The Opinion Desk: State of the WWE
It's been quite a while, hasn't it? The last time I wrote an article was before Wrestlemania, and it's been a long road getting back on-line since then. School and work have been a nightmare, my profile went through a strange set of coincidences, and I even suffered a computer crash.
But enough about me. I'm back and with comes the return of the opinion desk. I have been itching to give my views of the WWE since Wrestlemania and the draft and I figure there is no better time than now a week removed from Backlash.
First, let me say that I thought Wrestlemania was a solid show, as well as Backlash. I was extremely disappointed with the main events at Wrestlemania because I was enjoying the show quite a bit up until Shawn/Taker then it just fell on its face after that classic.
The triple threat was ok and Triple H/Orton was just bad. Backlash was little more solid from top to bottom with Edge/Cena really standing out to me.
I though the draft went fairly well, but Raw came out on the bad end if you ask me. Sure it has all the name power but what may be a glass ceiling on Smackdown and ECW is like a enforced steel barricade on Raw. Orton, Triple H, Cena, Show, HBK, & Batista? Well good luck midcard guys.
Smackdown did great. The loss of MVP, Kennedy, and Show hurt. but it was a fair trade if you consider we got Jericho, Mysterio, Punk, & Morrison in return. Plus it's no longer the Triple H show!
ECW did really good as well. They lost Miz and Morrison but gained Kozlov, Helms, and Ezekiel Jackson, who all could make impacts down the road. They also lost Hornswoggle, which finally frees up Finlay to regain his edge.
Well let's get more to the meat of the subject. I will discuss each brand briefly and how they look as compared to the past year. Are they better? Worse? The Same? How will they look a few months from now? Well here we go.
Like I said above Raw is running the risk of being in complete disarray this year. The main event scene will be almost impenetrable to young guys. Injuries abound in the undercard and the women's division is treated like a joke.
Sure, Raw has much of the name power now. Minus Jeff, Edge, Jericho, 'Taker, and maybe Christian, Raw has pretty much all the currently established main eventers.
Now there are a lot of young guys and established midcarders that could make an impact. A midcard roster of Matt Hardy, The Miz, Festus, MVP, Mr. Kennedy, Kofi Kingston, The Brian Kendrick, Legacy, and the Colons is nothing to laugh at. But I cant help but feel this midcard has ultimately been set up to fail at a main event level.
Kendrick is in the doghouse, along with maybe Kennedy, considering his prone nature to injuries and lying. I'm always afraid Kingston's gonna kill himself, and Hardy has a broken hand. No one cares about The Miz, and MVP still has a long ways to go before he is a credible face. Festus is treated like a joke.
Legacy could start a nice feud with the Colons, but once they're gone who is there for them to feud with for the titles? Yeah they could challenge teams from ECW and Smackdown but what teams? Cryme Tyme? Thats about it.
But maybe hope is not all lost. Even if none of these guys ever make the main events they could still make Raw entertaining in McMahon decides to pay more attention to his undercard. Potential feuds like Orton/MVP, Hardy/HBK, Kendrick/Kingston, Kennedy/Cena could all be fun in the long run.
Here's to hoping Ted, MVP, Kennedy, and Kingston can all ultimately break out and prove me wrong.
Then there's the women's divsion on Raw. It wasn't long ago that we said Smackdown had the joke division but what about Raw now? Their biggest face is a man running around in drag. "Santina" is funny as hell but you have to wonder what the gimmicks life expectancy is.
Raw is looking really bleak right now. I would have to say that in comparison to where it was last year its probably about the same leaning towards worse. There just doesn't look like their are a lot of bright spots on Raws horizon.
It's gonna take a monumental effort from the midcard guys to make it work. Of course booking team I am also looking at you.
I really like where ECW seems to be right now. What a way the show has come from it's original days of reincarnation.
Bad losses include The Miz and Morrison who were highlights of ECW week in and week out. However they were essentially traded for Gregory Helms and Vladimir Kozlov who could immediately become Main Event threats down the road.
Good losses include Ortiz who never really found his fit on ECW and Hornswoggle who finally stops handicapping his father Finlay who was in desperate need of going back to his roots.
I am pretty excited about ECW as they have a small but very solid roster. Tyson Kidd and Evan Bourne and bona fide blue chippers and could already be considered stars in the making (especially Bourne).
They are joined by a plethora of young stars who could become big things down the road including Paul Burchill, Ezekiel Jackson, DH Smith, Zack Ryder, and (if he can get his head out of the clouds) DJ Gabriel.
Under the tutelage of veteran leadership like Dreamer, Finlay, Helms, Henry, Champion and should be megastar Christian, and headed by top of his class Jack Swagger ECW looks like it has a bright future.
Oh, and on an interesting note the former Next Generation Hart Foundation stable of Kidd, DH, and Natalya now find themselves all on the same roster.
I am already looking forward to feuds between Kidd/Bourne, Swagger/Dreamer, and later potential feuds with Bourne/Helms, Swagger/Ezekiel, Christian/Kozlov, Christian/Bourne, Swagger/Bourne, Kidd/DH. There are several appealing possibilities.
Despite losing the tag team of the year I would say compared to last year ECW is better than it was and with the potential of more young superstars coming up from developmental soon it is probably only going to get better.
I am the most excited about Smackdown because if you ask me they have the most balanced roster in the company right now.
A good mix of veteran stars, veteran midcarders, and big-time, up and comers makes the Friday night show the show to watch.
MVP and Kennedy may be seen as big losses but really what did either man really do since coming to Smackdown? Kennedy got injured and MVP was in the doghouse for much of his stay. How much credibility did either have left with the blue brand?
Losing Triple H was actually a blessing in disguise as Friday nights no longer have to be looked at as the Hunter show.
The main event scene is solid including Jeff Hardy, Edge, Undertaker, Chris Jericho, and Non Regulars like Kane and Mysterio. But I like this because it leaves a lot of open room for younger guys to step up and become big time players.
This might finally be the year that CM Punk becomes the megastar we all know he can be. Or maybe it will be the year that other young guys like Umaga, Mike Knox, Shelton Benjamin, Dolph Ziggler or John Morrison finally truly break out.
The ones that benefit from this roster the most really are the midcard guys. Rey Mysterio, Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Edge, & Jeff Hardy are all veterans that can still flat out go in the ring. But their biggest quality is that none of them are afraid to take the job to push a younger guy.
When Morrison and Jericho got in a fight backstage on this past weeks Smackdown and Punk walked into between them I got chills (by the way the MITB shot is a great natural hook for programming each week). This is the WWE I have been waiting for. Smackdown has become the launch pad for the future.
Potential feuds between Jericho/Taker, Jericho/Mysterio, Hardy/Punk, Edge/Punk, Mysterio/Hardy, Edge/Jericho, Umaga/Taker, Benjamin/Mysterio, Hass/Benjamin, hell even Knox/Taker among many other possibilities make this such an exciting show.
In comparison too as well the women's division suddenly looks a lot better than Raws. With the infusion of Melina, Alicia Fox, Candice Michelle, and other young divas like Eve and Layla coniciding with the return of Gail Kim a couple of weeks before Wrestlemania Smackdown looks like the place to watch for women's wrestling.
Tag wrestling may be just as dead on Smackdown as Raw but even with an Undisputed set of tag titles lets face it Tag Wrestling may sadly never make a comeback in the WWE. Vince honestly thinks it's become a dead art.
However Smackdown unlike Raw actually looks like a roster meant for everyone to stand equally. An enviornment for future main evnters to be born and thrive. I would say compared to last year Smackdown looks a lot better than it was.
Smackdown looks like the show to watch this year, so anyone who follows the blue brand better strap on, because it could be a wild ride ahead.
Overall Company State
Smackdown looks awesome and ECW looks like it will continue it's recent streak of consistently solid programming each week. However, Vince looks like he has learned nothing when considering Raw. He is more focused on his older stars and comedy to let the A show live up to it's stature.
That is unfortunate because a little more balance of star power could have done wonders for the company as a whole. I don't think Raw would have tanked if another one of their big stars went to help Smackdown or even ECW (Show was a great fit the first time he was on the show)
Even though the creative team slowly seems to be remembering they have young guys (Swaggers dominance continues, Morrison and MVP seem to be in line for huge face pushes, and Miz of all people might get a look at the main event scene this year) I wouldn't be surprised if they forget them again by the time Summerslam rolls around. In other words I'm skeptical.
It's going to require a lot of effort all around for WWE to keep what has started out as a really good year so far going full steam ahead. They is understandably a lot of skepticism from the audience. For right now though I'll say WWE is overall better than last year.
It's up to everyone to make that statement continue staying true. They do say that anything can happen in WWE though. Who knows, maybe the biggest surprise they will give us this year is proving us wrong with a solid year of programming from both veterans and young guys.
Well that's it. I'm done for today. It's been fun talking to you guys for the first time in a while. I hope you didn't fall asleep in you chair. I will be dusting out the List Shop soon so I expect to see you there.
Until then keep enjoying the WWE and hopefully you will approach it with the same optimism and fairness I do every week. And hopefully WWE will continue to reward our faith. See you next time guys.
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