It's no secret that the current product being produced by the WWE is far from top-notch entertainment. The storylines are mediocre at best, feuds feel rushed and quickly forgotten, and the announcing team seem to be entrenched in some never-ending inside joke that nobody understands.
When you compare what the WWE was like ten to fifteen years ago to what they are like today, the decline is clearly visible. Something is sorely lacking in today's product and it doesn't look like much of a effort is being made to rectify that situation.
The fact the the WWE World Heavyweight Champion has not been seen on television since September is absolutely ridiculous. This is not boxing where the champion can defend his title once or twice a year. This is fake wrestling – where the hell is the champion?
Most recently, the Intercontinental Championship was won by Luke Harper. This is good as there is promise in Harper, who has a lot of agility for a big man and his singles push away from The Wyatt Family has just begun. However, while this is something new, the push of Luke Harper could dwindle in a heartbeat in WWE.
The United States Championship had seemed completely irrelevant for the past few years, from Dean Ambrose never defending the title to the lack of interest in the title reign of Sheamus. I was beginning to think that the US title should have been vacated and left in the dust until it was captured by Rusev. The anti-American holding the American title is a cool approach but this angle could just as easily be torn down as well.
The tag-team division has had its share of ups and downs. The Usos were good as tag team champions and could have been great if WWE had come up with a couple of teams for them to feud with in the long-term (something reminiscent of The Hardy Boyz, The Dudley Boyz, and Edge and Christian). Now that The Miz and Mizdow are currently holding the tag team gold, we can expect more comedy than great tag-team action.
Then there are the Divas. The lovely ladies of the WWE, who unfortunately are the worst crop of women performers that the WWE may have ever had. There are exceptions as some of the Divas have that in-ring ability that used to qualify them for the Women's Championship, when the championship belt looked like an actually championship belt but that's just a minor problem in the division.
This article is designed to feel more like a brainstorming session for fans of the WWE who want to remain as fans and see some improvement. These are the top 10 ways the WWE can rejuvenate their product:
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10 Make SmackDown Matter Again
SmackDown has always been the “B” show in WWE and that's understandable. Monday Night Raw is the flagship program and that is not going to change. However, there was once a time when SmackDown was actually worth watching. These days, the show doesn't even feel like the “B” program, it feels like a complete runoff of Raw. Most nights consist of repetitive highlights from “earlier in the week ” (yeah, they still think people are unaware that they film on Tuesday). When SmackDown was its own brand with its own champions it was really worth watching. There was a contrast to what you would see on a Monday Night. Now, that the brand extension is over, the show just doesn't feel unique in any manner. There have been rumors as of late that the show will be moving back to its original night (Thursday) which is a start. You have to figure that more people are home watching TV on a Thursday rather than a Friday. If these rumors prove to be true, the WWE need to change the format of SmackDown. Perhaps shift its focus to a more wrestling-based show, as opposed to the soap-opera-like dramatics we are used to seeing on Raw.
9 Bring Back the Cruiserweight Division
The elimination of the Cruiserweight Division in 2007 was a bad decision by WWE, in my opinion. The fact that Hornswoggle was the final man to hold the title was dumb, making the championship seems as though it never really mattered. The title was introduced in WCW and was held by a number of great wrestlers: Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Lance Storm, and Chris Jericho, just to name a few. The Cruiserweight division was something different, something new, something exciting outside of the usual big-guy main event scene. It offered fans a chance to watch some extraordinary performers who they may not have had the chance to see otherwise. It provided a platform for smaller guys to excel on the main roster and excite the audience all the while.
The Cruiserweight Division could thrive in today's product if given the chance. This would also provide a great starting platform for a lot of NXT talent who fit the Cruiserweight mold, like Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville, and Corey Graves. If you take some of these young stars and incorporate them into a newly-vamped Cruiserweight Division, along with a couple of veterans like Tyson Kidd, Justin Gabriel, and Heath Slater, then you just may have all the fixings of a great new (yet familiar) division.
8 Turn up the Sexual Tension/Chemistry
The PG version of WWE has clearly forced the company to drastically turn down its sex appeal. I get that marketing to a younger audience will do that, but I'm not sure if the WWE realize that a large core of their audience are teens and young adults. Of course, I'm not talking about taking anything too far, but what ever happened to the days of sexually charged couples? Remember Edge and Lita? The modern day “couples” of WWE just don't work the same way. Santino and Emma? What was that all about? Just a couple of goofballs with no chemistry or sexual tension. People enjoy that tension, as it makes the WWE feel more like a television series and less like a choreographed-circus. What made Edge and Lita work so well was that they were a real-life couple, so why not duplicate that? Take John Cena and Nikki Bella if you must. Of course, this may cause the female fans (a large portion of pro-Cena supporters) to chant along to “Cena Sucks,” but does that really matter?
7 Lose the Unnecessary Gimmicks
There has always been somewhat of a perverse obsession within WWE for utter nonsense, no matter what the era. Well, it's time to get over that thought. Is there a legitimate reason for a bunny, a bull, or a gator to be competing in matches? What's the point of the “Exotic Express,” anyway? It's boring, pointless, and such gimmicks need to be eliminated from the WWE. Whenever these foolish characters are out on television, it is usually time for the home viewer to switch over to Monday Night Football for a few plays. But, it would appear as though somebody backstage is laughing more-so than the fans and I suppose that's all that really matters (must be what's best for business).
6 Allow Personality to Shine Through
One of the major problems in WWE right now is the lack of promo-freedom – everything is too scripted and monotonous. The best promos are delivered when the individual is allowed to add their own twist. There are guys like John Cena and Bray Wyatt who are excellent in their delivery and that is because they are allowed a sense of freedom on the microphone. There used to be a format in place for promos that involved bullet points: where the key aspects of each promo would be marked down on paper and presented to the superstar who would then fill in the blanks and arrive to those conclusions on their own, using their own voice and personality. These would usually result in better promo-work as it allowed the superstars to give the audience a glimpse into their own psyche, instead of literally reciting lines from a play. This concept needs to be re-introduced to the superstars.
5 Proper Use of the General Manager
If you caught the end of Raw this past Monday Night, then you heard heard Michael Cole utter the ever-so annoying, “I have just received an email …” That's right, the anonymous Raw General Manger is back in charge now that The Authority are out of power (wasn't Hornswoggle already revealed as the anonymous GM? So, is this him at the helm once again or somebody new?). This is just another example of lackluster storyline production. The WWE has a plethora of people who they can use as the General Manger of not just Raw, but the entire WWE. Look to past legends who may spark the interest of old fans and who could actually shake up the program. In reality, the GM only needs one qualification, the ability to work the microphone. Think of some of the people who can assume this role and make it interesting again: Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, JBL (if he was willing to step away from the announce table), Shawn Michaels, or Paul Heyman – while still acting as advocate to Brock Lesnar and making more sense of the champion's absence.
4 Do Not Fear the Indies
There is an unwritten rule in the WWE regarding independent talent that states they are simply not good enough or big enough (they love size in that company) to be a top-tier talent. This is a terrible philosophy to follow. Of course, there have been the exceptions to the rule, most notably with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. However, oddly enough, their success may deter other independent talent from ever reaching that level. The WWE hates self-made superstars, especially those who are different from what they consider “normal.” The WWE likes to train and develop their own talent – turning bodybuilders and ex-football players into superstars. I was recently surprised to learn about the signing of Kevin Steen – an independent wrestler and former ROH World Champion whose look and wrestling style is not necessary compatible with WWE standards. However, they are giving him a chance and he is set to debut in NXT this December. This is a good thing and only time will tell if WWE allows Steen the rightful chance to shine. The bottom line here, do not fear independent talent because of some outdated 1980's cliche of what a wrestler is suppose to look like.
3 Push Boundaries
I spoke earlier in this piece about sex appeal being turned down in the modern WWE, but that doesn't mean that they can't push boundaries anymore. There is nothing particularly shocking going on in WWE. The same company that once pushed every boundary imaginable has succumb to watering down everything they produce. There should be something topical going on in the product, something that relates to today's culture. Remember when Zeb Colter first arrived with the whole Tea-Party gimmick? That was good for those politically aware. The problem with that is that a lot of young people don't give a damn about politics. They need to find the issues that the youth care about and process them into storyline form. Something tells me that the WWE doesn't take very well to market research, thus halting any evolution of the brand (adapt or perish I believe is the slogan). The PG days of WWE are seemingly far from over, but that shouldn't take away all aspects of controversy and chaos. There must be a happy medium.
2 John Cena Turning Heel
The #2 entry on this list is a definite long-shot, but let's examine it anyway. John Cena turning his back on the Cenation and becoming a heel. Imagine that. This has been long discussed on internet sites, as speculation of a Cena heel turn has been brought up countless times over the years with nothing happening. That being said, I don't think John Cena will be turning heel any time soon, if ever, but think about the change of scenery in WWE if they took this path. Cena turning heel would change the landscape of WWE (I know they use that term a lot on TV and it never really means anything, but Cena turning may finally make that point valid). However, once again this is strictly speculative as the odds of Cena turning are slim-to-none. There is no doubt that John Cena is the “good guy” in WWE, but it is nice to throw out some speculation from time to time. Think of John Cena losing all of that colorful gear and wearing a plain black t-shirt, sans slogan. No more wristbands or ball-caps. No more running to the ring, a whole new attitude, a whole new John Cena and a whole new WWE.
The #1 way for the WWE to rejuvenate their product is a fairly simple one: competition. If the WWE had legitimate competition from another wrestling company, the way it once did when WCW was around, then there would be a whole new look and uprising in WWE. When WCW began to win the ratings battle, it forced the WWE to rejuvenate their product or otherwise get ran out of business. If something could come along that could pose as a real threat to the WWE, then you would absolutely see drastic changes going down. Here's hoping for that competition to show up someday.
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