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IN LAIMAN’S TERMS #340 – Thoughts on 2017
1. It’s tough to categorize 2017 as it comes to WWE. As with most years, there are moments that will be remembered, those that are forgotten, and those filed away in the Katie Vick files. However, it’s more difficult for me to do a year-end recap in the traditional way. I’m not a stats or ranking person for the most part, so I’m not going to compile a top ten matches list or anything. I think what I’d rather do is share some of my thoughts with the impressions that the year gave me, and see where that goes.
2. If there’s one word I can use to describe WWE in 2017, it would be: inconsistent. Inconsistent booking is one thing, but the surrounding aesthetic and details are what I’ve had more of a problem with.
3. They can’t even decide what kind of opening preview they want to use. It’s like a season of a television show where the different episodes have different directors, except the “Previously On…” segment never changes week-to-week in that case. Sometimes there’s a voice-over guy, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes they have entrance music, sometimes they only play a few second clip.
4. If we’re going to continue with the idea that RAW and Smackdown Live are separate shows but to be taken equally as serious, then something has to be done to re-legitimize Smackdown. After a great year of Smackdown, RAW raided its roster like it was NXT 2: Electric Boogaloo. Smackdown pulled off a Nexus-like invasion of RAW, and then not only got utterly demolished at Survivor Series, but their last team member was their non-wrestler authority figure Shane McMahon.
5. Which brings me to the biggest gripe of the inconsistency: pacing. When that invasion happened, I tuned in to Smackdown the next night, eager to see how the storyline would progress for once. Then, they pretty much stalled and did nothing, save for one New Day cameo, until the last week. Either do a slow burn or progress the story, but pretending nothing happened leaves an empty feeling.
6. A lot of stars took steps forward in 2017. AJ Styles went from one of the best to THE best. The Miz stepped up his game before WrestleMania to a new level, even though they wasted all of it in order to have a proposal scene for Total Bellas. Samoa Joe becomes a more legitimate badass every week. Braun Strowman has become “must-see.”
7. Most of all, a respected but languishing star was paired with one-half of a dud tag team and turned a ridiculously HAMmy but silly segment into one of the loudest chants around. If I had told you that Rusev was going to pair with one half of the Vaudevillains, who would in turn become an opera singer, and the reason they’d get massively over would be by adding “Day” to his name, would you have thought it’d be insanely over?
8. Others, however, felt the wrath of the old school business punishments. Finn Balor, fresh off beating AJ Styles, was repeatedly thrown to Kane and ended the year feuding with… the Miztourage. The reason? Making a hand gesture. THE HORROR!!!!!
9. Bray Wyatt looks as interested in what he’s saying as I usually am to hear the in-show Network shill. Fortunately, Matt Hardy is willing to be an early contender for the HAM opposite him. But can you blame the guy the way his story has gone?
10. The WWE champion needs to be on the flagship show regularly. I get they’re trying to get all they can out of Lesnar while they still have him, but “out of sight, out of mind” is a real thing.
11. Steph has been an invincible character who runs all others down with no comeuppance for three years now. It has to end. It has helped absolutely no one and seeing even the strongest of authority figures turn into meek cowards is not fun, helpful, or entertaining. Vince was a strong authority figure who also lost a lot and embarrassed the shit out of himself regularly. Steph got knocked into a table once.
12. Jason Jordan was taken out of my favorite tag team and put into a storyline that was laughable the second it was announced. A wrestler who looked like he had all the tools to become a big star was instead weighed down and associated with something groan-worthy and ridiculous. He now has an uphill battle to fight to restore his credibility.
13. Despite repeated call-ups, Takeovers have managed to be the most consistently produced and consistently entertaining shows I’ve had the pleasure to see. I wish RAW and Smackdown could sync up, rather than finding out what works, and then promoting them to do absolutely nothing like what got them over once they’re there…. save for Samoa Joe.
14. The Royal Rumble is coming up, and this time, winning it has to actually mean something. It felt like an afterthought throughout the WrestleMania season in 2017, and that benefitted no one. I also don’t look forward to the reaction in Philadelphia if they choose to have Roman win again.
15. I hope it has more fun this year as well. When the best of surprise competitors amount to Tye Dillinger and Enzo Amore, it’s not a good look. The Rumble is supposed to be fun, exciting, and have big surprises. Those are also the three things I hope for when watching the televised product, but even I’ve given up hope for having that on a regular basis.
16. One important note: This was, by far, the best year for women’s wrestling in WWE. The first MITB, even though they screwed up with it, women regularly main-eventing, and the announcement of the women’s Royal Rumble. Despite some of the stagnation with repeated matches, much like their counterparts, it cannot be understated how overdue and necessary this has been to see.
17. Finally, this habit of having the same people face each other every single week for months on end has to stop. When even Simon from WhatCulture is sick of seeing The Bar/Shield, it’s been done to death. With a roster this massive, the same matches over and over and over again should not be necessary. It doesn’t matter if Rollins and Sheamus put on a five-star classic if they’ve faced each other every week for four months.
18. I just want to be excited to watch and to have fun again. For all they’re up their own ass about social media numbers, the arenas are half-full a good portion of the time. And rather than listen to the audience, they’d rather turn off the mics to taped-Smackdown the crowd noise. I want 2018 to deliver on the potential that was built this year and to execute, because I want to enjoy watching and writing about it too.
19. The Miz was almost unanimously the HAM of the Year, joining Daniel Bryan, Chris Jericho, and Paul Heyman among past winners. It seems to be split between the Festival of Friendship and Total Cena, though some late-porkers were also presented in Rusev Day and Braun as Buddy the Elf.
20. I appreciate writing for all of you, and that you have been so supportive of me. I sincerely hope things get better this year so that I can write more happy thoughts for you. Thank you for reading the bullshit I put out every (mostly) week.
HAM OF THE NIGHT
2012- Daniel Bryan
2013- Paul Heyman
2016 – Chris Jericho
2017 – The Miz
Marissa Laiman, In Laiman’s Terms, and Inciting Incident are owned by It’s a Shameful Thing, Lobsterhead, LLC. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.