WWE Is Teetering Dangerously on the Brink of Becoming the High-Dollar TNA
This article contains potential spoilers.
Once upon a time, WWE programming was can't-miss television.
Many of the current batch of 20-something fans were adolescents when the famed Attitude Era was in its full throes. We watched a roster full of Hall-of-Famers like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Mankind, Triple H, The Rock and Shawn Michaels every Monday night.
But here we are—more than a decade later—and the man holding WWE's most sought-after prize is a man we watched in his prime during the beloved Attitude Era.
In 2013, WWE programming resembles the bumbling efforts of TNA a lot more than it does the glory days of the Monday Night Wars.
Take a look at the landscape of this year's "Road to WrestleMania" and you'll know exactly what I mean.
Dirtsheets like F4WOnline (h/t Cageside Seats) have published reports on the "Big Four" matches for this year's event in New York. According to these reports, the top of the WrestleMania XXIX will look something like this:
WWE Championship: The Rock (c) vs. John Cena
World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton vs. Sheamus
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar
Undertaker vs. CM Punk
Take a look at that list. Only four of the eight superstars listed above are full-time performers. That is a big, big problem.
Now, before you jump down my throat and remind me that WrestleMania is about making huge money, hear me out.
First and foremost, I understand that professional wrestling is, and always will be, ruled by the almighty dollar. Of those eight superstars, the only one whose drawing power is suspect is Sheamus. People will buy WrestleMania XXIX to see those four matches if they do end up becoming reality.
The final one of the four potential matches listed is especially tenuous, as The Undertaker's return is far from confirmed. If not, WWE is then faced with the problem of stranding one of the two true full-time main-eventers during the most important time of the year.
Nonetheless, the problem isn't the buildup to WrestleMania—it's the aftermath. Once the Road to Extreme Rules begins in earnest, John Cena will be WWE Champion and The Rock, Triple H, Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker will be gone again.
You have to rebuild the credibility of guys like Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio. You put a hot angle like The Shield on the back burner. Ryback will continue heading in the wrong direction with anything short of a true WrestleMania moment, although his heavily rumored victory over Chris Jericho in New York would certainly be noteworthy.
TNA has been plagued by the use WWE-jects. Many of their biggest stars are has-beens from the biggest stage in American professional wrestling, starting with their world champion. They've put the likes of Hulk Hogan, Jeff Hardy and Kurt Angle ahead of incredibly talented youngsters. Only now is TNA Creative giving guys like Bobby Roode and Austin Aries a real place in the spotlight alongside the Ghosts of Wrestling's Past.
WWE isn't too far behind. There are rumblings of concern over bad ratings. What can you expect when you put the part-timers in the most lucrative spots on the year's biggest card?
Where does Dolph Ziggler go from here? Does he somehow interject himself into the World Heavyweight Title match? Does he become the first man to cash in the Money in the Bank contract at WrestleMania?
Ziggler is a star. It seems as though Creative knows that. The parallels to early-Shawn Michaels have been made, and they're certainly not baseless. I'm not saying Ziggler is going to reach that level, but I'm not saying he can't, either. He just needs the chance.
Vinny Mac needs to establish his young stars. Daniel Bryan might be the most over guy on the roster. The Miz is a former WWE Champion and should be above his current place as a talk-show host and half-rate, 1997-style knock-off of The Rock.
McMahon has a roster full of potential too. Guys like Wade Barrett, Dean Ambrose, Damien Sandow and Seth Rollins could carry the proverbial ball, given the appropriate time and opportunity. There is no doubt those four guys could be believable as world champions, albeit in the future.
It will take a serious, long-term commitment from Creative to get WWE programming back to where it once was.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. Under those specifications, there's one question left to ask:
Are WWE fans insane?
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