Hello Wrestling Fans! Welcome to my little corner of the universe. I am the hostest with the mostest, the king of all kings, the one man band, the…the…..
Sorry, got a little carried away there. But I finally get to talk about one of the things I love most on this earth: professional wrestling!
Today we are going to discuss the state of affairs in the biggest promotion of them all, World Wrestling Entertainment. From the current rosters to the storylines, get ready to explores the best and worst things about the WWE.
The State of the Rosters
Some of you who may not have been following the E for a while may be shocked/relieved/upset that they have recently reintroduced the Brand Split. Back in 2002-2003 then they first introduced the split, everyone was excited about what splitting the rosters and letting some of the lesser used talent really show what they could do. Like normal there were some great (Shelton Benjamin, Eddie Guerrero, Christian), some not so great (Chavo Guerrero, Mark Henry, Mark Jindrak) and some that were really bad (The Dicks, Rico, Chuck Palumbo) uses of talent during the time of the original split. Eventually, it got to the point about 5 years ago that they basically abandoned the idea and make everyone share the same roster. At that point, we eventually got the same issue that led to the current split. Too many superstars, to many titles, too many stories, to be showcase on tv without some kind of compromise. So now, we have new brand split. So far its been pretty good, with some hiccups, but not bad.
On RAW, you have the show headlined by “The Man” Seth Rollins and new main roster call-up “The Demon” Finn Balor, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Cesaro, Sami Zayn, and Kevin Owens. The Tag Team division consists of The New Day, The Club (Gallows and Anderson), Enzo & Cass, and….that’s about it. The real meat of the Tag Division is on Smackdown with call-ups American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable), The Vaudvillians (Aiden English & Simon Gotch), the Hype Bros (Zack Ryder), the Usos, and Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango). RAW is also the exclusive home of the Cruiserweight Divison, which will most likely consist of call-ups from NXT and the Cruiserweight Classic bracket, but has yet to debut. The WWE Women’s championship is also on RAW, and while you have Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks, you don’t have much else besides Dana Brooke and Emma (who is injured) and Summer Rae and Paige (whose grown stagnant). The other half of the Women’s Division is on Smackdown with Becky Lynch and Natalya, and other potential stars in Naomi and Carmella. Then you also have Eva Marie, but I won’t get into that now.
Now onto the Championships. The WWE World Championship (formally the WWE World Heavyweight Championship) and the Intercontinental Championship are on Smackdown, two of the WWE’s most prestigous titles. RAW has the WWE Womens Championship and the World Tag Team Championship and the United States Championship. We also learned that The E is creating a new ‘world’ championship for RAW to combat the main title being on Smackdown: the WWE “Universal” Championship. I’m not trying to be mean, but this sounds stupid. Not the idea of having a second world title, that makes sense. The name of it sounds stupid. But if they can have Seth or Finn treat the title and make it a big deal, then I won’t really care. There is also talk of Smackdown getting their own Womens and Tag titles. The only problem I see is that you run into the “too many belts” problem. Too many titles, too many contenders, and then you have too many storylines trying to go on at once. The key to this brand split is finding balance. Maybe let the tag titles and the womens title float shows, have cross promotional matches to decide contenders, etc. Leave the two world and two secondary titles as brand exclusive. That’s my two cents on that.
The State of the Storylines
The storylines concerning the WWE Superstars these days range from really good to really, really…not bad, but…boring? The current storyline with Seth Rollins and Finn Balor is great, if not slightly underwhelming, the Rusev/Reigns fued over the US Championship is surprisingly good, Dean Ambrose v. Dolph Ziggler is also surprisingly good. The rest of the mid and lower card feuds leave a lot to be desired unfortunately.
Rollins/Balor has been sensational because of the sudden, although very warranted, rise of Finn Balor from NXT. Other than the Shield (consisting of Reigns, Rollins, and Ambrose), no one has shot through to the spotlight like that of the man formerly know as Prince Devitt. The vingettes featuring Seth and Finn are short and sweet and get straight to the point.
Roman Reigns versus Rusev has been very aggressive, which is the way to go with these two massive behemoths. Yes you can let them talk, but it is way more entertaining to watch them beat the tar out of each other week in and week out.
Ziggler and Ambrose have had a nice steady build up that is just waiting to boil over, as we’ve seen Dolph get increasingly aggressive against the WWE World Champion, trying to show that while he’s been stagnant as a performer for the last few years, he is still one of the BEST talents on either roster, willing to do whatever the company wants to do, and it’s good to see him finally rewarded for all that work and struggle. They’ve also written Dean Ambrose incredibly well, making him feel more like an tweener (not heel/not face) champ than a straight babyface, and that fits Dean’s character perfectly. You don’t want him to be bad or cocky, but its so fun to watch.
The mid and lower card are areas that need a lot of improvement. The Tag Division is stagnant on both shows, although Smackdown is doing its damndest to lit it on fire with the acquisition of American Alpha to the blue brand. The Intercontinental title feud is boring and not really worth watching, even though The Miz has (and is) the best heel in the company outside of Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho on RAW. The E has failed to really give The Miz’s opponent, Apollo Crews, much character building since being called to the main roster this year. I’m hoping for more on that front as I am a huge fan of both competitiors and want more from them. The Women’s Championship story is perfectly serviceable on RAW with Sasha Banks and Charlotte, but Smackdown’s stories have been abysmal. I can’t get excited about Becky versus Natalya for the billionth time, nor am I a big fan of the rest of the Smackdown female competitors. There is a lot of potential with Becky Lynch, Carmella, and Alexa Bliss, but they need to captialize on it soon, before it gets too far gone.
The Brock Lesnar/Randy Orton storyline is…meh. I am a fan of Orton’s, and have been for a long time and its nice to see him smile and be almost his actual self in the ring and on the mic, instead of the boring 12-time champ he’s been in the last 3 or so years. I’m honestly over Brock Lesnar at this point, and I have been slowly lowering my expectations more and more. All it is anymore is german suplex, german suplex, german suplex, F-5. Say what you will about Cena’s Five Moves of Doom, but that stuff is a snoozefest. Plus it seems he’s only in it for a paycheck, and the fact that Vince McMahon pretty much lets him come and go as he please, even though he hasn’t really earned it, like someone of The Undertaker’s reputation. During his first run in WWE, he was amazing. He was a fast, agile big guy who could mat wrestle with the best of the best. He left once back in 04 when he felt he could do other stuff better, so why do you let him do whatever the hell he wants? For the drawing power? Not worth all the bulls*** we have to deal with from him. Especially when other competitors call him out on it and they are the ones to get heat about backstage. I’m done and over it, and have been for over a decade.
John Cena and AJ Styles have been gold since the rivalry started. I applaud for John for finally realizing that he has to be able to put over the other talent in the company and that he can’t do everything. He has to pass the torch eventually. And AJ’s work since he came to WWE has been amazing. His feud with Jericho was really good (don’t understand the Jericho win at ‘Mania though). His material with the Club and John Cena has been, no pun intended, phenomenal, and he has shown that he can hold his own on the mic with the best of them, which is something that others have criticized him for in the past. It shows they know how to write him good material, and he will do his best to deliver. The last two years have been a great year for Cena showing that he actually can wrestle, between his matches with Rollins and Styles. This feud is good, and if rumors are true, Styles will come out on top, which is probably the best call for it.
The State of Everything Else in the WWE
The WWE Network is growing strong. It is quickly becoming the main source of PPV income for the company, and I’m glad that’s the case. I would much rather pay $120 a year to not only watch pay-per-views live when they air, but to watch them on demand whenever I want to, as long as I want to. Plus the extensive video library of not only WWE, but WCW, ECW, AWA, and Smokey Mountain Wrestling is awe-inducing, and you can really spend all your time on the network watching archive footage and not realize how much time you’ve actually spent there. The network originals are pretty good. Camp WWE, Table for 3, and the Stone Cold Podcast are easily the best entries, with Road Trip and Swerved being completely servicable. The best things on the network are, hands down, NXT weekly programming and specials and the Cruiserweight Classic. NXT gives you that indie show feel with big budget production, and makes the superstars matter more than the sponsers and the tie-ins and that merchandise. It also allows us to get a glimpse of how great the future of the main roster can really be. The Cruiserweight Classic is by far the best hour of television on the Network. The matches are phenomenal, with both the in-ring showcases and the commentary by the best WWE has to offer, Daniel Bryan and Mauro Ranello. They really allow you get the emotion one should feel when watching some of the BEST wrestlers on the planet. Key highlights are Kota Ibushi versus Cedric Alexander (a match of the year candidate) and Tomasso Ciampa versus his best friend and tag team partner Johnny (Wrestling) Gargano. The first match for the spectacle and the second for the raw emotion.
Overall, the WWE has a good product coming out right now, with a an almost unlimited amount of upside. The Cruiserweight Classic is quickly stealing the show, with the stars of NXT not far behind, and people like Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Aj Styles and the former Shield mates looking to sneak and an really steal the show(s). To finish this article, I am looking for feedback. Below I will list my WWE Match of the Year candidates and I want your input on where they rank so far. In a year many calling the Year of Matches, there must be a winner. I will list a preliminary winner after feedback, and then we will update it after each of the Big 4 shows starting with Summerslam, then Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, and Wrestlemania. Leave your comments below, and tell me what you think! Until next time, Peace!
Match of the Year Candidates (WWE)
Kota Ibushi vs. Cedric Alexander – CWC Round 2
Tomasso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano – CWC Round 1
Intercontinental Championship Fatal 4-Way – Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro vs. The Miz (c) – Payback 2016
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens – Battleground 2016
Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – NXT Takeover: Dallas 2016
Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe – NXT Takeover: The End 2016
Womens Championship Triple Threat – Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte – Wrestlemania 32