World Wrestling Entertainment has been embarking on what many can call the Banter Era, with Jinder Mahal, The Hardy Boyz, Kurt Angle and Great Balls of Fire all happening. The McMahons have finally begun re-evaluating their mindsets as they are treading a consummately unfamiliar path.
Surprisingly, the Internet Wrestling Community has received most of their bizarre decisions well while a few have proven busts as well.
Handing a relative nobody in James Ellsworth the spotlight received positive response while The New Day’s title reign garnered derision. Kofi Kingston emerging as his former Jamaican self produced chuckles while the now infamous The Old Day segment irked many fans. Eva Marie’s promos generated heel heat while Emmalina’s hardly generated any. The House of Horrors match involving future Hall of Famer Randy Orton and one-time World Champions Bray Wyatt hardly generated any interest while a Dumpster Match that saw Kalisto defeat 'The Monster Among Men Who Is Not Finished With Roman Reigns' in Braun Strowman made for entertaining television.
The mentality of the WWE Universe is hard to fathom, but the WWE should definitely stop doing certain things that hardly seem to hold any promise. In the following article, we will discuss eight approaches the WWE should ditch and eight they should persist with.
Since it essentially represents my opinion on today’s product, you may kick start a debate in the comments’ section if you disagree with anything that has been said. You may also express your opinions by commenting on TheSportster’s social media handles.
16 Stop: Too many Pay-Per-Views
The 2016 Brand Split has worked wonders as the aftermath has seen superstars such as Braun Strowman, Baron Corbin, The Miz, AJ Styles, The Usos, and even jobber tier wrestlers such as Heath Slater, Rhyno, Fandango and Tyler Breeze legitimized and become relevant. It has even given the fans darlings Daniel Bryan and Kurt Angle back, but one major downside of it is the Pay-Per-Views losing their relevance.
The WWE has averaged a PPV every 20 days; with PPVs taking place at such frequency, they are beginning to lose its importance. Payback 2017 hardly garnered fans’ interest and needed a vibrant San Jose crowd, spectacular wrestling, a Cesaro heel turn and Kevin Owens tapping out to Walls of Jericho to save the show. Backlash wasn't anything spectacular either.
WWE should go easy on the number of PPVs to retain the magic they hold.
15 Continue: Adapt To The Times
The Attitude Era saw revolved around obscenities and what many people now consider trashy. Vince McMahon made his female employee in Trish Stratus strip in front of thousands of people while The Dudley Boyz put an elderly woman through a table; if such segments are recreated now, they will receive widespread criticism, even from hardcore wrestling fans.
With the society becoming more sensitive than ever before and the internet making a mountains out of molehills at every opportunity, WWE’s decision to produce a cleaner product is fathomable as they are looking to steer clear of controversy while also bringing in more sponsors.
As the younger fans seem keen on purchasing merchandise, their decision to go PG-V seems to have done them more good than bad. The WWE shall and will turn a deaf ear to the Attitude Era aficionados’ clamoring for edgier product.
14 Stop: Driving Acts Into The Ground
Novelty has always been a decent draw; however, the WWE’s reliance on novelty as of late seems unhealthy.
For a considerable amount of time, the company had a walking meme in James Ellsworth hang with main-eventers AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose. Although 'The List' was essentially a part of recently-departed Chris Jericho’s gimmick, its taking the center stage when his then-best pal in Kevin Owens was carrying the Universal Championship largely undermined the prestige the title held in a measure at least.
They banked heavily on novelty shortly after the Brand Split as they needed to garner respectable viewership for either product, especially with Teddy Long and Vickie Guerrero showing up. With either show being legitimized, though, they have eased up on the novelty acts. Here is hoping they do not rekindle their love for relying on old acts.
13 Continue: Building The WWE Network
Although Michael Cole’s relentless marketing of the WWE Network a few years ago annoyed many WWE viewers, it has now grown in prominence to be considered one of the better decisions the company has made in a long time. Giving the service away for as little as $9.99 per month has seen the casual fans be invested in the product as the numerous programs on the WWE Network is certain to create unprecedented interest among the subscribers.
With shows such as Table for 3, Swerved and WWE Ride Along shedding light on the wrestlers’ personal live and given the WWE Universe’s keen interest in the day-to-day activities of the talents, WWE Network seems to be doing everything perfectly. In addition, it also features Smoky Mountain Wrestling, Mid-South Wrestling, Extreme Championship Wrestling and World Champions Wrestling content for the older fans. The company will look to improve what already looks an excellent service, with the internet replacing television.
12 Stop: Building Generic Characters
In the past, everyone had cartoonish, over-the-top characters. WWE had Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts and Ted DiBiase, who all portrayed unique characters on the television. WWE’s presentation of their characters has constantly evolved as they strive to make the wrestlers look more realistic than ever before.
Though their attitude seems comprehensible, the writers, producers and talents definitely need to spend more time on building unique characters. Almost every character on the roster now claims to be happy to have earned a WWE contract after years of toil on the independent circuit.
Gimmicks of Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Bobby Roode and Apollo Crews all seem to be based off their independent roots, with only minor variations. Given the athletic ability of the above mentioned stars, good character building will go a long way toward making the product more interesting than it already is.
11 Continue: Southpaw Regional Wrestling
We doubt the WWE initially had big plans for Southpaw Regional Wrestling despite the YouTube series garnering widespread plaudits for its originality. Many find the teased show highly entertaining, and the IWC has already begun using SRW references at every opportunity.
WWE fans already want more of Tex Ferguson, Lance Catamaran and Surf Dudes with Attitudes, but the YouTube exclusive skit has not been released yet. As the old school wrestling characters are played by wrestlers the fans are aware of, or better yet, adore, this show is certain to be a hit.
Should the show include matches, it will turn out to be an excellent move. The show has the potential to make those who have not subscribed to the WWE Network pay the $9.99 in the event of the writers delivering.
10 Stop: Too much content
WWE have not only increased the number of PPVs as they have also introduced newer brands as well. United Kingdom Championship Tournament and Cruiserweight Classic made for engaging shows on the WWE Network, and their decision to hold Women’s Tournament makes sense, but they ought be one off for the viewers to not be bored. How the WWE is going to generate views for the soon-to-be-launched WWE UK Wrestling Show is baffling.
With RAW, SmackDown Live, NXT, 205 Live, Talking Smack and Raw Talk amounting to eight hours of wrestling a week, WWE should try making the viewers’ eight hours worthwhile rather than finding ways to make the eight nine. The eventual advertisement revenue is certain to tempt them, but they may end up producing sub-par content in the event of introducing more shows.
9 Continue: Catering to Smarks
One of CM Punk’s major complaints was WWE’s hunger for mainstream relevance. Their hankering for impressing the casual fans meant the smart marks, smarks or hardcore fans were underappreciated. However, WWE’s constant evolution has resulted in the company catering to the IWC more than they used to in the past.
Dean Ambrose making references of Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon while interviewing Seth Rollins and Finn Balor in a recent episode of RAW and a Fashion Police segment that branding Shinsuke Nakamura No Style and being oblivious of John Cena’s whereabouts were subtle smarky jokes that impress fans enough for them to come back.
Additionally, smarks tend to buy merchandises more regularly when compared to the casual fans, and the WWE seems to be already aware of that given the smarky segments they seem to make lately.
With Brock Lesnar and Goldberg fighting for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania, though, they have proven that they can still find ways to woo the casuals while also keeping the smarks contented.
8 Stop: 50-50 booking
WWE have made only five wrestlers look unbeatable in the recent past. Sadly, one returned to a WWE ring after a 13 years’ absence while another wrestles only on Pay-Per-Views. The other three wrestlers are Neville, Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns. Their decision to protect only a handful of wrestlers has left those bordering on the upper card and upper mid-card look not credible enough to hold the big belts.
Although Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt and Dolph Ziggler have held the big belts at various points, one will not bet on their retaining the title at any cost. Their decision to resort to the 50-50 booking has definitely made many stars, but they are scuppering their chances of making superstars by doing so.
7 Continue: Catering to regional audience
Vince McMahon allegedly perfected the art of catering to the regional audience even before taking over the company. His marketing strategies have never failed, with India becoming a big market, with promos being released for every Indian festival, from Holi to Diwali.
He has also found representatives from almost every big country, and he is now branching out to previously untapped markets such as China and Germany. Signing former German international soccer goalkeeper Tim Wiese and visiting soccer stadia in Europe have helped WWE garner mainstream attention.
With The Colons, Rusev, Lana, Emma, Kalisto, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Noam Dar, Jack Gallagher, Noam Dar, Sheamus, Maryse, Mustafa Ali, Shinsuke Nakamura, Ariya Daivari, The Singh Brothers and HoHo Lun all represent unique countries.
With Jinder Mahal receiving a push mainly because of his Indian connection and, perhaps, his veins, one can realize WWE’s eagerness to woo the regional audience.
6 Stop: Short-term booking
WWE has often been blamed for making short-term decisions, without long-term booking and its positive consequences in mind. Though the WWE has been working on the same lately, there is still room for improvement.
Untimely injuries often derail their chances of ever making long-term plans, but the recent Superstar Shakeup revealed how reckless they can be with their booking decisions. Despite the feud between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt proving the best storyline the company had done in a long time, their decision to put the latter on RAW while keeping what the duo had been feuding over in the World Championship on SmackDown Live hardly made any sense. They ended up handing the Eater of Worlds a pointless win in a scrappy House of Horrors match.
Had WWE planned their storyline in advance, such confusion might have been avoided.
5 Continue: Being every wrestler’s ultimate goal
Thankfully the WWE have changed their approach when it comes to indie darlings. Their change in approach has also seen the smarks enjoy the show more. Instead of being a show that sees washed up National Football League players and roided up bodybuilders, WWE now sits atop the ladder that every independent wrestler climbs.
The new approach has also seen WWE sign elite wrestlers such as Sami Zayn, AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura although the Elites look happy to dominate the independent scene. WWE has been legitimized not just among the fans but also inside the wrestling industry as they have invented another way to prove the industry that they are the real deal.
Their decision to not just hand such indie darlings WWE contracts but also put the title on them has worked wonders for the company in more ways than one.
4 Stop: Writing overly-scripted promos
One knew he was going to witness something he had never seen before when Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage or Ric Flair held a microphone. The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin also kept up the tradition. The decline started when main eventers Randy Orton and John Cena began cutting promos. Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, AJ Styles and Finn Balor all looks shadows of the former WWE main eventers now as they seem to seem to lack the poise on microphone that made the above-mentioned all-time greats be remembered.
Today’s main eventers look calm and charismatic outside the WWE ring, as seen on UpUpDownDown and other out-of-kayfabe series. Perhaps, the WWE should hand their wrestlers creative freedom on the microphone.
The worst that can happen is Mojo Rawley claiming he has half the veins as Jinder Mahal does.
3 Continue: Blend of wrestling and sports entertainment
As discussed above, the WWE has been putting out segments for every type of viewer. That has seen the company feature all forms of entertainment, ranging from its trademark sports entertainment. Enzo and Cass, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar Braun Strowman, Kalisto, John Cena and Bray Wyatt all entise the casuals while Sami Zayn, Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles all cater to the more informed or the smarky demographic.
For every Dumpster Match or House of Horrors match they direct, they ensure they put out a Shinsuke Nakamura versus Sami Zayn or Chris Jericho versus AJ Styles. Ironically, smarks are being attracted towards the former while the casuals seem to appreciate technical bouts as much as smark do. When all is said and done, they have been able to strike a balance between sports entertainment and technical wrestling, and long may it continue.
2 Stop: Lacking Creativity
While the WWE have been known to raid the independent promotions for talents, they have lately begun raiding them for ideas as well. A company of WWE’s size should serve as an inspiration for the smaller promotions, but it is the other way around in reality.
Two of the biggest things in the wrestling industry today is Matt Hardy’s Broken Brilliance and NJPW’s Bullet Club. The McMahons managed to get hold of the Broken Brilliance gimmick from Impact Wrestling after luring former Bullet Club members in Finn Balor, AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson to WWE. According to the grapevine, they had big plans for The Club prior to Balor’s unfortunate injury.
To think the biggest company has to rely on smaller promotions for creative ideas. WWE definitely needs to be more creative in the coming years given the amount of money they have at their disposal.
1 Continue: Pushing Roman Reigns
Many think that Roman Reigns should be turned heel as he has been generating the most amount of heat on any WWE roster while being portrayed as a babyface. However, all the excitement will be lost when he turns face. The fans do not seem to be booing the him how they did Batista when he returned in 2014. The kind of heat he has been receiving has never been seen before in the industry as fans seem to boo him just because it is fun to boo him.
In today’s definition, a face is one who is cheered and not the one who overcomes the odds. Similarly, a heel is one who generates heat and not the one that cheats his way to victories. The Big Dog To Whom The Yard Now Belongs is easily the biggest heel in the company right now, with the fans wanting Braun Strowman to push him off Mt. Everest.
While even Shawn Michaels could not generate such heat in Montreal, I find no reason why he should stop being the underdog that consistently overcomes the odds.