Connect with us


WWE: Get Out of The Way




image via WWE

It’s been a very bizarre week to be a fan of WWE. Between CM Punk airing his dirty laundry on Colt Cabana’s podcast The Art of Wrestling, a particularly slow episode of RAW, and a live airing of The Steve Austin Show podcast on the WWE Network, I don’t even know where to begin. Well, that’s not entirely true.

Regardless of the personal issues discussed on the podcast involving people like Punk, JR, or even the continuing exclusion of Macho Man Randy Savage from the Hall of Fame, the biggest problem presented to us, the fan base, was RAW. That’s because RAW is how we contribute to the WWE product. We watch the show and respond, whether it’s by purchasing a ticket and bringing a sign to the show, or buying a t-shirt for the superstar we saw do something cool last week, or even live-tweeting and posting to message boards while the show airs on TV. We as an audience can’t respond until we’ve been given something to respond to, and the December 1 2014 episode of RAW gave us some serious fodder to work with.

I could sit here and nit-pick each segment of RAW, but there are plenty of places to go for that sort of analysis. And besides, who has that kind of time? There was so much wrong with the show that this article would go on for pages and pages if I tried to scrutinize every match and promo. As far as I’m concerned, there are three big problems with the show that need to be addressed before anyone should even consider who is being pushed, who isn’t working well, who might be injured, who needs mic work, etc. Without addressing these three issues, nothing else matters.

Focus: Currently, the TV product (RAW, SmackDown, Main Event) is completely unfocused. Every week I ask myself, “did they JUST write this before going live?” It always appears as though something happened moments before the show went to air and they had to change everything around. If you look at the TV product as a whole, how quickly story lines seem to shift with no real resolution, how characters “turn” without any reasoning, how recognizable characters go away periodically only to return repackaged and fall flat from lack of definition, it is clear that creative is grasping at straws. On The Steve Austin Show podcast, Austin discussed with Vince McMahon why it appears there are exponentially more writers backstage now than there were during the Attitude Era. McMahon goes on to explain that it now takes a larger staff to run the product, to keep up with the times. Has he ever heard the phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth”? Perhaps just picking one over-arching concept to unite the entire roster under and then spinning smaller plot points off of that would help to eliminate the frenetic and unfocused feel of the product. For example: the current story of The Authority being out of power has been a great way to create tension and feuds between nine or ten superstars. Why then, only two weeks after the PPV that set that story into motion, has the lack of The Authority not played a bigger part in what’s happening with the Tag Team Championships (which, regardless of my love for Mizdow, is nothing) or the Diva’s Division? Trying to find individual feuds for everyone is a sure-fire way to burn your talent, your writers, and your audience out quickly.

“Unmotivated Millennials”: Another point that Steve Austin brought up on his podcast, as did CM Punk when he was speaking with Colt Cabana, is this idea that the wrestlers need to rise to the challenge of becoming the Next Big Thing. In response to Austin, Vince McMahon claimed that the Millennial generation of wrestlers are unmotivated, which is just dismissive. Now, as a fan, and not someone who is privy to the conversations inside a WWE locker room, I am certainly not going to claim that he’s entirely wrong. I’m sure there are people who currently work for WWE who would prefer not to bust their butt every night at house shows, who would much rather sit backstage and collect their weekly paychecks without setting foot in a ring. But here’s a thought: fire them. Why on Earth is a top-tier company like WWE giving lazy, apathetic wrestlers the time of day? You’ve got an entire roster of hungry talent down at NXT, more than a few of whom are ready for bigger and better things. Why not cut your losses and invest in individuals who are prepared to leave it all on the mat? This one seems like common sense to me. And when you have incredibly talented individuals like Cesaro, who aren’t “connecting with the WWE Universe”, maybe what needs to be done is some inward reflection. Perhaps the real error with Cesaro was not in his inability to connect with the audience, but rather creative’s inability to give him a definitive character. He was a Real American who turned. Great, fantastic. What was he then? A Paul Heyman guy. Ok. But Paul Heyman didn’t seem to really do much for Cesaro except use his air-time to talk about Brock Lesnar. Why didn’t Cesaro then dump Heyman and swing him (which, by the way, the Internet Wrestling Community was BEGGING for) into the stratosphere? There’s no need to make these things difficult when the answer is staring you in the face. You can’t blame the wrestlers that you’re burying for not elevating themselves. That’s not how it works, which brings me to my next point.

Give Them What They Want: This is the biggest one. When it comes to the relationship between WWE creative and the audience, the relationship has become vicious and more than a little vindictive. It has become almost an unspoken rule within WWE that they take a concept that the fan base seems to be hungry for, at an almost fever pitch, and deliver on it. Then, they ride the idea right off the rails and claim it didn’t work. “Look, we tried your idea and see what happened? It was bad.” No, that’s not it at all. You don’t get to screw up what we asked for and blame us for the fallout. This concept has become such an intrinsic part of WWE that it has actually become the main story line for the TV product. On the most recent episode of RAW, Seth Rollins came out on TV and essentially said to John Cena that Team Cena had won at Survivor Series, taking The Authority out of power which everyone wanted, and now the show has devolved into complete chaos so bring them back since this little experiment clearly didn’t work. Kayfabe: the creative team wrote the show. They are responsible for things going well or not. WWE spent months hyping up the team of Goldust and Stardust. Cody Rhodes has never been more entertaining than when he put that face paint on. The promos they were cutting were (pardon the pun) pure gold. And after weeks of hunting the “Cosmic Khee”, they become Tag Team Champions who become jerk heels who are forgotten beneath the din of “We Want Mizdow” chants. If creative wants to know what happened to the love for the Dust Brothers, it’s because we loved them, and we wanted to love them. There was no need for them to turn heel, they were fine where they were. Creative changed them for no fathomable reason and here we are, another team bites the Dust. The fans also saw a team building between Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, and Big E. Twitter was abuzz with the possibility of a New Nation of Domination. Instead, they debut as what appear to be three upbeat baptist preachers who manage a win over the Job Squad in their Smackdown debut and then end up losing halfway through Tag Team Turmoil on the following RAW. How long do we think it’ll be before we start hearing Vince tell us “well, you wanted this faction but now you don’t care about them? I just don’t understand.” We never asked for this, of course we don’t care!

There’s really no one else to look to in hopes of fixing these issues besides Vince McMahon. However, after hearing him talk with Steve Austin, I don’t have a lot of faith that he’s interested in fixing much of anything. I’m not sure if Vince is entirely full of crap, completely delusional, or he’s just been spewing the same nonsense for so long he’s actually tricked himself into believing it’s true, but the problems that exist inside of the WWE are his responsibility to solve. He spent a great deal of time on the podcast repeating the phrases “we listen to the WWE Universe” and “I’m not out of touch”. Who is he trying to convince here, really? Not us, the fans. We know the truth. Maybe his investors? Maybe the future superstars who haven’t transitioned over from indie organizations to NXT yet? Maybe himself? He also said a few times that he doesn’t listen to “critics”. Who is that a reference to? There is not accepted group of critics in wrestling as there are in say, literature or films. The New York Times is not publishing articles on good wrestling promotions vs. bad ones. What he means is that he doesn’t listen to people who are critical of the product. He means the IWC. He means people with new ideas, people with ambition and foresight. You know, the Millennials with motivation that supposedly don’t exist within the walls of the WWE.

Steve Austin was trying to make his way to a point about the Attitude Era vs. the Reality Era (which we should really stop calling it, ok?) He said that, in the Attitude Era, everyone was forced to step their game up because they were at war. There was a very real chance they could lose to WCW, particularly in the beginning. That kind of desperation makes people do wild things, and some of them turned out to be amazing. There’s no desperation now, because WWE is basically the only show in town. They know that everyone’s still going to watch on Monday night, and if they don’t they’ll eventually come back because every once in a while something “important” will happen like the end of the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania or the first ever appearance of Sting inside a WWE ring. Impact isn’t giving us anything new and they’re clearly struggling. Lucha Underground is new and innovative, but they’re not big enough geographically to really compete yet. And for everyone who refers to NXT as “the future”, just remember where those kids are going when they get called up.

Do I think WWE is beyond saving? No. Nothing is beyond saving. But on the road of life, you’re either on the way or you’re in the way and I think we all know exactly which one Vince and the WWE creative team are right now.

The Lady J is bringing her personal brand of internet sass via the US capitol, where she lives with her golden doodle roommate Gizmo and cannot find a good bagel to save her life. While it may not seem very lady-like, she is actually cutting a promo on you right now.

1 Comment

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.