WWE: How WWE Can Bring RAW and Smackdown! into a New Era
Greetings, Bleacherholics! I won't waste your time with a lengthy introduction. The WWE has been a fixture in my life since I was a kid back in the early 80s. While I still enjoy the product, there are a lot of things that have hurt it. But hope isn't lost! Here are nine things the WWE can do to improve its product and usher in a New Era.
Important Mention: No Major Competition
The WWE has nothing to worry about, no reason to look over its shoulder. The company has become complacent. This is the root of the problem. I believe the current issues in the WWE, particularly in respect to the IWC, can trace themselves back to this single thing.
Remember the last time the WWE had competition? We were treated to perhaps the greatest era of wrestling when the WCW was as relevant as the WWE. The fierce competition between the two ignited the spark of the Attitude Era and signaled the end of the WCW. Some of the superstars of the time: The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H and Mankind from the WWE, Diamond Dallas Page, Scott Steiner, Booker T, Kevin Nash and Goldberg from WCW. While the lack of competition isn't something the WWE can fix, it plays an undeniable role in the WWE and its current product.
Belt Relevancy, Pt. 1: The Intercontinental Title
Make the Intercontinental title mean something again. When I was growing up, the IC title was my favorite title. It seems the matches for it were always fast paced and full of back and forth fighting. It was great TV. Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat wrestled in arguably the greatest WM match ever at WM 3 for the IC title. Holding the title was a great honor for legends such as Savage, Steamboat, the Ultimate Warrior, Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, the Rock, Steve Austin, Triple H and Chris Jericho.
Excuse my excessiveness, but there's a point here. Look at those names. The majority of them went on to become World Champions and legends in their own right. Holding this title used to mean the main event wasn't far behind. Now Wade Barrett has it. In the "old days," he would have been a marked man, but now, no one seems to care.
The WWE can really push the envelope here. When Jericho comes back, maybe he can start a feud with the IC champion. He has held the belt nine times, and 10 would be a nice round number of title reigns. If Jericho is thrust into the World title picture upon his return, then maybe Vince and Creative can work an angle in which the title is vacated. A tournament could be staged, beginning with matches on Smackdown! and culminating in a match for the strap at a PPV. The match could be the lead in to a World title bout. If the WWE places that kind of spotlight on a "secondary" title, it will only increase its relevance.
Belt Relevancy, Pt. 2: The U.S. Title
Elevate the prestige of the US title. This goes hand in hand with re-empahsizing the importance of the IC title and the tag team belts. Kofi Kingston has the US title now, and since he's on Raw, he can really showcase what he can do. I admit he's very "pop", but he works hard for the WWE. Creative should give him a nice run with the title and a winning streak to boot. Other superstars on Raw will take notice of Kingston's rising stock, and challenging him for the belt could bring us some great matches. In the cases of both the IC and US belt, whoever holds them should make a big deal about being the IC/US champion. Whether face or heel, doing this will only make the fans want to see what kind of matches these title defenses can bring.
Belt Relevancy, Pt. 3: The Tag Team Titles
Re-establish the tag team division. I don't mean make it a separate division, like SM! and Raw. No. What I mean is how about the WWE bringing in ACTUAL tag teams.
Remember Demolition? The Legion of Doom? The Powers of Pain? The Hart Foundation? The Rockers? the New Age Outlawz? Edge and Christian? (there I go again...)
My point is that all of these teams were just that, TEAMS. They had awesome finishers (Demolitions Decapitation was so much fun to watch as a kid, and L.O.D's Doomsday Device made you feel sorry for its victim), and the matches were fast paced because there was usually a fresh man in the ring at all times. Lately, the WWE just uses tag teams as a precursor to a feud between former partners, or as random program filler.
Can you say predictable?
Another benefit of this would be the ability to display twice the talent in the same amount of time, giving exposure to promising stars in exciting matches. To make it interesting, the WWE could make the belt universal, meaning only one team from Raw or Smackdown! could hold it at a time. By restircting it to one title, rather than one for each brand, the result is a title that is highly coveted by both sides. This would give otherwise unknown superstars a chance to shine. Let's not forget, two iconic champions (The Hitman and HBK) found their great early success in tag team matches. Ultimately, this too ties into my argument for the IC and US belts. World Champions used to be forged in the heat of secondary title matches. WWE would do well to get back to that.
Big Risk, Big Reward
Take big chances. I'm going to say this, and maybe it seems crazy, but here goes. Cena and Orton need to be brought down to Earth. They should each lose in a major PPV, CLEANLY. I know that the expected backlash is terrifying for Vinnie Mac and Creative, but if they push the right superstars the right way, fans just might embrace their new champions Keep reading to see what superstars I have in mind.
Usher in the Next Generation of Talent
Push the undercard talent. There are many superstars with tons of talent that are either thrown around midcard hell on RAW or left on Superstars with little to no chance of upward mobility. If guys like Drew Mcintyre, Cody Rhodes, Mason Ryan (if rumors about a face turn are true), CM Punk or Daniel Bryan were put into solid feuds with a good amount of build up, we could see a great increase in the quality of the product. They don't have to challenge for titles or be main eventers necessarily; having a strap didn't matter to the fans when it came to guys like Stone Cold and The Rock.
Less Money out of Fans Pockets
Cut down on the PPV's. Last year, my friend spent $720 on WWE PPV's. That is absurd. Cut the number of PPV's to six or eight. This means less rushed booking, more time to develop feuds and storylines on a weekly basis and the added bonus of drawing more viewers to their regular programming. With no PPV on the off month, where are fans going to go to get their fix? There would definitely be an uptick in Raw and SM! viewership as a direct result of this. Yes, I understand fully that the WWE won't do this, simply because these PPV's generate so much money, but speaking as a fan, enough is enough. Just because they know they can bleed us dry, doesn't mean they should.
The Wrestlemania Problem
Fix Wrestlemania. Before I go on, let me make it clear that I am speaking strictly as a fan here. I realize that some of the things I'm suggesting in this slide will NEVER happen. Austin, you are without a doubt my favorite wrestler of all time. No one else is even close in my mind, and I pray you stay retired. But please, take a year off from the grand daddy of 'em all. It needs an overhaul. MITB should have never been taken off of the big show in the first place, so it should be brought back in my opinion.
Next, NO MORE NON WRESTLERS (whoops, I mean SUPERSTARS) INVOLVED IN MATCHES. I also think a return to a few tried and true gimmick matches would be awesome. These include Triple Threat matches ladder matches and Steel Cage matches. Cena-Miz-Morrison was a match that was worthy of Wrestlemania. The quality of matches must also improve, meaning superstars have to dedicate themselves in a way they aren't used to. Batista spoke about this not too long ago, stating many superstars were lazy and "forgot what wrestling is about. Its about storytelling." Maybe guys we love on screen aren't being pushed because off screen, they alienate themselves from their peers. (see Ultimate Warrior) The long, never funny backstage time also needs to go. This year's WM had such awful backstage segments, so bad that I felt awkward just seeing them.
Finally, no matches just for the sake of having a match. We don't need 23 man battle royals, pillowfights or any other nonsense. Imagine that, a WM that has nothing but...wrestling (I mean, entertaining) on the card
Fly High Superstars
Bring it back! The Cruiserweight belt needs to be brought back; each brand can have their version. There are a lot of guys under 230 lbs in the business, and fans and pundits alike agree that at such a size they wont go too far. The Cruiserweight division would be instantly credible with someone the likes of, oh, I don't know, Chris Jericho (Typically listed at 221 lbs) on the roster.
The great thing about cruiserweights is that they can be great mat wrestlers (Dean Malenko), high flyers (Evan Bourne) or both (Shawn Michaels). This means terrific, entertaining matches. I remember watching Nitro ( I taped Raw) for one reason: the cruiserweights. They always put on such incredible displays, it was like being guaranteed a classic match every Monday night. Juventud Guerrera and Rey Mysterio had absolutely epic matches for WCW.
Improving... John Cena???
He's here, make the most of it. I'm an outspoken John Cena fan, simply because he has been asked to do a job, and he has done it so well that an entire company defines itself by his standards. He has a legendary work ethic and promotes WWE in his sleep. He sells his opponents' moves like a champ and he always gives 100 percent, but he's essentially a five trick pony. Add to his arsenal; would it kill him to use a hip toss or an arm drag takedown every once in awhile? He could use a new finisher (a suplex into a side effect would be perfect).
I bring this up because I think older fans will appreciate the fact that Cena recognizes that we watched PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING. He is over with the most important demographic there is. Now it's time to make that appeal to us Attitude Era fans.
Well that's it folks. Special thanks to Seth Graus for his help with this article. Check his articles on this site out; he knows his sh*t.Thanks for the time, and please, COMMENT!