PART 1: 8 Changes That Need to Be Made In WWE This Decade
With Linda McMahon's recent senate loss, every die-hard wrestling fan seems to be under the belief that WWE will revert back to a TV 14 format over their current PG format. I seriously doubt that will happen.
The WWE is a publicly traded company that, for the greater part of the last 2 years, has positioned itself as a PG show. For them to just up and go back to TV 14 would hurt them greatly as far as sponsors of their programming is concerned, and it could also be a PR nightmare.
Even if they did decide to go back to TV 14 it really wouldn't matter. The WWE's problems stretch far beyond their TV rating.
People remember the Attitude era with great fondness. While I was a fan of this era, and have the same fond memories, I also remember all the tripe that this era spawned.
Mae Young giving birth to a hand, Harry Beaver Cleavage, choppy choppy your pee pee, The Big Bossman crashing the funeral of the Big Show's father, etc. are angles that truly made me embarrassed to be a wrestling fan sometimes.
Truth be told, the WWE brand got away with a lot of bull during the Attitude era. The thing is though, none of it mattered because everyone in the company got to ride the coattails of two men; The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin (and to a lesser extent, Mick Foley).
The bottom line is wrestling is not hot right now and there have been no innovations in the last decade to make people want to invest in it. In the 80's we had the birth of WrestleMania and Starrcade. In the 90's we had the internet boom that opened the lid on professional wrestling. The 00's, however, spawned no new innovations in wrestling.
Once WWE bought WCW, millions of WCW fans stopped watching wrestling altogether and never took to WWE, and TNA still has yet to hit their stride.
This decade, social networking, by way of Twitter and YouTube, might make wrestling hot again but that remains to be seen. One thing for sure is that the wrestling industry is in need of a major overhaul with MMA (UFC, in particular) being red hot right now and many former wrestling fans are flocking to it in groves.
Both TNA and WWE are in need of many changes. Next week's article will look at TNA, but for this week, I will talk about the changes WWE needs to look at making going forward into the decade.
PG Does Not Have to Equate to Corny!
Hornswoggle is a staple of WWE's PG era.
I can not stress this enough. There are plenty of shows that have PG ratings that are not as sophomoric as the current WWE product. Martin, The Simpsons, Boston Legal, Friends, hell, even the UFC countdown shows are PG.
A show can still have sporadic moments of blood even with a PG rating. Saved by the Bell was TV G yet still showed girls in bikini's.
The problem with the PG rating is not the rating itself. It is all the corniness that WWE thinks goes along with a PG rating.
Their needs to be a middle ground between Hornswoggle and HLA. While, I can personally do without Katie Vick and HLA, at the same time I don't want to see a swimsuit competition with divas wearing unsexy swimsuits that look like grannie panties.
A PG rating for a television show is almost equivalent to a PG-13 movie rating except with no swearing. TV G ratings are reserved for shows like Family Matters, Full House, etc.
Make Us Believe That Mid-Carders Will Someday Be The Main Event
MVP; One of the many victims of a go-and-stop push.
For some reason, the WWE has just not been confident in pulling the trigger on mid-card guys. This was never the problem in the 80's, 90's, and even the first half of the 00's.
In the 80's and 90's, when someone got the Intercontinental title, you knew that they were a stone's throw away from fighting for the World title.
This is true for guys like Bret Hart, Macho Man, The Rock, Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho etc.
Nowadays, when someone wins a secondary title, you can pretty much bet your bottom dollar that they will not move past that.
The argument could be made that guys like Kofi Kingston, John Morrison, Carlito, Shelton Benjamin, and MVP should be main eventers in WWE at this point in their storied careers. However, for some reason, WWE at some point loses faith in these guys and we get these go-and-stop pushes with talent.
When a wrestler receives a go-and-stop push, they stop being motivated to perform at their best because they know they will never be the top guy.
Furthermore, it becomes hard for us as fans to invest in these wrestlers because it becomes clear that they will never move past the spots they are at.
John Cena Needs To Be Revamped
John Cena's Shtick is wearing really thin.
I have no clue on how he should be revamped, I just know that his schtick is getting old and fast.
I am not a John Cena hater at all. I feel that he is someone who serves his due diligence. I am frustrated with his character to the point that I have to turn the channel when I see him on television.
I know the argument for not turning John Cena into a heel is the merchandise that he sells. Even still, the ratings are in the toilet and as over as John Cena is he is still not what I would call a household name.
When guys like The Rock and Hulk Hogan were at their peaks, you would be pressed to find a person on planet Earth that did not know who they were.
On the flipside of that coin, when rapper/producer, Timbaland, was set to host an episode of Raw sometime last year, when being interviewed he did not even know who Cena was.
This showed me two things; 1) Timbaland is not a true WWE fan and 2) WWE just does not have the crossover appeal that it did during the Attitude Era.
As popular as Cena is, his popularity does not stress into mainstream culture. I do not blame it on Cena. As I've said before, The WWE product is just not hot right now and Cena's character in its current incarnation will never give the product the mass appeal it once had.
I will give WWE credit for keeping him face for so long, though, because when or if he finally turns into a heel, it will mean something.
Michael Cole Has To Get Off Commentary
Michael Cole is ideal as the straight man to a heel color commentator but not so much as a heel play-by-play man.
Don't get me wrong, I think that Michael Cole makes a great heel personality for WWE.
On commentary, however, he is grating to the ears. The simple fact is the role of a play-by-play man is not a role meant for a heel.
When I am watching wrestling and I am forced to listen to Michael Cole bash the product, I continually find myself putting my television on mute.
They have Cole go back and fourth from babyface to heel. If the Miz is wrestling he is a heel; If Cena is wrestling he is a babyface. Quite frankly, it is confusing.
I never felt Cole was a great commentator, but he did play a decent straight man to the dominant, alpha male personalities of Tazz and JBL.
Humor is an issue. Guys like Jesse Ventura and Bobby Heenan were funny at the drop of a dime. They would say things and it would naturally be funny. They did not go out there one day and just decide to be funny, it was just a natural flow in their deliveries.
Cole, on the other hand, forces his jokes, and for the most part, it is an epic fail. If Cole is going to be the lead voice of Raw, he can not constantly bash the product. It is counterproductive.
Unlike Jerry Lawler, Jesse Ventura, Roddy Piper, or even Bobby Heenan, Cole does not come from an athletic background. He has no business making fun of Daniel Bryan's wrestling, or any other wrestlers for that matter, and should not be put in a position where he is forced to do so.
If Cole were to be taken of commentary and made into a heel manager then he might be more tolerable. I thoroughly enjoyed his exchanges with Daniel Bryan on NXT, and he did show promise as a heel.
I know WWE believes that managers are passe, however Cole's personality is better suited for that role than that of a heel play-by-play commentator. The fastest way to turn a person off of a wrestling product is listening to bad commentary.
Bring Managers Back
Armando Alejandro Estrada showed that , when utilized right, a manager can be greatly beneficial to a wrestler.
For all the retrogressive moves that WWE has made over the course of the last few years, the one move they are hellbent in not making is bringing back managers.
That is a shame because a good manager will enhance the character of a wrestler.
I could not imagine what Brock Lesnar would have been like had he not debuted with Paul Heyman or Umaga had he not debuted with Armando Alejandro Estrada.
Hopefully, moving forward into the new decade, WWE will revisit their stance on managers.
Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart, Freddie Blassie, and Theodore Long brought out the best in the guys they managed. A good manger can make an average wrestler seem like the greatest thing since sliced bread. Drew McIntyre, Ezekiel Jackson and Sheamus could greatly benefit from having a good mouthpiece.
Make House Shows Significant Again
WWE's house show business has been dead in the water for quite some time. The reason for this is that nothing significant ever happens at house shows.
Believe it or not, there was a time when storylines would progress at house shows. There would even be title changes every once in a while, which was good because it would push television storylines forward and give fans a reason to go to these shows.
Give The Fans What They Want
RVD's title run would have meant so much more had it happened when the fans were hot for it.
The WWE has this extremely pompous “we know what you want more than you know what you want” attitude. This has to stop!
Far too often, the fans will take a liking to a certain wrestler, such as Rob Van Dam, only for WWE not to push them.
As soon as RVD debuted in a WWE ring, he was over with the fans. He was instantly over without WWE having to do anything to get him over.
Instead of building off of his momentum, they left him a mid-carder for so long that when he finally did get the title, the fans just did not care.
This attitude of not pushing guys the fans take a natural liking to only hurts their product. Just look at The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. If WWE decided not to push these guys when the fans were thirsty for them to get pushed, the attitude era as we know it, would have never existed.
Push Talent To Their Strengths
As hard as Ted Dibiase, Jr. tries, he will never play the role of the Million Dollar Man as well as his father did.
Push guys to their strengths. I think that a lot of guys in WWE right now are severely lacking in the personalty department. I think that this is more the fault of WWE writers than the wrestlers. It has been said that a great character in wrestling is developed by taking a wrestler's real personality and turning the volume up on it. When I see a guy like Ted Dibiase, Jr. being forced to play the same character his father played, it is glaringly obvious that he is being told to go out there and act like his dad instead of being allowed to develop his own personalty. Moving forward, WWE needs to work closer with wrestlers in developing their characters as opposed to just giving them a character.
Push guys to their strengths. I think that a lot of guys in WWE right now are severely lacking in the personalty department.
I think that this is more the fault of WWE writers than the wrestlers. It has been said that a great character in wrestling is developed by taking a wrestler's real personality and turning the volume up on it.
When I see a guy like Ted Dibiase, Jr. being forced to play the same character his father played, it is glaringly obvious that he is being told to go out there and act like his dad instead of being allowed to develop his own personalty.
Moving forward, WWE needs to work closer with wrestlers in developing their characters as opposed to just giving them a character.