Identifying the 5 Biggest Problems with WWE Booking Decisions Today
Today's WWE product may feature the most talented roster Vince McMahon and Co. have ever assembled, but it also features a wealth of creative decisions that leave fans scratching their heads and demanding both better and more from the billion-dollar company.
The creative process is a flawed one that has downplayed emotion, eliminated the significance of wins and losses and left characters undefined messes, all to diminishing returns.
It is time WWE addresses these five major creative issues facing the company before fans lose interest and turn elsewhere for their fill of grappling.
Undefined, Stupid, 'Rah-Rah' Babyfaces
WWE's inability to develop engaging, compelling babyfaces has left its product an emotionless show.
Pandering to crowds, throwing out a witty one-liner and/or a worked-shoot comment has replaced the development and evolution of characters. The heroes in today's WWE aren't particularly interesting and have no real story arc.
They are scripted beyond belief, firing off rah-rah speeches so devoid of any sort of emotional fire that one wonders how WWE Creative truly expects fans to get behind and care about a given Superstar.
Look no further than Seth Rollins, whose two victories over Brock Lesnar this year and massive push should have firmly entrenched him atop WWE as one of its lead babyfaces. The company was unable to develop his character and instead shoehorned him into that tired formula of pandering speeches, inspirational quotes and one-dimensional motivations that turned fans against Rollins to such an extent that it necessitated a heel turn.
John Cena experienced the same thing for over a decade, with his goody-two-shoes act wearing on fans to the extent that they booed him out of many an arena in response to the living, breathing G.I. Joe WWE had trotted out there for them.
The inability to create a babyface that fans can genuinely invest in, or keeping their hands off the ones that get over organically, has significantly hurt the product, leaving it a poor excuse for a morality play with no one interesting to root for.
No one ever really gets over in WWE because no one is ever allowed to build momentum.
As soon as someone like Ricochet defeats AJ Styles, WWE Creative determines it is absolutely necessary for Styles to get his heat back a week or two later by beating Ricochet and essentially undoing the magnitude of The One and Only's win.
Using that booking style makes it incredibly difficult for Superstars to truly get over and stay that way. Every bit of heat they get for picking up a defining win or scoring their first major championship is erased by the inexplicable need to get this week's loser his or her heat back as soon as possible.
Thus, no one really benefits and everyone stays at the exact same place.
We saw it over the course of the last decade, as stars like Bray Wyatt and Kevin Owens exploded on to the scene in high-profile rivalries with John Cena, only to have the momentum they built via their victories over the franchise star negated by a writing team who had to ensure the hero got his win back.
As long as WWE insists on booking in that manner, the roster will remain a mangled mess of talented Superstars with no real connection to the audience or sustainable hype to speak of.
The Joker is a villain in the DC Universe because he allowed a single bad day to launch him into madness that has resulted in crime, chaos, violence and death.
Shinsuke Nakamura is a heel in WWE because he kicked AJ Styles in the crotch one time at WrestleMania in 2018.
Do you notice the stark contrast in compelling reasoning for the latter's villainous turn?
WWE values its undefined, unlikeable babyfaces to such an extent that it almost completely forgets to create interesting heels to help get them over. At the height of the Rock and Wrestling Connection, it became apparent that Hulk Hogan was only as good as the heel he shared the screen with, making the dastardly "Rowdy" Roddy Piper that much more important to the overall success of the WWE product at the time.
Today's heels are nowhere near as captivating as Piper—they are motivationless performers devoid of character. There is no rhyme or reason for them being bad guys beyond the fact that they are mean to the supposed good guys.
Their lack of depth and development is a direct of result of WWE Creative focusing so much attention on the babyfaces that it forgets to write a heel with any sort of intrigue. The result is a Nakamura who still, well over a year after his change in character, has yet to have his motives explained.
WWE's rogues gallery is lacking, and until it decides to create the type of meaty heels that babyfaces can play off of, thus elevating their own characters, the more devoid of emotion the product will be.
Three hours of WWE Raw, two hours of SmackDown, two hours of NXT, one hour of 205 Live and one hour of NXT UK means there are certain Superstars who are going to be overexposed. It's the nature of the beast, unfortunately, yet there are still some wrestlers whose domination of the screen week in and week out makes it hard to stick with them and not become bored with or indifferent to them.
Rollins is a great example of a Superstar whose in-ring work is stellar but whose constant presence on WWE television turned fans off and led to a heel turn on the November 24 episode of Raw. This despite the fact that he defeated Brock Lesnar on two high-profile pay-per-views to become the lead babyface on WWE's flagship show.
Between opening promo segments, lengthy television matches designed to eat up as much of the show's overwhelming run time as possible and backstage vignettes created to set up a major angle by night's end, the exposure Rollins has received has created a certain level of disdain for the character.
In an era in which content is king, one cannot fault WWE for making money with its wealth of television products. Unfortunately, though, it has not taken the initiative to build enough new stars or book them in a way in which they are not constantly omnipresent.
Until the company realizes that there is value in a "less is more" booking mentality, the overabundance of certain stars and storylines will continue to bog down the show and diminish even the best-intentioned characters.
There are still instances in today's WWE in which management and the creative team plays the long game, positioning certain Superstars in specific spots so that they can build to a high-profile match at WrestleMania or SummerSlam.
Unfortunately, those scenarios are few and far between, leaving the company to book from week-to-week or show-to-show rather than making creative decisions with long-term benefits.
Case in point: Hell in a Cell 2019 and the abomination that was Rollins defending his universal championship against "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt. After months of focused build of Wyatt's masked alter-ego, common sense dictated The Fiend would run through Rollins en route to the Universal Championship.
Instead of booking Wyatt to steamroll Rollins, win the title and begin a reign of terror over WWE that could ultimately end with the creation of a new babyface star to dethrone him when the time was right, the company came up with a convoluted finish that pissed off fans and nearly killed the character.
Why? To get to Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia, where the rematch would occur.
The company was so concerned with shoving The Fiend into a PPV main event that it did not think of the consequences of its own booking decisions and nearly killed the most unique, over and interesting character on its show.
The inability to look at the bigger picture has hurt the company's creative efforts and left shows inconsequential more times than they ever should be.