With 2018 less than a month away (where did the time go?!) it’s time to look ahead to the next year in WWE.
WWE runs a minimum of seven new hours of programming every week, and monthly (occasionally bi-weekly) PPV events. It’s great. I love all the content. That said, it’s easy for a product with that much exposure to get stale. So, to keep things fresh, exciting and safe for the performers, I’ve got a few suggestions:
Retire the annual Hell in a Cell event:
The Cell should be the last resort for settling a bitter feud that been contested in every other way possible. Having the match roll around every October robs the Cell of its mystique, and asking fans to believe that feuds conveniently climax every October is ridiculous.
With the Hell in the Cell cage detached from the ring it really limits what can be done with the match. And pretty much everything that can be done with the Cell has been done – repeatedly. It’s basically a “meh” hardcore match outside the ring and a pointless (extremely dangerous, over-done) mega bump from the top of the Cell.
Bring standard cage matches back to the forefront:
Unlike the Cell, the standard cage match offers a ton of excitement. It’s a great way to cap a heated rivalry, the cage is far more interactive as it’s attached to the ring, weapons are easily introduced, the escape-to-win rule create instant excitement and uniqueness, and top-of-the-cage high spots are far less dangerous to performers but every bit as thrilling for fans.
The Money in the Bank match should be the exclusive home of the ladder match:
There’s clear motivation for a wrestler to participate in the dangerous MITB match – a guaranteed title shot at a time of their choosing. The annual TLC (Tables, Ladders and Chairs) event provides no such motivation. Why would a wrestler risk life and limb for nothing? And using the ladder match too frequently, like the Cell match, minimizes its impact as a must-see match.
The Women’s division needs their own show, the Cruiserweights do not:
The current women’s division is stocked with talented performers – far too many to feature consistently within the current TV format.
I propose converting the stale 205 Live cruiserweight show into an all women’s program. There’s more than enough time to feature the limited cruiserweight roster on Raw and Smackdown, and honestly, fans can only watch the same handful of match-ups so many times before they tune out.
Giving the women their own show would allow stars like Mercedes Martinez, Kairi Sane and Toni Storm (and many, many more from the combined rosters of Raw, Smackdown, NXT and the May Young tournament) to appear regularly,facilitate cross-brand dream matches, and open the doors to multiple ongoing storylines.
Women and men are different:
As great as the women are, and as eager as they are to prove their mettle, they need to resist the urge to “do everything the boys do, only better!”
Men and women have different strengths and weaknesses.
That’s not a sexist statement, it’s just biology. It doesn’t mean that women are better than men or that men or better than women, only that we’re different.
A man’s increased muscle mass and thicker bone structure allows them to withstand more punishment. To ensure long careers and healthy lives afterwards, women should play to their strengths (speed, endurance, flexibility, agility) and not try to mimic the matches presented in the men’s division.
For example, women can still present hard-hitting, high thrills matches, just not with as many bone-jarring bumps or excessively dangerous high spots.
Just as no one in their right mind would want to watch a scene-for-scene remake of Star Wars with gender-swapped actors, no one wants to see men’s matches simply recreated with women wrestlers. This is a prime opportunity for women to define a style that is unique the their division.
Immediately retire (and forget) any match types that involve:
[Anything] on a pole.
Submission only stipulations.
(Technically, submission matches should be okay. The execution is the problem. Wrestlers almost always start trying for a submission immediately instead of working a regular – fun to watch – match and targeting a specific body part first.)
Being buried alive.
Bring back classic WCW events:
Note to WWE – You own WCW, there is no need to continue dumping on your former rivals legacy. It’s time to cash-in.
Replacing throw-away WWE PPVs like Backlash, Fast lane, No Mercy, Battleground and Great Balls of Fire with prestigious fan-favorite events like Starrcade, The Great American Bash, War Games, Bash at the Beach and Halloween Havoc is a great place to start.
Reviving classic WCW events (on PPV, not house shows that nobody gets to see) could potentially bring the roughly 4.5 million WCW fans that didn’t migrate to WWE after the purchase of WCW back into the fold, and transform garbage PPVs into must-see (must-buy) events.
Reviving Nitro as a replacement for Main Event or as an all women’s show wouldn’t hurt either.
Raw and Smackdown are hideous:
The title says it all. The grimy grey floor mats and barricade, the enormous Playschool branded ring poles, the hideous ring aprons, the excessive use of orange – it all spells UGLY.
The undisputed top wrestling company in the world should not look like it was decorated by a colorblind toddler with a pallet of finger paints and serious impulse control problems.
Keep sexuality and politics out of wrestling:
Families watch wrestling to escape the divisive, depressing politics of the real world – not to be reminded of it, and not to be forced into a “Why is that man kissing that other man?” conversation with a five-year old. Keep it fun and family friendly.
Know and respect your audience:
This goes hand in hand with the last point. Recently, characters have been mocking Christianity – whether they be decked out in upside down crosses, wearing clothing that declares Christianity a ‘bad religion’ or talking about their plan to turn the next year into a Black Mass – this isn’t acceptable for a family-friendly show, and just plain stupid considering that 80% of your potential audience (peeps with money) are Christians in North America.
Evil weirdos make great bad guys. Just keep their brand of weirdness fictitious, with no real-world analogue for kids to seek out and be scarred by, and that doesn’t unjustly bully or disrespect an entire religion.
Commercial breaks are a necessary evil. I get that. What I don’t get is WWE consistently cutting away from matches 10-50 seconds after they begin and returning five minutes later to show the last minute of the bout.
Wrestling is the ONE thing that WWE can offer that no other genre can. It should be the centerpiece of the show, not an afterthought or time-killer inserted between twenty-minute interview segments, elaborate ring entrances, comedy skits, promos for upcoming events, and product pitches.
Challenge to WWE: Next time a competitor gets thrown from the ring a few seconds into a match, don’t treat it as a cliffhanger in the old Batman TV series and immediately cut to a commercial. Don’t make us sit through 20 ring entrances, show the first couple of seconds of a battle royal, cut to commercials, and return with 16 of the competitors already eliminated.
Less crowd shots:
Don’t cut to crowd reaction shots in the middle of matches. The crowd is literally visible in every shot. We don’t need to cut away from the action to see how random individuals feel about what they’re seeing. There’s ample time to feature happy faces during promos and other segments. Let everyone enjoy the matches, even those watching at home.
For the fans:
Beloved legends like Sting and Shawn Michaels did ‘the honors’ on their way out, losing their last matches. That may be considered the ‘right’ thing behind the scenes, but it’s the wrong thing for the fans. Fans deserve to see their heroes go out in a blaze of glory, not flicker and die like a spent candle.
The legends of Hulk Hogan, Sting and Shawn Michaels all deserve better.
There are surely other things that can be done to improve/refresh WWE in 2018, but that’s a blog for another time.
Enjoy wrestling, peeps!