I have spent the majority of 2012 using my articles as a tool to express my displeasure with the WWE’s current product to like-minded readers and wrestling fans. There’s never been a shortage of things to complain about on a weekly basis with the WWE, including nonsensical bookings, an inability to make their titles seem important, a complete mishandling of the entire tag team division, so on and so forth. This past Friday’s firing of Abraham Washington and the hypocrisy surrounding it is certainly a topic that I could sound off on, but what could I say that hasn’t already been said about it.

Despite most of my pieces appealing for the WWE to improve and evolve their product creatively, I try to be as positive as I can when I watch their programming. I couldn’t justify my continued viewing if I didn’t find something positive about the shows. This week, I thought I’d be positive and write a piece about the five things that have been happening in the WWE that I actually like and am looking forward to. So without any further adieu, let’s get positive.

1 – The New NXT

I have been enjoying NXT exponentially better since it’s rebirth at Full Sail University. The infusion of new talent, the commentary of Jim Ross and William Regal filling my ears, and the freshness of the entire endeavor simply puts a smile on my face. When I watch NXT, I feel like I am looking at the un-bastardized future of the WWE. I feel like I am watching a show where the tired and true tropes of Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown don’t bog down the superstars or the show. They are free to experiment at least a little with guys like Bray Wyatt, The Ascension, and Seth Rollins. 

NXT represents hope for me right now, because it is place where the superstars are given enough rope to find their voice and their footing, without the crushing hand of the WWE coming down on them for each and every minute misstep and deviation from the script. NXT reminds me why I actually love wrestling, because it is cultivating character growth and discovery.

2 – Damien Sandow

I have been a huge fan of Damien Sandow since seeing him in FCW, and I have yet to be disappointed in the character since his debut on weekly WWE Television. If the only positive that comes out of Raw going to three hours is that they get to showcase this character with the extra time, then I am completely okay with the move.

His matter-of-fact tone in promos, his sophisticated and highbrow attitude, his pink trunks and purple kneepads, his obvious mean streak in the ring, his unique cartwheel celebrations, and his official twitter scribe Ignatius, whom keeps his followers abreast of Sandow’s thoughts and ventures, there is just so much to like about this character. Plus he’s been sparing us, the unwashed masses, of having to sit through the Funkasaurus for the last few weeks, which is pretty nice of him.

3 – The Future Debut of Dean Ambrose

I’ve been patiently waiting for the WWE to unleash their secret weapon, and I will continue to patiently wait, because I know he’s coming, and he’s worth the wait. I’ve been an avid watcher of FCW over the years, and not many people have commanded my attention like Dean Ambrose has. I am waiting for him to bring his brilliant performances to weekly WWE television, and for him to steal the show from the guys at the top of the card (something he is easily capable of).

I know that it’s close, because he’s featured in the programs that they sell in the arenas during the shows. I’m assuming that they are holding off to make his debut more meaningful and substantive. I personally would have let him loose at some point of Raw 1000, where the most eyes would have been tune in to see him arrive.

4 – Wade Barrett and his Barrage’s Return

I’ve made no attempts to hide that I was not a fan of Wade Barrett’s. I understood why some people might like him, but honestly, I just didn’t see anything about him that screamed, “I’m going to the Top”. Wade, his slicked back hair, cloak and roses never appealed to me at all. That was then, but the promos hyping his return have made me do a complete 180 on the topic. He could always cut a promo (one of the few things I conceded that he did exceptionally well), but these return vignettes have not only been great, but substantive.

In the most recent vignette, Wade talks about how he used to be ruthless, almost animalistic, but was able to find an escape from the dangerous life of bare-knuckle boxing. He became sophisticated and well mannered, but lost the edge that allowed him to rise to the top of the underground fighting world. It seems he’s renounced his civility and reclaimed the animalistic nature that allowed him to survive in a world of violence and savagery. In one minute, I was sold on the change and learnt more about Wade Barrett the character than I learned during his entire WWE run previously. I don’t know if it’s the new attitude he’s displaying in these vignettes, if it’s his new beard, or the fact that his character kind of reminds me of Bane from the Dark Knight Rises in a strange way, but Wade Barrett has completely changed my view of him. Once he returns and makes some noise, I may have to revisit his character in AMOC.

5 – Daniel Bryan

The way that Daniel Bryan’s character has been getting showcased since his embarrassing 18-second defeat at the hands of Sheamus at Wrestlemania has been nothing short of amazing. He took what could have been catastrophically terrible for nearly anyone else and made it into a remarkable positive. He’s now in more segments than anyone else on a weekly basis. D-Bry’s being given premium promo time and absolutely nailing it each time. Furthermore, he’s been putting on some fantastic matches with any and everybody he faces in the squared circle. Whether it’s Sheamus, CM Punk, John Cena, or Kane, he’s putting on quality wrestling matches that showcase his ability as a performer and forcing even his harshest critics to take notice of how he’s turned his career around (despite being booked to lose A LOT).

Moments after his loss in 18-seconds at Wrestlemania, if you had told me that he would become one of the marquee stars in the WWE, I would have told you that you were out of your mind. Now that it’s happened, I see that you can turn even the most damaging negative, into a positive. Daniel Bryan, and the break out year he’s having, is the epitome of life handing you lemons, and making lemonade.

There you have it, but what do you think? What are some of your favorite portions of WWE programming? Is your view of the WWE more positive than negative, or vice-versa? Why? And how absolutely fantastic has Daniel Bryan been this year?

Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying we’ll return to our regularly scheduled cynical analysis of the WWE and its superstars next week!