Fixing WWE's Biggest Mistakes of 2020
If you are reading this article, you probably love pro wrestling. Most people who do not watch the product would skip right past anything with WWE in the headline, especially if it isn't breaking news.
Some of us love pro wrestling so much that we get upset if we feel the product is falling below a certain level of quality on a regular basis. Many of us try to focus on the positive aspects but if you have enough reasons to complain, those feelings will eventually break through to the surface.
When it comes to WWE, there are some angles that split fans down the middle, some that are universally beloved and some that make even the most die-hard fans think about seeing what else is on TV.
We have to remember two things when criticizing WWE. For one, the creative team has a near-impossible task of coming up with storylines to fill as many as eight hours of wrestling every week in addition to the content that is put out on WWE Network, YouTube and other platforms. Anyone would struggle under those circumstances.
The second thing to remember is 2020 has been a year of change for the entire industry. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted both individual storylines and the company as a whole. With that being said, there are certain mistakes WWE could have avoided.
Let's take a look at some of the biggest booking mistakes the company made in 2020, offer alternatives for how things could have played out and look at what WWE can do to right the ship right now.
The things listed here will only be related to booking and storylines, so things like Zelina Vega's release, WWE's third-party edict and other non-entertainment issues will not be discussed.
Retribution's Debut and Push
When Retribution first debuted on WWE Raw in August, the group was presented as anarchists who wanted to tear the company down from the inside. They caused wanton destruction and attacked anyone they saw.
Once WWE decided who it wanted in the group, it altered their attire to include new masks and began delivering promos. Eventually, Mustafa Ali was revealed to be the group's leader and the mysterious hacker who plagued SmackDown earlier in the summer.
Once they established themselves and a leader was unveiled, things went downhill. Retribution have lost most of their matches, including as recently as Monday's Raw when Reckoning was beaten by Dana Brooke and berated by Ali for embarrassing him.
It's clear WWE wants to do something with these Superstars, but it has completely failed to make the group any kind of threat, especially to the current champions on Raw.
This would have been easy to fix in hindsight. All WWE had to do was build the group up as being dangerous by giving it a string of wins.
If management wants to fix it now, it needs to rethink its approach. The masks and dumb names have to go. Ali can make an excuse such as they wanted to reveal themselves as former NXT talents after making an impact.
The next step would be to build credibility. Shane Thorne and Dominik Dijakovic are great wrestlers, Dio Madden has an intimidating presence and Mia Yim is one of the best at what she does. It should be easy to feature them the right way, especially if they go back to something closer to their original characters in NXT.
Once everyone has shed their costume-store garb and looks like a pro wrestler again, they can begin to rebuild and make Retribution a stable people care about.
Gutting the Tag Team Division
Here is a list of the tag teams we have lost in WWE in 2020:
- The Kabuki Warriors (Kairi Sane returned to Japan)
- Fire and Desire (Broke up)
- The IIconics (Broke up)
- The Golden Role Models (Broke up)
- The B-Team (Curtis Axel was released)
- Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder (Both were released)
- The Revival (Both requested releases)
- Heavy Machinery (Broke up)
- Angel Garza and Andrade (Broke up)
- Cedric Alexander and Ricochet (Short term)
- Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross (Broke up)
- The Forgotten Sons (Google it)
- Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows (Both were released)
- Primo and Epico (Both were released)
That's 14 teams who were either broken up, released or both, and that might not even be everybody depending on how you look at it. If this doesn't tell you how WWE management views tag team wrestling, nothing will.
Since this is a case of multiple problems in one, there is no easy fix WWE could have employed to stop the issue because some of the breakups were necessary for storyline purposes.
If we set aside the teams we lost due to releases, the company still disbanded seven duos. The only way to fix this now would be to put some of them back together and create some new pairings to fill the gaps.
WWE has formed a few new teams recently like Alexander and Shelton Benjamin, but it hasn't done enough to rebuild the men's or women's division. This one will take time and effort to fix, but if the people at the top don't believe in tag team wrestling, the odds of anything changing are slim.
Otis Winning Money in the Bank
In 2019 and early 2020, Heavy Machinery were making waves on SmackDown. Otis and Tucker were popular babyfaces, but it was clear The Dozer was the fan favorite.
Unfortunately for both men, this led to a knee-jerk reaction from the higher-ups to push Otis as a singles star with the Money in the Bank briefcase, and that meant Tucker had to go.
Strangely, WWE had the best friends break up after Tucker was drafted to Raw. Other than one match that ended with him being attacked by Retribution, he hasn't had a presence on the red brand.
Now, Otis has lost his Money in the Bank briefcase, girlfriend Mandy Rose is on a different brand and he appears to have no direction for his character. This might be the biggest ball WWE has dropped this year.
The good thing is that it's not too late to fix. All WWE has to do is have Tucker apologize so they can reform Heavy Machinery and go back to facing other tag teams. That's all it would take.
Putting Dominik Mysterio on the Main Roster Right Away
During Rey Mysterio's feud with Seth Rollins, Dominik Mysterio joined his father in the fight and has been featured regularly on Raw ever since.
The 23-year-old has impressed a lot of people as a rookie, but he is nowhere near ready to be on the main roster permanently. And if WWE keeps him there, it is ensuring his eventual destruction.
Rey is a legend in this business but nepotism is still the root of this issue. Had WWE just put Dominik in NXT like every other new recruit, he would be able to grow naturally without so much pressure to live up to his father's reputation.
At this point, the best thing WWE can do is simply write the younger Mysterio out of storylines and bring him back in NXT where he will be able to learn his trade before he is ready to rejoin the main roster.
The best way to do this might be to have somebody attack him to take him out and simultaneously start a new feud with Rey. Rollins is already out of the picture, but someone like Aleister Black could benefit from such a high-profile feud.
Goldberg's Title Reign
WWE loves to trot out legends for both nostalgic reasons and as a way to lure lapsed fans back to the product, but most of those appearances do not lead to somebody winning a top title.
At Super ShowDown on February 27, Goldberg defeated "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt in less than three minutes to win the Universal Championship. Less than one month later at WrestleMania 36, the veteran lost the title to Braun Strowman in just over two minutes.
In less than 30 days, the guy who squashed Wyatt and halted some of his momentum was himself squashed by Strowman, making this Goldberg's least important title reign of his entire career.
Since this issue no longer matters, the only thing we can discuss is what WWE should have done, which in this case is nothing. Goldberg shouldn't have been brought back and used this way. It didn't help anyone.
Beating The Fiend so easily was pointless because Wyatt was really starting to build up steam and Goldberg didn't benefit from a meaningless title reign.
If this brought any viewers to the product who wouldn't otherwise have watched, it didn't do enough to keep them coming back. If a wrestling legend can't help cultivate new fans, WWE is paying for one night of nostalgia and nothing more.