Even though WWE’s booking has underlying issues, e.g. struggling to come up with ideas that aren’t overly recycled, with any form of long-term booking, with continuity, and with making sense out of stories or decision, all those aforementioned issues could be less transparent if they were not so tone-deaf and stuck in their ways.
In spite of the fact that WWE is infamous for changing their plans at the last minute, they remain very firm on who they want to push or who they see as a poster child. Even when somebody unexpectedly gets over more than they anticipated, they do not take advantage of it because it does not fit their narrative.
Almost literally, WWE has repeatedly had cynosures fall on their lap. It is essentially an outcry and act of rebellion from their loyal yet frustrated fans who are tired of the company trying to dictate who they like, but in an act of defiance, WWE oftentimes ignores this protestation to cut off their nose to spite their face.
When CM Punk left WWE, he talked about how WWE manipulates the system to fit their narrative. He said that they purposefully degrade people if their merchandise numbers get too high, because they can no longer justify why they aren’t pushing this said person more. This was evident in CM Punk’s WWE run when he was the number 1 merch seller in the company, only for the company to consequently turn him heel.
The fact of the matter is Roman Reigns isn’t well liked, but WWE is doing everything in their power to disguise this because of nepotism and control. He is constantly jeered every place he goes. He does not even receive more applauds than boos in the lesser snarky arenas. This is not to say that Reigns is worthless. He has redeemable qualities to justify his position at the top of the card. WWE is simply booking him in the worst possible way.
Instead of listening to the crowd, thusly converting him into one of the biggest antagonists in WWE history, the company is adamant to make him the new poster child, no matter how many times it has failed in the past and how many times it would inevitably fail in the future.
In defense of the company, Triple H once said that the reason heels are cheered so much and the babyfaces are booed so much is because of the times. The counter question to that statement should be shouldn’t WWE therefore adjust their product to the times. There have been recent cases in which babyfaces have been universally cheered in WWE arenas, and heels have been universally hated.
Daniel Bryan was universally beloved because he was a plucky, never-say-die character who also happened to excel in the wrestling department. By all measures, he was commendable.
The problem with WWE babyfaces boils down to WWE’s narrow-minded opinion of what a babyface should be. They throw most of their babyfaces through a dehumanized machine, depriving them from all the likable qualities they once had. No matter how white meat they might be, they are not going to well liked in this day and age if they are cookie-cutter, bland, and static. They need personality, and usually the people with personality in WWE are the heels and that is why a good deal of people prefer them over the faces. There is something there for them to sink their teeth into.
Even when WWE makes the right decision by turning a popular heel into a babyface, they end up altering the character. They did it with Randy Orton in 2010/2011 and did it with CM Punk in 2011. They alter the character enough to a point where these once red hot wrestlers kind of become just hot or sometimes even lukewarm. Status quo prevails with nothing true dramatic changing because they forget what made them insanely popular in the first place.
Once again, WWE has a golden opportunity to fully cash in on the uprising of one Braun Strowman. By all accounts, Strowman is a heel, yet he is insanely well-liked. He is a no-nonsense powerhouse who just wants to fight, and it is very entertaining to like and very easy to get behind him.Strowman could be a star that landed on WWE’s lap, and let’s not forget some of the biggest stars in wrestling history were by accident (see: Stone Cold Steve Austin). Although you’re supposed to “wait to see how things play out”, I already know how Strowman is going to play out.
Sure, he is going to get opportunities in the main event scene. Nevertheless, he is not going to be the star he could be. He might not even turn into a babyface until the iron is less hot than it is now. I mean, just imagine the hype, heat, and magnitude of a full-fledged babyface Braun Strowman against a full-fledged heel Roman Reigns. The crowd reaction would be something paralleled to the 80s, but you have to imagine it because it’s never going to become a reality.
At the end of the day, wrestling fans are the most loyal set of fans out there. If WWE was any other television show, wrestling fans would have ditched the show a long time ago, but they are loyal for reason that they love wrestling, and WWE is the biggest wrestling company out there. They can stick through all the bad just to get to the good, and to them it is worth it.
They can put up with WWE’s inept and perfunctory booking and how poorly they mishandle talent just to see one of their favorite wrestlers become champion.One of the few only ways, though, for them to lose patience is when a company completely ignores them and goes against everything they want, when a company acts as if they are stupid and their opinions do not matter. Insulting the fan’s intelligence and acting as if they do not know what they want is what ultimately drives people away.
It’s long overdue for WWE to just start listening to want their fans want.