WWE Should Learn From Basic UFC Concepts
This is a topic that people have talked about for years, but with all this Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker talk lately, I am going to bring it back.
I am going to tell you exactly what WWE needs to borrow from The Ultimate Fighting Championship to freshen up their overall presentation...besides, obviously, Brock Lesnar himself.
Let us be completely open minded for a second and look at the presentation of WWE RAW over the last decade. High speed rock music intro, massive pyro-technics, same old titan-tron and entrance ramp, boring in-ring promo...you get the point.
And that is just within the first two minutes of the show.
The first main problem I have with WWE has been the hot-shot mentality of big feuds and matches. They over think certain aspects of professional wrestling and make it more complicated than it should be.
I agree with wrestling personalities such as Jim Ross and Jim Cornette who believe that a personal issue should be the main conflict in wrestling feuds.
Whether it is over the love of a woman or the prestige of a championship, the issue between the wrestlers should always be the main focus of a feud. This is something that the UFC capitalizes on in a basic and natural fashion.
Fighters in the UFC get quick, sit-down interviews where they can talk as much or a little trash as they want about each other. These interview are shown immediately before the fight takes place so the issue is fresh in the mind of the fans before the encounter takes place.
WWE used to do this with video packages, but somewhere along the way, they became lazy and discontinued this concept.
Here is a prime example of UFC building a natural feud. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Rashad Evans had a completely natural disdain for each other.
Their in-ring confrontation at UFC 96 after Jackson defeated Rashad's teammate, Keith Jardine, stirred the pot for what would be a future fight between the two.
The issue was originally over the Light Heavyweight Championship, but since Rashad lost it along the way, this feud became personal.
UFC made the brilliant decision to showcase this when both men were coaches on The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweights edition last year.
The feud started at UFC 96 and certain events postponed this fight until UFC 114 earlier this year. UFC had sufficient time to build the rivalry and personal issue between the two men. UFC 114 had the highest non-Brock Lesnar buy-rate for UFC this year.
WWE can easily take this same strategy and implement it to feuds that they would like to build up over time before a match is ready to take place.
Remember, UFC is real. WWE is fake. This allows them to have WAY more creative freedom on what they want to do with their wrestlers.
Yet they always choose to take the easy way out.
Two of the biggest matches in WWE history involved a build up where the fans had an opportunity to get an inside look at the training that took place leading up to the match.
Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock at Summerslam 2002 involved footage of the two men training each week for their huge match.
The anticipation was mounting week after week as no one really knew what was going to happen when this first time ever match took place at the second biggest show of the year. Some critics also believe that Summerslam 2002 may be the single best pay-per-view the WWE has ever presented.
The Rock and Brock Lesnar did not have any physical contact before this match took place. This made the anticipation of a physical encounter mount. In UFC, there is never anything physical until it is time to step inside The Octagon.
The same could be said for Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 12. The footage of Shawn Michaels training with Jose Lothario for the match of his life is still as clear as day to me.
Also, the footage of Bret training with his father in the dungeon and running on the icy roads of Calgary will be cemented in my mind forever. These two also had no contact leading up to this huge match. The build-up was well done and extremely simple.
If you've ever watched the UFC: Primetime series, then you would know that this is exactly what UFC does to build to their big pay-per-view main event.
We got to witness Brock Lesnar train in his remote gym in Alexandria, Minnesota for the beating he took at UFC 121 and we also got to see Cain Velasquez train at The American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif.
There was a solid three weeks of build toward the main event and it generated the biggest ratings in the history of the series.
And I would bet that more people bought UFC 121 than any other UFC or WWE event this year.
As fans, we don't get to see enough of the outside world of these larger-than-life WWE superstars.
We don't get to see how Randy Orton trains to get in such insane shape for a big match. It is a simple concept and WWE could use it to build towards any pay-per-view main event.
Another concept that WWE could adopt from UFC is making every title mean something. With different weight classes, each championship in the UFC is considered a world title.
If WWE were to bring back a lightweight or cruiserweight division, there is a huge list of talent that they could use to get the idea over.
Guys like Daniel Bryan, Kaval, and Rey Mysterio could lead the charge. Rey Mysterio is a main event wrestler already. Imagine the kind of prestige he could bring to his own weight division championship.
WWE should also treat the Intercontinental and United States Championships with prestige and honor.
All three belts mentioned above, obviously, would fall below that of the WWE Championship or World Heavyweight Championship as far as prestige is concerned, but they should be treated with the respect they deserve and not as props for a television show.
One last concept that WWE could learn is how UFC handles The Ultimate Fighter show.
Rumors are swirling that WWE is about to re-launch the Tough Enough series that originated on MTV back in 2001. If I were WWE, I would do exactly what UFC does with The Ultimate Fighter.
Take two WWE main event caliber wrestlers that have a future match scheduled at a big pay-per-view.
Give each wrestler a chance to evaluate a legit pool of aspiring WWE superstars. Pick two teams of eight and put the wrestlers through physical and mental challenges.
I bet I know what you're thinking. "Jay, they are already doing this with NXT, right?" Wrong. This show should be more shoot than not.
Sure, they should definitely embellish the rivalry between the team coaches on the show and build the tension between the two, but this show should be unscripted look at how WWE main event wrestlers would train a team of aspiring superstars.
I can present these ideas in any way, shape, or form to whoever in WWE that would listen, but in reality, they are going to stay the course. Why learn from past mistakes? Why mess with a formula that works?
Ratings are relatively consistent and International attendance is through the roof, but somewhere along the lines, pay-per-view buy-rates took a major hit.
What the UFC has been doing continues to work. They are getting bigger and bigger. Sooner or later, they are going to seriously affect what WWE is doing.
And only then will WWE truly learn from their mistakes.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me know.
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