June 7th, 2018
One year ago, WWE had really taken a dip in quality and a knight in shining armor arrived on the scene: me. I had identified the four main problems: predictability, lack of talent, commentary, and Roman Reigns. Are these fixed? Are they worse? How are they doing, just in general?
Roman Reigns was supposed to win at Wrestlemania. Asuka was supposed to continue her undefeated streak. Shinsuke Nakamura was supposed to jump over that last hurdle and win the WWE Championship. Wrestlemania 34 could have been amazing, yet the booking was unpredictable in a bad way. Wrestlemania 34 was, without a doubt, one of the worst pay-per-view events in a long, long time; worse than Wrestlemania 32. Charlotte Flair beating Asuka via submission made Asuka, the woman who won the FIRST women’s Royal Rumble and had not lost a singles match in her time with NXT and on the main roster, looked weak. You aren’t supposed to make tough guys/girls look weak; it ruins their character’s credibility. In addition to this disaster, Braun Strowman and a LITERAL TEN YEAR OLD CHILD won the Raw Tag Team Championships over Sheamus and Cesaro, yet the child had to vacate the title because he had school. That RUINS THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE MATCH AND MAKES THE LOSING TEAM LOOK JUST AS STUPID. It’s incredibly upsetting that the best match of the night was the mixed tag team match with practically no story behind it. Backlash got plagued by terrible writing as well, with Styles and Nakamura’s third PPV match ending in a no contest, and other terrible performances that made the crowd leave the arena before the main event finished. They even buried Rusev, who got incredibly over with his “Rusev Day” gimmick and had gained a huge following as a result. It made me yell out “why?” and almost had me crying from disappointment. I feel as if it’s not about predictability anymore; the out-of-touch Creative Team is the problem.
>Lack of big names
OH MY JESUS, DANIEL BRYAN IS BACK OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD!!!! Ahem, sorry for that. They’ve started bringing in the big guns, getting Triple H to wrestle more, signing Ronda Rousey, getting Jonathan Coachman back on the mic, and even making the Undertaker wrestle twice in a month. Ronda Rousey, in her first WWE PPV match at Mania 34, produced the best match of the night; according to Dave Meltzer, the most accomplished wrestling journalist of all time, who gave her match 4.25 stars, the highest rated match on the card. The signing of Ronda Rousey got me re-invested in the RAW Women’s division, a division with less depth than the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unfortunately, this problem still exists. Cena has an increasingly important role in Hollywood, Triple H is decently busy with NXT, Brock Lesnar refuses to show up despite the fact he’s the champion, and Taker is already out of shape and time. Therefore, the product truly needs big names that are still in their prime. Daniel Bryan is a big name, but lord knows when he’s going to get injured again.
The two people I had asked to leave are gone, so that’s a good reason to party. JBL decided to stop so he could go work on his charity project in Bermuda and Otunga was taken off of the mic rather recently. I really love that they’re letting Corey Graves do color commentary for both shows; he’s the best color commentator they’ve had since attitude era Jerry “The King” Lawler. Byron Saxton is still around, yet he has a much smaller role now that Coachman is back. The only reason I still like Byron Saxton is so we can always get Corey Graves’ coveted “shut up, Saxton!” Michael Cole has become much more bearable and Tom Phillips is holding it down rather well on SmackDown Live. Overall, I feel like ever since JBL and Otunga left, the commentary has gotten better.
What even is he? Is he an anti-establishment face, like Stone Cold Steve Austin? Is he the new “legend killer”? Is he an unbeatable hero that preaches good morals? Is he an unstoppable force? Is he the ultimate underdog? Roman Reigns ends up mixing and matching these roles on what seems like a monthly basis. Let’s throw it back to Survivor Series 2015, where Reigns had won the title after months of midcard feuds that were hard to watch. His title reign only lasted 5 minutes and 15 seconds due to a Sheamus that was finally ready to cash in his Money In The Bank contract. Afterwards, he was booked as an anti-establishment, rebellious figure with some helpers in Dean Ambrose and the Usos. He proceeded to win the belt back on the Raw after TLC 2015 and got cheered in Philadelphia, the place that booed him out of the building just 11 months prior. He then turned into an underdog after being forced to defend his title in the Royal Rumble and was getting cheered… for being eliminated by Triple H, the supposed “bad guy”. Leading up to Wrestlemania 34, Reigns went back to his rebel persona and attacked Brock Lesnar for never defending the title. Heck, I admit that I started to think “hey, Roman Reigns isn’t that bad anymore.” Unfortunately for Reigns, he ended up losing one of the worst main events of Wrestlemania after practically being guaranteed to go over, then beat Samoa Joe at Backlash to an emptying Prudential Center. WWE has seemingly screwed him over more than anyone else on the roster, and I’m starting to feel bad for him. He has seen drastic improvements in performance over the past year, having three 4+ star ratings from Dave Meltzer (including the Royal Rumble) since my first criticism of the WWE came out. If the WWE keeps Reigns as a Stone Cold-type, beer-drinking, rebellious, anti-establishment figure or if they maybe turn him heel, then Reigns can finally blossom and potentially become one of the greatest performers in the business. In all, Reigns has blossomed recently and is being screwed over by terrible booking.
Ever since the predecessor to this piece came out, WWE got rid of the commentators I “especially” wanted out. Unfortunately, my point about Reigns being the main problem has aged the worst, it seems, and I feel as if the main problem is one that now has an incredibly large effect on Raw: part-timers. They’ve been ruining this era of WWE, and Brock Lesnar is the most infamous of the bunch. This has been a largely recurring thing in the company, but unlike Chris Jericho, who goes on tour with his band, Fozzy, from time to time, Lesnar has no reason to leave for months at a time. Ever since Wrestlemania 33, he’s defended the Universal Championship on PPV only six times, and the biggest gaps were between No Mercy 2017 and the Royal Rumble (126 days) Wrestlemania 33 and the Great Balls of Fire PPV (98 days). He also can’t wrestle a match that’s longer than ten minutes. Part timers have turned the Universal Championship, RAW’s top belt, into a joke with the lack of title swaps in its 2-year existence. Including vacancies, there have only been five title changes, and the two most recent champions (Goldberg and Lesnar) are both part timers. Therefore, my main problem has shifted from Roman Reigns to part-timers. Believe THAT.