Every fan has their own favorite era in WWE history. Maybe you enjoyed the ruthless aggression of the early 2000s, or perhaps you would pick the attitude infested storylines on the late 90s, and if you are old school you might favor the golden age of the late 80s. No matter which time period is your favorite, chances are that it doesn’t even resemble what we have on WWE programming right now. For better or worse (mostly worse), WWE is statistically at its lowest point in decades according to ratings.
Now I don’t want to turn this into a WWE bashing session, as the company has made some great strides in making the product better. In fact the company may be operating at a higher level now than it has in nearly a decade, which has been an uphill battle. With that being said, fans know that there are still tons of things that can be improved in the company in the near future.
With the recent release of the new WWE 2K16 cover, it is painfully obvious that the company is still having problems establishing new stars. In fact the past three covers of the video game franchise all featured WWE Superstars who made their debut prior to 2002; The Rock, John Cena, and Stone Cold Steve Austin respectively.
It’s not just the lack of new Superstars that is plaguing the WWE, but also the lack of general direction and follow through too. Many times WWE’s creative team will try something for two weeks then just drop it, having the talent adjust on the fly in front of fans. Fast and inconsistent changes only alienate fans, and furthers the theory that WWE isn’t what it used to be.
So the question arises, how can we fix the once great company, and restore it to its former glory? Well we have some ideas, and here are the top 25 of them. Let us know what you would do to restore WWE to it’s glory days in the comments below.
24 Nameless Jobbers
The WWE is known for having dark matches with local guys before their weekly shows start filming. Why not feature these guys in actual televised segments to get the established talent over? It has been proven to work in the past and present, look at Ryback for proof. His entire “feed me more” gimmick is based on destroying jobbers every week, sometimes two at a time.
It only hurts the talent roster to have guys like Zack Ryder and Adam Rose lose to other guys on their level; especially if the guys that are losing actually elicit a fan reaction.
23 Reduce Show Lengths
If you think that Raw is long while watching it on television, you obviously have never been to a WWE television taping. While everything is exciting at first, the way that it drags on is enough to suck the life out of the arena. So the reason that the crowd is so dead at some shows, is because it’s hard to keep a high level of energy when you have such a long show. And for those of you who don’t know, WWE tapes Main Event before Smackdown on Tuesdays, so it is also a three hour show.
Triple H himself has admitted that he'd love to cut Raw down to two hours: “If I could change anything I’d love it to be two-hours,” Triple H told Austin on his WWE Network podcast. “Third hour of television is so exponentially harder to write, I can’t even begin to describe it to you. It just is really difficult.”
22 Understanding the Audience
WWE used to understand entertainment; the audience was made up of a mostly young male demographic, and while they did cater to them, they didn't exclusively create content for them. Fast forward to today, and they completely play to kids, when half of the people buying tickets to see shows are adult males.
As an example, the reason that half of the arena chants "Cena sucks", is because they are men. Men don't always want to see cartoony, zany, and repetitive shows, they will deal with it, but only for so long.
21 Establish More Relevant Commentators
Every announce team should have a color commentator who fans respect and recognize as a good wrestler; it gives the announce team credibility. WWE is currently grooming a few new color commentators like Corey Graves and Byron Saxton, but they are fairly unknown among the mainstream fans.
While we do have experienced color commentators, many times they seem outdated and out of touch with the current product. If they do seem like they are invested, they are either always babbling (JBL), or not making sense (Booker T).
My suggestion is to put some guys in who are younger, and could still go in the ring if someone challenged the announce team, similar to what Jerry Lawler used to be able to do. Guys like The Miz and Christian stand out in my mind as perfect voices to work color against an experienced play by play guy.
20 Allow Wrestlers to Conquer Other Arenas
Increasing brand awareness is one of the most effective ways to grow a business, so why won’t the WWE allow their stars to do anything unless they approve it first?
On his infamous Art of Wrestling Podcast episode, CM Punk stated that he had opportunities to market WWE to broader audiences, but was denied appearances by the company. WWE even went as far as vetoing a deal that he brokered with Slim Jim, because he didn't ask for permission first. More recently Dolph Ziggler has been punished for booking stand up comedy dates without reporting it to management first, back in January of 2015.
Why wouldn’t WWE allow Ziggler to go out and create fans in the stand up world, when it could potentially bring new fans into wrestling? It doesn’t make sense; if wrestlers can get over in other areas, it only adds to their star power and helps the brand they represent.
No one in the WWE sells anymore. Someone like Ziggler might be able to sell a move, but the selling doesn’t carry over out of that spot. When Kurt Angle slapped an Ankle Lock on Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 21, HBK limped the entire match and after; that is selling.
It’s not hard to remember that you are supposed to be hurt after big moves, as selling adds to the tension of the match. Guys don’t even shake their hand out after punching someone in the corner 10 times, and if you have ever punched anyting in your life, you know that you don’t just no sell swollen knuckles.
18 Less Talking
Talking segments are good, but not in every single opening of every single show. We have been pretty much guaranteed a monologue for at least the first 10 minutes on Raw as of late, which has gotten stale. If WWE wants to kick things off right, they should start every show with an entertaining fast paced match, to draw in the audience in the arena and at home. WWE doesn't have enough entertaining people on the mic to warrant always starting with a talking segment.
17 More Storylines
During the Attitude Era everyone had a storyline. Sure they weren’t all great, but they were present. WWE needs to create storylines for all superstars, even if it is something as simple as a friendly rivalry.
Currently a fan only knows about the World Title storyline, because it is the only one that is pushed on television. In order to make fans care, they need to make all guys have a path, otherwise they are floating around aimlessly in the low card. Vince McMahon himself said on Austin's podcast that fans need a story to care about a match. He should practice what he preaches, as the way it is now, we don't have to care about 80% of the show.
16 Get rid of Gimmick Pay Per Views
Starting in 2009 WWE decided to take some of its most popular matches, and create entire PPVs themed around them. In 2014 alone, WWE put on Elimination Chamber, Hell in a Cell, TLC, Money in the Bank, and Extreme Rules. If you want to get technical, Royal Rumble, Survivor Series, and Night of Champions could also be called gimmicks, but they actually contain matches that forward company storylines.
Gimmick PPVs do nothing but take away from the mystery and anticipation of seeing a certain type of match as the blow off to a major feud. The reason that TLC matches were so awesome, was because we saw them so rarely that they actually meant something when they happened. Hell in a Cell matches were supposed to happen to end a bitter feud, not because it happens to be October. If you have steak every night, after a while you won't want to eat it anymore.
15 Reintroduce King of the Ring
Bravo to the WWE for actually having a King of the Ring event this year. Too bad only a few people actually caught it. Now while I do agree with the idea of having WWE Network exclusive content to reward the subscription holders, why would they release it on a Tuesday with little to no press?
A current problem in WWE is that very few of their guys are ever featured for more than five minutes in a match on television. In order to combat that problem they could have a series of qualifiers on Raw featuring 16 Superstars. After which they could have the quarterfinals/semifinals/finals featured on the KOTR PPV. Changing to this format gives fans a chance to see guys sell their endurance and toughness, and also gives WWE a format to feature different performers on a PPV. It also provides an excellent opportunity to build a new star.
14 MITB Match at WrestleMania
Since we already got rid of the gimmick pay per views, we might as well put the Money in the Bank match where it belongs; WrestleMania. The reason that the match started out so special, is barbecue it was on the grandest stage of them all. It didn’t have the problem of finding 14 guys to split between two matches, it was the best of the best performers in a high stakes ladder match.
By putting MITB back on the WrestleMania card, it gives the match more meaning, influencing more storylines right after WrestleMania. The best MITB pay per view has never lived up to the worst WrestleMania MITB match.
13 Championship Title Redesigns
The worst looking title in the history of the WWE was the spinner WWE Championship Title, and thank God it's gone. While the current WWE World Heavyweight Championship is an improvement, it’s not by much. The belt is very bland, and could easily be made by anyone on the street; it lacks the prestige that it deserves.
We aren't just talking about the Heavyweight Title here, as other belts that need makeovers would be the WWE Tag Team Championship Titles, and the Divas Title; both of which look like elementary school kids designed them. I understand the need for big flashy belts that are marketed to kids, but it is embarrassing to be a fan knowing some of the wrestlers are wearing these titles. Restoring prestige to the look of the belts, will transfer to the respect they receive by talents and fans.
12 Make the Royal Rumble have 40 Entrants
The Royal Rumble match needs to be extended to have 40 entrants per year like in 2011. If booked with 40 people it leaves room for about 20 serious contenders, 10 quick eliminations (to make serious guys look good), five surprise entrants, and five NXT guys to make the jump up to the main show. To combat the extra time that the match would take, WWE could make the timer in between entrants 15-30 seconds shorter.
Every year fans are disappointed with lack of originality in the Royal Rumble match. By changing to the 40 man format, WWE will have more room to please a broader scope of fans.
11 Use Social Media to Forward Storylines
WWE likes to shove social media down our throats, constantly talking about trending stories and superstars' tweets. Oddly enough WWE has yet to use Twitter to its advantage in creating storylines and rivalries. In this Reality Era it gets harder each day to trick smart fans, but it still is possible if done correctly.
WWE should approach two Superstars and have them take personal shots at each other on Twitter, and then tell them both to take the tweets down soon after. This would convince dirt sheets that there is real heat between the two wrestlers, which would intensify the rumors.
Shortly after the Twitter exchange, the two could stage a fight during a show, and have the camera pull away quick; almost as if WWE was trying to hid it. This scenario could jump start a huge feud between two mid carders instantly, boosting their popularity.
10 Introduce Halloween Havoc
WWE loves to get corny and have their talent dress up and act goofy frequently on their shows. Why not get all of this goofy behavior out on one night, and have your Superstars compete in costumes that one time.
Halloween Havoc wouldn't have to be all campy comedy; it could progressively become more adult oriented as the show continued. WWE could transition into a darker, more sinister show as the night went on, dropping the lights, and changing the stage between each match; this could keep older fans interested too.
Picture the opening match with a fun Fandango segment, and the night finishing with a weird Bray Wyatt influenced storyline.
9 Offseason Contracts
A controversial subject that has been brought up by a few is establishing an offseason for pro wrestling. The general idea of the plan is that having a three month off season will extend the lifespan of many wrestlers, giving them a well needed break. This time could also be used to re-energize the writing team, giving them time to develop new storylines.
While a full blown offseason seems unlikely, WWE could adapt a cycling contract system, where a Superstar would work nine months, followed by three months off. This new contract system would keep things interesting in the main event picture, as well as always providing the ability to have surprise returns frequently. It also would lengthen careers and prevent the wrestlers from getting stale with the crowd. The cycling would also always provide more opportunities for others to shine.
8 Make Smackdown Matter
Smackdown hasn’t been relevant in years; basically since the brand split, and Paul Heyman left as head writer of the show. Since then, you can miss literally months of Smackdown, and still be caught up on storylines if you watch Raw. This is a problem.
Orginally Smackdown was essentially Raw part two, with every major star appearing on both shows every week. After the Attitude Era guys left, Smackdown became the show with the great matches, and heated rivalries that reigned over the stagnant Raw show.
Talents like the "Smackdown Six" anchored the show throught out the early to mid 2000s.Somewhere between the Smackdown Supershow, and Raw's extension to three hours, the “B” show has lost all of its mojo. WWE needs to make Thursday nights count,and either have Smackdown contribute heavily to storylines, or cancel the once great show.
7 Cut back on False Finishes
Silly WWE, do you honestly believe that we will fall for a match being over after a single finisher? A finisher by its very name should be used to finish a match, and the rare time that someone actually kicks out of it should be truly special. The finishers leading to false finishes are actually just a symptom of a bigger problem, which is that wrestlers don’t know how to tell stories and/or sell moves.
Most matches in 2015 are all high spots, with both guys laying on the ground exhausted until the inevitable next high spot. Because of this style, matches like the Kevin Owens versus John Cena bout at 2015's Money in the Bank are regarded as Match of the Year candidates, without having any story. Don’t get me wrong the storyline was there, but in ring, there were no transition moves, or story being told; just high spots and kick outs.
6 Unify the United States and Intercontinental Titles
WWE has two titles of the same prestige level on two different people right now. Due to the history of both titles in separate promotions I would never suggest demoting one over the other, and in fact I wouldn’t even know which title to retire.
Regardless of those concerns above the United States and the Intercontinental titles need to be merged into one single upper mid-card title. Keeping the two titles separate divides an already weak mid-card roster into two separate packs, whereas having them all chase the same prize would elevate its status. You will begin to see a theme here in the next few entries, and I promise it will all make sense by the end of this article.
5 Bring Back the Television Title
After we retire which ever mid card title that you feel is necessary, then we resurrect the Television Title from the WCW days (with a face lift). This reestablished Television Title would be designated for the lower mid card guys, and more importantly would be required to be defened on television either weekly or biweekly.
By having the title defended on television frequently, it gives justification for having longer dynamic matches on Raw and Smackdown each week; additionally it gives credibility to the guys wrestling for it. This would be a perfect division to launch NXT alumni into, in an attempt to acclimate them into the main roster.
4 Activate the Internet Title
This is a replacement for the Hardcore 24/7 title of the 90s, except less hardcore. Think of all of the dynamic personalities in the WWE bottom card, like Heath Slater, and Zack Ryder. All of these personality driven guys have fan support, but get no time on television to develop their charterer, so why not let them create their own viral division?
The Internet Title would always be up for grabs, with the stipulation being that you need beat the current Internet Champion, and then upload it to WWE’s YouTube channel. If WWE doesn’t want to acknowledge the title on Raw or Smackdown that's fine, as the matches would primarily take place online. Establishing this title allows talented low card Superstars and Divas to be creative with developing storylines and characters themselves.
3 Tag Team Events
Everyone always says that WWE should revitalize the tag team division, but never give any solutions as to how they can do it. To be honest as of late, the tag team division is doing better than it has in previous years. Here is a three prong approach on how to keep the tag team division strong, so that it doesn't regress.
First off WWE needs to sign a veteran tag team like the Dudleyz for one last run as a tag team. I don’t like the idea of bringing in a ton of older guys, but I think a team like them could/would push younger talent to step up their game every night. Secondly I would dedicate an entire pay per view to a tag team tournament for the titles. The WWE currently has nine active tag teams, ten if you add in the Dudleyz, which is more than enough to throw a great pay per view.
The last thing they should do is have two or three of the teams establish themselves as heels by interfering in tournament matches. Other ways to get teams over as heels is to have them destroy another team after losing, or lose via DQ. By having some teams get cheated, it gives WWE a reason to start a storyline with more tag teams without needing to put titles on the line.
2 Establish Clear Division of Talent
Now that we have four updated divisions, WWE should establish a clear division of talent. The division lines would be so clear that when a guy jumped between them (from Television to Intercontinental for example) it would be noticeable, and exciting.
To figure out who goes where, WWE could divide their talent up in the war room, and assign an agent to each division based on their specialties. For example, Billy Gunn and Road Dogg are perfect for the tag team division, Ricky Steamboat for the Intercontinental, etc.
By integrating both the WWE Main roster and NXT rosters, WWE would have more than enough to fill the following divisions: World Heavyweight, Intercontinental, Television, Internet, Tag Team, and Women’s.
1 Power Rankings/Bound for Glory Style
Now that we have the divisions laid out and organized, WWE should steal the best idea TNA ever had, and introduce a point system into each division. By using a power ranking, with Superstars gaining different point amounts for different match outcomes, WWE could use the summer to set up the WrestleMania card and potential rivalries.
Using this point system gives Superstars an actual reason to be in matches with opponents who they aren’t necessarily feuding with. It also gives the company a way to show fans who is in what division, without the traditional bracket system. Each title would have its own power ranking, which would be updated weekly and online for fans.
If WWE decided they wanted to actually keep a MITB PPV (which I disagree with), they could have the Superstars in 2nd-7th place participate in a ladder match. WWE could have each of the divisons actually have a match at the pay per view for added depth and stakes.