It's not often I write about TNA, but as of late I've found myself liking something Impact Wrestling has been doing and I honestly think they're taking a good formula and doing it to perfection.
A formula WWE should look to utilize.
This is especially true as it seems WWE is doing the exact opposite, which doesn't benefit the company as much.
What I'm talking about in regards to the WWE is the recent trend of bringing in and building people up to face the top face: John Cena. While Cena is the proven ratings draw, I feel that WWE can only do this so much until they're out of options. At this point, the only person left to continue Cena's path of destruction would be Tensai, and considering Cena has defeated him, it's hard to imagine how they'll build this one up.
Honestly, after Cena, they could possibly go for a handicap feud, but even then it would probably be over in the same amount of time as a one-on-one feud. Simply put, WWE cannot continue this strategy and the saddest part is that there is a very good alternative if WWE would be willing to flip the script.
This brings us to Impact Wrestling, which has the best booking of its main event scene between the two promotions at the moment, in my opinion. Specifically, I'm referring to the booking of its World Heavyweight Champion Robert Roode. As of the writing of this article, Robert Roode is the longest reigning World Champion in Impact Wrestling history and is a product of what I think is the perfect formula for professional wrestling.
Robert Roode is a dominant heel. At this point in time, he's beaten just about everyone there is to beat in Impact Wrestling. He's beaten Hall of Famer Sting, Mr.Anderson, Bob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy, A.J. Styles, and James Storm to retain his world title. No matter how high the deck is stacked against him, Roode always seems to slither his way to another victory, and at the moment, there looks to not be a lot of competition for the "It Factor" of Professional Wrestling.
Do you see the difference in the booking philosophy in Impact and WWE yet?
WWE prefers to have a dominant face, while Impact wants a dominant heel and honestly I think they're doing it right. Let me break it down a bit.
When you have a dominant face, you have no real reason for fans to become invested in that face because they look invulnerable. This causes fans to turn on the face as they grow bored, and instead look for someone to take down the good guy, which doesn't seem like something you want.
In contrast, when you have a top heel, hate for the heel grows stronger as they rack up wins against stiff competition and people look for the next guy to set the world right by defeating this heel. This helps people get invested in the faces as they make their case to challenge this heel. Think Randy Orton when he won the WWE Championship for the first time. He ran through challengers like Triple H, Jeff Hardy, Shawn Michaels, and Chris Jericho.
Now, look at what Impact is doing with Robert Roode. At this point, they only have two people left who can make a legit challenge for Robert Roode. Those men are James Storm and Austin Aries, which speaks to another way Impact is dominating the WWE in booking.
I say that because Austin Aries and James Storm are both guys who could legit beat Robert Roode without derailing all of his momentum, and be elevated for it. Aries and Storm are two men who have become emotionally investable (not a real word, but it fits) through their skills (Aries) and their story (Storm.)
On the flip-side, WWE gives themselves four weeks at the most to make someone seem like a legit threat to Cena only for him to defeat them and take what little credibility they gained over those few short weeks, and as I stated before, that has had some pretty bad effects on the roster.
Not to say Impact Wrestling is totally perfect in regards to booking. Many of Roods' wins have been less than decisive and they have missed a couple of opportunities to get the strap away from him safely already, but those aren't total failures. Especially in comparison to the WWE and Cena. I'm writing this as a fan of John Cena, and the truth is, while it would be better to have someone else dethrone a top heel, I would be fine if it was Cena.
That said, I think the WWE can do something like this, at least as far as Smackdown is concerned with the return of Wade Barrett getting near. The former Intercontinental Champion could very well be WWE's Robert Roode and the man to take the World Heavyweight Championship from Sheamus. Likewise, it wouldn't be a stretch to have Alberto Del Rio or Jack Swagger take up this dominant role. Many people will site the lack of crowd reaction for Swagger and Del Rio, however given a chance at prominence and getting them on television weekly will do wonders for their ability to garner heat.
As an example, let's take the Wade Barrett character and assume we're going to make him a dominant heel. In that vain, we have him challenge and defeat the likes of Christian, Santino, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Alex Riley, and Brodus Clay, but also let him go over some heels in fatal four-ways and three-way dances like Cody Rhodes, Antonio Cesaro, Jack Swagger, and Dolph Ziggler before finally we give him a shot at the World Title and after a lengthy feud go over Sheamus to win the World Championship.
At this point, we have Barrett go over stiffer competition in the likes of Randy Orton, Sheamus, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, etc. with decisive victories, and all the while we're building up one or two in the mid-card to challenge Barrett. For this example we'll say Zack Ryder and Ryback. We let these two rip apart the mid-card by going over some tough heels like Cesaro, Bryan, Sandow, Tensai, Del Rio, Swagger, and Ziggler, but at the same time keep them apart so you have a little breathing room in case you want to keep your options open on who wins or someone is injured.
Along with heels, in a way similar to Barrett, let them go against some faces. Maybe have someone like Tyson Kidd say he wants to test Zack Ryder and have them go at it, or have Sheamus challenge Ryback to see if he can be the man to beat Barrett or if he's just a flash in the pan. Challenges like that are sure to intrigue as quasi-main-event matches similar to how Impact built up Roode by having him run the Fortune Gauntlet (challenging all the members of Fortune before Bound for Glory) where he faced A.J., Storm, and Kazarian before he met Angle.
This way, you can get even more support for the faces as others put them over and help them to show their skills. We see if Ryback can go the distance in the main-event, if Ryder can step up his technique to match Barrett's power until we have a big blowoff where you can take a number of approaches. Triple Threat match, gimmick match, use one more to build Barrett up and still have a credible face, etc. At this point, you not only have another established heel but a new established face you can ride for a few months if done right.
The key to doing this is patience. Barrett or whatever heel has to have at least five to six months of dominance to be legit, and you have to have faith in your faces and let them develop. Maybe make Zack a little more serious, give Ryback a little more depth. If WWE can buckle down and stick behind a push of someone untested like Ryback or even with potential like Zack Ryder, that can do wonders for their product.
In short, WWE should take a tip from Impact. Let your heels be dominant. Not your faces. Heels don't draw money, faces do but only if they're booked with patience and a little bit of support from the guys in the back. That's the perfect formula for professional wrestling.
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