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.
Upon his return to the company at Summerslam we've seen a different side of the former "Big Dog" a more aggressive side of Roman Reigns has finally been given to us. Led by Paul Heyman has given him a new edge and a reason for fans to hate the new side of Roman instead of embracing the side we've been waiting for years. This move is clearly a sign of desperation for the WWE due to the dropping ratings especially considering Roman is on Smackdown and helping a Fox television show gain a ratings bump.
I have already voiced my opinion about Roman winning the Universal Championship even though it helps legitimize his heel turn and help it gain some credibility. Roman Reigns needs to establish himself as a heel turn and a top star again the only way to do that is to prove his attitude has changed. A dangerous, self centered, evil side of Roman needs to be the center point of Smackdown every week. This needs to start with his next feud coming up at Clash of Champions.
Shockingly, Jey Uso won a #1 contender match on Smackdown to earn a shot against Roman Reigns at Clash of Champions. Three years ago, at Backlash we were shocked to see Jinder Mahal challenge Randy Orton for the WWE Championship and this is a similar situation, but there is no doubt that Jey isn't going to a run with the gold and the family affair will be used to develop this evil side of Roman Reigns. Roman needs to establish himself and taking out Jey Uso would be a perfect fit to help establish the dominate side of Roman and plant the seeds for a future feud with Bray Wyatt still happening in the future. Bray has unfinished business with Roman and will be on chase having him save Jey to help change the perception of both men.
At this point Roman Reigns had been missing since the week before Wrestlemania due to concerns around the ongoing pandemic. With the stress and uncertainty that had been present during Wrestlemania season it was unclear when Roman would possibly return to programming. It was unfair to assume that we could possibly know when Roman would be returning to the company as we didn't know when the pandemic would be under control to point where could even consider doing so. In his absence Braun Strowman took the lead and became the unexpected Universal Champion defeating Goldberg.
At Summerslam the rivalry came to ahead between The Fiend and Braun Strowman it finally happened after being robbed of the gold by Goldberg his title is back. The Fiend is once again Universal Champion and is the leader of the Smackdown brand. In my opinion, now WWE needs to keep rebuilding him and not make the same mistake twice don't f** up again, because Bray Wyatt can't handle another misstep. Goldberg's loss set him back a few months and he has finally rehab himself to solid ground, but it can all evaporate just as quick. Defeating Cena at Wrestlemania helped reset The Fiend and now winning back the title undid the past missteps, but now they have to continue on this road and not switch back to make him chase again. Roman might be back, but really who knows if he is staying or just has returned to give The Fiend a deserving rub and then he can disappear once more. I guess we will have to wait and see what comes next on Smackdown for Roman Reigns and The Fiend.
A couple of weeks ago at this point Adam Cole appeared on Pat Mcaffe's talk show and things got interesting relatively quick. Mcaffe would begin to express his opinion on how much Cole's record setting title reign was reliant on his association with the Undisputed Era. After making some quips about his height as well Cole would storm out of the show breaking some equipment in the process leading to what might've still be a real altercation between Cole and Mcaffe. Things would continue to build up with Mcafee being invited to NXT as a way to quell any ill will between Cole and Mcaffe in a professional manner.
Everything seemed to be fine, but then Mcafee would again start taking shots at Adam Cole specifically about his reliance on Undisputed Era and his height. Pat said on commentary that he respects the other members of Undisputed Era outside of Adam Cole. Things would escalate from there leading to one of the better heel turns and in my opinion one of the best things WWE has done in a long time, because it felt real. Mcafee is training to get in the ring with legend Rip Rogers and it seems that is where we are heading at this point and it seems like a face turn for at least Adam Cole is in the cards while we build. Take a look for yourself at Pat Mcafee turning heel!!! Also known as effectively using a non wrestler to the best of their ability!
I have really fallen out of favor with wrestling in recent months not where I don't still love it, but it is more where I'm tired of waiting for things to change and wasting my time watching the show. I think the best comparison I can make is that WWE hit a 1.9 rating on the March 3, 1997 edition of Monday Night Raw. This was the Raw that turned everything around for the company when they finally decided to turn the corner creatively toward an "Era of Attitude."
The most recent episode of Raw hit 1.7 million viewers and even though that was higher then the week before it was one of the lowest in recent memory. I can't answer many of the questions in this article alone, because there are just way to many questions to answer in the same article. Can probably write a book on how many problems there are with WWE today and the biggest problem facing the company is that new problems keep popping up before they have a chance to solve the old problems.
Yes! Are there easy fixes? Of course should the company be looking for those fixes? Well no, but the real question is will they be looking for those types of fixes, let me ask this is WWE right? It would be more surprising at this point if they try to actually fix any problem the right way. The right way for them to try and fix the problem is by sitting down and actually taking the time to figure out the best plan of action for the company to go and take the time to put those plans into place. It's like I've heard from some old school wrestling personalities "I can't make you money tomorrow, but in six months we will have a chance to be making money." Basically in it's truest form wrestling takes time to develop, it takes time for the wrestlers to get over and build a sense of attachment with viewing audience, it takes time for a story line to get over or not. It's simple really, but WWE has lost sight of how important exposition is to wrestling allowing fans to know clearly who to get behind and invest in over time.
The reality is that WWE has been placing band aids on a crumbling system for years and Vince has been resist to admit that either creative needs to change or he does. Vince isn't out of touch, it's that he's trying to do to much and not letting his employees do what they were hired to do. Basically, if Vince was a coach in baseball how he's running WWE would like him telling a player the exact way he wants them to swing a bat or through a ball. Vince has always been crazy, but he use to be able to delegate to others around him that he could trust. I can keep talking about Vince or the problems facing WWE for hours, but I don't want to keep talking to long so let's save that for next time.
Recently I heard that number one Summerslam is still up in the air as Vince had wanted fans to be back in the crowd for the biggest party of the summer. However, that doesn't seem like something plausible at this point due to the recent outbreak. I also believe that due to the recent issues WWE has had dealing with the current situation they should step back from planning big events and figure out the right now.
Either way though Brock Lesnar is rumored to be challenging Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship at Summerslam. Two ways this doesn't happen though is if Summerslam is pushed back or if Brock is unable to enter the USA. For those unaware Brock has been a Canadian resident for a few years at this point and with the current situation it has made traveling between countries a very complicated situation.
At this point, should Brock be unable to make Summerslam the WWE has a replacement in place for Lesnar in Randy Orton. Initial plans penciled him in for another match with Edge at Summerslam but that changed when Edge got injured. Orton has had a bit of a resurgence in 2020 and could make for a credible opponent for McIntyre on the large scale and I'd point out I'd rather Orton take the belt then Lesnar take it again. It is likely we will get our answer of his opponent following Extreme Rules and the end of his feud with Dolph Ziggler. I'd rather see Brock stay off television and let Orton take the spot, but they are desperate and even though Brock may help one week it won't change much.
Sharing my thoughts, opinion, and historical facts on everything WWE both past and present