Wrestling is very different from traditional sports. In the world of wrestling, there are writers that control the outcome of each match meaning if they want a certain man or woman to be the champion they just do it. With this knowledge in mind, some of the older fans tend to criticize professional wrestling and the choices they make. While it is definitely impossible to please every fan out there, it certainly is plausible to make sure that the majority of your audience is happy with the product. After all, it is the fans that make everything possible, unlike in traditional sports the fans have a say in what the product will turn out to be. So if you’re unhappy with the New England Patriots and the Golden State Warriors dominating their respective league you can do nothing about it but if you want to see someone like Daniel Bryan win the top championship you can vote with your wallets.
More often than not, the WWE Universe is picky when it comes to what Vince McMahon and his family produce. They have given us memorable moments in the last three decades, but these days, it has become harder to watch WWE, and the plummeting ratings support that claim. If the McMahons want to regain the popularity WWE used to have, then they will have no choice but to listen to the fans.
Here are 20 things fans want to happen in WWE by the end of 2019 (and 10 for NXT).
30 WWE: Let the refs be actual characters
Back in the good old days of the Attitude Era, the referees were a crucial part in the story they want to convey in the ring. The commentators frequently say the names of the refs and more often than not, they were there as the third person in the performance.
Today, however, the refs seem to be there just to remind the wrestlers how many minutes are left in their match. If they treat them like actual characters, it will only enhance the story inside the ring. A good start is to actually introduce them by name.
29 WWE: Give us more pyrotechnics
One of the most memorable parts of watching wrestling before was the pyro. Each Superstar who has been World Champion has unique pyro specifically made for them. The more memorable ones were Brock Lesnar and Kane’s ring post pyro, Batista’s long entrance, and The Undertaker walking out surrounded by actual fire.
Pyro might be nothing more than an aestheti,c but it gives the Superstars a certain mystic that only WWE can do. It might be too much in terms of budget, but it should be worth every single penny when the fans start to come back.
28 NXT: Make the episodes matter more
The developmental brand of WWE, NXT, has taken the wrestling scene by storm. It has given us multiple memorable matches and quite frankly, it has been the best product WWE has given in years.
With NXT being the developmental league, it is only natural to have shorter episodes. NXT is a 90-minute show, meaning they have a tightrope to walk on. The problem with this is most of the time it only progresses one storyline compared to Raw or SmackDown which gives us three or four. If NXT wants to attract more viewers, they will have to give us quantity to match the quality.
27 WWE: Less toilet humor
Comedy is subjective, that is a fact. What you find funny may be stale and dry to others, and vice versa. The problem with WWE is that their comedy adheres to Vince McMahon’s comedic sense alone. We often get jokes like a guy wetting his pants or a wrestler stuck in a porta-potty.
WWE is supposed to be entertaining, so comedy is often welcomed. If they want to make others laugh they have to hire actual comedians to give them more material and not listen to a 73-year-old man that is clearly still stuck in the ’80s.
26 WWE: Split the pay-per-views
The main roster has a total of at least 12 pay-per-views each year. Four of those 12 are called “Big Four” because they are the only ones that field both the Raw and the SmackDown roster; those four are the Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series. However, earlier in 2018, WWE decided to co-brand each PPV, meaning those shows can go for at least five hours.
While the length of the show is a problem on its own, the other issue is that the stories feel rushed. Giving one month to start and end a storyline is too short of a time which results in mediocre matches where the fans are not invested at all.
25 NXT: Fewer jobbers
Like I said earlier, the NXT episodes are short, meaning they barely have any time to squeeze in storylines. The result is a bunch of guys beating up nobodies just so they can look strong; in the world of professional wrestling, this is called “jobbing.” It is understandable why they do so but it makes each episode repetitive prior to the main event.
More often than not, fans avoid NXT because of the jobbing. If they want more people to tune in, they would have to find better ways to make a certain wrestler look stronger.
24 WWE: Custom sets
Much like the pyro, this entry is nothing more than aesthetics. Custom sets make each pay per view feel special; it is an easy way to distinguish normal episodes from events that matter more. This does not only apply to pay-per-views but Raw and SmackDown itself; if they have different looks they will also feel like two different shows.
WWE has done this in the past and it made each show feel unique in its own simple way. A set overhaul could do wonders for both brands.
23 WWE: Stop naming PPVs after stipulations
Again, this entry shows how petty and picky us the WWE Universe really is. In this era, pay-per-views are often named after stipulations; TLC, Hell in a Cell, Money in the Bank, and Elimination Chamber are all staples in the rotating set of PPVs and it limits the event mostly because of the stipulation in some of the matches.
Names like Armageddon, Judgment Day, No Way Out, and many more were beloved by fans because it amplifies the matches and the stakes. A simple solution would be to bring them back, and it shouldn’t be too much for Vince and co.
22 NXT: New Characters
Veterans of professional wrestling have all commended The Velveteen Dream for his work. The flamboyant black character is new, refreshing, and has a modern twist, and Patrick Clark does an amazing job at portraying and embracing his new persona. This is an example of creativity and fearlessness that we need in the modern day.
In NXT, there are a lot of new characters, but there are also some bland and overused gimmicks. If NXT truly wants to be developmental they would allow the wrestlers to freely express themselves in characters we have never seen before.
21 WWE: A Proper Sasha Banks and Bayley Feud
Women’s wrestling has come a long way. Gone are the days of playboy matches and in with the new more exciting brand of sports entertainment. Sasha Banks and Bayley are responsible for ushering in the new era. Their match at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn is considered by many the greatest women’s match in WWE history and rightfully so.
Today, however, the two have a weird storyline that seems to avoid an actual feud. They are positioned to be the first Women’s Tag Team Champions and the fans do not want to see that. A proper storyline could rival Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch’s amazing feud today.
20 WWE: Actual Stables
DX, nWo, The Shield, and The Nexus; these are all stables that were loved and embraced by the fans. They represented something different from traditional tag teams and the fact that every member can chase individual championships is exciting in its own right.
With The Undisputed Era bound to be called up, we might get an actual stable in the main roster. The problem is Vince has a bad habit of breaking up perfectly fine groups and having them turn on one another. There are times where it works, but most of the time, it just does more harm than good.
19 NXT: Longer Episodes
Like we said earlier, NXT has very short episodes. The lack of time hurts the show in more ways you can imagine. Of course, NXT had no business being this good, but the quality of the show leaves fans wanting more, and who can blame them? The yellow brand has surpassed Raw and SmackDown in terms of storylines and in-ring performances.
Making the show two hours should be easy once they decide it is their third brand as opposed to developmental. If they combine 205 Live and NXT and make it one big show then fans would be happier and it might attract more viewers who got turned off with the length of each episode.
18 WWE: Shorter Monday Night Raw
As of the moment, Monday Night Raw is a three-hour show. This might seem too much for a television show and quite frankly, it is. The show is hard to digest at times because they keep pushing same matches down our throat. Raw feels repetitive mostly because of their efforts to fill the time allotted through pointless matches, promos, and segments.
Raw is better suited as a two-hour show like SmackDown. Two hours gives us more time to breathe and digest each storyline, and it keeps the same wrestlers from battling it out week in and week out.
17 WWE: Length of Feuds
WWE has a weird habit of ending feuds. There are times when feuds drag on for way too long, like most of AJ Styles’ storylines, and there are times when it leaves us wanting for more like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn’s storyline on the main roster.
A problem that seems to occur is the lack of input they absorb from the fans. WWE has a specific amount of time they give feuds, as opposed to listening to the response of the WWE Universe. A simple fix would be to listen to the fans and their thoughts on the story being presented to them, rather than listen to themselves.
16 NXT: Bigger Roster
The first four entries for NXT boil down to this; they need a bigger roster. Jobbers, short episodes, and bland characters can be easily fixed with a bigger roster because it enables creative freedom and leeway for mistakes.
Adding more entertainers can enhance the show dramatically. More feuds and more characters are always welcomed by any wrestling fan since they have more options on who to cheer for and who they can relate to. And at the end of the day, that’s what wrestling is all about.
15 WWE: Make Losing and Winning Matter More
Losing and winning a match is a tricky discussion when it comes to professional wrestling. Since the outcome is pre-determined, it usually does not matter, but fans track these things (and so do websites like ProFightDB) and honestly, WWE should do the same.
Simply put, they should not give guys that lose a chance at a championship and they should do the opposite for the wrestlers that actually won matches. Finn Balor is a perfect example; the guy is undefeated in PPVs, yet he is still stuck in mid-card limbo.
14 WWE: Ensure Continuity in Storylines
Storytelling is a basic skill one must learn if he or she wants to be a wrestler. Giving callbacks to previous fights gives the match a more dramatic effect that resonates with the crowd. Unfortunately today, the wrestlers and management itself often ignore said callbacks.
If they want to actually get the crowd involved, make sure that each wrestler knows who they once feuded with and who they once got along with, because today the only continuity we get is any storyline involving The Shield.
13 NXT: Experiment With More Unused Stipulations
Seeing how both WarGames matches were a huge success, NXT should try and tap into forgotten stipulations. First Blood, I Quit, Asylum, Steel Cage with Barbed Wires, and many more have been set aside by WWE and all of them fit into what NXT wants to be. The solution that makes the most sense is to use them as a part of TakeOvers; if they do, it will only increase the sales and the quality of matches they pumped out.
12 WW: Strike While The Iron Is Hot
The WWE Champion and Universal Champion should always be the wrestler that gets the most reaction out of the crowd whether they are babyface or heel. It makes sense seeing how this industry revolves around what the fans want, rather than what they need. Striking the iron when it’s hot is simply capitalizing on wrestlers who get loud reactions.
Guys like Elias get huge reactions from the crowd, yet they are mostly doing nothing on the main roster. Simply put, just give them the championship and see how high they can take the company.
11 WWE: Enough With The NXT Burials
Whenever an NXT guy gets called up, fans tend to throw a fit. They feel as though that the wrestlers are poorly booked or underused in the main roster. Examples of these are Tyler Breeze, Bayley, Andrade, and SAnity; fans feel that these guys (or girls) have so much more to offer, yet they are being underutilized by Vince and his team.
Burying young talent has been an issue for decades now and the only way it stops is if they avoid calling up young guys in developmental when they have no plans for them. Triple H said this was the plan and we can only hope they follow through.
10 NXT: Bring More Indie Darlings
Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Johnny Gargano, and Tommaso Ciampa are four of the most popular performers WWE have today and they all have a background as independent wrestlers. Fans go crazy for guys that have scratched and clawed their way to the top mostly because of how relatable their journey to stardom is.
NXT has done a great job of giving opportunities to those who deserve it. The problem is we still get guys who are being developed because of physical profile and not as talented as those who have honed their skills all over the globe. Bringing in more indy darlings can get more reaction out of fans, which results in higher buys and more ratings.
9 WWE: Stop Forcing Turns
The bad guy vs. good guy, or heel vs. face in wrestling, has been a dynamic used in any entertainment platform. The dynamic is there to make the storyline simpler and easier to follow.
In wrestling, however, changes can be made and WWE have long used the emotional attachment to characters by turning them to the other side. The issue with this is that turns are there just for the sake of turns, more often than not the characters decide they want to go to the other side for no good reason. If WWE wants us to be more invested in the characters, they would have to let us decide how we react to them, as opposed to forcing us to like or dislike certain wrestlers, much like they did when they turned Becky Lynch heel last year, only for her to get a bigger babyface pop than ever.
8 WWE: Seth Rollins as the man
Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and John Cena were all products of Vince McMahon. These guys were the face of WWE for their decades and it was by choice that they were. The four all are good wrestlers, great promos, and more importantly, they ooze with charisma.
Today, no one is comparable to the previous four and it has resulted in poor ratings and reception overall. Seth Rollins is not close in terms of charisma, but he can match up with the four inside the ring and with his promos. Fans have long wanted Seth to be the Universal Champion and it might be time to put the belt around his waist.
7 NXT: More 205 Live crossovers
A couple of weeks ago, NXT gave us one of the more underrated matches in their short history. Tony Nese of 205 Live against Johnny Gargano turned out to be an exciting high-octane thriller that left us wanting for more.
If Triple H wants the WWE Universe to tune in weekly to NXT, he would bring in more 205 Live guys (Drew Gulak, Cedric Alexander, maybe even reigning champion Buddy Murphy) to compete on the yellow brand. So many dream matches to book, and each one is worth doing.
6 WWE: Bring Back CM Punk
Plain and simple, CM Punk is someone fans want to see compete in the squared circle again. The repetitive “CM Punk” chants, the merchandise seen on television, and the outcry on the internet support the claim. Punk left the company a couple of years ago due to his hatred toward how he is being booked.
The man was never the best wrestler in the world, but his words and promos were so believable. The fans saw someone they can get behind during the John Cena era and he left them wanting for more. If they can convince Sting to come back, then there surely is a way to do the same for Punk.
5 WWE: Character Development
One key difference between TV shows and WWE is that the latter can tell a story without relying on scripts. More often than not, WWE has used real-life issues to get their desired reaction out of the fans. The issue is that the characters have very little room for development since there is something new every single day. Take Finn Balor, for example; Finn was the founder of the Bullet Club, the most influential wrestling stable of the last decade, and his character on TV is a guy with abs who smiles a lot. And it's not like fellow Bullet Club alumni Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson are much more than that bald tag team who calls their rivals "nerds" and hardly shows up on TV anyway.
Characters today feel boring and if it wasn’t for their in-ring prowess, they would have no fans to back them up.
4 NXT: Establish the Mid-Card
Another issue that can be resolved with a bigger roster, establishing a mid-card for NXT has been a hard issue to address. Usually, there is a rotation of five to six guys competing for the top championship while the others are simply there just for the sake of it. Even today with the N.A. Championship, it feels as though those guys are simply waiting in line until their time to challenge for the NXT Championship.
A solid mid-card is crucial for long shows and we can all agree that NXT deserves more air time.
3 WWE: A Full-Time Universal Champion
Brock Lesnar has been Universal Champion for countless days now. Lesnar is generally one of the best characters and wrestlers in the company today but the problem is he rarely appears on television. With Lesnar out for months, the Universal Championship feels empty compared to the other belts and it leaves Raw without its main champion, resulting in a stale weekly show.
The simple fix is to give it to guys who actually deserve it. Finn Balor, Drew McIntyre, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Bobby Lashley, and Sami Zayn are all capable of getting a crowd behind them as champions.
2 WWE: Give Full Control To Triple H
Vince McMahon has done a fantastic job in building up WWE as the most powerful wrestling promotion in the world. Vince’s ideas were fantastic back in the good old days of the Attitude Era, but those times have passed and his ideas aren’t geared towards the audience of today.
Triple H, on the other hand, knows what the crowd wants and how to execute them properly. NXT, 205 Live, and the Mae Young Classic have rekindled the passion of wrestling fans because of how good the shows are. If Hunter is finally given full control, then there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the future of WWE.
1 NXT: Be The Third Brand
As it stands, there are only two brands in WWE – Raw and SmackDown. NXT is considered the developmental brand even though it consistently outperforms the two with its storytelling and in-ring performances.
NXT as the third brand could open up new avenues for the creative team to explore. Multiple dream matches, overlapping storylines, and more pay per views is always a good team for a company like WWE. They tried it once with the revival of ECW, but they treated it like another promotion as opposed to letting it grow alongside the flagship shows, something they can easily avoid with NXT.