The Most Important WWE Questions That Must Be Answered by the End of 2020
WWE has much to sort out before 2020 comes to a close.
And 2020 has been anything but normal for the company as ratings lag and shows continue without live audiences. An Undertaker-led WrestleMania shocked and stood out with WWE's back against a wall, but otherwise, it has been a struggle.
The situation has led to some interesting ideas and unexpected character developments. But non-traditional year or not, WWE sits at a pivotal moment as it (potentially) searches for new stars and tries to combat both ratings issues and competition.
Here's a look at the biggest questions WWE needs to answer.
Will the Part-Timer Lull Help Build New Stars?
For the most part, WWE hasn't leaned into big part-timer appearances.
Edge is the big exception, but fans haven't really seen a Brock Lesnar-type on major programming since 'Mania. And the thinking seems simple enough: Why waste the big-money appearances on shows that won't even have live crowds?
But ideally, WWE would use this lull in the seemingly endless usage of part-timers to really build up new Superstars. Drew McIntyre is doing just fine at the top of the card, but the depth seems minimal right now.
Maybe that's what makes the impending singles push for Big E so encouraging. If done well, even when things get back to normal, WWE won't need to lean so heavily into past stars and part-timers.
Can New Ideas Provide Some Consistency?
Looking at it honestly, WWE is pretty bad with new ideas. Think, the weird Wild Card rule. Or the 24/7 title. Or that stretch where the third hour of Raw had the lights turned off. Or the brand invitational rules.
The list could go on and on. Next up? Raw Underground, a fight club of sorts in a gritty-looking basement area where Superstars "fight" instead of wrestle.
It's a cool idea, but maybe not. Wrestlers fake fighting is a scary thought after that flop that was the Cain Velasquez-Lesnar match. And for as gritty and cool as things looked, WWE was still pulling out a million different camera angles and cuts that match the normal product.
So...it's a work in progress. But it also has the feel of something WWE will abandon within a month. New ideas need to be good and stick around or they'll just join the growing "What were they thinking?" pile.
Is Another Draft Worth It?
The idea of a WWE draft is so good.
The execution so far...not so much.
When WWE decided to do the big draft as SmackDown moved to Fox, it awkwardly implemented the Fox robot and had these weird boardroom shots of suits celebrating the draft picks. Said draft picks didn't really come out when their name was called.
WWE then turned around and made up rules to get Superstars on different rosters or even just ignored the rules of the draft outright, using something like tag belts to get names like Sasha Banks on multiple shows.
Another draft is undoubtedly coming. But it's not worth it if the execution is abhorrent again and the results of that draft don't actually matter. Not splitting the roster might help ratings, too, as it would again be something of an unknown as to who appears on what show.
Can Cinematic Matches Keep Their Steam?
Cinematic matches represent a prime example of a fresh idea done brilliantly.
Undertaker's pre-taped match against AJ Styles at 'Mania with the immense production values set the tone. And since, fans have mostly seen nothing but stellar showings, whether it was the Money in the Bank event or a fun one with Bray Wyatt and John Cena.
But it's clear the story needs to be great and the Superstars involved need to have the chops for it. A recent one featuring Braun Strowman was a flop.
At face value, these pre-taped matches aren't going anywhere so long as fans can't pack stadiums to see shows. That can be a good thing, and they can still happen regularly even when fans return if the quality is right. But that's only if WWE can keep the quality where it needs to be and make them worthwhile.
Is There a Non-Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair Plan?
For now, Sasha Banks has been excelling as one of WWE's top outright stars in the void left by the absences of Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair.
But when Lynch and Flair return, and especially in the case of the latter, will Superstars like Banks and others WWE could build up be permitted to remain at the top of the card in the title scene?
What these absences have done lately is showcase how little time WWE has spent showcasing other names on the women's side of the roster. There's wiggle room to really build up names like Shayna Baszler and Ruby Riott, for example, but it has to be done right.
This is a "long-term outlook" sort of point, of course. But like the roster as a whole, there is no excuse for WWE to not use more faces at the top given the incredible talent and depth signed.
Can WWE Stop Fans from Turning on Top Stars?
WWE has a serious problem on its hands when it comes to fans turning on top stars—and it has to stop.
Look at Seth Rollins, whose last few feuds after taking down Brock Lesnar were so iffy he had to go and turn heel. Or look at how Bray Wyatt's The Fiend has slowly been losing fan interest. Same with Finn Balor. And if Roman Reigns were active right now, he'd be the poster boy for the issue.
Now the attention turns to the likes of Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre. The former might already be a lost cause given his current ho-hum title reign. McIntyre's doing just fine, though some poor character work and uninteresting feuds could derail things in a hurry if WWE isn't careful.
Presumably, some of this is just the nature of things when stars get too popular and go mainstream. But one would think WWE would be well-versed in how to combat the issue by now.
If WWE turns the corner and heads for 2021 with someone like McIntyre drawing the ire of fans, it's a terrible spot for the company to find itself in as the part-timers and returning legends are another year older.
Is There a Way to Bring Fans Back and Make Up Ground vs. AEW?
WWE went from seemingly laughing off the competition on Wednesdays to saying all competition is good for wrestling really quickly.
The landscape changed massively with the arrival of All Elite Wrestling, and the smaller company hasn't had a hard time putting up comparable, if not better ratings than WWE. And that's with WWE pulling out all the stops, like moving Finn Balor to NXT and having massive names like Kevin Owens, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and others show up there at times.
So what's WWE to do? Besides some of the items previously addressed, it's probably a good time for some new Superstars to emerge, and it's an even better time for titles to mean something again. There are multiple sets of tag titles, the blue brand's title has been tarnished repeatedly with part-timer wins, etc.
In short, there are ways for WWE to get back in front, but it's going to take changing some of the fundamentals. Fans will know before the year's out whether Vince McMahon and Co. can evolve and adapt.