-shy when it comes to really, seriously giving the King of Strong Style a worthy main event push.
Is it because he's used to working a different, more intense style from what most WWE Superstars are used to? Perhaps. Is the fact he speaks English as a second language, and with a very thick accent, holding him back? There's a good chance that also plays a part, as you know what Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn's deal is when it comes to thick non-American accents. Is Vince trying to deliberately stifle yet another indie or New Japan darling? That's yet another possibility to consider.
Whatever the case is, it's a shame that WWE isn't all-in on Nakamura, and if they keep holding him back, they shouldn't be surprised if he decides to spend the latter stages of his career back home, with NJPW.
20 Mistakes They've Made: Not Turning Bayley Or Sasha
For weeks, we saw it being teased on Monday Night Raw – after years as onscreen best friends, real-life besties Bayley and Sasha Banks' friendship would finally implode, allowing both women to rekindle the bitter rivalry on NXT that produced some classic matches. In fact, not a few fans concluded that Banks had actually turned heel shortly before WrestleMania, as she had laid a major backstage beatdown on Bayley, one so intense that she had to be pulled apart, and that fans were expecting them to settle their beef on the Show of Shows.
Instead, Bayley and Sasha were stuck in the first-ever WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal, with both going far, but neither of them winning – WWE went with Naomi instead, and she's been lukewarm since losing the SmackDown Women's Championship last year. But that's not the most puzzling thing about this feud that isn't really a feud, as it now appears that the Legit Boss and the Hugger are back on the same page, and mostly counting the lights against the likes of Ruby Riott.
We don't know if WWE wants to save Bayley vs. Sasha for a bigger pay-per-view like SummerSlam, but for the meantime, we wish we knew why WWE baited-and-switched fans with what obviously looked like a Sasha Banks heel turn.
19 Mistakes They'll Make: Still Not 'Hindering' Jinder
We've said it once, we'll say it again – mad props to Jinder Mahal for working his butt off to improve like he did last year. Sure, he's not the best worker and he's not the best mic man, but compare how he is today with how he was as the least relevant member of an already irrelevant stable (3MB). But that doesn't change how WWE gave him way too long a reign as WWE Champion, only taking the belt off of him when the numbers were in, and showed that his main event push wasn't putting butts in the seats in India.
As expected, WWE demoted Mahal to the mid-card toward the end of 2017, but no one expected WWE to pull the trigger on another title reign so quickly. At WrestleMania, virtually no one was pulling for the Modern Day Maharaja to win the United States Championship. But Mahal still won the title, and not even Jeff Hardy beating him for the U.S. Championship ahead of the Greatest Royal Rumble could change the perception that WWE still has big plans for Jinder.
What big plans are these, might you ask? Well, it appears that he's going to be Roman Reigns' next rival on Monday Night Raw. Yes, you read that right – WWE's essentially asking the hardcore fan contingent to choose between a rock and a hard place.
18 Mistakes They’ve Made: Brock Lesnar Retaining The Universal Title
It seemed like a foregone conclusion ahead of WrestleMania 34 — after holding the Universal Championship for a good whole year, and making precious few appearances in the buildup to, and at title matches on major pay-per-views, Brock Lesnar would finally drop the strap to Roman Reigns. For years, Reigns had been WWE’s anointed one, the next franchise player to carry the company’s brand, now that John Cena’s a part-time performer due to his age and increasingly busy film schedule. Unfortunately for the Big Dog, he failed to win the Universal title from Lesnar at ‘Mania, as he lost a hard-fought, yet overbooked and downright disappointing main event match to the Beast.
With WWE moving on to its Greatest Royal Rumble pay-per-view in Saudi Arabia, everyone now thought that it was Roman’s time to beat Brock, given that Reigns is actually popular with Saudi crowds. No dice either, as Lesnar won their cage match in a confusing finish where Reigns lost, despite how he speared Brock out of the cage, with his feet seemingly touching the ground first.
None of this is making sense to the WWE Universe, who continues to boo Reigns, but is also unhappy with Lesnar still holding on to a belt which he’s hardly around to defend. And why is WWE still keeping Lesnar around when he's arguably spent his entire Universal Championship reign going through the motions? There is, however, a possible explanation for all this, and we’ll be tackling it in our very next entry.
17 Mistakes They’ll Make: Having Lesnar 'Break' CM Punk’s Modern-Day Title Record
As of this writing, Brock Lesnar has just passed his 400th consecutive day as Universal Champion. That’s just about a month shy of 434 days, and you should all know the significance of the number 434 — that’s the number of days CM Punk reigned as WWE Champion, making him the longest-reigning modern-day (i.e. post-Hulkamania) champion in WWE history. Yes indeed, there seems to be an ulterior motive behind WWE’s decision to have Brock retain at WrestleMania and the Greatest Royal Rumble, and their decision to re-up his contract for (at least) a few more months, and it’s got everything to do with wanting to erase Punk’s name from the record books.
There is, of course, a precedent for this potential mistake, and that happened when WWE allowed Nikki Bella to hang on to the Divas Championship long enough to break AJ Lee’s record for longest reign. If WWE could do that to Punk’s wife, whose heat with officials never quite matched his, then that’s all the more reason to believe they can do the same to a guy who continues to hold a grudge against WWE, and refuse to have anything more to do with professional wrestling.
Thing is, do they need to have his record broken by someone who hardly shows up to work? For WWE, it’s all about convenience, never mind that Lesnar would need a big fat asterisk next to his name if he breaks Punk’s main event title reign record. And it's not just because the Universal and WWE Championships, at the end of the day, are two different titles.
16 Mistakes They've Made: Giving Daniel Bryan Dream Matches Away For Free
On March 20, 2018, wrestling fans around the world let out a collective "YES!" when WWE announced that Daniel Bryan was cleared to compete in the ring, effectively ending his two-year retirement and setting him up for a big return match at WrestleMania, where he and Shane McMahon defeated the rebellious duo of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Then WWE started getting a bit ahead of itself, because on the SmackDown after 'Mania, the leader of the Yes! Movement was booked in a match against AJ Styles. Earlier this month, Bryan faced Shinsuke Nakamura in a dark match. Know what kind of matches those are?
You guessed it right – those are "dream matches" that fans had fantasy-booked during Bryan's long months of forced retirement. While WWE seems to be wisely building up slowly for Bryan vs. The Miz at SummerSlam, the coming months could easily see him feuding with Styles, Nakamura, Samoa Joe, and other wrestlers that he wasn't able to feud with prior to his early 2016 retirement. We'd rather WWE have eased Bryan back into regular action, instead of giving him matches (aforementioned dream matches included) on almost all of the episodes since he resigned as SmackDown GM in favor of the active wrestling career he always preferred.
15 Mistakes They'll Make: Ricochet, Gargano, And/Or Ciampa On 205 Live
Just months ago, I didn't see anything wrong with any, or all of the names I mentioned above – Ricochet, Johnny Gargano, and/or Tommaso Ciampa – making their main roster debuts via 205 Live. But after reading Ricochet's previous comments about not wanting to be pigeonholed as a cruiserweight, and watching the barn-burner of a match Gargano and Ciampa had at TakeOver: New Orleans, I realized what a huge disservice it would be for either one of them to be introduced to main roster fans via a program that's still recovering from Vince McMahon's mishandling.
Since taking 205 Live over from his father-in-law, Triple H has wisely focused on in-ring action rather than flashy characters and goofy storylines – Enzo Amore's firing was arguably the watershed moment for the change in direction. But 205 Live is still a C-show, in the grand scheme of things, and it just wouldn't be right if Johnny Wrestling and that Avengers: Infinity War-spoiling Black Heart continue their feud in the 205-and-under division. Same with Ricochet, who's already holding his own in NXT against non-cruiserweight opponents.
Unfortunately, WWE still sees those three as nothing more than smaller guys who can work, so don't be surprised if you see them shaking things up on 205 Live once they're deemed main roster-ready.
14 Mistakes They've Made: Rusev As A Jobber To The Stars
Nowhere was it more evident that WWE gives zero bleeps about the popularity of Rusev Day – the gimmick and the tag team – than at WrestleMania 34. With Randy Orton seemingly a placeholder as United States Champion – gotta push someone the casuals will recognize ahead of 'Mania – it seemed obvious that Rusev was going to win the Fatal Four-Way for the title. Bobby Roode had just recently lost the belt, and Jinder Mahal was lukewarm after his WWE Championship push didn't get the expected results. Certainly, the New Orleans crowd and everyone at home is going to celebrate a Happy Rusev Day, right?
Wrong. It was Mahal who went over and won the U.S. Championship from Orton, while Rusev was again treated like a jobber to the stars. In the weeks before and after 'Mania, the Bulgarian Brute was mostly fodder for SmackDown Live's main eventers, and all that weak booking might have been getting to Rusev, who's repeatedly used social media to tease a WWE exit. How much longer will it be before he stops kayfabing the WWE Universe and makes good on his threats?
After a hard-fought loss against The Undertaker at the Greatest Royal Rumble (in a Casket Match he was momentarily removed from), it looks like things are looking up for Rusev for the first time in years. But there may be a price to pay for Rusev's seeming return to the main event picture...
13 Mistakes They'll Make: Killing The Rusev Day Gimmick
As we mentioned in the last entry about Rusev, he seemed to turn a corner after the GRR. WWE seems to be teasing a breakup between Rusev and Aiden English, with real-life wife Lana stepping back in, sounding pretty damn close to completely dropping her fake Russian accent, and hinting to Rusev that English is holding him down. And just a few days ago from this writing, Rusev qualified for this year's multi-brand men's Money in the Bank match by defeating Daniel Bryan cleanly, with no help from English or Lana, and no interference either from Big Cass or The Miz.
We previously speculated that this booking outcome might be an example of Vince McMahon trolling the fans by pitting the two super-favorites against each other, or WWE trying to keep the Bryan vs. Miz feud from happening too soon. Beyond that, Rusev's big win over D-Bry is a clear sign that he's returning to the main event, but rumors have hinted that such a push comes with a price – the death of the Rusev Day gimmick, and Rusev returning to his origins as a vicious foreign heel.
With rare exceptions, WWE seems to get salty whenever wrestlers get over organically, so don't be surprised if the company puts an end to Rusev Day the moment the Bulgarian Brute is firmly reestablished as a top-tier star.
12 Mistakes They've Made: Making Roman Reigns Look Weak
Bet you never thought you'd see this listed as a mistake WWE made. You would probably have expected us to write something like, "remaining bullish on Roman Reigns" as a mistake WWE's committed in 2018, but with his two losses to Brock Lesnar on consecutive PPVs, WWE essentially made their golden boy look like yet another patsy who couldn't conquer the Beast. We explained earlier that WWE might be keeping Lesnar around and having him retain the Universal Championship in an attempt to "erase" CM Punk's name from the record books, but that's left many other wrestlers worse for it, Reigns included.
Due to Reigns' unlikely failure to win the Universal Championship in two tries over the last several weeks, many have referred to him as a modern-day Lex Luger. Giving credit where credit is due, Roman is a better worker, more charismatic, and even a better speaker than the Total Package ever was, so this is indeed a troubling bump on Reigns' road to truly becoming "The Guy" for WWE. So are we going to expect Reigns to celebrate a count-out victory in a title match like he won the Super Bowl, just like Luger did more than two decades ago?
Maybe not. Reigns has looked unnecessarily weak as of late, but just give him a couple months to recover. That, as you may expect, is our segue to this next potential WWE mistake...
11 Mistakes They'll Make: Not Turning Roman Heel
At this point, it's arguably sounding like a broken record, but we're talking about the mistakes WWE is likely to make in the remaining months of 2018. So we might as well say that the company is still as bullish as ever on Roman Reigns as a babyface, and that's despite how weak he's looked in recent months. He'll recover soon enough, and he'll still be playing the babyface role WWE has insisted he play since late 2014.
We've seen WWE try so many tactics to get the fans behind Reigns, and the most effective we've seen is the brief Shield reunion last year, which ended abruptly due to Dean Ambrose's injury. But as a singles wrestler, it's been utterly hopeless. When Reigns tried (and failed) twice to win the Universal Championship from Brock Lesnar, the fans were booing both men. So there you have it, in a nutshell – Roman as a face didn't work in late 2014, and it sure as hell isn't working now.
That leaves WWE with no other choice but to turn the Big Dog heel, but as you should know by now, WWE envisions Reigns the same way it did John Cena more than a decade ago – as that babyface franchise player who can't, and won't be turned into a bad guy.
10 Mistakes They've Made: Wasting Talented Tag Teams
For a moment, we thought everything was soon going to be all right for Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, as the onetime Bullet Club mainstays teamed up with the man they used to call Prince Devitt in New Japan, and formed the Balor Club. Unfortunately, it was yet another hope spot, as Gallows and Anderson were still booked like chumps after they turned face, and are currently on SmackDown Live, having moved there via the Superstar Shakeup with very little fanfare.
That's not to say things are going too well for The Revival, whom Gallows and Anderson had last feuded with before the Shakeup. By the looks of things, Vince McMahon is still salty over Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder using the words "wrestling" and "pro wrestlers" in a promo, and is not giving them anything remotely close to a Raw Tag Team Championship opportunity.
Prior to all that, American Alpha had a lackluster SmackDown Tag Team Championship run before splitting, and The Ascension (despite not being as talented as any of the teams we've mentioned) were quickly turned into jobbers after a year-long NXT Tag Team Championship reign. We hope SaniTY will avoid a similar fate on SmackDown Live, but if they fail to get a good main roster push, know that theirs definitely won't be an isolated example.
9 Mistakes They've Made: Braun Strowman, Tag Team Wrestler
This one ties in with the entry above and the entry below, but it just shows you how little Vince McMahon cares for tag teams when he has his Monster Among Men, Braun Strowman, singlehandedly beating legitimate two-man tag teams en route to a title match against The Bar at WrestleMania. Yes, we know – if not for all of this, we wouldn't have gotten one of the most interesting twists in 'Mania history, which was, of course, Braun choosing a 10-year-old kid as his mystery partner. But such a move effectively made The Revival, The Club, and all the other tag teams on Raw look like scrubs who couldn't get the job done against one man, never mind that he's almost as heavy as a cruiserweight tag team's combined weight.
We can look back at the unusual sight of Strowman and Nicholas celebrating their Raw Tag Team Championship win all we want. But remember that this came at the expense of the credibility of several legitimate tag teams. Strowman is best when he's telling Roman Reigns he's not finished with him, or telling Brock Lesnar or Samoa Joe or anyone else to "get these hands," but not when he's making a mockery of the red brand's tag division.
8 Mistakes They'll Make: Ignoring The Tag Team Division In General
Truth be told, this entry could also classify as a mistake WWE has made, just like wasting talented tag teams is a mistake WWE is likely to keep making. But because Vince McMahon's low regard for the tag team division is, in a way, the root of the problem of talented tag teams getting wasted, we're going to file this as a future mistake for the sake of argument.
Indeed, it seems like ages ago when The Hardy Boyz, Edge and Christian, and The Dudley Boyz were reinventing tag team wrestling, because that might have been the last time Vince McMahon truly cared about the division. Sure, we've seen The New Day rock their way to a record-setting title reign, and The Bar helped keep Cesaro and Sheamus relevant. But we haven't really seen much happening for Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt over at Raw, and the Bludgeon Brothers over at SmackDown – their tag team storylines post-'Mania are mere afterthoughts on their respective brands.
If Triple H were in charge of WWE at the present, we'd probably see some changes afoot – a focus on actual tag team rivalries, instead of six-man or six-woman tag matches thrown together Teddy Long-style. But with Vince still ruling the WWE with an iron fist, tag team wrestling will retain the redheaded stepchild status it somehow acquired after WWE started taking women's wrestling seriously.
7 Mistakes They've Made: Naming The WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal After Moolah
How could WWE not have seen this as a bad idea, and how could they have been so ignorant of all the allegations made through the years against the Fabulous Moolah? Naming the company's first all-women's tournament after Mae Young made perfect sense, and if Moolah had a solid reputation backstage as well, then it would have been just fine to name the first-ever women's battle royal at WrestleMania after the woman who once ruled the scene for three whole decades.
But that's the thing – Moolah's backstage reputation was terrible. Countless women claimed through the years that they were pimped out and/or abused by Moolah when her wrestling school wasn't paying the bills. Calling it "her wrestling school" was, might we add, a misnomer, as she mostly delegated training to other women, and took a hands-off approach when it came to the actual wrestling. Even if only some of those allegations are true, Moolah would still be a horrible person, and it took the intervention of WrestleMania sponsor Snickers for WWE to rename the Moolah battle royal to the "WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal."
There were oh so many other women who were better choices. Sherri Martel. Chyna. Miss Elizabeth, even if she didn't wrestle. Still, WWE chose to look back at Moolah with rose-colored glasses and initially name its WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal after her.
6 Mistakes They'll Make: Letting Under-Pushed Talents Get Away
As WWE continues to neglect under-pushed mid-carder after under-pushed mid-carder, it will soon be inevitable for some of them to want to leave, or actually leave. The closest example we currently have for this is Neville, who walked out of the company in October 2017, and is still officially stalemated with WWE, with reports suggesting that he's long since moved back to England and is happy to sit out the rest of his contract. As we see it, WWE just didn't try hard enough to bring him back to the fold. Not long after the walkout started, there were rumors that suggested WWE and Neville were making good progress, but things have taken a turn for the worse since those encouraging initial rumors.
We're not sure who's going to have it with WWE's 50-50 booking, or get tired of being asked to job to the stars. Sami Zayn? Rusev? Becky Lynch? Bayley? We don't know for sure, but sooner or later, one of these guys and girls (or more) is going to walk out, or ask for their release a la Cody Rhodes. If WWE will do as it usually does (or doesn't do), the company won't exert much effort in trying to prevent them from leaving. Then they'll only realize how badly they screwed up when, just like Cody, said under-pushed WWE talent(s) is/are killing it in the indies.
5 Mistakes They've Made: WWE's Statements On Women Post-GRR
They might as well have called it the Saudi Arabian Sausage Party. Due to the fact Saudi Arabia still treats women like second-class citizens in several aspects of its culture, there were no women flown over to Jeddah for the Greatest Royal Rumble, and that in itself was the biggest controversy surrounding the event. No, not the finish of Lesnar vs. Reigns or the fact that Styles and Nakamura were both counted out, and not Titus O'Neil's entrance fail either. It was the lack of females that caused the biggest hubbub among wrestling fans before, during, and after the GRR, and WWE tried to justify this by saying they're trying to work things out with Saudi officials in hopes of influencing a "cultural shift" in future GRR iterations, where women would be allowed to compete.
Those comments from Triple H didn't sit well with WWE Hall of Famer Lita, who had this to say in a recent interview:
"Make the money, that’s fine, but don’t try to cover it up. Don’t say, 'No, we are doing this because in the future we would like to help progress their culture forward!' No, you want the money, you’re a business and businesses make money. That’s okay."
Very well said, Ms. Dumas. The Greatest Royal Rumble, at the end of the day, was what was "best for business," and WWE only looked hypocritical for trying too hard to sound progressive in its justification for the event.
4 Mistakes They've Made: Switching To Co-Branded Pay-Per-Views
At the moment, WWE has one of its largest and most talented rosters in its entire history, making it perfect for its current two-brand setup. However, all that talent hasn't exactly been making bank for the company, which is why WWE announced that it will be switching to two-brand pay-per-views after WrestleMania, starting with the most recently concluded co-branded effort, Backlash. Let's just say that PPV has gotten quite a bit of backlash, pun definitely intended.
While Seth Rollins vs. The Miz got things started on a very promising note, the rest of the event featured a lackluster SmackDown Women's Championship match between Carmella and Charlotte Flair, a pointless segment with Elias and a plethora of comedy mid- and lower-carders, and head-scratching finish after head-scratching finish. Backlash lasted too long and it showed, and that's another reason why WWE's co-branded PPV era is not off to a good start.
Instead of going co-branded, WWE could have limited things to one PPV a month (or 14 PPVs a year, in line with this year's schedule), but leaving the brand exclusivity in except for the Big Four PPVs. The company failed to go lean and mean the right way, but since we're talking about WWE going lean and mean, that brings us to another mistake they'll probably make before 2018 is over.
3 Mistakes They'll Make: Ending The Brand Split
It's no secret that WWE is dealing with declining statistics (may it be buyrates, Network subscriptions, live show attendance, and what have you), waning fan interest, and financials that don't quite cut the mustard. As such, the company has pulled the plug on some WWE Network shows, and more recently, switched to co-branded PPVs, as we had previously explained. Is it too soon for us to expect that WWE will one day be ending its current brand split era just two years after it started?
Many experts, including the likes of Forbes' Blake Oestriecher, believe that ending the brand split would be a good thing, as WWE continuing to go lean and mean could lead to fresher matchups, better rivalries, and better overall star power, as the rosters would be less diluted. He does indeed make some good points, but how do you account for how poorly WWE has booked its mid-carders on both brands, especially on SmackDown Live?
The biggest negative consequence of going back to single-branded programming is the huge possibility that many wrestlers, both male and female, may end up losing their jobs, thereby giving companies such as Impact Wrestling major leverage, and chances to create a new EC3 or Gail Kim. Again, WWE has such a talent-rich roster these days. But ending the brand split won't solve their financial problems; instead, WWE has to fix the root of the problem, push the right people, and produce better television and PPV content.
2 Mistakes They've Made: Strange Choices For The Hall Of Fame
We don't see anything wrong with WWE's decision to induct Goldberg as the headlining member of the WWE Hall of Fame's class of 2018. It was a good move as well to induct The Dudley Boyz as a tag team, Ivory as a female member, and Mark Henry as a freshly retired Superstar. At least for this writer, there were two names that stuck out like a sore thumb, and none stuck out more than Hillbilly Jim.
Was Hillbilly Jim a memorable wrestler? Maybe, but Harold Miner was also a memorable NBA player for his dunking ability. Kordell Stewart was also a memorable NFL quarterback because he was a great athlete who could play multiple positions. But do Baby Jordan and Slash deserve to be recognized in Springfield and Canton respectively for their mediocre pro stats and careers? Of course, they don't. Hillbilly Jim is in a similar boat – he had middling talent and never made it past the mid-card. Was it that hard to induct someone more talented, with a more distinguished career across several promotions, such as Vader?
Your mileage may vary on Kid Rock's induction to the WWE Hall of Fame's celebrity wing – some might not like his politics, some might not like his songs, but you can't deny his musical contributions to WWE. But couldn't WWE have inducted Motorhead instead, given that the band's entire classic lineup (Lemmy, "Philthy Animal" Taylor, and most recently "Fast" Eddie Clarke) is no longer with us?
1 Mistakes They've Made: Ignoring New Japan
Gone are the days of New Japan Pro Wrestling being another niche product reserved for hardcore wrestling fans. More and more people outside of Japan are checking out New Japan to see what all the fuss is about, and a lot of these people are becoming converts after watching five-, or even six-star matches featuring the likes of Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada. But if WWE already did acknowledge NJPW by bringing multiple Bullet Club members, Shinsuke Nakamura, and (the sadly wasted) Hideo Itami over, how come they're ignoring Japan's leading promotion?
New Japan gets it right so often because their wrestlers tell the stories almost exclusively in the ring, and aren't afraid to wrestle well beyond the 30-minute mark. Their promos and angles aren't scripted to the last word (or action) by Vince McMahon and his team of writers. The wrestling is also as realistic as ever, what with Japanese fans seeing wrestling as a legitimate sport, even if they know that it's predetermined at the end of the day. Is it any wonder why Chris Jericho seems to be enjoying it so much in New Japan?
Despite multiple Wrestle Kingdoms having opened fans' eyes to a viable alternative to the WWE, the company has remained, and will likely remain stagnant as it continues to stubbornly spread the gospel of sports entertainment.
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