The WWE is without question the largest wrestling promotion in existence, but for some reason, people always have something to bad to say every week they tune in. Now granted in the world of professional wrestling and entertainment you can’t please everyone as each wrestling show is designed to entertain a variety of fans, at the very least, they could entertain the traditional fans with a better product.
I’m talking about adequate stories that actually get you excited for a championship match, a feud based on something that makes sense instead of something whipped together for the sake of seeing two superstars competing. So, here are 5 ways WWE can learn from their past eras. I want to clarify that in WWE they often refer to past decades as eras. For example, the “Attitude Era” which was well received by fans for it’s charismatic roster, badass stories, and for humor that was very close to turning a TV-14 rated program, TV-MA.
1. Commit to brand specific Pay Per Views and only have one per month.
Back in 2016 the WWE brought back the very popular brand split after having all of their talent competing on both RAW and Smackdown. This came as a delight to fans because seeing the same names on both brands every week kind of burns people out. The issue with this was because there was a massive roster and the brand split was back, the WWE gave RAW and Smackdown exclusive Pay Per Views. That may have seemed like a great idea right? Well it wasn’t, because the WWE had both Pay Per Views in the same damn month. This didn’t accomplish the task of getting fans excited as all it did was exhaust fans. Think about it, two pay per views per month. Every two to three weeks you had to give up a Sunday night just to watch Wrestling and while some fans may have enjoyed that, there were countless others that didn’t. This led to rushed storylines and just had you watching the same feud for nearly three months… *cough* Sasha Banks and Charlotte *cough*
What could really help the WWE is pulling a page out of the Ruthless Aggression playbook. Back in 2002 when the Ruthless Aggression era was red hot and underway with loads of new talent and a new brand split, the WWE ushered in brand specific pay per views and there weren’t two in one month, there was the Royal Rumble which, of course being one of their biggest shows, both brands participated. Shortly after the Royal Rumble was No Way Out which in 2003-2007 was a Smackdown exclusive pay per view. Following No Way Out was Wrestlemania. Following that was usually Backlash. Then so on and so forth. The point I’m making is that there was time. Think about it. The world championship is almost always on the line in pay per view. Are you excited when a challenger is just ushered in one week, then two weeks of build up, and then poof, here’s the match. Or would you like to see a real, worthy competitor develop a worthwhile story and then have that story culminate at the next pay per view event in a huge clash with 6 to 8 weeks of build up? So, having said that, the WWE would be much better having one brand exclusive pay per view per month with a four hour run time so every superstar that busted their asses on RAW or Smackdown could have a spot on the show. More time to build a story would equal a better payoff.
2. Number one contenders matches or tournaments.
It seems like these days the WWE is likely to just hand out championship matches to anyone, and if they don’t just give them a championship match, they usually pin the champion in the ring in a non title bout and earn their shot after. This system is so flawed. Why have the champion lose to then put the title on the line in the future? Isn’t your champion supposed to represent that title as the best possible holder for the time being? A champion should always be seen on TV. If not then some pay even forget they have the gold in the first place. I’m not expecting a champion to win every time they’re in the ring. Sometimes a non title win could be beneficial for an up and coming superstar, but they shouldn’t just be handed a shot because they got one lucky win. There have been multiple ways in the past to give a worthy superstar a shot at gold. Tournaments, number one contender’s matches, etc. So why not implement more of them? A tournament or number one contender’s match builds the championship up without the champion having to take a loss and look weak. It gives credibility to a title and makes their inevitable match more exciting then if it was just thrown together. Now this doesn’t mean it has to happen all the time. I’m all for a face champion coming to the ring and issuing an open challenge or something, but more contender’s matches would be appreciated.
3. Stop naming Pay Per Views after match Stipulations.
Over the years the WWE has used popular match stipulations as names for their upcoming pay per views to intrigue fans. It’s a great marketing idea, but a horrible pay off. When’s the last time you saw a TLC match at TLC that was actually memorable? Don’t even get smart and tell me that King Corbin Vs Roman Reigns was a great match last year. When you name an event after a stipulation, the fans expect a big pay off right? Well that isn’t always the case. Money in the Bank is the exception because even though the wrong winner is sometimes given the brief case, the event is almost always great. A huge flop of an event has to be Hell in a Cell. This event has to be the biggest bust. Two years in a row the WWE has managed to make a match with no rules end in a disqualification, Hell in a Cell, shouldn’t be a pay per view. Let me explain, The Hell in a Cell was designed for a feud that was so hot there was no were left for it to go. This match was meant to be the end of the line for a rivalry. No rules, no disqualifications, there had to be a winner. So why make it a pay per view? The point of the match was so clear and the fans loved the spontaneous out of no where Hell in a Cell challenges, so why take that away from them? So pay per views like Money in the Bank, Hell in a Cell, TLC, Extreme Rules, Fatal Four Way, all of these are just fun killers. TLC was made famous at Wrestlemania and has such an extreme stipulation that wouldn’t you want it to be a match on your biggest show? Instead of boring the hell out of us with 9 hours of one on one matches?
4. Bring back General Managers
General managers were such a huge part of RAW and Smackdown, but these days, it seems like NXT is the only show with a GM and RAW and Smackdown just kind of happen. Now I know they don’t just happen just like I know that GM’s didn’t actually make the matches or run the show but having someone there playing an authority figure always made for great entertainment. GM’s gave an extra push to storylines because they could act as a Face or a Heel. When Eric Bishoff was the GM of RAW and took the side of the heel superstars and practically gifted them anything they wanted, it made the heels and the GM more heel and villainous, but was always super satisfying watching the GM get hit by a face superstar. Imagine watching your favorite hero get humiliated and beat up each and every week, but then finally having that moment of satisfaction when your hero gets their shot at the boss. Another thing GM’s add to the show is their leadership when WWE competes against themselves for brand supremacy. An acting captain in the corner or a roster always made for great entertainment. The classic “I’m better than you” show was always fun to watch and fans were eager to pick sides for Survivor Series when RAW and Smackdown competed. It’s also nice to have a face to create the matches for the show instead of tuning into RAW and just being read off what’s happening on the show right at the beginning like you’re watching sports center or something. That just kills all element of surprise and doesn’t get fans excited. GM’s also play a valuable role in a WWE draft which used to be the biggest night of the year. Imagine if WWE appointed New GM’s and had a draft next year which also included NXT? Oh, the possibilities. So, here’s to hoping GM’s are established in the upcoming year.
5. Give each pay per view it’s own themed Titantron again
The last thing the WWE could do to learn from its past is bring back themed Titantrons. This was always incredibly exciting and although I understand the WWE’s transition which saves time and money, you can’t deny that every pay per view having its own theme was awesome. Nothing says, “I’m getting my money’s worth” than walking into Survivor Series and seeing the same set up you saw on RAW. Now granted it’s amazing what the WWE can do with their new stage. All they have to do is create a new graphic for each event and slap it onto their screens and boom, there’s your pay per view. Even the ring skirt is mostly a screen now so they don’t even have to fiddle with that anymore, but what each pay per view is lacking is that extra flair. When you saw a different stage each month it let you know that this was a pay per view and it was worth paying for because you had to be watching in order to see it. It gave ticket holders an extra incentive. Now granted Wrestlemania still goes hard with their set up every year, but then again, if they didn’t, would it really be Wrestlemania? Picture walking into the show of shows and seeing the same stage you did any other night… I’d ask for a refund almost immediately. This isn’t the be all end all for WWE fans, but it would be a nice incentive to attending a show or watching from home. Remember when Smackdown had a giant fist coming out from the stage? You knew you were watching Smackdown!
So there you have it. My personal list of things I believe the WWE should bring back and reimplement today to make for a more exciting product.