WWE Fans' Wishlist for 2021
A new year is upon us, and fans of WWE have a long list of things they wish to see out of the company in 2021.
From championship reigns to renewed pushes, it's hoped WWE will return to a standard of excellence it lost along the way in 2020.
What else is on the list, and why does it absolutely include continued excellence from The Tribal Chief, Roman Reigns?
Take a look for yourself.
Is your wish not on the list? Let your voice be heard by posting your dreams for WWE in 2021 in the comment section.
A Return to Prominence for Raw
Raw is WWE's flagship show. It has been since it debuted in 1993, and the unpredictability, defined characters and frenetic pace of the show helped establish it as destination viewing during their height of the Attitude Era.
The show benefited from the biggest stars, the hottest angles, and Vince McMahon's full attention, and rightfully so.
Not so much in 2020, though.
Raw has become a shell of its former self. There is no sense of urgency, no semblance of the energy that made it can't-miss television. It is can-miss now, a boring and nondescript show with one-dimensional characters and no rhyme or reason for half of the developments that unfold every week.
No one really advances, they just show up, do a few things and the show still hits the USA Network the following week.
It is super disappointing for the audience. Their fandom is defined by these great matches and moments that used to happen on Monday nights, and now, they are forced to endure three plodding hours of heatless TV in hopes that maybe, someday, WWE Creative might do something cool with the brand again.
Hopefully, something happens in 2021. Whether it includes the return of fans to the arena or a new creative direction that forces the company to change things up amid sagging television ratings and pressure from the network, the show deserves a hell of a lot better than what it is getting from its creators, as do its fans.
Otherwise, the red brand will threaten to become obsolete, a word that would never have been uttered in the same sentence as Vince McMahon's most prized television property just two years ago.
More Roman Reigns Excellence
Roman Reigns has been the best thing about WWE television for six months.
His quiet dominance, his inflated ego and his domineering attitude toward cousin Jey Uso have made him the most compelling character in the company, and it is reflected by television ratings that trounce Raw's on a weekly basis.
The Tribal Chief has found himself as a heel, embracing the attitude he was never allowed to exhibit as a more one-dimensional babyface. He takes credit for the success of WWE, knows he is its biggest star and expects the sort of respect that comes along with it.
Failure to give it to him will result in a swift, punishing beating...probably with a little help from the aforementioned Uso.
The addition of Paul Heyman to the act was monumentally important in getting Reigns over and has only extended Heyman's own significance to the broadcast.
In a year when WWE tried everything to ignite a spark, from Eye For An Eye to burning a man alive, its greatest creative decision was to give fans what they wanted: a heel Head of the Table.
Main Event Push for Big E
When WWE split The New Day so that Big E could embark on a run as a singles star, no one thought that meant a midcard push as the Intercontinental Champion.
Kofi Kingston had been WWE Champion and gave his friend his blessing to go chase his own dreams. Big E was supposed to rise to the top of the card, not make a pitstop to win a title he had already held, with no real promise or indication that the headlining run we all have been waiting for is on the horizon.
New Day was beloved. The faction stayed over even after six years together because the fans believed in the three competitors, laughed and cried with them along the way, and genuinely invested in them.
Breaking them up when an act like that was so hard to come by was a difficult enough decision. Now, it is time WWE proves it had a plan in mind when doing so because, otherwise, it looks like a monumentally bad decision.
At least give us a hint or a tease that the long-awaited Big E main event run is on the horizon, because conclusions are jumped to and anger unnecessarily manifests itself.
Renewed Pushes for Underutilized Stars
Aleister Black, Peyton Royce and Andrade all watched as pushes evaporated in 2020, leaving them with nothing to do and no plan for any future usage.
Black and Andrade were major parts of Paul Heyman's vision for Raw, but when the former creative head was forced out, they both saw their roles diminished. Royce, for whatever reason, was never able to catch on with the main roster as one-half of The IIconics in the way that duo probably deserved.
Now, as 2021 starts, there is no obvious plan in place for any of them to find success in WWE.
Hopefully, that changes.
All three are far too talented to be wasted because of some petty personal vendetta or out of lazy creative. And, even as WWE does nothing with them, they are hardly the sort of talents you would want to see go elsewhere.
Andrade is fairly safe because of his real-life relationship with Charlotte Flair, but both Black and Royce have watched their spouses released from the company and no longer have that personal tie to WWE. Continuing to do them a disservice creatively, when they are capable of contributing to the show so much more, would be exactly the sort of mistake that lands them in Jacksonville every Wednesday night.
Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair
WWE has done an excellent job of keeping SmackDown Women's Champion Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair near each other on Friday nights, creating the visual and planting the seeds for a match between the two at some point in the relatively near future.
Perhaps as soon as, say, WrestleMania 37?
Even if that is not in the plans, fans deserve the opportunity to watch the dynamic, athletic and charismatic competitors tear it up in a high-stakes title bout. They have already flashed hints of brilliance as tag team partners, and as opponents, they would likely tear the house down.
And it appears to be the direction in which things are moving.
Hopefully, WWE stays the course and we get to see that match in 2021, because it is exactly what fans want and the sort of bout that would instantly elevate The EST.
Less Charlotte, More Everyone Else
There is no denying Charlotte Flair's excellence.
She is the measuring stick for women's wrestling in WWE, the best there is in the industry. She has proved it time and time again, against opponents of all styles and backgrounds. The credibility and consistency she brings to her matches elevates them and should, in turn, give her opponents the boost.
But that is not the case.
Through no fault of her own, WWE Creative shoves her down the throats of the audience to such an extent that A) she is never properly respected to the extent that she should be, and B) no one really shines but The Queen.
She beats everyone and seemingly cannot go an extended period of time without some sort of championship around her waist. With those caveats in place, and WWE's blind desire to continuously push her at literally everyone else's expense, the division does not get stronger.
Flair gets stronger.
It's ironic because, if the same people who idolize her father in that company went back and watched how many times he elevated and made the wrestlers he worked with into believable challengers to his NWA World Heavyweight Championship, they would know how big of an asset Charlotte is and the good she could do for the rest of the women in that division.
As it stands, it's too much of The Queen, not enough of everyone else, and that will ultimately doom the red brand's women's division to further scrutiny and diminishing returns.
Both of which could have been avoided if WWE Creative knew how to make stars.
WrestleMania with Fans
Please, please, please can we have fans at WrestleMania?
Of course, that is dependent upon the COVID-19 pandemic and the safety of said fans. There is no wrestling show worth adding to an already debilitating worldwide health crisis. With that said, if it was at all possible to get fans in the stands for a single WWE show, The Grandaddy of Them All is it.
Last year's event was one with great heart and character. On a short turnaround, WWE produced a show in an empty performance center and still managed to make it feel big enough to carry the Mania name.
Two years of that, though?
No thank you.
We need the fans in the stands to drown Roman Reigns out with boos. We need them to cheer as Drew McIntyre valiantly defends the WWE Championship. We need them to shower Goldberg with jeers so WWE knows to stop revisiting that tired booking trope.
That fan interaction enhances moments, makes them more meaningful and gives WWE an instantaneous gauge for specific matches and angles. It is an interaction that has been taken for granted at times and, hopefully, will be welcomed back with open arms.
Not just by the performers, but by management, too.
And, if there is a wrestling god not-named John Bradshaw Layfield, let it be in time for the biggest event of the year.
The final wish for WWE in 2021 is that it rediscovers its heart.
Now before you get all bent out of shape suggesting that is somehow a knock on the men and women that set foot inside the squared circle every week, know that is not the intention. The effort from those performers is there each and every episode of Raw, SmackDown, NXT or 205 Live, regardless of the creative that backs them up.
No, the wish references the loss of heart and emotion that the overly produced shows lack.
There is no emotional connection to be had because everything is so sparkly, shimmery and perfect. Wrestlers come out, recite their lines, wrestle their matches and we move on to the next week. Things aren't particularly exciting, there's no sense of meaning for most of it. It's a show that is just...there.
Some will hate the comparison because it "manifests a wrestling war that isn't there," but one look at any given episode of All Elite Wrestling's Dynamite gives you a stark contrast of the WWE product. Those shows feel like a labor of love. Everyone from the wrestlers to the commentary team is excited about what is going on. They are as invested as the audience, and it creates a bond between promotion and consumer.
Over the last two or three years, McMahon's shows have become so clean, produced and heartless that there is no connection or bond to be made—no matter how incredibly hard the in-ring performers are busting their asses or how truly great Michael Cole has become at conveying their stories.
Somewhere along the line, the company lost the heart that made its fans fall in love with Hulk Hogan, made them want to cheer The Undertaker on to victory against Mankind, and made them desperate to see "Stone Cold" Steve Austin flip the bird to his megalomaniacal employer.
Hopefully, in some form or fashion, WWE reconnects with its audience and reminds them it still has a heart, because this incarnation of its product is lifeless.