Friday Night SmackDown was running on empty.
Over the course of two hours, we had:
- Another bland contract signing.
- Another Orton vs. Barrett match.
- Another Sheamus vs. Del Rio match.
- A quick and forgettable tag match with the 3MB vs. The Usos and Brodus Clay.
- And, for good measure, a man being thrown into another man's crotch.
Then, tucked away beneath all the garbage, something stood out.
For about 90 seconds, The Shield looked into the camera and talked about their mission, and the injustices they'd seen in the WWE.
It was simple and fantastic.
It was finally something new. It also had only a fraction of the time that was devoted to the cheesy contract signing involving two main-eventers.
The closest you could compare the video to would be the old WCW NWO promos when the group first debuted. This had its own feel though, and hopefully, it's jut the beginning.
But as good as this segment was, it was sandwiched between two lousy ones.
First, we had The Great Khali and Hornswoggle somehow dominating Epico and Primo.
Then, after The Shield segment, we had Antonio Cesaro doing his best impression of a wrestler from 1985.
Within just a few minutes, the differences in tone between Dean Ambrose intensely talking into the camera and Hornswoggle dancing was astounding.
What exactly is this company trying to be?
The Raw ratings have proved that what the company has been doing isn't working. So why are they still giving us one-dimensional characters who fight without any sort of goals or consequences?
Think about it—why is Brodus Clay in the WWE? Over this entire year, he has not once stated what his goal is.
Why are Hornswoggle and The Great Khali tagging? Does Khali want the tag belts? If he does, why is he teaming up with Hornswoggle? Or does he just fight for fun?
Nobody knows. We've never been told.
Apparently, we're just supposed to be content with seeing these same midcard acts over and over again without any character progression.
It's just entertainment, many will say.
Yes, but WWE doesn't run its business for free. It still has to entertain fans enough to get them to buy the pay-per-views, go to its house shows and load up on its merchandise.
And what WWE is doing is failing to inspire people to invest in its product.
Just within that short video for The Shield, we knew why they were in the company, what makes them angry and who they're out for. Plus, we still have the mystery of guessing who, if anyone, is behind them.
That's more storyline development than guys like Clay, Khali, The Usos, Hornswoggle, Natalya, the 3MB and even a guy like Randy Orton have been given all year.
While watching Cesaro's segment, all I could think of was how much more effective he would be if he dropped his gimmick and was instead cutting more realistic promos like The Shield is doing.
How much better off would R-Truth be if he didn't have to talk about an invisible little boy that he hangs out with? What if Sandow had more substance to his character than trying to find an apprentice from an obvious plant?
Yes, when it comes to giving fresh matches, six hours of TV a week is a big part of the problem. There's only so many possible combinations you can do with so much time to fill.
But what WWE is completely failing at is giving us a reason to care about 90 percent of their roster.
It took The Shield 90 seconds to show us who they are.
Why can't WWE do that for everyone else with the other 300 hours of programming they have a year?
In the end, fans can argue all day about how entertaining the WWE product is.
But what we can't argue about is facts. The facts are that over the past few years, the ratings are slowly trickling downward, and less people are buying the pay-per-views.
Something needs to change.
The question is, will WWE look into the future for that change? Or will we keep going further into the past?