WWE deserves a ton of credit for building wrestling into the entertainment juggernaut that it has become in the past thirty years. Vince McMahon was able to capitalize on featuring high profile talents on a national stage, slowly building his empire over North America. Although he absorbed many territories, some refused to go down without a fight, giving the WWE competition during most of the 80s and 90s.
The WWE’s biggest competitor, which was funded by billionaire Ted Turner, was World Championship Wrestling. Although they battled for half a decade, WWE came out on top, and eventually absorbed their once fierce competitors. With all of his competition gone, Vince McMahon was forced to come up with another way to drive business, and decided to split up his own brands, making Raw and Smackdown two separate entities.
Internally the WWE encouraged a fierce competition between the two shows, which lasted for a few years into the late 2000s. After the WWE roster was combined again into one brand, the creative team began to get stale, with no competition to drive them to be better. With the lack of motivation to push the product, most things in the WWE became watered down, and lost their prestige. Wrestling titles were completely taken off of television, characters were not properly developed, and WWE programming became a shell of its former self.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there is a direct correlation between when WWE became a monopoly, and when certain areas in the WWE began to lose their prestige. This article will focus on the top 15 things that have lost their edge, with most of them taking place within the past five years.
As always feel free to let us know your opinions and what we missed in the comments below.
16 World Heavyweight Title
The World Heavyweight Title was always synonymous with NWA, and more specifically the Nature Boy Ric Flair. You may be asking yourself, “why is this belt on here, it isn’t even on WWE programming anymore”; well that is the problem.
The WWE retired a belt that carries with it 30 years of history, with champions like Sting, Randy Savage, and Hulk Hogan all holding it at one time. The fact that WWE treats the big gold belt like a second class citizen, and that they can deactivate/activate anytime they want is a sign of disrespect to one of the most iconic belts in wrestling.
15 WWE Championship
So you’re probably trying to figure out if this list is going to be about all of the WWE title belts; the answer is no. The reason that the current WWE Championship is added to this list, is due to the quality of reigns, and title holders.
In fact since mid 2013, the title has changed hands 12 times, and been vacated three times. That is the equivalent of a champion losing their title every two months. Not only does that tarnish the title, but it also tarnishes every Superstar who competes for the WWE Championship.
14 Royal Rumble Match
”Oh man who is it going to be”
”I read that Kurt Angle is coming back”
2… 1… BUZZZZZ… “I AM THE BOOGEYMAN, AND I”M COMING TO GETCHA”
The above conversation is one that most fans of WWE had during the 2015 Royal Rumble. WWE consistently delivers bad and predictable Royal Rumble matches year in and year out. We all know the match has to have some slow moments, and needs to be filled up with low-card guys from time to time, but last year’s Rumble match hit a new low. The 2015 iteration of the annual match was trending worldwide on twitter, spawning the #CancelWWENetwork movement.
13 WrestleMania Undercard
WrestleMania is supposed to be the showcase of the immortals for the WWE, displaying the best of what professional wrestling has to offer. Over the past few years, with stars retiring, wrestlers losing a step, or just general bad luck in the company, the WrestleMania pay per view has lost a bit of its steam.
WWE has tried to combat the loss of the “Streak” matches by adding in a battle royal, and have even added a concert in the middle of the show to entertain fans. The truth is, most of the matches at WrestleMania don’t matter, because they are slapped together, with no real storyline behind them. This year’s event looks to be following a similar outcome, as WWE is very thin on talent due to injuries.
12 John Cena
John Cena has been the poster boy for the WWE for over a decade, carrying the WWE on his shoulders for most of that time. As the years have progressed, Cena has lost a bit of his edge, in fact the star doesn’t even split the crowd the way he used to.
Although 2015 was a great year for Cena in terms of matches, one could argue that those bouts were carried by his competitors, and Cena merely held up his end. Don’t get it wrong, John Cena will always be an attraction, but his drawing power is dwindling, and is highly dependent on his opponent.
Kane’s career ended in 2011. There is no way that anyone who was a fan of The Big Red Machine can watch his work since he re-masked in 2011 without rolling their eyes. The WWE slowly transformed one of the most consistently entertaining big men of all time, into a corporate stooge, who occasionally likes to hug it out with his teammates. Back in the day if Kane was added to a match it meant that the bout was going to be elevated, but now it just means that WWE has run out of young stars to throw into a storyline.
10 King of the Ring
The King of the Ring tournament used to be a month long event, that would eventually crown someone as the next big thing in the WWE. When WWE deviated from the annual style of the pay per view, it was the first sign that the tournament was devalued.
Since 2002, WWE has only held four KOTR tournaments, and the most recent one took place on the WWE network on a Tuesday as a special event. Perhaps WWE could demote the KOTR to the NXT brand, and allow some of the younger wrestlers to thrive in the tournament style of wrestling.
9 Survivor Series
The Survivor Series pay per view was originally supposed to be one of the big four events for WWE in the early 90s; the others being WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, and SummerSlam respectively. Unfortunately the pay per view has lost prestige, within the last decade or so, with the traditional Survivor Series tag team matches lacking storyline, and substance. In the past few years especially, it looks as if WWE has only thrown together teams of Superstars who had nothing else going on at the time.
7 Vince McMahon
During the 80s Vince McMahon was know as the annoying commentator, during the 90s he was known as the biggest villain in the WWE, and during the 00s he was known for pushing ruthless aggression among wrestlers. The once revered McMahon is now just a punchline on screen, and an out of touch promoter behind the scenes. Sadly Vince is over the hill, and fans know it, so when the third generation wrestling star shows up on screen, it has less meaning as time moves forward.
6 Monday Night Raw
When Monday Night Raw started, it was the first nationally syndicated wrestling television show. Fast forward about 25 years, and show is still going strong; in the sense that WWE has never missed an episode.
Besides Raw’s punctual consistency, all other facets fo the show have lost their spark. The talent is as shallow as ever, the writing is weak, and the show is an hour too long. While there are times when Raw is reminiscent of its older self, more times than not it is an out of touch episodic television show.
5 Money in the Bank Match
The concept for the Money in the Bank match was brilliant, showcasing 6-8 stars in a ladder match during the WrestleMania pay per view. What started as a great, unpredictable, entertaining match, has transformed into a gimmick that WWE has ruined. The concept itself is overused, having been turned into an entire pay per view for the past few years.
Luckily for fans, with the unification of the Heavyweight Titles, the pool of competitors is whittled down to the cream of the crop going for one contract during the MITB match. With that being said, the match should be reinstated as a WrestleMania main stay to ensure that the contest doesn’t lose any more credibility.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts used to finish off his opponents with a single DDT; let that sink in for a second. Now that you realize that matches used to end with a single finisher, think about every big match of 2015 - specifically the John Cena/Kevin Owens feud.
All of the best matches now have multiple false finishes, and moves that would have closed out matches during the 90s are now being used as match openers. With wrestlers becoming more athletic and more entertainment oriented, the prestige of their finishing maneuvers has declined heavily.
3 The Mid-card
WWE has always had a pretty deep roster, with most of the mid-card talents being top stars from other territories/promotions. During the Attitude Era you could turn on an episode of Raw or Smackdown and see an entertaining segment from the top of the show, to the bottom of the show.
Over the past few years however, the landscape of wrestling has changed, and there really isn’t a mid-card anymore. Wrestlers are all from the WWE feeder system, which means that rookies are in the mid-card, with years to go before they can progress to the main event scene. Unfortunately with no mid-card it means that wrestlers in WWE are either main eventers, or low-carders.
If you took the win/loss record for everyone on the WWE roster right now, and turned them into a percentage, chances are most of the Superstars would be sitting at about 50%. Although this may seem like a good thing, as no one loses more than half their matches, it actually is one of the biggest factors that has hurt WWE in recent years.
Since everyone loses matches frequently, there is no consistency for wrestlers to gain steam while building up their character. Let’s use Dolph Ziggler for example, the guy wins just as many as he loses, and has been unable to climb out of the mid-card because of it.
1 WWE Ratings
The WWE Network has officially changed the game for all of entertainment. The awards and the recognition that the WWE has received from multiple outlets for the network has made them blind to any criticism for their weekly product. Because the corporate office knows that they have a steady stream of income with the network, it seems that the weekly product and ratings are less of a priority for the creative team. Prior to the planning of the network, WWE was working without a safety net; now they can afford to drop the ball from week to week and deliver sub-par television.