Saturday, June 15, 2024
Editorial10 WWE Tropes That Need to Stop With Triple H as Head...

10 WWE Tropes That Need to Stop With Triple H as Head of WWE Creative

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Every writer has their crutches, but WWE Creative has some habits they really need to kick as soon as possible. These tropes have long overstayed their welcome and have lost nearly all their value.

Thankfully, we’ve already seen some changes to the formula with Triple H coming on board as the head of WWE Creative. SummerSlam was great and Raw was a step up from normal. Things are going in the right direction. I don’t know about you, but I’m FAR more excited about watching Raw, SmackDown and the rest of the shows lately than I’ve been in quite some time.

I want to keep the ball rolling. That means now, more than ever, the powers that be need to take a look at the problems and start fixing them.

Without further ado, here are 10 writing tropes I hope to see change with the WWE product going forward.

1. The 24/7 Championship Change Cycle

Dana Brooke suddenly pops up in a segment. Maybe it is mid-match, or something backstage. Typically, it happens out in the ring. She’s taken by surprise when someone rolls her up. New 24/7 champion!

But then, what’s this? That person who is celebrating with the belt gets pinned, too!? New 24/7 champion! And then, Champ #3 gets pinned by Superstar 4, who gets pinned by Superstar 5, etc. Then, wouldn’t you know it…Dana Brooke catches that person off guard, wins her title back, and runs away! Everyone chases after her. The belt is back where it was at the start of this whole ordeal. Isn’t that such an exciting whirlwind?!

No. It isn’t. We’ve seen this happen dozens of times by now. It always goes the same way.

The most recent one of these was as follows: Brooke lost to Akira Tozawa, who dropped it to Nikki A.S.H, who dropped it to Alexa Bliss, who lost it to Doudrop, who lost it to Tamina, only for Brooke to pin Tamina and run off.

NOTHING of value is accomplished. Yes, those people get more title wins to their names on a technicality, but the 24/7 Championship means zilch. The reigns last only mere seconds. In fact, this whole sequence is only maybe 2 minutes long, so it isn’t even as though you’re killing time.

It isn’t fresh, since it has happened so often. There’s no excitement as fans don’t care about this belt and we know that it is just going back to the original champion by the end of this sequence. It isn’t even funny. Is this joke really supposed to make us all laugh uproariously, or think WWE is zany, cooky, crazy, blah blah synonyms of “a chaotic mess”?

I’d imagine Triple H realizes how dumb this title has always been and will either get rid of it entirely, or at least book something different. I’ve said for years that I’d love to see someone like a Braun Strowman type hold the belt and NOT be able to just get rolled up. Maybe that’s what we can do with Omos, Commander Azeez, Veer Mahaan or another monster?

2. Interference Finishes

Almost no matches on Raw or SmackDown end without some sort of interference. Someone either causes a disqualification, attacks someone behind the referee’s back, or distracts the person they’re feuding with long enough for that wrestler to get taken advantage of by their opponent, who catches them off-guard with their finisher or a roll-up for the win. Then, that Superstar mean-mugs the camera, going “grrrr” to the smiley Superstar who caused the interference and cost them the win.

For years, WWE has abused this trope to the point that analysts like myself don’t even watch the matches most of the time. We know where it is leading. The end of the match isn’t in sight until the commentary team starts to indicate that the distraction is about to happen.

Hell, when there’s a third party that can interfere, I’ll even write up the results in advance for my TV coverage, as I know “X defeated Y by pinfall due to interference/distraction by Z.”

It’s okay for people to lose matches. Just look at how AEW does it. That promotion isn’t perfect, but they’ve managed to allow people to lose matches without completely destroying their credibility like WWE is afraid of. There are other ways to build feuds than to have constant interference, too.

3. Contract Signing, Face-to-Face and Other Promos By Another Name

It doesn’t matter what you call it. If your segment revolves around one or more people talking with, at most, a short physical altercation at the end of the bit, you’ve got yourself a promo and nothing more.

Contract signings are completely worthless. Every time one of those is scheduled, I wonder why WWE thinks this is a marketing tactic. “Hey, fans, do you want to see people sign papers and say they’ll beat each other at the scheduled match?!” Oh wow. One of them put the other one through the table. I didn’t see that one coming, did you?

“Face-to-face” is even worse. That is quite literally just saying those two people will stand next to each other. RIVETING. Guess what they do in all of these segments. You got it. They grab microphones, talk about how they’re going to beat the other person, and look angry at one another. Then, maybe, one of them takes a cheap shot, so they can brawl for a split second, someone can stand tall over the other, and the commentary team can talk about how that might signify that that person will win. Yawwwwwwwwwwwwn.

MizTV. The KO Show. Whatever you call it, a promo is a promo. And I love a good promo from someone who is able to talk, but don’t try to b.s. the viewer by acting like it is something epic when it is just another talking segment.

This isn’t something I think will be going away, sadly. Promos are too built into the structure of the program to eat up time. But maybe they’ll at least be more upfront and honest about it.

4. Can They Coexist?!

Strange Bedfellows matches used to be interesting when they were rare instances. They still can be fun, if they pair up people who would be legitimately interesting to see work together.

But just slapping two people in a tag team match and screeching “Can they coexist?!” doesn’t make that an automatic win.

For that matter, an extension of this is giving the tag team titles to two oddballs who are forced to work together. WWE has gotten way too reliant on that as the only way they were willing to invest in the tag team division, as it was effectively telling a story about two singles stars, rather than a team.

Sometimes, it works, like RK-Bro. Other times, we get Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax just wasting time with the titles for a few months.

I want to see a return to more teams like The Street Profits and The Usos, where they have a team name and feel like they actually enjoy teaming together. More Alpha Academy and less “Person X and Person Y who happen to fight two other people” as a team.

Thankfully, Triple H does seem way more into tag teams than Vince McMahon. I expect to see more of a shift toward the tag division being more properly utilized going forward and not just a vessel for four singles stars to be in a segment rather than just two.

5. Pinning a Champion to Earn a Title Shot

WWE got super used to the trope of the automatic rematch clause. Then, a few years back, they decided to nix that. It gave people false hope that it would stop WWE from doing back-to-back matches, as they’d be forced to set up new challengers.

Then, WWE just decided to have “Championship Contender” matches where they would often do the opposite and actually run the match back again before doing it a THIRD time. That way, they could have Wrestler X beat Wrestler Y, then Y wins a non-title match, only to lose the title match to X and they’ve milked that for a full two months.

Whether it is the former champion getting a rematch or someone else getting a title opportunity, WWE should figure out a better way to set up a challenger than to have the current champion lose. It is quick, easy and efficient, but it is also lazy. It should be a shock when a champion loses, rather than something they do to every person they’re feuding with at least once before they defend their belt.

Drew McIntyre beating Sheamus to earn the No. 1 contender’s spot for a match against Roman Reigns is a good example of turning this around. McIntyre didn’t need to pin Reigns to give the audience a sense that The Tribal Chief could lose. It is your job to tell that story over the coming weeks, which will make that part of the feud more engaging than just riding the coattails of “but he pinned the champ, so…that’s finished.”

6. Coming Up Next….in 15 Minutes

Having someone come out to the ring for their entrance, then cutting to a series of commercials, backstage segments, vignettes and promos. 10 minutes later, their match is about to start and they’re still in the ring, just warming up. I get that this is supposed to hook you to keep watching because you want to see that person wrestle, but that’s why people have DVR, watch these shows later, and skip the nonsense. Or, they just lose interest, switch the channel, leave to do something else, etc.

7. The Down-Season

Wrestling doesn’t have seasons, yet WWE likes to make arbitrary ones up in terms of their workload.

Nothing matters except WrestleMania. Then, when WrestleMania season comes, people start writing the show as if “the shows leading up to WrestleMania don’t matter as long as Mania itself is a good show.”

It’s a cycle of excuses. The Big Four doesn’t really exist anymore, where you can waste time on pointless house shows where people are excited to see any wrestling at all because they have less entertainment at their disposal and you can run the same program for months leading up to Survivor Series.

The major events should feel special because they’re above the norm, but the norm shouldn’t be bad just so the “special” ones are great in comparison just by being decent. Sometimes, that hasn’t even been the case.

Just because something is a B-level show doesn’t mean it can’t be super fun. You aren’t going to put your best matches possible at Extreme Rules in comparison to WrestleMania, but don’t just treat it like you’re coasting until you have to fill the next stadium. Spend enough time building up the roster so you can have 7-9 matches people care about and don’t need some sort of gimmick to keep people slightly interested.

SummerSlam was fantastic, but it remains to be seen what happens under this regime for the lesser events. The next one coming up, Clash at the Castle, is another stadium show, so I think they’ll try harder for that than Extreme Rules. That’ll be the one that really gives us an indication of what we’re looking at going forward.

8. The First 15 Minutes is Just Needless Setup

Everyone knows you can skip the first 15 minutes of the show. This is especially true if Roman Reigns is scheduled for SmackDown. All they’re going to do is head to the ring, talk about what happened the previous week and what might be already announced for later in the night, then possibly have a brawl with their opponent if they get interrupted, but it’ll just get broken up.

As mentioned before, most of these tropes can actually work in limited capacity. That would be a perfectly serviceable hook for the rest of the show if it is an interesting enough segment. It just rarely is. Instead, it just feels like they killed 20 minutes of the program, if not more after commercials, to effectively say “This is happening 30 minutes before the show ends.” Since we already knew that from the website and social media and opening of the program literally announcing it, we didn’t need a promo of someone reiterating the same point.

Start with a match sometimes. Just out of nowhere. Intro of the show straight into the bell ringing and two people in the ring ready to have a good match. This is a wrestling show, after all. People are supposed to want to watch wrestling.

9. You Won That Accolade. Congrats. Now, You Can Keep Losing.

Winning the Money in the Bank briefcase, in particular, can be a death sentence to someone’s win-loss records.

It’ll all work out in the long run once they win the title, right? But what if they don’t? Ask Corbin or Otis. Well, “plans changed” and now, you’re left with someone you took the briefcase away from, had them fail to reach that top-tier status AND you’ve been beating them for so long. They would have been better off without that spotlight calling attention to how much they’ve failed to win you over as a main event prospect.

I’m worried this is happening with Theory. Granted, the majority of his time with the briefcase hasn’t been under Triple H’s control, so it remains to be seen if he treats him differently, but he’s certainly lost a lot since capturing that contract.

Don’t get me wrong—Theory should not win the title right now. Arguably, he shouldn’t be the one to beat Roman Reigns at all. In my mind, that should be Cody Rhodes. But I’d like to see Theory rehabbed so that he steadily climbs up the hierarchy to the point where if he were to cash in, people would be okay with him as champion, instead of thinking he’s a total loser who isn’t worthy of holding the belt. That’s not heel heat; that’s “ugh, this guy?” turn the channel type disapproval.

In a way, this is similar to the champion being pinned idea from above. Just because you have an accolade to your name doesn’t mean you’re impervious to looking weak. That’s how we get weak champions who people don’t hold in high enough regard to be invested in their title reigns.

10. For the First Time Ever! vs Repeat = Epic Rivalry

They know each other so well. This has been a STORIED rivalry.

In reality, this is just flowery language to convince you long equals good and quantity is the same as quality. Not everything this is bigger is also better. While I’m the type of person who would love a 9 hour cut of Avengers: Endgame, I can also name 90-minute movies that are better than some 3-hour epics. The same goes for wrestling storylines. Sometimes, less is more.

But if WWE isn’t beating something into the ground and trying to act like that’s a good thing, they’re looking for any excuse to hit you with the “first time ever” phrase. Someone—and we’ll find out soon enough if it continues, as that’ll mean it is a Kevin Dunn-ism instead of a Vince McMahon-ism—absolutely loves this phrase.

Clearly, they think this is a great psychological trick that will immediately convince the audience what they’re seeing is exciting because it’s never happened before. True, that can certainly be the case, but it only applies to things that are actually exciting.

Yes, I want to see something like The Rock vs. Roman Reigns because I’ve never seen it before. What I don’t care about is that “for the first time ever”, Lacey Evans is facing Aliyah.

Sometimes, it is absolutely ridiculous how far they’ve stretched this. It comes off as though they’re advertising “for the first time ever, Ezekiel and Seth Rollins are having a match in San Diego where one of them is wearing a green shirt and the other one ate chicken parm for lunch!” Who cares?!

Like with all these, I’m hoping Triple H and the rest of the writers he keeps close to him book the show with one question in mind: “If I were a fan, would I honestly be excited and interested in this enough to care, enjoy it and be intrigued enough to tune in next week?”

If the answer to any of that is “No, but…” then you know you have to go back to the writing board. You cannot get into the rut of “No, but this is how I want to do it and if the fans don’t like it, they’re not being good fans. They don’t know what they want, anyway. I’ll tell them what they want.”

That’s how you get people celebrating your exit from control, rather than being nervous about what’s to come next.

Frankly, I’m feeling good about WWE’s future. I think most, if not all of these tropes will either go away entirely, or at least be toned down.

Then, maybe, we can also get rid of things like backstage correspondents staring off into oblivion at the end of interviews and other nitpicks to break down at another time!

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