Imp’s WWE Adventure
Normally when I wake up Monday morning, the birds are chirping, the hedgehogs rustling into hiding and the parents yelling for their unready kids to get the fuck in the car. But fourth and most important of all, as I’m walking to work I put together my now weekly wrestling column in my mind.
Every week, by the time I get to work, I know exactly what I’m going to be writing about later that day.
This week however, I had nothing. Not a single idea came to mind. Well nothing new, mind you. I wanted to write something about WWE but every argument I came up with has been done to absolute death: “Part-timers need to go away!” “WrestleMania’s too long!” “They need to move on from Brock Lesnar!” “NXT’s so much better!”
Whenever I tried to expand I felt like I wasn’t bringing anything new to the table, which was when I finally had my eureka moment. Why is it that these points have been done to death? Well this may end up being quite the shorter column, because the answer seems to be staring me right in the face. Why would the arguements change when WWE refuses to?
I remember being sat here exactly one year ago, looking at the upcoming WrestleMania card filled with a somewhat pessimistic mix of anticipation and hesitation. Proceedings started off with a bang thanks to the Rollins/Balor/Miz Interconcinental triple threat and Charlotte/Asuka, but then the show just dragged on and on. By the time the Lesnar/Reigns main event rolled around, I was ready for it to end before it had even begun. I love wrestling, but mate, was I ever ready for bed.
Never mind how WWE then decided last minute to not finish the story they’d been setting up for God knows how long, just so Lesnar could be champion for their Saudi Arabia show. A build of promise with no pay off, it’s the Lost of WrestleMania roads.
One year later: part-timer stars are once again eating up the card, the show is rumoured to unbelievably be even longer, Brock Lesnar is entering his 4th top championship WrestleMania match of this run and NXT TakeOver is still recommended as a tighter/more enjoyable/better written product.
It’s no wonder I found myself re-treading familiar ground, because so are WWE. I’ve found myself writing about the exact same arguments I was last year, and the year before, and the year before that, and the year before that I was fully employed and had never written a column, but you get the point.
Yesterday I was listening to the Right Side of the Pond lads on LOP Radio, when our own Samuel ‘Plan raised a common point of his: in the method of how WWE like to present their storytelling, they’re running out of stories to tell. Which was when two points came to mind:
- There’s no better example of this than how the Becky Lynch storyline has gone since the Rumble, the underdog story is a literal crutch.
- We’re now in a time where there are wrestling companies all over the world telling fresh stories, utilizing new tools and methods in which to do so (NJPW, Being The Elite, Lucha Underground, Progress Wrestling, WXW, and more)
It’s a point that’s been made a lot as of late, but modern day wrestling really is in a fantastic place of quality and success. Except for WWE that is, who only have their financial achievements and social media numbers to tout. So whilst the wrestling world around them is innovating and advancing, why aren’t they? Well even in the face of falling attendances and US TV ratings, WWE are setting personal records in the investment world and bringing in more money than ever.
But is the incentive even there? Is it even fair to compare them to other wrestling companies? WWE have found success in the corporate world, but with falling viewer interest how long can that realistically last? No matter how much their on screen villains repeat the phrase, running multiple half empty arena TV tapings a year cannot be ‘good for business’.
You can bet one thing though, FOX didn’t pay $1 billion for a >2 million US viewership. Whether FOX are right or wrong in believing that is a whole discussion in itself (tl;dr TV trends aren’t looking great these days), but that doesn’t change the fact that WWE’s current engagement numbers are not going to cut it.
Plus it’s not like they haven’t had opportunities to correct this path, as I said earlier, argument wise we were at this exact same point last year. WWE seem to have an extremely weird habit of going against the fans, either going with their original Plan A ignoring new contexts or getting cold feet at the last minute and falling back into the safety of the past.
This year’s WrestleMania however, this one has promise written all over it. Yes there’s the practically identical list of cons from the last few years, but there’s also a real opportunity for change. Back in December WWE made a promise to the fans that we were now in control, they’d listen to us more, give us what we want and enter a whole new era for WWE.
Three months later, we’re now on our third NeEwW EeRrAa since then and there’s quite a pessimistic view about the whole thing. But with WrestleMania comes opportunity, WWE seem to have stumbled upon quite the card to finally fulfil those promises. All three top title matches have the chance to properly give the fans exactly what they want, whilst also signifying a bloody important sign of change.
Imagine: Seth Rollins slays The Beast, Kofi Kingston becomes the first African American to win the WWE Championship at the show of shows and Becky Lynch wins the first ever Women’s WrestleMania main event. I’ll give credit where it’s due, WWE have set up an event that really could truly set them on that new era of promised change. But then last year’s events come back, they got cold feet on Reigns’ victory for the second time and all that build was for nothing.
Even worse, when talking about Kofi’s potential WrestleMania 19 springs to mind. A feud in which Triple H said to Booker T, “Somebody like you, doesn’t get to be world champion. People like you don’t deserve it, that’s for people like me. You’re not here to be a competitor, you’re here to entertain,” before BEATING him at WrestleMania.
So even though WWE have been nailing this Kofi story so far, why the hesitation from fans? Well 16 years ago they had Triple H cut a racist promo before BEATING the black man at their biggest show. That hesitation’s pretty self-explanatory if you ask me. Fans don’t trust WWE to actually book an African American to walk out of WrestleMania with the title, it’s not happened in the 35 year existence of this grand show. With Kofi though, they have an opportunity right here, right now; there’s only one way for them to show us they are serious about this era of change.
I went a bit serious there, but it’s overall a positive circumstance we’re looking at now. I look at this road to WrestleMania and I realise there are no new arguments to be made, WWE know what they need to do. The question is will they get in their own way once again and stop themselves from achieving it? They got in their own way in 2003 in what would have been a landmark moment for African American fans, and again narrative wise in 2018 when they got cold feet over ending the Lesnar Era.
This year they have not one, not two, but three opportunities to correct perception. Even optimistic fans don’t trust WWE to have all three of Rollins, Kofi and Lynch win, but in my mind that’s exactly what they need to do.
Which brings me to the RAW Women’s Championship triple threat, the match fans have been calling to main event the show. Presented with that demand WWE have an opportunity to hit home a landmark moment for female fans, they have to just not get in their own way again. The fans have spoken, WWE claims to be listening, but once again there’s only one way to prove that trust holds weights.
This year at WrestleMania, WWE must have Kofi Kingston walk out as an African American WWE Champion, need Seth Rollins to end Brock Lesnar’s era at the top and have to listen to the fans and let the women main event WrestleMania.
If any one of those things doesn’t happen, WWE will have gotten in their own way once again. Wonder why there’s so many pessimistic opinions on modern day WWE? Well, if they can’t be trusted to carry out those three stories, how much weight does their trust actually carry?
But what do you think? Do Rollins/Becky/Kofi all have to win? Should the women main event WrestleMania? Comment down below and let me know!
Email Imp – firstname.lastname@example.org
Imp’s on LOP Radio every Thursday with Perfect 10 Wrestling! Talking through all the WWE news of the past week!
Imp’s most recent columns:
Imp’s NJPW Adventure – New Japan Cup 2019 Rundown: Who Main Events Madison Square Garden?
Imp’s WWE Adventure – RAW’s NXT Call Ups Out of Desperation?
Imp’s WWE Adventure – The Road to the Main Event of WrestleMania: Straight Fire At The Rumble
Imp’s NJPW Adventure – The Story of Hiroshi Tanahashi Part 1: Becoming The Ace
Imp’s NJPW Adventure – The Story of Hiroshi Tanahashi Part 2: The Ace of the Universe
The Finals of the King of the Columnists tournament is set to take place in the Lords of Pain Columns forum, pitting Samuel ‘Plan against our resident 205 Live expert Clive from the Ricky & Clive Show! Click the link below to read along as the tournament progresses!