To a lot of fans of particularly “The Attitude” Era and the “Ruthless Aggression” Era, the WWE has fallen in creativity and audience engagement. Although WWE still remains the king pin of the wrestling industry at least from a business standpoint, the shrinking roster, uneven balance of superstars and lack of development in the characters portrayed could potentially see a change to that king pin status.
I am not saying that I know all the facts behind the scenes or the business side of professional wrestling but as a fan for over 15 years I do feel as if I know what has worked for the WWE and what has failed. But lets start with the positives that if handled correctly could send the WWE higher than it has ever been before.
Multiple/Smaller Rivalries + New Fascinating Characters:
The idea of the most dramatic and sometimes only story lines being the main event has always dragged down the entertainment value of a lot of recent PPV’s and even episodes of Raw and Smackdown. But as WWE continues to try to push forward their new wave of superstars, they luckily have not fallen into the same trap made with John Cena as he changed from being a very vulgar and a lot of times rather cunning character, to the poster-boy of the PG era with childish jokes and continuously sucking up to the fans to get a positive cheer in order to continue playing the hero against a new villain each and every month. Which to a lot of fans is not enough which you can tell be the Cena sucks chants, and lets be honest we all liked John Cena at one point and the people who dislike him nowadays only do because a wrestler needs to rely on their character connecting with people not continuously saying how much you care about the fans, the fans are not stupid…. they know every superstar heel or face cares about the fans. This is more notable now than ever when you see the fans following new superstars like Roman Reigns and his lone wolf personality since being betrayed alongside my personal favourite Bray Wyatt, showing that even a heel with the right characteristics can connect with the fans.
But lets get back to the topic at hand, the WWE had many ways to go with Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns as solo characters after the separation of The Shield. But instead of draining the rivalry between Ambrose and Rollins the WWE have cleverly changed the formula to have other superstars take on the top heel (Rollins, given that he has the biggest negative reaction) in order to push more superstars into the spotlight and plant potential rivalries to explore in the future. The biggest example of the is the rivalry slowing beginning between Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins.
But the fact that I am only able to say those are the only positives for WWE at the moment shows that there are issues that needs to be addressed. When I exactly what I think needs to be done I do understand that its easier said than done and there is a lot of money involved, but I hope that everyone understands that this is only spoken by a fan and not a business executive or anything like that.
Small Roster + Uneven Balance Of Superstars:
There was one thing that I really enjoyed in the “Ruthless Aggression” Era over any other era and that was the fact that Raw and Smackdown although were both WWE brands, they had a different wrestling show to one another. Nowadays I see the same matches every week on Raw and Smackdown, personally I feel as though this is because of not only the small roster but the fact that the WWE is too scared to have two separate shows exploring different superstars and stories, mostly because they have decided to shove John Cena down everyone’s throat, which is fine for the fans of Cena, but not to the fans of professional wrestling. So what do I think needs to change about this? Well that’s obvious isn’t it? More superstars on the roster and a separation between Smackdown and Raw, how could they achieve this? They should go take a look at the WWE network which they are so fond of telling us about and look at the shows from around 2003 to around 2006, Smackdown had their own tag team division, the Cruiserweight division, the United States Championship which allowed the not so big superstars to begin gaining audience acceptance or hatred eventually leading them into becoming the main face or heel characters of the brand (Eddie Guerrero being one of the most prominent examples) and of course the WWE championship for the main stars of the show.
While on the other hand Raw consisted of more of the main superstars along with their own tag team division and the ever famous Intercontinental championship. I don’t think its best to copy this structure exactly but I do think it is time to create two different shows again and bring forth more talent into the eyes of the WWE fans, they deserve more than watching the same matches twice a week…..every week.
Repeating Old Ideas:
On the topic of copying, the main problem I have seen with WWE today is the newly created “Authority” aka The PG version of “The Corporation”. You can even hear it in the audience, when Triple H and Stephanie Mcmahon attempt to be the heels they aren’t even booed by the fans but only booed when they drag the fan favourite into their “best for business” ideology. They need to realise that the persona they are trying to copy can only be performed by one person at the right time, and that time has already past with Vince Mcmahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin as the fan favourite.
It’s time for WWE to let go of the formula from previous successes and look towards the future of a new WWE, they have made the first few steps but only time will tell if they will either to quote the very stale and uninteresting storyline “Adapt or Perish”.