WWE's Cheap Pop and Cheap Heat for 2013
Welcome back to the second edition of Cheap Pop and Cheap Heat where we keep things balanced and praise one of the best things going on in WWE and equally break down one of the worst.
This time around, let's look at an overall picture of WWE in 2013.
As expected, there were highlights and there were low points throughout the entire year.
But in the grand scope of things, what were perhaps the biggest anchors in those respective categories?
When you boil it all down, what was the best thing that happened in WWE this year and what was the worst as far as the company's big picture goes?
Cheap Pop: Trying New Things in Preparation of a New Era in WWE
Although there has not been an official passing of the torch so to speak, WWE has made up a lot of ground this past year in moving forward.
Some changes were big, like the unification of the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship and Triple H being more at the forefront than Vince McMahon.
Meanwhile, other ones were much smaller, such as the more relaxed attitude at using phrases like "wrestler," which won't have as much of an impact but shows that the company isn't completely stuck in its ways.
One of the aspects that is undoubtedly a step up is the rising of younger talent to prominence.
The Shield made its WWE debut at the end of 2012, and all three members of the faction were among the most active wrestlers that held not only the tag team division on their shoulders but also the main event at times.
Big E Langston is another newcomer who has forged a nice spot for himself that will get even more comfortable as time goes on.
By far the biggest sign that things are changing is the meteoric rise of Daniel Bryan.
Although it's clear that WWE is not completely beyond their former ways of being less than supportive of the smaller guys, its acknowledgement of Bryan is more than fans have seen in quite some time.
Talent are being given a chance to reinvent themselves, as evidenced by Fandango and Los Matadores, who were dead in the water last year.
The tag team division is better off than it's been in years, and things are progressing rather well with the roster balancing out among the divisions in turn.
If WWE keeps this up, there shouldn't be much of a worry as to whether or not the future can still have stars.
Cheap Heat: Overall Pay-Per-View Event Quality
The pay-per-view event scene was rather bad this year, to say the least.
While we had a few diamonds in the rough and some good matches here and there, the big picture was pretty dismal.
For every wonder like Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, you can count 10 that were blunders.
For every main event that had a long build and lots of hype, it seemed like the rest of the card on those shows were the total opposite, getting no build whatsoever.
WWE had a tendency this year more than ever before to put absolutely no effort into promoting several matches in advance of a pay-per-view, throwing them onto the card at the last minute.
This not only hurt the perception of these matches as being not important enough to get attention from WWE's creative department, but in turn, it hurt the shows that they were on.
If WWE doesn't care enough to put any focus on those matches, why should fans care enough to want to buy the program and see these random fights?
And for that matter, if WWE only focuses on building one or two matches for an event and then those don't deliver, fans are even more disappointed.
Look at the backlash that happened when there was a string of screwy finishes to the main events.
Although some cooler heads prevailed, many fans were requesting refunds since they felt like they were cheated out of their money.
This doesn't happen if the rest of the card is entertaining and filled with fun matches.
Battleground is a prime example of what was wrong this year. Khali counted himself out during a pinfall, almost none of the matches meant anything and technical difficulties even turned the event off right before the main event, which ended like an ordinary episode of Raw anyway.
Television seemed to be more of a priority than pay-per-views, but what is a shame about that is even the TV shows weren't made to be unmissable.
Fans only needed to watch Raw. If you skipped SmackDown, NXT, Main Event, Superstars or any of the Web shows, you didn't miss anything noteworthy.
In fact, it speaks volumes when Total Divas is the second-most important thing that you have to watch to keep up with storylines in WWE.
When you sacrifice the pay-per-views in an attempt to make the television shows the bigger focal point, you need to go all out and make more than just the flagship show a destination.
Whether it was the fault of WWE management for not viewing pay-per-views as a priority or the creative team for not being able to put in the proper work in making them successful, this is going to need to change if 2014 is going to be a better year.
What do you think were the biggest overall best and worst things of the year in WWE? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Anthony Mango is the owner-operator of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment as well as the host of its podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.