TJR: 5 Things That WWE Is Doing Wrong (Lawsuits, Divas & More)
I wrote on Thursday about five things that WWE is doing right these days. I wrote how I'm a positive wrestling fan that looks at the good things in the business that I enjoy. It's not all good, though. I received enough feedback from readers asking me to also write about the things that WWE is doing wrong.
As mentioned, I'm not a hater. However, like anything in life that you're a fan of you may not be happy with every little thing. I'm a fan of pro sports teams that make bad draft picks, trades and free agent signings. When I watch a TV show sometimes I wonder why they tell a story a certain way when something else would have made more sense.
If you're a fan of something it's okay to criticize. That doesn't mean you're a hater. It just means there are some things you would like to see altered in some way.
These are mostly things that I would credit/blame on management and the creative team rather than any performer. You're usually only as good as the position you're put in.
Here are my five things that WWE is doing wrong.
5. Lack of a Heel Color Commentator
Bobby Heenan and Jesse Ventura in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Jerry Lawler throughout the 90s and into the early 2000s. Paul Heyman in 2001. Those were heel color commentators.
In today's WWE the heel announcer has been the play by play guy Michael Cole for the past few years. Why? I don't think it's very productive. If a fan is on the fence about ordering a WWE PPV why would they listen to the jerk play by play guy telling them to put down their $50 for a big event?
When Jim Ross tried to sell a PPV to people he did a great job of it. Part of it is because he was the best ever at his job. The other part is that he was a babyface who the fans listened to.
If Lawler is going to stay a face then either have Jim Ross return as the play by play guy on Raw (would be the best choice, but unlikely to happen) while Cole is a heel or use somebody like William Regal to be a heel announcer.
Wrestling fans are used to seeing good vs. bad in the ring. So why don't we have "bad" analyzing matches anymore?
I grew up with jerks at the announce table. Bring them back.
(On a personal note, I met Heenan for the first time at WrestleReunion in Miami this year. He does not look the same as he did years ago due to cancer. I was glad I was able to talk to him and his wife to thank him for entertaining me so much in my years growing up as a wrestling fan. God bless you, Brain.)
4. Secondary Titles Don't Mean Enough
By "secondary titles" I specifically mean the Intercontinental Title held by The Miz and the United States Title held by Antonio Cesaro.
This is an ongoing thing for me. My point of contention has always been that these secondary titles should be at the level to where they are the third and fourth best match on a PPV broadcast. When was the last time that happened? Maybe in the early 90s. It's certainly been a while.
I think the IC Title mattered quite a bit when Cody Rhodes had it last year and into this year. He dropped it to Christian, who was a transitional champion before dropping it to The Miz.
Since Miz has had the IC Title his main feud has been with Rey Mysterio. They had a PPV match at SummerSlam that Miz won clean. They might have a rematch at Night of Champions where Miz will likely win clean. That's it? How can you not find a midcard opponent for Miz to feud with over this title that is supposed to be prestigious?
The US Title held by Cesaro is at its lowest value perhaps ever. A long Santino run will do that to it. I have nothing against Santino. I think he's a good performer that should be on TV regularly, but he did not need that title nor did he do anything to raise its status. Cesaro needs a real feud and he needs it soon.
For both titles to mean more, the creative team has to invest more time in it. Cesaro needs to do more than say "champion" in five languages. Miz needs more than his catchphrases.
The IC & US Champions need feuds with wrestlers that want to hold those titles. They need to put over the history of the championships in their promos. They need to talk about how it could springboard them to stardom.
There's no trick to it. It's just a simple trick. (That's a Simpsons reference, people.)
3. Divas Have Little Character Depth
I was watching a match on WWE Superstars from this past week where Divas Champion Layla was taking on my favorite diva Natalya. They had a solid match for four minutes that Layla won after a kick to the head.
What stood out to me was that Layla didn't show much in terms of personality until she started dancing randomly in the middle of the match. Why did she do that? I don't know. It got her a nice reaction, though.
"Hey look at her! She can dance. Let's cheer. Yay!" Simple enough right? Layla needs more than that. She was better as a heel as part of Laycool. Part of the reason is because they got a lot of TV time. Without that TV time I doubt they would have been as hated as they became.
Currently, WWE is pushing Kaitlyn whether they want to or not. The question is do we know anything about Kaitlyn? Not really. I know a bit because I am a NXT viewer that saw the creative team try to put over how quirky she is, but it's not like she's had any character development on Raw on Smackdown.
If you follow her on Twitter @KaitlynWWE you can see she's got a great sense of humor. Any woman that references The Simpsons as much as her is a winner in my book. But shouldn't she get a chance to show that on television?
Raw is three hours long. Smackdown is two hours. You have five hours every week of first run television where you can give these women time to develop as characters. Instead, they are left to flounder in the ring while a crowd chants "boring" because they are not invested in a match between characters that the fans know nothing about.
It's not the fault of the performers. This is on the creative team.
2. General Manager Conflict Storylines
Within the last year, the common theme in WWE has been "this person running the show can't do their job well."
When Triple H was the Chief Operating Officer and on screen GM last summer that angle ended within a few months because the locker room walked out on him due to "unsafe working conditions."
They replaced him with John Laurinaitis, at least on Raw for a little while. He got into a feud with Smackdown GM Teddy Long, who was in the position off and on for most of the last decade.
At WrestleMania each guy had a team of wrestlers to determine who got to run both shows. Laurinaitis won. I assumed that it would mean a long run for him in charge of both shows. It lasted less than three months. All that build for a three month run as the guy in charge? Lame.
On Raw, new GM AJ Lee has become boring rather quickly. Before she was the GM she was one of the most interesting characters on the show. Now she continues to be booked like a crazy woman that's in way over her head. We've already got Vickie Guerrero feuding with her because she doesn't think AJ is qualified to be GM.
On Smackdown, Booker's authority is constantly questioned by Alberto Del Rio and it sure seems like this will all lead to him getting fired or the dreaded "job evaluation" that leads to a lot of boredom.
To WWE I ask this: Do you think fans really care who runs the shows? I don't think they do.
Hopefully AJ and Booker are quickly replaced, then somebody like Ric Flair can be brought in to run both shows and they can avoid the whole "GM sucks at their job" story. It's done far too often.
1. "I'm Going to Sue You!"
I HATE (in capital letters, no less) it whenever anybody in wrestling threatens to sue somebody else because of something they did.
Remember when Paul Heyman was going to sue Triple H for putting his hands on him? It disappeared because Brock Lesnar agreed to fight Triple H at Summerslam. Really? That's it. If you're going to drop an angle so quickly then why do it in the first place? To fill time?
There are better ways to fill time. In-ring matches would be welcome. Promos to develop the hardly used characters would be a good use of time as well. I don't care if some rich guy is going to sue another rich guy. I don't even care if a poor guy sues a rich guy.
While it's not the exact same thing, remember when John Laurinaitis "fined" Sheamus the ridiculous amount of $500,000? Why should we, as fans, care about that? We are never told how much money Sheamus the character makes. Maybe Sheamus the character makes $30 million in a year, so what's $500,000 to him? I'm not saying that's what he makes. I'm just saying that without any set parameters then throwing around a number means absolutely nothing.
Last week on Raw, Ricardo Rodriguez took a Brogue Kick from Sheamus and now David Otunga is representing Rodriguez in a pending lawsuit against Sheamus. Really? That's supposed to make it look like things are tough against Sheamus?
If a wrestler's manager/ring announcer gets kicked in the face then the other wrestler (Alberto Del Rio) should use it as motivation to kick the other guy's (Sheamus) ass. As a heel though, Del Rio would get cheered if they just did that so they bring in the "lawsuit" story. Those never work.
Then there is Smackdown announcer Josh Mathews wanting to sue Kane for attacking him multiple times in the past few weeks. Sure I feel bad for Mathews, but isn't Kane a babyface that we're supposed to like? This angle hurts my brain.
It's pretty simple. Legal papers don't sell matches. Matches do. Promos do.
Wrestling is an easy business to tell stories in. The "K-I-S-S" theory applies here.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org
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