Hater-Free Zone: The 10 Things to Love About WWE Right Now

Erik BeastonJuly 12, 2022

Hater-Free Zone: The 10 Things to Love About WWE Right Now

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    AMER HILABI/AFP via Getty Images

    It has become somewhat fashionable across pro wrestling social media to criticize the WWE product, especially when there are alternatives across the industry doing cool, fresh, exciting new things, some of them on cable television.

    Given the stagnancy of the product at times, those criticisms are warranted.

    There are, though, plenty of things about the WWE product worth celebrating, from dominant heel factions to the rise in prominent women and a youth movement of sorts.

    So set aside the Haterade and take a look at these 10 things WWE is doing right.

    Missing one? Let your voice be heard in the comment section with the things you most enjoy about the current WWE product right now.

10. Gunther Chopping Fools

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    It has been a long time since WWE has had someone so unabashedly physical as Gunther.

    The current Intercontinental champion takes great pride in his ability to chop the ever-loving hell out of whichever geek he shares the ring with that week, brutalizing them in a display of utter dominance that usually ends with a shotgun dropkick and a powerbomb.

    Sometimes, he will even throw in a top rope splash just because he can.

    In an era where WWE has shown an inability to introduce stars from NXT to the main roster in an effective manner, the fact that Gunther has seamlessly transitioned and has all of the potential to become a heel around whom WWE can book entire shows and stories, is a testament to the man himself.

    After all, a lesser performer would not have caught management's eye and had them believing in him like they do.

    This is only the beginning, too. Big-time matches against big-time opponents on massive stages await the Austrian and it is damn exciting to see what comes next.

    And how many chests he gets to chop into hamburger along the way.

9. Kayla Braxton Trolling The Bloodline

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    Kayla Braxton is a fantastic host and backstage interviewer, but she has also developed into a surprisingly awesome antagonist for Paul Heyman and The Bloodline.

    Her ability to catch an often anxious and nervous Heyman backstage, asking questions designed to stir up dissension and trouble. Look no further than Friday's episode of SmackDown, when she asked the victorious Usos about the controversy surrounding their victory over The Street Profits at Money in the Bank.

    A great ancillary character and someone who helps accentuate the paranoia of someone like Heyman or provide opposition to the idea that The Bloodline is as dominant as they otherwise appear. Best of all, she does so naturally and never feels forced.

    CONNER πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ @WrestleConner

    Kayla Braxton scaring Paul Heyman will never not be great. πŸ˜‚ <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SurvivorSeries?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SurvivorSeries</a> <a href="https://t.co/Tadx9Tvkou">pic.twitter.com/Tadx9Tvkou</a>

    That, plus her work as the host of the underrated WWE talk show The Bump, makes Braxton one of the company's most valuable assets.

8. NXT 2.0's Youth Movement

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    NXT 2.0 is by no means a flawless brand. Oftentimes, the storytelling is ridiculous, the pace of the show is all over the place and things happen for no apparent reason.

    The neon colors are ridiculous and the same fans fill the same seats every week, giving the audience no real indication of whether the men and women on that week's show are actually over or just popular with that particular audience.

    What the brand does have going for it, though, is a genuine youth movement.

    There are fresh faces, young athletes and a return to characters in the sport. Some are over the top, sure, but they are different and have motivations beyond guy/girl A beating up guy/girl B just because the show needs content for that week.

    If nothing else, it is wholly unlike any other wrestling show on television and for that, should be commended.

    Oh, and Carmelo Hayes is awesome and will absolutely be the face of WWE. Ditto, Grayson Waller, Bron Breakker and Gigi Dolin.

7. Pat McAfee's Energy

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    Pat McAfee is the best thing to happen to the production of WWE television in the last decade.

    An enormous personality with unbridled energy, he oftentimes appears genuinely excited about the show unfolding before him and as a result, fans engage more with it (and the commentary team he has formed with Michael Cole) in a way they had not previously.

    Funny, smart and able to say things fans can relate to in a way that some of the other more rehearsed commentators cannot, he is a huge asset to the television product.

    That he is a phenomenal athlete and can hop in the ring for big-time matches against Theory or Happy Corbin only accentuates how important he has become to the company.

    A mainstream media star with a hugely passionate following away from wrestling, he has infused the product with his brand of energy, humor and attitude, and helped elevate the quality of Friday Night SmackDown in a way that the creative simply has not.

6. Seth Freakin' Rollins

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    WWE fans are currently enjoying the best Seth Rollins we have ever seen, thanks to his pitch-perfect execution of an over-the-top villain and damn near unrivaled in-ring work.

    Known also as The Drip King because of his choice of absurd suits and in-ring gear, Rollins has finally found himself as the sort of performer around whom entire shows can be built. Look no further than the episodes of Raw leading into WrestleMania 38, where his quest to be included on the card dominated the brand's storytelling and culminated in an unforgettable moment and match with Cody Rhodes.

    Currently, he finds himself somewhat directionless, a match with Riddle at SummerSlam making up for whatever creative plans WWE had prior to Rhodes' untimely injury, but that does not change the fact that Rollins has been hella entertaining on the mic and when it comes to his work between the ropes, few have been able to match him over the last two years.

    This is peak Rollins and we are lucky to be able to watch what he has, and will continue to, accomplish.

5. Liv Morgan's Rise

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    Liv Morgan is the quintessential underdog.

    A young performer who had to scratch, claw, endure disappointment after disappointment, and watch as her friends were released from the company, she stayed true to herself and fought through all of the adversity to finally achieve her childhood dream of winning the SmackDown Women's Championship at Money in the Bank.

    Hers is a journey that is so organic, so full of twists and turns, ups and downs, that fans have no choice but to get behind her. And they did, rooting for the New Jersey native every week, even when WWE Creative appeared to back off or had lost interest in featuring her prominently.

    It all led to the magic moment in Las Vegas in which she not only won Money in the Bank and the guaranteed title opportunity that came with it, but also successfully cashed in to defeat Ronda Rousey and win the championship.

    It remains to be seen what the future holds for Morgan but, good or bad, easy or not, expect her to inspire fans and for them to be behind her through all of it.

4. Cowboy Ass-Kicker Brock Lesnar

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    It was one thing to see the imposing Brock Lesnar stalk toward the ring, ready to decimate whichever unlucky Superstar happened to be in his path. It is another to see happy, smiling, cowboy-hat-wearing Lesnar enter the arena.

    Cowboy ass-kicker Lesnar is the best Lesnar, showing more charisma and personality now than he ever has before. He is clearly enjoying himself and fans are more into him than they had been when he was a personality-less drone, led to the ring by Paul Heyman and expected to take every opponent to Suplex City.

    He still does that, opening up a giant can of whup-ass on everyone he clashes with, but he does it while expressing himself as the big, fun-loving, cornfed destroyer that he is .

    It a welcome change for a future Hall of Famer and just the right amount of freshening up that he needed to stay relevant because before it, he had definitely fallen into a creative funk that had fans burned out on the silent assassin type.

3. Women in the Main Event

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    It was only three years ago when WWE routinely patted itself on the back for more prominently featuring women on its programming, even going as far as to label their concentrated effort to do so the Women's Revolution.

    There was a pay-per-view (WWE Evolution) and Michael Cole could be heard uttering the word "history" every 58 seconds as the company really attempted to hammer home its embrace of women's pro wrestling.

    Fast forward to today and rhetoric is gone. There is no mass marketing push to incorporate Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Bianca Belair or any of the other countless talented performers on the show. Instead, they are massively important elements of Raw and SmackDown and routinely main event those shows.

    It is not uncommon to see Lynch and Asuka tearing it up in the main event of Raw or Flair competing in the most hyped bout of SmackDown. It is commonplace and it is about damn time.

    Gone are the desperate attempts to make it feel like the company is using women as its latest marketing and merchandising initiative. In their place is a more natural and deserved implementation of them as part of the show.

    Is the creative always great? Absolutely not. Is WWE capable of better treating all of the female talent on its roster? Most definitely.

    They are, though, presenting them in a manner in which it feels more organic than it was beginning in 2016, when it felt very much like an objective drummed up in some marketing meeting than a genuine attempt to bring women to equal footing with their male counterparts.

2. Cody Rhodes' Homecoming

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    Cody Rhodes returned to WWE at WrestleMania 38 and immediately became one of the very best things about the company's product.

    Driven by the goal to capture the world title that eluded his father Dusty, he returned to the company that made him a name in the professional wrestling business and engaged Seth Rollins in three Match of the Year candidates.

    Better suited for the big stage, lights and cameras of wrestling's largest and most storied promotion, he felt right back at home as he emerged himself in the Raw brand's top story.

    An unfortunate injury halted his momentum but ensures that his comeback will be even greater, with a WWE title run almost a certainty when he does make that grueling comeback.

    Until then, fans have a small sampler of things to come from a guy who wasted very little time backing up his claim to be the best wrestler in the world.

1. The Bloodline's Dominance

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    WWE had become a company so seemingly obsessed with 50-50 booking over the years that the idea of a truly dominant force in the company not-named Brock Lesnar felt more like a pipedream than anything.

    Enter, The Bloodline.

    Undisputed WWE Universal champion Roman Reigns has stood atop the mountain for nearly 700 days. The Usos are approaching one full year as tag team champions. Together, they form the most dominant faction in modern wrestling history, the centerpiece of the SmackDown brand and the most over act in all of WWE.

    The Usos hold down the fort Fridays on SmackDown and at live events while Reigns brings the big-fight feel whenever he sets foot in the squared circle.

    There is no other entity in WWE that changes the mood and brings with it the sense that something significant is about to happen like The Bloodline. That they are heels but are so incredibly over with the audience only helps.

    Think about Andre the Giant in 1987 raising his finger in the air to represent his greatness and the fans doing it right alongside him. Go back even further and try to picture Stan Stasiak doing the same in Madison Square Garden with Bruno Sammartino standing across the ring from him, the fans popping for him and engaging in his simple hand gesture.

    It is unheard of, but Reigns is so incredibly over as this self-confident badass and prizefighter that fans have connected with him in a way they never did when he was a one-dimensional babyface.

    That he and The Usos are just so damn cool only helps.

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