Every Wrestlemania is the biggest professional wrestling event of any given year, but the biggest doesn’t always mean the best. With the past few Wrestlemania shows not living up to fan expectations and faith in the product dipping heavily, WWE needed Wrestlemania 35 to be a big win and it was. It was massively well received with Kofi Kingston capturing the WWE Championship and Becky Lynch’s Raw and Smackdown Women’s Titles win in the first-ever women’s main event in Wrestlemania history standing out as highlights. Interest was back up and WWE fans were on the edge of their seats to see what new and exciting directions they were going to get to see…
and then WWE went and screwed it all up.
Things were bad right away: the Raw and Smackdown after Wrestlemania were total fluff and served as little more than masturbatory victory laps for Wrestlemania 35’s success. Fans wanted some meat to digest but only got cotton candy instead. Still, enthusiasm was high as the Superstar Shake-Up was next week and people were sure that this was where things would pick back up. They would be sorely disappointed.
To call the Superstar Shake-Up a total cock-up is perhaps still being too nice about it. For numerous reasons which would take too long to go over here but all of which WWE should have taken into account beforehand, Superstars were moved over to one brand only to be sent back next week. This meant that even more Superstars needed to be bounced around as WWE tried to balance out the rosters. What was supposed to be a two-day event stretched on for weeks. This entirely avoidable mess stopped WWE from moving forward with almost any storylines save a handful which were already ongoing. Fans prayed to the wrestling gods for the Shake-Up to end so they could get back to some content they wanted to watch. WWE was taking too long to get back into gear and the ratings dropped.
Just when it appeared that some sense of order had been restored WWE swept in with the “Wildcard Rule” which allowed for a few solo wrestlers or teams from the “rival” brand to appear on Raw or Smackdown on any given week. Coming off the back of the inconsistent Superstar Shake-Up it isn’t hard to deduce that this change was met largely with negativity. It makes the brand split and the Shake-Up all the more irrelevant. Fans are wondering why WWE just didn’t simply end the brand split if this was their only idea on how to fix things. Many have speculated that this new rule is being implemented to try and appease the USA Network and Fox (which Smackdown will move to in the fall) who both want the few big names WWE has to appear on their network. Unfortunately, this convoluted patchwork gimmick of the “Wildcard Rule” isn’t going to fix the real problem. WWE doesn’t have enough big names across both Raw and Smackdown.
Due to all these problems, excitement for the upcoming Money in the Bank event is currently lukewarm at best despite the fact the card features two Money in the Bank ladder matches (one for both the male and female Superstars respectfully), a Universal Championship dream match between Seth Rollins and AJ Styles, and Becky Lynch (seen above) as she pulls double-duty defending her Raw title against Lacy Evans and the Smackdown title against Charlotte Flair. With AEW’s hugely anticipated Double Or Nothing event later that same week it isn’t impossible to fathom wrestling fans skipping Money in the Bank and investing their time and money with AEW instead.
So what can WWE do to course correct? Firstly, Money in the Bank needs to overdeliver across the board. The contract ladder matches alone put a multitude of storylines in motion for the rest of the year and WWE can ill afford to punt here and hope they are in a better spot with the next PPV. After that, they need to either scrap the brand split (which I do not advocate) or work to build up more wrestlers and give them proper pushes. WWE’s lack of big-name recognizable stars has nothing to do with any deficiency of talent in their roster. The size and depth of WWE’s roster is the envy of every other promotion on the planet and so much could be done if they were given proper TV time and fresh angles to play with. This means throwing out the tired old playbook of story ideas they have been using since the late 90’s and toning down the endless buzz words and corporate speak the Superstars and commentary team have to drivel out week after week.
While we’re at it, please stop punishing wrestlers that are looking to leave by booking them in angles that make them look like chumps like The Revival. Even worse, please stop forcing talent you have no intention of using, like Luke Harper, to finish out their contracts when respectfully asking for their release. Fans are savvier than ever and see these cheap and petty tactics for what they are. It hurts WWE’s reputation way more then it damages the careers of these wrestlers. Finally, WWE needs to stop with “independent contractors” nonsense and make the Superstars they claim to love so much proper employees with healthcare and benefits.
Pro wrestling fans like myself and others are only this angry at WWE because we are passionate and are tired of seeing all that WWE could be buried under micromanagement and the same old story tropes on repeat. The wrestling landscape is so vast these days with multiple ways to view any show you want that even if no one promotion could ever truly rival WWE again there is more than enough good wrestling to satisfy any fans need. We want to care, WWE, it is up to you to stop us from changing the channel.
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