2009 was a decent year in the WWE with highs and lows in all departments, but I'm not going to go all over that as you have probably worked out what those are for yourself. What I want to do is focus on the future in 2010, and a few things the WWE would be well advised to consider:
1) Drop the PG rubbish: Now I know this will get conflicting points of view but let me tell it from my perspective. The WWE clearly want to make its product child friendly, so it can sell more merchandise and possibly bring up a new generation of WWE wrestling fans. Now tell me if I'm missing something here but wasn't WWE's target age always 18+ at least? When you view the ratings every week you find that the average age is still 18-49. What does that tell you WWE? You are neglecting the dominant market! I am not saying that I want matches to be full of blood, chair shots, flaming tables etc. But I wouldn't mind it occasionally, especially if it was to close a good feud. It tells a story much better than an ordinary match.
Not only that but storylines are now also restricted as there is no anti-establishmentism in the WWE any more, which won it the support of young fans in the first place which in part allowed it to overcopme WCW. My message being is the reason a lot of children tune in to wrestling is to see blood, to see chair shots as it is 'cool' and they like the gory side of it. But I know that if I was 12 years old the current product wouldn't entertain me half as much as the old one, as there is no controversy. Storylines are predictable and insult our intelligence i.e. little people's court, hornswoggle beating Chavo every week, guest hosts frequently dancing in their offices etc. How is wrestling supposed to be believeable with this sort of rubbish? I would predict that if WWE stopped being PG, they would actually gain child viewers, not lose them, because some of WWE's storylines would insult the intelligence of a 10 year old. Mostly WWE is good but if WWE don't rid of these silly moments then kids may well look elsewhere at TNA which WWE doesn't want to happen. In the attitude era Vince took the opposite route, making the show even dirtier, and even saying publicly that fans should not have to put up with storylines that insult their intelligence, whatever happened? It hasn't changed wrestling too much, as wrestling is always wrestling and WWE still has a very good product, but its the little things when put together that can have a huge impact. It is fair enough to stop blading in wrestling, but when a wrestler actually does get cut open, like Christian at TLC, don't send people down to clear it up. The attitude era took rash behavior too far, but now we don't have any at all, what about a nice balance for once? What about a compromise in targeting young fans and established fans that could make WWE better than ever?
2) Utilisation of current main event performers: Three people come to mind here, those being Chris Jericho,Randy Orton and CM Punk, both of whom have not been utilised fully in 2009.
Orton started off the year in fantastic fashion with the McMahon feud, and this continued throughout the summer up to Bragging rights. The month before he had beaten Cena to become world champion, but then he loses the title three weeks later. Whats the point in that? What makes it worse is that since then he has been feuding with mid-carder Kofi Kingston, which means Orton himself has been in the mid-card. This is not right for the biggest superstar in WWE. He should be in main event feuds at all time, no matter if or not the title is involved. If they wanted to show faith in Kofi, they should have let Orton retain at Bragging Rights and then let Kofi face him for the title, that would have worked. But the way it has been done has done nothing for Kofi and more importantly has lowered Orton's standing. The loss to Cena at the slammies really made Orton look weak, he needed that win to prove he was still at the top after his loss to Cena a few months back, but even though he put on a great match, he lost and therefore looked inferior to Cena instead of an equal and WWE can not allow that to happen.
My other issue is with Jericho. He has been yet again superstar of the year no matter what WWE say. But he has been made to look weak. At the fall of 2008 he was world champion, he had beaten Batista in a steel cage, beaten Michaels in a ladder match and was on top of the WWE world. But then it went downhill, he jobbed to Cena twice which as with Orton made him look like the inferior competitor and then started feuding with the legends. Now this was really sad (although funny at times) because Jericho is better than this. This is the sort of thing Orton should have been doing five years ago, bot Jericho at the peak of his career. It shocked me that this went on and on to Wrestlemania, because Jericho could have been much better use to that event if he was main-eventing. Then he was moved to Smackdown! which meant less exposure for Jericho for a few months. His feud with mysterio was awesome but it was still mid-card. Jericho is better than the Intercontinental title. After he came out of that feud with a loss he became tag champions with edge and then Big Show. Again this is not what Jericho should have been doing, he should have been in the world title picture on Smackdown! not teamed with someone (no offence to a very good wrestler in Big Show) who is not at his level in the ring or on the mic. He should have been kept on Raw all along and have eventually beaten Cena to prove he could do it. Even though he was drafted to Smackdown! he has been on Raw weekly, and has been yet again the driving force of the show, but I can't help but feel he has been forced to job a lot this year, made to look weak in the ring in tag matches and not been fully utilised. He shouldn't be in the title picture all the time, but he should be in high profile feuds. The feud with DX was hiugh profile but it took till the end of the year to happen and even then it was rushed and resulted in Jerishow jobbing to DX.
Another example is CM Punk, what happened after Summerslam? The push just seemed to vanish, next moment he's back in the mid-card and I believe it will be hard for him to get back to main event status anytime soon.
3) Continued development of young stars
I have to be very complimentary to WWE on their superstar initiative this year. It has bought out many future world champions examples being Miz, Morrison, Kingston, Swagger, Ziggler, McIntyre, Sheamus, Legacy and The Hart Dynasty. This needs to continue with more young stars coming in, and the continued development of the above. However there are some negatives as some stars have been wildly mis-used. Lets take Carlito as an example. When he debuted he beat John Cena and won the US title. Where is he now? Being beaten by Cena in under a minute on Raw. He is a fantastic wrestler, he is original, can generate heat and with a few big wins and antics be a genuine US title challenger. WWE do not release this man. Another example is his brother Primo and Chavo Guerrero. Primo is skillful in the ring, not as good as his brother but a decent wrestler. Chavo is a veteran and has huge potential. He needs to turn face fast, because then he can use his Guerrero antics from los guerrero's when he teamed with Eddie to win the crowd over. He should be lieing cheating and stealing his way to victory, not jobbing to an annoying little midget.
So those are my pointers for 2010. As I said 2009 has been decent in wrestling terms, its just these little things that keep propping up that could be mended so easily. With the return of Bret Hart to Raw this week, 2010 will start with a bang for WWE and is he is used properly, can make stars out of The Hart Dynasty, and attract back some fans who have been lost in the PG era. Also with Mike Tyson hosting Raw the week after Bret Hart, and the rumoured involvement of The Rock and Steve Austin as guest hosts, WWE can wipe the floor with all competition and have a brilliant 2010. Happy new year everybody!