WWE: 10 Steps Vince McMahon Should Take to Supply the Fans with a Better Product
Vince McMahon has been desperately trying to recreate the mainstream media attention that wrestling enjoyed in the "Attitude Era".
Television ratings have fallen dramatically, pay-per-view buy rates are at an all time low and wrestling is no longer considered cool by today's youth culture.
McMahon has been trying to change this with each step seemingly more desperate than the last.
The attempt to gain mainstream attention by introducing a new celebrity guest host each week on Raw failed drastically with the latest "celeb" appearance, Snooki at WrestleMania, only attracting media attention for a few seconds.
Celebrities have always played a huge part in wrestling going back to the days when Mr T competed at the first two WrestleManias with perhaps the most iconic guest appearance being the face-off between Mike Tyson and Stone Cold Steve Austin, the hard men of their respective disciplines.
But this mindless celebrity culture on Raw did nothing to improve the ratings as most of them were there to plug a new project on national television. The fact that Snooki's WrestleMania match sucked in two exceptional young talents in John Morrison and Dolph Ziggler was also a disgrace.
The latest step that McMahon has taken is to disassociate himself with wrestling completely re-branding his company to cover all forms of entertainment.
This decision to branch out cannot have been justified on the success of the WWE films which have all failed to make a mark on the box office.
Wrestling has always enjoyed peaks and troughs and Vince is fighting a losing battle but here are ten steps that he should take in order to provide the fans with a more watchable product.
Hire Commentators That Put the Talent over
Michael Cole's gimmick of supporting the heels and jeering the faces has become very irritating, very quickly.
The ongoing feud between Lawler and Cole has led to countless petty disputes at the announce table which, combined with the introduction of the "Cole Mine" and the mind-numbing emails, which distracts from the actual matches.
When JR was on commentary, he lived in the moment and put his heart and soul into commentary. He could make you believe that a match between Mark Henry and the Great Khali was a five star classic.
Michael Cole is capable of this but he has just been told to put himself over at the expense of the wrestlers or superstars.
Jerry Lawler worked much better as a heel color commentator. Although Booker T and Josh Matthews are learning, they are far from the finished articles.
Cole could easily become a manager for wrestlers that need to find a voice. That way his constant criticisms would be acceptable.
However, it is almost impossible to listen to a heel play-by-play, which by definition should be neutral.
If Vince McMahon is not going to bring back JR then I would like to see William Regal given a chance at the announce table which seems to be the ultimate plan as he is learning his trade on NXT.
Simply put, they need commentators who actually call the action and make the fans believe that what they are watching is worth the effort.
Make the Action More Believable by Implementing MMA Tactics
The rise of UFC and MMA has contributed significantly to the downturn in popularity of the WWE with most UFC pay-per-views earning more buys than their pro wrestling counterparts.
Most fans know that wrestling is fake. For them to willingly suspend their disbelief, they have to believe that what they are watching could be real.
Therefore there should be more instances where the referee stops the match as a result of a knock out or when he feels that the superstar cannot continue. This happens occasionally, but it would be a good way for characters that they want to build as monsters like Mason Ryan to get over as heels.
It would also introduce some realism into a choreographed sport and it would keep the fans second-guessing the legitimacy of the injury.
Re-Introduce the Cruiserweight Division
Vince McMahon has always said that he prefers charisma and an impressive look over wrestling ability in his main-eventers.
Hulk Hogan, Batista, Lex Luger, John Cena and Psycho Sid are all examples of huge stars that were not overly talented in the ring.
But the slower and more methodical WWE style lacks appeal with wrestling purists as compared to the fast-flowing wrestling matches of independent leagues.
An easy compromise is to reintroduce the Cruiserweight Division and allow the smaller wrestlers to put on awe-inspiring matches every week, with less demonstrated personality and mic skills.
The division was made a mockery of when Hornswoggle became the last ever champion. To restore some credibility, Rey Mysterio, a former world champion, could compete.
It would be the perfect opportunity for the likes of Trent Barretta, Curt Hawkins, Chavo Guerrero, Tyson Kidd, Daniel Bryan and Sin Cara to showcase their talents. Then the WWE would be able to boast that the quality of its wrestling exceeds that of TNA.
A similar revolution happened before with the Stampede style of Bret Hart, Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith and Owen Hart becoming commonplace in mainstream wrestling.
Rebuild the Tag Team Division
There was a time when the tag team division was the pride of the WWF, a time when Hulk Hogan refused to main event house shows because he could not follow the Rockers and the Road Warriors were two of the most beloved stars in the company.
The Uso twins, Tyson Kidd and DH Smith, were all promising wrestlers with a history in the business and the added presence of Natalya and Tamina Snuka allowed the possibility for a long feud.
Instead, the WWE decided to bury the Usos by having them lose repeatedly to Santino and Kozlov. They also split up the Hart Dynasty, which made no sense as neither of them have achieved anything since the break.
These teams were a far cry from the great duos of yesteryear, but each had the potential to provide entertaining matches and both partners meant something to each other.
That is the key difference between the tag team divisions of today and the past.
Now when the WWE needs a tag team, they pair two random wrestlers—like Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes—and stick the belts on them.
Back in the day, sometimes you would not know the names of the individual wrestlers; they would just be the Killer Bees or the Conquistadors because they were actual teams.
There was history between the Dynamite Kid and the British Bulldog or Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart. There were no random pairings in those days.
Today, it seems that all the tag team matches are between Big Show and Kane and some combination of the Nexus or the Corre.
We want to see young teams from developmental leagues like Tyler Black and Richie Steamboat or a possible combination between the DiBiase brothers, Ted and Brett, which could save both their dying careers.
More Serious Direction for the Divas Division with Kharma as the Figurehead
Kharma has already revolutionized the stale WWE Divas division, adding much-needed interest in her short time with the company.
This needs to continue.
Kharma cannot end up as the next love interest for Santino which many Bleachers have already cited as a possibility.
The feuds need to be more serious and the divas need to be pushed based on wrestling talent more than their physical appearance.
A Phoenix-Kharma feud would attract serious attention from the fans and be good for women's wrestling as a whole.
It is the only women's feud in recent memory that might affect pay-per-view sales.
Continue the Youth Movement
A few months ago, it seemed that the much-talked about WWE Youth Movement was finally coming into play, with Miz as the WWE Champion and Alberto Del Rio as the World Champion elect.
John Morrison, Dolph Ziggler, Wade Barrett, Sheamus and Cody Rhodes had all been involved in main event feuds and looked to set to establish themselves as the next generation of champions.
Now, we are back to Cena and Orton as the two world champions who have both been shoved down our throats so much that they have become stale.
The WWE needs to act quickly before people forget that these young wrestlers can mix it in the main event as has happened, to an extent, with Wade Barrett.
Cena and Orton need to develop these young guns into serious main event challengers that the fans can respect as world champions.
The WWE also needs to secure the future of the Miz by having him feud with a competitor like Jericho or Triple H.
The mid-card also needs more versatility.
Superstars like Zack Ryder are not getting the television time they deserve.
Bring in Some More Star Power
However these young talents need older, more experienced stars to work with. There is a shortage of them at the moment.
Edge has retired, and the Undertaker and Triple H are no longer on TV. It is difficult for the young talent to posture themselves as threats like Sheamus did by targeting The Game.
Triple H feuding with the Miz would be interesting, or possibly Cody Rhodes versus the Undertaker.
It would also make sense to try and bring back Batista and Jericho, whose returns are rumored to be in the offing, so that they can add more strength in depth and star power.
This would give the creative departments more options when pairing off young talent with established superstars.
A transition period is necessary where the older generation are given the opportunity to pass the torch.
More Cross-Brand Feuds and Less Emphasis on the Brand Split
We have already seen this to an extent with Alberto Del Rio's continued appearances on Raw in the run up to WrestleMania.
This was so the casual fans that only tune into the flagship show would be aware of Del Rio, the next big thing.
The introduction of Sin Cara to Raw before being drafted to Smackdown was also a way of making his talents known to a wider audience before giving him a chance to develop on the B-show.
This is because not everyone who watches Raw will tune into Smackdown.
This might change if feuds were continued from one show to another like in the days before the brand split when wrestlers could appear on either show.
A prime example of where this would work is with Rock and Cena. This feud does not have to happen solely on Raw and might attract more viewers on SyFy if the storyline continued on the blue brand.
This serialization process of leaving shows on cliffhangers is a much-used soap opera technique where you tune in to find out what happens next week.
Vince McMahon has described the WWE as a form of soap opera.
This would be an easy way for Smackdown to grow and become part of the staple television viewing diet of the casual wrestling fan.
Unify the Mid-Card Championships
The Intercontinental Championship is irrelevant at the moment with Barrett's lack of defense and the same was true of the United States Championship with Daniel Bryan.
A solution to this problem would be to unify the two mid-card titles, and allow the champion to appear on both shows and provide more status to the mid card.
This gives the creative department more options and more versatility regarding different feuds and establish the superstar that held the title in a much more effective fashion.
It could become similar to the television title and be defended every week. This would give much more status to the mid-card and occupy talent that otherwise would have little else to do.
Relax the PG Certificate and Allow More Freedom with Promos
I am not saying that the WWE needs to go back to the bloody, profanity-filled and politically incorrect golden age of the "Attitude Era".
That is not plausible in today's view of the WWE as family entertainment, but it would help the WWE wrestlers enormously to express themselves without fear of causing offence.
Batista left because he thought the company had become too watered-down. To an extent, he was right.
The jokes that the faces make about the heels are just immature and not funny. This is one of the reasons John Cena is so hated.
The likes of CM Punk and the Miz could benefit enormously with the same freedoms given to the Rock in terms of language and content.
Scripted promos like R-Truth's on Monday night sound unnatural and manufactured.
Obviously not everyone has the ability to run their mouth without a guide, but those that can are being held back by the rules and regulations
The Final Word...
Wrestling will always have a place in popular culture and it will always attract viewers.
The fact that wrestling is going through a downturn now does not necessarily mean that it has lost its popularity on a permanent basis.
Vince should consider that, before he makes rash decisions that could alienate his core fans, there are other, easier steps that could be taken to improve the WWE.
Thanks for reading.