Initially, this year's draft was supposed to take place at the end of August this year instead of in October like we've seen since Smackdown moved to Fox in 2019. That was until last week when the change was announced that the draft was back to happening in October according to Andrew Zarain from the Mat Men. Now we do have a bit more time though to talk about the amount of changes that should take place at the draft. The WWE has been struggling in the last year, it just seems like they have lost themselves and any possible direction or sense of purpose.
This isn't going to be as detailed as the Andrade story I wrote a few months ago, but it will be interesting. At Money in the Bank, Big E finally won the briefcase to have the chance to become the next WWE or Universal Champion. If it was up to me, Lashley is feuding with the New Day or just finished feuding with New Day, and it would be the perfect time to slide Big E into the rivalry. However, you need to stack the odds and toss in some in doubt. Big E won the Intercontinental without the New Day, and the case without the New Day let MVP do what he does and cast some doubt on the match happening to make the eventual match all the more satisfying. By Survivor Series, it would be strange to see Big E not holding the WWE Championship.
The WWE Raw Tag Team Champions have been lacking for years. Since AJ Styles and Omos won the tag titles, there have been at least some form of direction for the gold, which is a pleasant sight. However, there needs to be something big planned to change the perception of the titles. Right now, there is unfinished business between Riddle and AJ Styles, who had a show stealing match leading into Money in the Bank last month. Orton still being AWOL currently leaves Riddle alone against the tag champions. After defeating the Viking Raiders at Money in the Bank, we can probably see one more match for the belts before they move to RK-Bro. Imagine this image AJ ripping apart Orton for abandoning Riddle and leaving his partner, because if there is anyone who can get under the skin of Orton it's his former rival AJ Styles. Riddle has been the highlight of Raw in recent months and I would like to think that he didn't get rewarded with Money in the Bank due to a logical step for a feud with the tag champions.
More detailed thoughts on feuds will be coming together as I will be putting together a make shift card for Summerslam with matches I believe should be included on the event. Excluding those that have already been announced for the event, like Goldberg vs Bobby Lashley and Roman Reigns vs John Cena. Goldberg isn't my favorite and his aura is wearing on me, but if he still moves the needle that is what matters most.
Since the return of the brand split in 2016 there have been very few constants on each brand as the yearly draft normally allows for most talent to get fresh starts. However, some talent has mostly remained on one brand or the other, dodging the fresh start the draft allows yearly. Two names that come to mind are Baron Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura. Corbin had just debuted earlier in the year when the brand split returned and was still making a name for himself on the main roster. Once he was officially a member of Smackdown Live the push began for Corbin quickly moving to upper mid-card status as a way to help fill out the Smackdown Live roster.
Unfortunately, Corbin wasn't able to put everything together for a variety of reasons, namely the booking that was incredibly stop and start. Corbin's big moment came winning Mr. Money in the Bank in 2017 only to join the list of names that weren't able to successfully cash in the case for a World Title reign. Fact is, WWE showed Corbin wasn't someone they wanted to invest in fully, otherwise he wouldn't have failed with the briefcase cash in. Losing to John Cena in their one-sided rivalry was the final nail in the coffin for Corbin, and now he is a respected member of the roster. Corbin is looked at as someone that talent need to get through to become a credible member of the roster, similar to the spot that Dolph Ziggler once occupied.
It was surreal at one point to think that the former IWGP World Champion Shinsuke Nakamura was under the WWE banner. Nakamura made the jump with Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, and AJ Styles following Wrestling Kingdom in 2016. The night after Wrestlemania 33, we saw the main roster debut of Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura's debut on the main roster was one of the most anticipated debuts in recent memory. Unfortunately, much like Corbin, it took a long time for Shinsuke to find his footing on the main roster. Some might say that Nakamura has actually never found his footing on the roster thus far.
After five years on the blue brand, I think it's time for either Nakamura or Corbin to switch brands and get a fresh start. Taking some ideas into consideration, mainly the fact these two are currently feuding, only one of them should swap brands. Even though Nakamura still has some untapped potential on Smackdown I think he would benefit more from a fresh start especially considering Lashley is WWE Champion and this would give him a fresh and unexpected new challenger.
According to reports, WWE, it seems that the draft will be ready to go at the end of August this year instead of October. Now we take the time to look through the WWE roster, figure who should switch brand this year to try and give WWE the opportunity to right the struggling ship that we've been watching for about a year, partially due to the global pandemic and partially due to bad booking. Either way, some talent need a refresh and swap brand to start over. It seems to me that some stars have been on one brand or the other for way to long. Below is my thoughts of who should switch brands this year:
- Baron Corbin: Since the debut of Smackdown on Fox, the former "King" Corbin has been a featured star on the blue brand. Corbin needs to rebuild himself a little, especially now that he's officially referred to as his old name again. Like him or not, Corbin is still someone who can be looked at as a top heel for the company and in a way is a role player for WWE, filling depth where needed. Corbin could be a champion, but I do think that he's on or could be nearly on the same level as current United States Champion Sheamus. Corbin from Smackdown to Raw
- Cedric Alexander: A year ago, Cedric Alexander was one of the top stars on the red brand as a member of the Hurt Business with Shelton Benjamin, Lashley, and MVP. Now, he's back to the position he was in before the Hurt Business. I was one of the many fans that disagreed and argued against the idea of having The Hurt Business split up. Cedric needs to either refresh himself by heading to the black and gold brand or over to the blue brand. Cedric clicked in a tag team with Benjamin and I think if partnered up with someone else would be the best use of this underrated superstar. Alexander from Raw to Smackdown
- Roode & Dolph Ziggler: Much like Corbin, I believe these two stars have been on the blue brand since Smackdown's debut on Fox two years ago. Considering they've been on this brand for a prolonged period of time, it is time for the tag team to move over to the red brand. Raw's tag team division has been struggling for a long time, exhibit A being the tag team champions on Raw. Bobby Roode has been one of the greatest tag team wrestlers in the last two decades, being a part of some top teams in wrestling history. Ziggler had been struggling for years prior to teaming with Bobby Roode which has finally put to use his immense talent. The team does need a refresh though at this point and moving to the red brand would be for the best.
- Mustafa Ali: Ever since the debut of Retribution, the once promising youngster has struggled to find his footing. Earlier in the year there was talk of him having some injury issues, and it seems that there have still been problems for Ali. In my opinion, it seems possible that Ali has hit a wall after the flop of Retribution, they seemed to have blamed Ali for the failure of the mysterious faction. This is the reason why Ali needs to have a refresh to allow him the chance to start over. Ali would be best served to spend time down in NXT as a way to find his footing again in WWE. Ali to NXT
WWE has seemingly been on an uphill battle with ratings for years and even though righted the ship a little last year having some fresh names step up during the pandemic, the problems still persisted. Now, reports have arisen that both television networks which carry WWE programming have been pitching various gimmick themed shows to WWE to help with the ratings. However, theme shows will help in the short term, boosting ratings from the week if they are hyped properly in the long term though more changes need to made to fix the underlying issues.
You aren't going to fix the issue by putting a band-aid on it and calling okay, you need to fix the issue by coming up with a plan. Last year, I said more than once that WWE needed to come up with a long term plan and direction for the promotion. I also said that once Wrestlemania they should immediately start coming up with ideas for Summerslam to keep development and momentum flowing. In the past the company would let talent know months or even a year ahead of time what plans will be for the future, but now it seems like they don't know a week ahead of time what is going to happen.
This isn't to blame on Vince or Hunter or Stephanie or Shane, it is to blame on perception how they see the issue. Fix an issue by making a change, but unless you make the right change, you won't fix the issues. I would hope that if they haven't figured that out yet that they will figure that out soon enough, because even though some changes were needed the problems that existed before the changes still exist now. It won't be fixed with a special show or special appearance, it will be fixed by changing perception the wrestling business may have changed, but what was once important in the business is still important today. Everything goes back to making a plan and sticking to it aka long term booking, and now I realize a big problem within WWE is shortsighted decision-making.
A gimmick or themed show will help for one week, but unless you have a plan for where you go next, it will mean nothing in the long term. Eventually if you overuse the concept of a theme show then what once worked will not work anymore, because it will become overdone and stale. Themed shows are a short term fix, if WWE wants to fix the problems that plague the promotion they need a long term fix. Patients will be the only way to get to that long term fix, and I'm not sure that those in power have the ability to stay the course and keep with a long term plan as they might prefer a quicker fix.
Recently, a now former WWE writer has been making news due to their non-existent knowledge of the product for the company they were working for at the time. I hope people understand now why you are supposed to do some research for your future employer to know who you will be working for if you get the position. Working for a wrestling company as a writer isn't something you can learn working for other television programs. The only thing that working for other television programs teaches you how to write weekly television.
The fact that an employee would go on a podcast and make clear a lack of knowledge and that they don't even know the name of the current WWE Champion. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to say that WWE should have one booker running things on a weekly basis, because with the amount of programming they have, not sure if it'd be possible for one person to handle. However, if one person took care of Raw and the other handled Smackdown, that would be different. I don't mean one head writer for each and they both still work on the other brand, I mean where one person only takes care of Raw and vice versa. This would allow writer to fixate on one brand instead of having to work on coming up with ideas for double the amount of talent and programming.
In my opinion, these events making the company look bad like awful. It shows they don't have a vetting process to make sure they're hiring the best possible people for the job they need to fill. Every single person that is tasked with writing for WWE should have prior knowledge of the product, or they shouldn't be employed by the promotion. In the past, someone like Freddie Prinze Jr helped steady the wrestling minds on the team and make sure they took a television approach to their ideas. Basically, Freddie was the member of the team with a background in television to help with that aspect and steady those who knew wrestling to keep a balance on the team.
WWE needs to either train the writers to have a knowledge of the product or clear out the entire division of the company and make it clear unless you have a knowledge of the product, you will not work for the company. Long term booking, presentation, exposition, development are all aspects of wrestling that are missing from the current WWE product and one by one should be things that attempt to reintroduce to the product over a long period of time. Simply put, these aspects belong on a wrestling show, because wrestling is better with a long term plan, and when you allow the fans to see their favorite stars develop. Also, fans prefer having a clear reason why something is happening, and it helps if they can relate to why two people are feuding. Fact is I can talk about this all day, but the main idea is to learn about the company you want to work for before you on the interview it will make you look smarter or at least try and learn about the company after this way you know what the company you work for does.
With the deal that brought Smackdown to Fox two years ago, it was clear that the blue brand had become either a level above the red brand or at least on the same level of the once A-show. Being on Fox, it moved Smackdown right into the limelight and easier for fans to find the program then it had been in the past. Smackdown had always seemed to be the hidden program of WWE on channels that most fans would need to be aware existed otherwise they wouldn't know where to find the channel.
The most recent edition of Smackdown saw Rey Mysterio and Roman Reigns collide in a Hell in a Cell match, the first on free television in nearly thirty years. Perception is massively important in the world of wrestling, and it seems like WWE has forgotten how important this concept has always been in wrestling. They moved this match between Roman and Rey Mysterio up from the PPV on Father's Day, shows that the company is desperate to keep the ratings moving. However, one week of using an un-hyped special match to boost the ratings for a program is extremely shortsighted. Then again, being extremely shortsighted seems to be what WWE has become known for in recent years, look no further than the release of both Tommy End and Samoa Joe.
Aleister Black returned after months on hiatus and started feuding with Big E, then two weeks later he's gone from the promotion. The former New Day member broke apart from his long time teammates to help start a much deserved push, but again a shortsighted decision derailed his push. Shortsighted decision-making can be a poisonous way of thinking in the wrestling business, as eventually you will run out of ways to give the gate a shot in the arm and keep things fresh. Basically, the issue that arose from the "Attitude Era" a lot of good came from the era, but at the same time so did a lot of bad.
Nearly twenty years ago, Vince McMahon appeared on a February edition of Smackdown to announce that he will inject a lethal dose of poison into his creation. Vince would go onto to say that if anyone will kill what he created it'll be him, and he will inject his creation with a lethal dose of poison, this was the introduction of the New World Order in WWE. Nowadays, the poison is plaguing the company again, but the poison this time is in the booking and decision-making. I don't know everything, but what I do know is that long term booking is important, perception and exposition can never disappear, and most important shortsighted decision-making is a poison that always ends in disaster.
I'm not saying a disaster will behold WWE, all I'm saying is that until they change how they make decisions things will not change. In wrestling, you don't forget ultimately this business is cyclical or ever-changing, and sometimes you go to change something that didn't need to be changed. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!! Shortsighted decision-making was part of what slowly poisoned World Championship Wrestling, not the only thing that killed WCW though. The main idea is the poison is slowly spreading in WWE, they need to find the antidote. Part of that antidote is ridding themselves of shortsighted decision-making.
The feud between Roman Reigns and his cousins has been raging for almost a year at this point, starting with a feud last summer between the Tribal Chief and Jey Uso. The feud has evolved to now include the returning Jimmy Uso who had been on the shelf since the spring of 2020. Since starting to associate with his cousin, Jey has seen his stock in WWE rise to no end. WWE is now trying to work the same magic with Jimmy and establish the family as its own brand. This feud proves why exposition in wrestling still matters, because when the company gives a reason for you to care and shows they care it is easier to invest in anything they are doing.
Exposition in wrestling matters, because all it takes is one reason to be invested in a feud and there you go. WWE has done amazing with Roman since he returned last summer, and this year hasn't slowed things down. Think about it, a rivalry between cousins or brothers is something that anyone can relate to and the main reason why this feud is so hot is its relatable. Another positive has been WWE's ability to move people in and out of the feud like they did with Seth Rollins, Cesaro and now seemingly like they will do with Rey Mysterio.
Long term planning hasn't been a strong suit for WWE in many years, but in my opinion it seems like they have planned out Roman's arch for a long time, which is a pleasant sight to see. One thing that would be even nicer is if we saw WWE start to use the long term planning concept in other aspects of booking the programming. Exposition gives a reason why two wrestlers are feuding and a reason why you the fan should care. Long term planning allows you to maintain investment in certain people that the company themselves keep on television and always have something for them to do. The Uso's have needed a shot in the arm for years, and this is that shot in the arm. Roman Reigns is another level right now and could be hitting the status of "superstar" they've wanted him to for a long time, all he needed was to turn heel.
One of the biggest problems that have troubled WWE recently is their lack of interest in putting together matches that fans haven't seen six times in two weeks. They've always had a problem with overdoing the match concept and not using a segment to push a feud every week, saving the big matches for PPVs or occasional weekly programming. WWE is its own biggest enemy every week we shouldn't see the same matches with the same two people every week. It isn't difficult, it gets tough when WWE overcomplicates everything instead of keeping things simple.
Long term booking use to be the most important thing for WWE where they would actually tell wrestlers six months to a year in advance when they would be winning a championship. For this reason there should always be a plan in place to keep your champions at the forefront of programming. Champions often miss weeks at a time as they have a lack of a clear direction. However, there is a need to also have plans for other wrestlers who could contend for the title at a later date.
The underused stipulation or story is the #1 contender match which adds a bit of intrigue and could give someone an unexpected opportunity. One match that could be perfect is Kevin Owens against Shinsuke Nakamura as it would be a fresh match that has never happened between two of the best around. I do think it'd be best for these two to compete for the Intercontinental Title instead of the Universal Title. My pick for Roman's next opponent is continuing with Cesaro after the Seth Rollins issue is settled or jump to Big E to test the waters if the former Tag Team Champion will go over well in the main event. A test run would be for the best as it used to work back in the day and something that should've stuck around as it's another idea that worked fine and made wrestling better. Anticipation is key sometimes in wrestling and teasing isn't anticipating, because teasing has to do with striking eventually. Anticipation means there is a plan and the moment will come eventually teasing means it might never happen.
After Humberto Carrillo's injury a few weeks ago, Sheamus needed a new opponent for Wrestlemania Backlash. That answer came when Sheamus issued an open challenge to the roster and Ricochet accepted the challenge. After watching the match I noticed that Ricochet likes fighting from underneath as the underdog which is fine, but I think there needs to be some form of aggression to add some depth to his character. At this point, Ricochet could use some depth or a new addition to his character after being on the main roster.
Knowing that Ricochet proceeded to steal Sheamus's hat and jacket following the match, in my opinion, is an unneeded way for a feud to keep going. Such a lame act doesn't make for a good look for Ricochet as in my book it makes him seem like a loser or a joke. It is a lazy way to get a feud going as Ricochet is 100% better off looking to try and prove himself worthy of this position. Ricochet hit hard times with no clear direction since his call-up to the main roster and could've used this chance to show he's more than just an agile high-flier.
Ricochet needs a refresh or even a heel turn to add a fresh coat of paint to his image on the main roster. Reality is that Ricochet could take the spot once occupied by Humberto which could then spark a jealous heel turn from a one time friend this could add more depth to the US Title picture especially if the winner would fight Sheamus. A basic feud that would just be designed to allow the United States title to mean something again. Essentially Ricochet needs to show what he's fighting for rather than being just another unnamed fill-in.
This week on Raw we saw a vignette promoting the return nobody asked for or expected Eva Marie. Since her departure in 2017, most fans have felt that the women's division has seen the perception of the division raising the bar a little higher than where it was when she was in the company. Marie more of a personality never having a hard time getting heat from the fans. I believe if they bring her back in as a manager that might help save a little face, but not really avoiding the main question you fire three top women's wrestlers to hire. Rehiring Eva Marie will need to prove as a positive and not a negative, or she will be never be taken seriously in WWE.
On Raw, we also saw the end of Benjamin and Alexander as a tag team which is a joke as they likely were broken up for no reason. I've said it 100's of times at this point that WWE never makes a decision with any foresight or long term thinking. I don't understand how WWE doesn't see the importance of long term booking when running a wrestling company or the stability that tag team wrestling can bring to underused wrestlers. Before their inclusion in the Hurt Business neither Shelton nor Cedric had much of anything going on, and then they were removed from the faction.
Critics questioned why the company would move to break up the faction at the first sign of tension instead of keeping a strong group together. The first questionable decision was breaking up the group the next questionable decision was breaking up the tag team. Benjamin and Alexander are more than capable depth pieces to solidify a lacking mid-card. Again though that requires some long term planning for non-main event talent. Imagine giving Benjamin one more run to try and capture the United States title or Cedric actually getting a push and giving his new attitude some depth.
Sharing my thoughts, opinion, and historical facts on everything WWE both past and present