Wrestling isn’t in a good place right now. The wrong people are being put in the wrong positions, there’s little to no storyline continuity, and the company is failing to produce stars. The easy answer to something you are that discontent with is to stop watching it. I can’t do that, however. I compare my love for wrestling to my love for my favorite baseball team, the Detroit Tigers. They are clearly in rebuilding mode and not that fun to watch right now. Long gone are the days of going to the world series or making the playoffs annually. Even though the product on the field isn’t to my liking, and they aren’t competing for a tangible prize, that is my team. I am going to stick by them.
I feel the same way about the WWE. Like the boyfriend who knows he’s being cheated on, we endure because we know that once in a great while, something like the Festival of Friendship or a bond between brothers in Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose pop up and catch you out of nowhere. So as painful as it is to watch something you invest a lot of time and energy into continue to not care about me, the fan, I keep going back for that rare glimpse of hope that maybe things will turn around. We can endure 90% heartache for 10% joy. It’s a trade off faithful wrestling fans have been making for awhile now.
Here is a list of all that I think is wrong with the WWE right now, in no particular order.
#1 Titus Worldwide
Titus O’Neill and Apollo Crews should complement each other better than they are fleshed out to on television. Titus has the charisma to be a serious mouth piece and Crews has the bulging muscles and freakish athleticism for his size that is potentially money if he had the a gimmick that mattered. This loosely defined “Titus worldwide” stuff comes off as a joke and since they aren’t even heels, there’s no reason to even have a reaction whatsoever to them. It’s sad to see them losing on television, dancing in Conga lines, and watching Dana Brooke presumably write squiggly lines on that clipboard. Even in one of the saddest states of tag team wrestling RAW has had in awhile, this team cannot break through. Titus may have a ceiling, but I sincerely feel bad for Apollo.
#2- Monthly Pay-per-views
Why do we enjoy NXT so much as a breath of fresh air? The exclusivity of the events and limited programming make the feuds feel special. A pay per view a month worked out great when the WWE wasn’t complacent and relied heavily on the buy rates when competing with WCW back in the day. It worked out well when they had an influx of talent after raiding the same organization in 2001. Today, however, with rosters split in half we are seeing “dream matches” like Shinsuke Vs. AJ played out 4-5 times with different gimmicks to try and keep it interesting. Did you guys enjoy seeing Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal fight 3 PPV’s in a row in 2017? I sure didn’t. Having 4 PPVs like you saw in the early 90’s isn’t a good thing for WWE today, but I could get behind having 8 per year with better story telling and stretched out feuds that didn’t feel rushed. Monthly pay-per-views means more title inflation and sloppy storytelling to drum up motivation to see the same match 3 months straight. I think the WWE should bring back King of the Ring as a July mainstay and keep their big 5 PPVs in tact (Rumble, Mania, MITB, Summerslam, Survivor Series) and perhaps include 1 or 2 more to bridge the gaps between Rumble and Mania, as well as Summerslam and Survivor Series. I would gladly trade off less pay per views if it meant RAW and Smackdown were watchable consistently.
#3- Brock Lesnar
I would say that his 6-year part time run in the WWE has been an overall success but I loathe pretty much everything this guy has done since breaking the Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak. By keeping him off of television and as your brand’s world champion, you send a clear cut message that the rest of the roster does not matter. Why should ANYONE invest in the current crop of WWE superstars when Brock Lesnar, to this day, has not lost to a FULL time roster member in his 6 YEARS he’s been back? Yes, Wrestlemania has been a success and the part time method has worked out well, but at what cost? People are almost programmed to tune out once their favorite part time stars are not on regular television after the grand spectacle. WWE is forced to write a weekly show attempting to give people motivation when their champion is not present, I think Braun’s personality doesn’t necessarily fit the role of a MITB winner, which is why I would LOVE him to announce his cash-in in advance. Someone needs to be Brock and beat him CLEAN ,or there is always that seed of doubt hanging over the full time roster. I think Brock owes the WWE that much. I understand that most people just want the title off Lesnar and back to a full timer however that needs to play out, but I think Lesnar needs to lose clean after the many lazy matches he put on in 2017.
#4- The Universal Title
The title is becoming more and more synonymous with Lesnar and his lazy part time status. It’s hard for me to take it serious as a world championship with its silly name. There really is no reason that it shouldn’t just be the RAW world heavyweight championship. The WHC has a lot of history and credibility behind it both in WWE and WCW/NWA. Even if they wanted to give the original world heavyweight title design some kind of upgrade with a red tint to indicate the brand, i’d be cool with that just to have the name back. If the WWE is ever going to usher in a “full time roster” era, the the UT has to go! It’s championship history doesn’t do it any justice, either. Two guys (Balor, Owens) probably won it way before they were ready, one was over 50 years old, and one never defends it nor cares about the business. Its lineage and goofy name don’t do it any favors.
#5- Same sh*t, New Day
I’m so sick and tired of seeing this factions complete failure to evolve. I don’t care how much merch they move, it’s sad to see them directionless and throwing pancakes. Aside from some really fun stuff with the Usos that saw this team with a motive, that rest has been silly and outdated kid stuff that has me wondering if the WWE will keep this faction in neutral for longer than we may like. Big E, Kofi, and Xavier all bring something unique to the table as individual competitors, but we are stuck with them doing the same things they’ve done for 4 years.
#6- Face Bobby Roode
Bobby Roode’s last match in NXT was against Drew Mcyntire and post match he begged for the cameras to get out of his face. That’s the last time we saw heel Bobby Roode. WWE seemed to want to cash in on the entrance and went to the “Glorious” well a little too early thinking that he needed to be cheered from the start. He didn’t. I miss the cocky heel who knew how good he was. That’s the kind of swagger he should’ve carried over to the main roster. It’s easy to be a chicken sh*t heel, but it’s rare to be a talented heel who wants to take on all comers. That is what they had in Bobby Roode and they wasted it so far. When I saw him in that conga line and rubbing his butt at Backlash, I wondered if it was actually someone else playing him.
#7- Roman Reigns
I’m not entirely convinced I hate Roman as a person. His direction, however, has been downright atrocious. Putting this man in high profile positions and shoving him down our throats as babyface was not the right choice. They flirted with him as a heel a bit when he beat Taker, but then it was right back to straight up babyface Roman. There isn’t much more to be said that hasn’t already been told. Roman needs to turn heel, build consistency within the confines of that character, possibly get himself a mouthpiece, and not automatically be put in matches he doesn’t deserve. The WWE needs to put him in spots where we look forward to seeing him and not crossing our fingers that he wont ruin our night.
#8- Bobby Lashley
I thought this WWE run would far surpass what he did a decade prior with the WWE. He seemed to have a lot of momentum this time around but they have done nothing to make him engaging. It started with the whole “sisters” debacle and the forgettable feud with Sami Zayn. I don’t think he’s ever going to have a ton of charisma, and that is not entirely WWE’s fault. It is, however, WWE’s fault to put him in the worst possible positions to be cheered. I wouldn’t put the championship around him unless there was a drastic character change.
#9- RAW being 3 hours.
Three hours is just way too much and I have never heard a good justification as to why they need this much programming. I have heard people in the comments sections ask if they’re seeing a RAW from two weeks ago sometimes because of all the same stuff we see weekly. I think that would be a fun little quiz game if someone spliced together RAW segments and we had to guess if it just happened this week or the week prior. I have a feeling that would be more challenging than we think!
#10 Becky Lynch’s lack of direction for almost 2 years
Am I missing something? She seems to get pretty decent pops both on PPVs and weekly television yet has been passed up for the championship for 19 months now while people like Naomi and Natalya have had title reigns in that span. While Lynch’s initial title run in mid 2016 was used as a tool to create a star in Alexa Bliss, the company has almost entirely forgot about Becky Lynch since. I’m not sure what exactly it is they’re waiting for, but this seems like far too long to keep her away from the championship. How much longer can they possibly keep her out of the spotlight?
#11- RAW and Smackdown devoid of a “What will happen next week?!” vibe.
I remember watching RAW during the attitude era and there was almost always something that gave people a reason to tune in the following week as the show goes off the air. The WWE has completely lost the ability to leave us with more questions than answers as the show goes off the air. Do you remember the last time you had that feeling? Maybe it was the Nexus attack on John Cena 8 years ago? We don’t have to be in the raunchy attitude era to produce television that makes you say “He/she did what?!” or “I have to tune in next Monday!”
#12- People fighting each other on weekly TV to set up their PPV match
What an absolute formula for disaster. I don’t understand why this template of “keeping people away from eachother” ever went away. If Shinsuke/AJ are fighting on a pay per view, I don’t want to see them fight on Smackdown to set up their stipulation. A main event match should feel special and weekly television should be a tease for the ultimate pay off on pay per view. Makes zero sense.
#13- RAW Tag Team division
I think having The Bar, The New Day, and The Usos all on the blue brand was ridiculous. I find myself caring very little about the tag division on RAW. The Revival has been booked very inconsistently, Titus Brand has zero direction, Authors of Pain are another NXT team not getting a reaction. I admit the B team is getting the most out of their gimmicks right now, I don’t see them as an answer to a bad division. Even a team like Breezeango, who had very good comedic timing with their Fashion Files skits, is being underutilized. This was a team fighting for the tag team titles just a little over a year ago on Smackdown. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt aren’t doing anything all that compelling right now, either. What gives?
#14- Bayley/Sasha: too little too late
I liked the change in character we saw from Bayley, but giving both of them counseling doesn’t seem like a story that will advance either person. Why can’t this just be about the two of them? Bayley is tired of not being taken serious and Sasha is tired of coming to her defense. Character evolution doesn’t have to include sad segments like therapy. We want an edgier Bailey and a heel Sasha who can actually go back to being a legit boss with an attitude.
#15- Main roster ruining NXT call ups
I seriously wonder if the head writers on RAW and Smackdown watch NXT or are at least given a file of who the hell these people are? I know there are a large portion of people who don’t watch NXT, but the continuity for some of these superstars is way off. NXT Roode and main roster Roode might as well be juxtaposed like Cactus Jack and Dude Love at this point. They also didn’t benefit by bringing up women’s groups like Absolution and Riott Squad in bunches and forcing us to connect with them. It all feels rushed. Even Peyton Royce and Billie Kay, who I thought were excellent in NXT, are not the antagonists I thought they’d be on the main roster. Andrade “Cien” Almas hasn’t had near enough TV time to build momentum so I just don’t know why some of these stars don’t just stay down on the yellow brand a bit longer if this is what the WWE has in mind for some of them.
#16- Daniel Bryan being wasted
Two months of fighting Big Cass and now the more than expired Team Hell No reunion? I understand keeping DB away from the title scene, but this is such a poor way to use a star who we thought we’d never see again. I don’t know how the WWE managed it, but Daniel Bryan’s return has felt forgettable to this point. As we enter late summer and early fall, I am hoping he gets his build with the Miz or possibly AJ Styles down the road. With how poor ratings have been, they ought to consider moving up the timeline of when he will challenge for the WWE championship. If he leaves the WWE under these kinds of circumstances, it will truly be unfortunate.
#17- The Bludgeon Brothers blocking talented teams
I just don’t take this team very serious. Harper has impressed me in spurts, but Rowan is never someone I truly connected with. The “scary unstoppable monster” stuff is killing a strong tag team division that should continue to be about The Usos, The Bar, SanIty, and some kind of rejuvenated New Day. Latta touched on it a bit with his podcast, but this team is mowing through people so fast that it’s killing the division. I really feel this team should have been transitional type champions and not a team who who holds the straps too long. They’re really cooling off a lot of teams who had momentum the last year. It seems counterproductive to keep them in this spot at the expense of a decent tag division on paper.
#18- Misuse of John Cena
Nakamura, Bray Wyatt, Kevin Owens, and Roman Reigns all had the pleasure of taking down “part time” Cena in the last couple of years, yet those wins never really propelled any of those guys into a new stratosphere. Clearly there has to be a balance between hiding out in the opening match of Summerslam and headlining a PPV for the Universal title, right? I don’t know how much Cena has left but every ounce of him should be used to properly pay the business forward- however that needs to manifest itself. Maybe he needs to build a win streak and let someone take him down to where it’d mean something. In any event, since the 2017 Royal Rumble win over Styles, Cena has been hiding in the background a little too much. I really enjoyed his build up with Roman Reigns but it was more than disappointing to see him eat every terrible thing he said about him and treat him like he was taking his spot.
#19- Smackdown Women’s Title Scene
I might be in a minority here, but I’d rather see the elites prove who’s best than watch this re-run of Carmella and James Ellsworth again. I understand the purpose of it is to get people aggravated that she’s the chicken sh*t heel, but I’d personally rather see Lynch/Asuka/Charlotte in some combination going for the title. I would have used Charlotte’s win over Asuka at Mania to turn her heel again and develop that swag for ending the streak. I would’ve enjoyed seeing Asuka/Charlotte a couple more times and a much needed Charlotte heel turn could’ve stretched that feud a little bit to make it interesting. You also have Becky Lynch who could factor into the title scene and take you through the fall.
#20 Finn Balor on the mic too much
Finn Balor’s jokes come up short. In the PG era context, calling someone somebody’s “stooge” instead of their “b*tch” doesn’t have the same impact. He really should be used in a limited capacity on the mic with his actions doing most of the talking. The stuff this week with “Constable” Corbin came off very flat and its proof that scripted promos line by line really kill authenticity. I know the Demon king, by design, is something that’s used sparingly but it’d be an interesting play to utilize them both equally and have them be almost mutually exclusive. You have something interesting there, just keep his mic work limited until that improves.
#21- Nobody gets momentum for Lesnar
There should have been a clear cut plan in place for your Lesnar successor, one who clearly beats the Beast and takes the Universal title from Brock, channel their inner Alundra Blayze and put it in the trash the next night on RAW, then creates a new championship. Seth Rollins is looking like the best candidate to be that guy, but it shouldn’t have to feel like such a clouded mystery. Lashley and Reigns are fighting at Extreme Rules to the excitement of few. If Seth is indeed the answer, they’re waiting too long to pull the trigger. Seth should continue beating everyone in his path, including a signature win over Reigns to get there. If the goal is to eventually take the championship off Brock, build someone to have a ton of momentum going into it. I know there’s rumors of Brock possibly not wrestling next month, but something tells me he won’t miss it.
#22- Kevin Owens criminally misused
Sometimes as fans I think we just get that feeling that someone’s role needs to change. Right now, I’m seeing that with Kevin Owens. I believe a face turn would do him a great amount of good. The guy continues to be shoved to the side to enhance Lashley or Strowman, but has excelled in everything they’ve asked him to do. Festival of Friendship, partnership with Sami Zayn, and the stuff with the McMahons was all decent television that surpasses most of the junk they put out. This guy is a fighter and doesn’t need to be Braun Strowman’s punching bag or porta potty.
Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Roman Reigns hand in too many segments, 5 hours of programming a week, tons of PPVs, having a champion who doesn’t wrestle weekly, having a challenger who is rejected by the fans. These seem like easy fixes on paper. How can they be so stubborn?
Want to continue the discussion? Follow me on Twitter @LOPType.