Our series continues with Part 2! In the past WWE was very strict with having a long term booking plan with talent where on occasion talent would know at minimum six months ahead of time that they were going to win championship gold and for how long they'd hold the title. Even into the Attitude Era the company still had a long story arch to pretty much every aspect of the program. However, somewhere in the last decade or so the idea of long term booking fell apart in favor of Vince being a micro manager. Vince becoming a micro manager has prevented any writers or members of the creative team from planning ahead to help form a clear picture for the future.
In my opinion, one of the things that helped right the ship of Impact Wrestling was the fact that they changed the booking style that lead the company as they shifted to a more long term booking style. The reason that this has helped change the perception of talent as consistent booking of top stars allowed fans to invest in the ascension of certain stars. One of the main reasons that it has been hard for certain stars to catch on in modern WWE is due to the fact that they would disappear from time to time without a clear explanation.
The amount of stories that we've heard about Vince being behind a wrestler for a couple of weeks and then reports appear that Vince had lost interest in the same wrestlers. The reality is that you can't know if a wrestler will be a success or not in a couple of weeks it takes time for wrestlers to get fans attention. It is questionable why the company would spend programming to build up a wrestler only to take away the wins they just got. Ricochet, Finn Balor, Aleister Black, Andrade, and others fit this category of talent with start stop booking plaguing their careers on the main roster. Wins losing meaning if consistent wins end up going nowhere.
Speaking of Andrade the former United States Champion has been missing in action from programming since late 2020. This is surprising in itself due to the fact that it seemed like Andrade was finally on the rise, but after a directionless end to his feud with Angel Garza it was clear that Andrade was in line for a baby face turn and a comeback against Garza. However, WWE didn't see money in the feud and it is another thing that has fallen to the sands of time. Think back to the last time we saw Andrade, he alongside Zelina Vega was taken out by Alexa Bliss and The Feind thanks to Garza. That right there is setting up a feud without having to put much effort into the concept. Andrade has potential to be a top star and the heir apparent to Rey Mysterio, but apparently WWE doesn't see the same thing I do. In my opinion, this is one of the reasons that NXT should be used more to assit the main roster then as afterthought look what the brand has done for Finn Balor. Maybe having a working agreement wouldn't be the worst idea.
In this three part series we will look at one of the major issues plaguing WWE in recent years and that is stop start booking and talent disappearing. The best way to get fans to invest in talent is to consistently allow them to appear on programming and give the fans a reason to care about the talent. The worst way to get fans invested in someone is by having them show up once and a while never really doing something worth giving much attention to from a fans perspective. Over the years this has happened quite often in WWE especially recently and is some cases the biggest gripe fans have with WWE's booking of certain stars. For example when new champion is crowned and then disappears for weeks at a time without mentioning where the champion is or what happens next for the new title holder.
Stars like Cesaro, Shinksuke Nakamura, The Miz, Baron Corbin, Dean Ambrose, Big E, The Revival, and various others have fallen victim to the stop start booking of WWE but some have finally seen the light. This isn't about those who have found the promise land or on there way to the best run they've had in the promotion it is about those who have been forgotten about due to the company having an overabundance of stars and no real plans for a majority of them in the long term.
Time can go by quick and without a plan what was suppose to be something you get back to in a week turns into something that remains unaddressed for a few months. Even though last year WWE did eliminate some stars that hadn't been doing much in the company that doesn't change the fact that the roster is still on the bloated side and not being used at their potential. At this point flying under the radar is something of a right of passage for way to many stars who walk in the door of WWE. Let's call this a deep dive into the roster that always seems to keep growing even when they subtract.
Let me talk to you we got ourselves a scoop!! One of the many names that failed in early WWE development was a name nobody has heard of his name was Slate Randall. This prospect was under WWE control back when Deep South Wrestling and Florida Championship Wrestling were among the developmental territories of WWE. Slate didn't last in the promotion and would get let go from the promotion and catch on with Impact Wrestling. and would become known as Eli Drake. As a member of Impact Wrestling he showed exactly what WWE was missing out on becoming a grand slam champion in Impact including a much talked about World title reign which was his coming out party to a degree. Following his departure from Impact he would find his way to the NWA and would become a top star in Billy Corgan's new NWA. Eli would team with James Storm to become NWA World Tag Team champion while under contract with the brand and was released from NWA back in November.
Drake was always a highlight on episodes of NWA Power and could've been a nice challenger to take the title away from reigning champion Nick Aldis. In my opinion, this signing is another a big loss from the struggling Alliance, and a ku for WWE. Seeing Drake put his personality on display upon his arrival put a smile on my face and he will bring himself to the forefront of NXT once he's given the opportunity to get on camera once again.
I knew what I wanted to write in this article, but wasn't sure what the title should be and so I decided to name it after the star that will take center stage. Finn Balor made his main roster debut in August 2016 as a fresh face to bring an infusion of interest on Raw as Brand Split 2.0 had just begun. Unfortunately, Finn would sustain a shoulder injury during a Universal Championship match at Summerslam against Seth Rollins. Even though his arrival started on a high it shot down from their and never truly recovered until he made his return in NXT last year.
Finn Balor was never looked at anything more then a upper card space saver even though he had the potential to lead the promotion or a brand and would've been a breath of fresh air for WWE. Balor is the embodiment of someone held back by a glass ceiling cast upon him due to his size and occasional injury. Finn had the skills and ability if he was given the stage to show his potential, but WWE never wanted to give him the stage for that even though they would lean heavily on his demon persona. The main difference between Finn in NXT and him on the main roster is that his character has depth and his alter ego doesn't exist as it didn't provide depth it just existed.
Balor is the measuring stick for NXT and has been since he returned to the black and gold brand. Last year it was clear that NXT was unsure of the direction they wanted to go due to the injury that forced the World Title to come off Karrion Kross. In my opinion, they made the best decision they possibly could've made as Finn is finally showing depth to his character and being given the chance to be center stage. Finn has always had potential to lead a brand now WWE is giving him the chance to finally prove that he can if only he could've done this on Raw or Smackdown. NXT found stability with in the form of the Prince.
This is the second time that I tried writing this article, it was surprising to see Edge return in the Royal Rumble. Edge had been on the shelf since Backlash after sustaining a severe triceps injury against Randy Orton. After nine years away from the ring Edge return last year during the Royal Rumble and would have his first match at the proceeding Wrestlemania against Randy Orton. I don't think anyone expected Edge to return in the first entry position in the Rumble especially against his longtime rival Randy Orton.
Recently Edge has been appearing on each program teasing a possible match against Drew McIntyre on Monday and then faced-off with Finn Balor and Pete Dunne on Wednesday promoting the idea of fighting the NXT Champion at Wrestlemania. On Friday, Edge would confront Roman Reigns who demanded that Edge show him respect and give him an answer about Wrestlemania. However, before Edge could respond the champion was attacked by Kevin Owens with a stunner to end Smackdown. Edge would turn and leave the ring to leave the question unanswered of who he will fight at Wrestlemania.
Even though a match against Drew McIntyre or Finn Balor or even Pete Dunne would be an interesting turn of events for the "Rated R Superstar." It's more likely the we see him against the Universal Champion at the big event in April. Right now Roman is unquestionably the hottest heel that WWE has had in decades and is the first sign that the company hasn't forgotten how to get someone heat and keep the heat. Edge would get the sympathy vote from fans for Wrestlemania which will lead to an interesting build to the eventual title match. If this is the match that WWE choses then it should be the headliner for Wrestlemania night two as it is one of the main matches that fans would be looking forward to in my book and it would end Wrestlemania on a high note.
Last year was unlike any year any of us had gone through in our lives and hopefully we will have to endure another year like the one we endured in 2020. It's time we retrace our steps a bit to the brightest and worst moments of the last twelve months. It will be difficult to pull out just one moment for each, but I will give WWE there time and then I will do the same for AEW and Impact. Some side moments to mention are the arrival of the Thunderdome and Roman Reigns returning as the Tribal Chief. The arrival of the Thunderdome gave WWE some form of normalcy in a time when they needed a shot in the arm. Roman's refresh has done wonders for him and indirectly made him the top heel in not just WWE, but in wrestling. As for worst moment by far is Raw Underground which I don't really have to explain why in my book.
The best from 2020 as the return of Edge to WWE and Wrestlemania 36! First off it is impossible to know how Wrestlemania would've been if it had gone down like originally planned. There is no doubting though that WWE made the best of a horrible situation to give us one of the best Wrestlemania's we have seen in the last few years. With the invention of the cinematic matches there is little doubt that we will be seeing them more often in the future. I never thought that I would be able to write that Edge was able to return to the ring and compete in one of the top feuds of the year with Randy Orton. The question now is how will Edge return from his injury when he does and how often will he compete.
There is little doubt that even though a lot of the former WWE employees have caught on elsewhere by now it doesn't take away from the fact that the roster cuts from last April "due to the pandemic" was the worst from WWE last year. Toss in the fact that they tried to get talent to stop broadcasting on third party websites which lead to the release of Zelina Vega is a whole other issue. I will be the first to say that WWE had a bloated roster of talent that they weren't using to their fullest potential, but think about one thing. They resigned Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Mike and Maria in 2019 to hefty contracts only to release them less then a year later just as a way to avoid seeing them go to All Elite Wrestling. To keep a wrestler under contract to avoid having them going to another promotion is one thing if you have a plan to keep them around and would see business drop off, but if resign a wrestler without having a real plan for them then you are wasting everyone's time. WWE made a big mistake last year with the spring releases, and the point isn't that they did it as it is more when they did it. Next on the list is All Elite Wrestling!!
Recently, WWE has had issues with low ratings and overall problems with keeping fans attention some might blame it on the current situation troubling society. It is impossible for them to blame the issues on the situation when fans are still watching from their homes even if they aren't in the arena's at this moment it doesn't change that WWE has audience members watching from home and paying maybe more attention then they had been, because of the situation. However, I'm going to take this article in a different direction then I have in the past.
Over the years I have come up with many ideas to try and help WWE many ways for them to redirect there attention. I'm out of ideas and I going to eliminate the basic and the simple, because it's clear to me that WWE has no interest in going back to paying attention to how simple booking wrestling can be as it is not the way they run their business. Right now there is nothing that WWE can do other then focus on riding out this down period until Wrestlemania. Following, Wrestlemania the promotion needs to reset not by vacating the championships just resetting the feuds in the company. At this moment, WWE should be taking time to figure out the direction the company should go following Wrestlemania and who the main focus of the promotion should be in 2021.
The fact that AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan have been deeply connected to rumors of possible retirement within the next year or two there is no reason that these two men shouldn't be a main focus of angles to make use of two of the top stars from the previous decade to help build future stars. Roman Reigns, Drew McIntyre, Randy Orton, Jey Uso, Sasha Banks, Asuka, and various others have been names that gave WWE some much needed stability in a time they truly needed it. I'm not going to talk about my ideas for storylines or a direction as I think they need to wait until next years and should have a plan for post Wrestlemania as it will help them in 2021 prevent something like this ratings drop from happening again next year.
This might be a little delayed, but I just found out that Randy won the gold last week so it isn't to delayed with that in mind and I didn't want to spoil it for anyone who missed the Hell in a Cell event. It is rare in WWE for someone forty or above to win the gold, but Randy is a special case I gather due to his status in the company. Orton has seemingly hit a second wind in recent months having recaptured part of what made him special in the first place. It has been a long time in my opinion since Orton has been able to be classified as a top star in WWE and with his recent success not limited to his run with Edge earlier in the year he finally hit that status again.
The last time Orton won the top title in WWE was three years ago at Wrestlemania defeating Bray Wyatt in a very uneventful contest. Orton had a lot of momentum at the time thanks to a turn and in part thanks to his run with the Wyatt Family, but we got the wrong payoff at the time. At the time I expected that to be his last run with the championship as Randy was never really the guy who always had the top spot, but more was someone who could be moved in the spot if needed.
Over the last year, Randy seems more energized, aggressive, and more like the Orton of old instead the lazy and passive Orton we had come to expect. I always thought Orton was like Brock Lesnar in that he would work when he felt like it, but could also be extremely lazy when he wants to as well. I don't blame Randy for the lackluster run Jinder had with the gold three years ago as that falls on WWE more then anyone. I do blame Randy for the match with Bray, but now compare that Randy Orton to this Randy Orton and still tell me you can't see a difference in just the way he carries himself and the fact that the "Viper" has seemingly returned.
Almost from out of nowhere like this article we have seen the sudden ascension of Jey Uso from Tag Team specialist to believable challenger to Roman Reigns. It is surprising that after ten years Jey has suddenly risen from the ashes to become a main eventer. Roman has been developing a new character since his return at Summerslam and there is no better way for him to gain control of his new gimmick then by using his family for help. In my opinion, Roman has never look more comfortable or confident as they have finally let him simplify his promos and Paul has helped him tremendously.
I was unsure of pretty much every aspect of this feud or development of the story from square one to now, but this has been one of the best aspects of WWE programming in recent months. They have finally achieved the one thing they have tried to achieve for years and that is making Roman Reigns watchable all they needed to do was peel back the onion. They have needed to lift the chains for years and now that they finally have given Roman the chance to be himself.
For years there have been rumors of The Rock and Roman Reigns colliding at Wrestlemania and it seems like we may finally have entered that timeline for us to get the match the WWE has hoped to give us for years. I'm not sure if Roman needs a boost against The Rock or not, but a feud with The Rock could give a final endorsement to the heel turn making him officially the first real top heel WWE has had in a very long time. Roman has found a new role for himself fighting on the other side of the coin for the first since his days in developmental. His new role could explain his sudden boost of confidence as it is not only breath of fresh air for us since him in a new role, but getting a new gimmick is a breath of fresh air for him as well.
I have been a fan of pro-wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment for the last twenty two years and even though I may not watch as much any more, that doesn't change about the fact that I will always love pro-wrestling. My earliest memory as a child was watching Road Wild 1998 in my living room with my family. Since then I have grown to have a vast amount of knowledge of pro-wrestling, and thus I have formed my own opinion of the proper way to book wrestling. In my opinion, wrestling showed always been portrayed as real as possible to avoid insulting the audience. Most wrestling fans know about the secrets of wrestling and don't need to be reminded about what happens behind the scene at all as most fans don't care. The fans care more about what they see on camera and most promotions need to focus on putting together compelling programming instead of throwing inside jokes or winks and nods to "smarks."
One criticism that holds precedent of WWE programming over everything else in my opinion is that WWE doesn't know how to give reasons to why two people are feuding. They don't like spending any extra time to explain why we should care about a feud or a new wrestler or anything of that nature. The fact is exposition is needed in wrestling to give the fans a reason to care about what they are watching and emotionally invest in the wrestlers. The WWE has one of the best if not the best production team in wrestling and they don't spend nearly enough time taking advantage of that perk they have to introduce new superstars.
Mainly the company should've spent a crazy amount of time investing in the exposition of Retribution giving us a reason to invest in these new stars. A number of these stars have been fixtures of NXT programming for over a year or more and yet there has been no explanation to why they chose the names they did or why they arrived in WWE. The main question is why they need to seek Retribution on WWE and the talent suddenly. It would've made more sense if they included talent that had gotten released earlier this year, because they would have a reason to seek Retribution rather then talent from the NXT brand.
It has seemed like WWE is throwing things at the wall to see what sticks instead of taking time and investing real time into developing meaningful stories, feuds and characters for talent. I know we are currently in an unprecedented situation, but this doesn't mean that WWE couldn't spend time filming vignettes for new talent, interviews to give talent more depth, or coming up with meaningful and logical ways to use talent in the best way possible. They haven't been which is extremely puzzling to me as they have nothing, but time to be able to do exactly what I just mentioned. But they haven't at all and it's extremely puzzling to me and a waste.
Sharing my thoughts, opinion, and historical facts on everything WWE both past and present