Is WWE Creatively Making Good Or Bad Changes?
WWE will always make changes, it's part of business. Lately, however, they've been making more than usual...and they havent all gone right
Folks, we’ve witnessed a lot of changes in WWE over the last few months. These changes are, of course, at least part of an effort to prop up sagging ratings. There is also, no doubt about it now, some very real concern over the looming competition coming from upstart All Elite Wrestling, which debuts this weekend in Las Vegas. So, now is a perfect time to take a look at the past few major changes WWE has given us and tackle this question: Is WWE creatively making good or bad changes?
I will toss this caveat out: it is entirely possible that most of the WWE Creative team is against many of these ideas. We all know there is one very powerful man still very much calling the shots, and he gets what he wants.
It’s here not because it is a new change, but because the now annual event brings about change. This year was no different, but it was bungled. Some parts of the changes were unavoidable, like Samoa Joe not being well enough to be on TV. Some were ill-advised, like RAW getting all the good tag teams (a move made far worse when Jeff Hardy suffered a knee injury after he and Matt became new tag champs). Most of it was just fumbled, however. It took what felt like weeks to get things actually sorted…almost like no one really had a clue what was supposed to have happened.
And if that chaos and disorganization wasn’t bad enough, WWE then made it far, far worse….
The “Wild Card” Rule.
Where can I start with this one? How about the weekend before the reveal?
First, Roman Reigns says he is coming to RAW. Then WWE says no, he’s not allowed. Then he shows up anyways, and Vince says “oh, three per night can switch brands”. It got bumped to four to account for Lars Sullivan. But even when bumped to four, we have had at least one show where more than four crossed over. See? Already, more chaos.
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What the rule did was not necessarily bad-it can be nice to see some guys both nights, like we used to before things like the brand split happened.
The issue is how it happened, how things seemed to evolve on the fly, via live television. Maybe that was the plan? But I have to think it wasn’t really meant to look like a string of spur-of-the-moment decisions.
Also, the wild card rule kind of wiped out the point of the Shakeup. No, it didn’t entirely throw it out, but why make moving Reigns to SmackDown out to be a huge deal…if just weeks later, he’s free to come and go from whichever show he pleases?
If Vince feels that splitting the brands isn’t best for business anymore, maybe he should completely eliminate the split? I mean, we’ve already seen the elimination of brand-specific PPVs, and now we’ve lost brand-specific shows. You have to think WWE at least was toying with the idea of unification when Becky Lynch had both women’s championships. Perhaps it’s worth considering? I mean, neither tag division has enough roster depth to warrant brand specific belts, although that still exists (for now) for the men.
Like I said, the idea of having a few randomly show up each week on the other show can be cool, but it’s clearly not random…and outside of Creative dictating who shows up, it could have been nice if WWE created a system to determine it. Names in a hopper? A weekly wild card challenge on each show, determining who would be able to show up? Of course, knowing does eliminate some element of surprise…but then, so too does having the same big names show up every week.
Leaning on Brock….again.
During Money In The Bank, Joe Lisnow and I went back and forth about who would replace Sami Zayn in the match. One name I thought of, but didn’t bet on, was Lesnar. When his music hit, I was like…yep, that’s WWE for us.
I opined before the show that WWE needed to get this right. They had a chance to put someone new and exciting in line to have a run at the top.
To give us Brock Lesnar as that guy? That really came off as WWE is out of touch with why fans are tuning out in droves.
For one thing, even with WWE “eliminating” the rematch clause, most of us expected Lesnar to get a rematch at Rollins during the Jeddah show, because, well, Lesnar had already been announced.
For another, Lesnar does not need a briefcase to get a shot. He can do that through intimidation. Just have Lesnar attack Rollins, either after Rollins had retained against Styles, or on RAW the night after, with the message being clear. Rematch made, no wasted briefcase (note, this is EXACTLY what WWE did on Tuesday when Ziggler and Kingston became official).
WWE thinks fans want Lesnar. WWE thinks Lesnar still does big bank. Yet WWE has had Superstar after Superstar have rants and promos about the part-timers and Brock is the poster child for that now. Fans do not want a part-timer with the title, where we see it a few times a year. Fans do not need a big superheavyweight fighter as the company’s top champion either. Look at some of the more popular recent champions-AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Finn Balor-none are big. None have the size or look that Vince is enamored with. What they all can do, however, is work great matches. Sure, Lesnar can sell and work, probably better than he gets credit for…but he has his own five moves of doom.
The 24/7 Belt
This was the cherry on top of the tone deaf sundae.
It’s a title WWE did not need. It’s something I don’t think any fan asked for. It’s something that Vince McMahon reportedly loved.
The rules were an afterthought. The belt is absolutely disgusting and looks downright cheap and stupid. The challenges for it have been borderline insanely stupid. If WWE wanted more comedy, I guess this move makes sense? But, while fans want to be entertained, I do not think fans were dying for more stupid humor to be burning up television time.
Put these all together, and it looks like WWE has been repeatedly making some really bad decisions. None, as implemented, has worked. I’ve even left some other bad ones off (The Viking Experience, anyone?). AEW goes live this weekend, which means there will be another option for fans to turn to. That is going to get worse when that promotion’s TNT television deal kicks in later in 2019.
WWE can surely be fixed, but they need to stop making bad decision after bad decision, and fast.