The Stagnation of the WWE
I missed my first pay-per-view of 2013.
I am the sort of fan the McMahons love; I actually pay for my pay-per-views. I enjoy watching the WWE shows in glorious high definition with my family and friends. It is a good way to unwind after working hard all week. But then came WWE Battleground 2013. I felt the need to finally miss my first pay-per-view of the year.
You see as an English teacher, I love a story with a good twist ending. I love to be surprised by the unique twists and turns throughout a good novel. I enjoy some originality in my story telling. The WWE lost a pay-per-view watcher with its storyline stagnation. From the sounds of the reviews, it seems like I didn’t miss much. Nothing changed.
I am a fan of the slow build in storylines. Heck, it was the first ever article I wrote for this very website. But close examinations of the current main storylines show that stagnation is hurting the current storylines. It isn’t a slow build when nothing changes for a matter of months. Let us examine the ways we are going nowhere fast fellow WWE Universe members:
CM Punk & Paul Heyman
I am a massive fan of both performers. They are the best talkers in the business today. CM Punk is arguably the best all-around performer in the WWE. However, we are looking at the same storyline going on and on with no end game in sight.
It started with a lot of promise. At Money in the Bank 2013, Heyman turned on his long time ally, CM Punk. It led to, in my opinion, the match of the year between Brock Lesnar and CM Punk at Summerslam. The feud was on fire.
Stagnation occurs when you repeat the same formula with diminishing returns. CM Punk is incapable of overcoming the odds. He lost to Lesnar and then he lost to Paul Heyman at Night of Champions 2013. He feuded with Brock Lesnar, Curtis Axel and Ryback to get his hands on Paul with no success in the last three months. It certainly is a dramatic drop off to wrestling with Brock to wrestling Ryback in less than two months. It seems very strange to start with the former UFC Heavyweight Champion and go to Ryback, a man who recently was on a nine-month pay-per-view losing streak. It doesn’t make much sense to keep dropping the stakes for Punk but still preventing his final victory.
Daniel Bryan & Randy Orton
When John Cena went down with injury, this seemed the natural feud to fill the void. It was the corporate favorite (Randy Orton) versus the new fan favorite (Daniel Bryan). The fans were anxiously waiting to see Bryan overcome the odds and get his moment in the sun.
The first issue that showed stagnation was the ending of Raw and Smackdown for the first month of the feud. It was exactly the same finish for six straight shows. While I understood the concept of the villain winning, it made little sense to see Orton standing over an unconscious Bryan the exact same way for weeks on end. You might want to try a little variety in your storytelling. I wouldn’t have my students read a book where each chapter ended the exact same way, regardless of the final outcome.
It did lead to a surprising pay-per-view result. Bryan won the title at Night of Champions 2013. It was shocking. However, the next storytelling element was hurtful. The result of that match was immediately made null and void. The ref was fired for a vast conspiracy but this conspiracy was never discussed any further. It was a dropped storyline element that hurt the product.
Even worse was the hero’s reaction. He didn’t care. A true hero in the story would at least be concerned that he was robbed of basic fairness; however it didn’t even upset him. If the hero didn’t care about an unfair result, why should we? It was a wasted month of build with no true progression.
One of the things we were all waiting for was the first moment that someone finally stood up to Triple H and helped Bryan. The fans were literally begging for it. But the storyline stagnation hit this part of the storyline too. When ten wrestlers stood up to the Corporation you figured something was about to progress forward; but nothing did. They received no long- term reward and/or punishment. In a matter of weeks, this dramatic moment was forgotten. The times they were not changing.
At Battleground 2013, it seemed we were at least entitled to a Champion. We should have some progression in the Championship chase. Instead, we ended with a no contest at a main event of a pay-per-view. I know I would have felt ripped off to have spent all that money for two straight shows were nothing changed after the main event.
What is the end game? I am still waiting for the WWE to tell me.
AJ and the Total Divas:
When AJ Lee came out to unleash her “pipe bomb” on the stars of Total Divas, I was intrigued. It was a WWE Diva standing up for all the female wrestlers who worked hard to get where they were versus the stars of a reality show. It seemed to set the stage for AJ to be a good guy against the “evil” reality stars.
But a funny thing happened. This supposedly made the all the Total Divas good guys. Sure the Bellas had bullied their female colleagues for years but one truthful promo by AJ and it instantly turned them good. Judging by fan reactions, they didn’t get that memo. After all, what are the good guys exactly “fighting” for? Is it the right to become popular, not through hard work and dedication, but by gaining popularity through getting drunk in Vegas on a bachelorette party? It logically made little sense.
But the stagnation of storyline has made it worse. AJ has defeated nearly every Total Divas star in the span of less then two months. What was the point? Is it letting the bad guy win? Proving AJ’s main argument that she is better then reality stars? It is a confusing storyline with very little advancement in storyline progression so far.
So I missed Battleground 2013 and spent the time grading more student papers. It seems like this was a good choice. Two straight shows of nothing changing since Summerslam. I am no opposed to a slow build. I simply want to avoid countless re-matches and no progression occurring because of them.
Ironically with all these poor storylines occurring, we did have one that was moving forward. The strong feud that is The Rhodes Family versus The Corporation. Each week brought a new twist. Each week brought a new member of the Rhodes family into the mix. This last pay-per-view had high stakes with the Rhodes Brothers fighting for their jobs. Listen to the crowd involvement from this Sunday during this match. The crowd cared. Amazing what happens when things actually progress each week and dramatic twists are brought into the fold. It can be done WWE, I believe in you!
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, I added a Twitter account, @WWELasher as well. I would love to hear your thoughts. Am I being too harsh on the current storylines?