WWE is always under pressure to produce marketable stars, entertaining matchups, and entertaining stories.
Given its status as a global attraction there are certain things they have to do differently to other companies. There's plenty of things they do amazingly well, but as a fan there are some components of the current product that have me pulling my hair out.
This is a list of the worst offenders.
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Three Hour RAWs:
So there are lots of issues with the length of WWE's flagship show. Firstly, it's just so long! It makes some minor events feel like RAW extensions and not the special attraction that they should. It also means there's a lot of time to fill which equates to a large roster of talented guys all complaining of a lack of focus.
Finally, to get slightly technical, it means that WWE programming is fighting for viewership in three different hours which means the main event angles take place at pre-designated times. This detracts from the unpredictability of presentation that helps make Wrestling exhilarating.
Another problem with having the roster I just mentioned is that without a definitive hierarchy, everyone blurs into one big, meaningless shuffle. One guy wins one week, his opponent wins the next.
Why should any of us care what the outcomes are when this is how the competition is portrayed? Who is excited for the next instalment of King Barrett Versus R-Truth? Tumbleweed.
Too many matches are about each guy hitting their trademark spots and both looking equally impressive leading into the finish. When the pace is a constant and frantic back and forth, the story-telling aspect that is so vital to engagement is lost.
It may make matches look flashier to new viewers, but to invested watchers the depth of the appeal is compromised.
Take any Wrestler from the Golden Era. Or the Attitude Era. Or the Ruthless Aggression Era. Ask them if a scripted promo is a good idea. They will all say no.
Not only do you lose the spontaneity of reactions and epic one liners like: "Austin 3:16 says..." but how can you connect with a performer who is not even thinking of what they're saying? WWE does not stand for Wrestling's West End, their talents lie elsewhere.
No Sense Of Urgency:
This is a symptom of the overall product. The Attitude Era was great, not because of the violence or the edgy content, but because of the urgency that exuded from the performers. Everything seemed important. Every title, every match and every feud popped off the screen because every member of the roster was immersed in a mission to steal the show.
Today the athletes are even better, but no-one is making entire arenas jump out of their seats with everything they do and say. Just YouTube a Stone Cold appearance circa 1998 and you'll notice the difference.
There are simply too many products to sell. Too many events to promote. Too many advertising deals to cash. The voices of WWE are constantly trying to hit their cues and come across as being distracted from the on-screen product. This leaves a disconnect for the viewer meaning they are less interested in both parts.
Too Many Finishers:
This is an easy fix. Instead of drilling into the performers what to say; drill into them to stop relying on finishers for a false finish. Kicking out of a finisher should be done rarely. It's called a finisher. The clue is in the name. It should be the most devastating manoeuvre that a wrestler can deploy.
If you hit three of them and the guy still kicks out, then why is it any more impressive than body slam? When was the last time Undertaker pinned someone with a single Tombstone Piledriver? It's no longer a false finish. I'll bet my house that Brock kicks out of at least one at SummerSlam.
The previous point segues into this. All moves, not just finishers, are becoming devalued. This is because they are deployed too often and rarely win the match. What's worse is that typically after a big move has been hit (take a tornado DDT for example) the recipient not only kicks out, but feels no after effect for the rest of the match.
Few guys continue to "sell" the neck after a spot like this. It is actually an aspect of Pro Wrestling in which Roman Reigns stands out in my opinion.
A DDT used to be a move that guaranteed victory for Jake Roberts. There was even a (Kayfabe) petition to have the move banned. Now it is in every match as an inconsequential time filler. The wrestlers are outperforming themselves, and eventually there will be nowhere left to go.
I understand that in terms of marketing, an event called "Hell in a Cell" might pop viewership slightly. But it is not worth it. Gimmicks should be used logically and sparingly in feuds that require a new tweak to the story or a violent ending. They should not be shoehorned awkwardly into programs just because it's that time of year.
A Hell in a Cell match used to be a special attraction because only one feud per year would require such a barbaric surrounding. But now two or three lukewarm matches will occur within its confines that do not warrant effective use of such a structure.
The same goes for Elimination Chambers and TLC matches. If the gimmick doesn't fit the story it devalues the match, the combatants, and the business.
There are plenty of other things I would personally choose to tweak, but this is my wish list for quick fixes. Why not sound off (respectfully) about what you wished WWE would do differently?
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