What a Difference Ten Weeks Makes - WWE Squandering Their Goodwill
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 06.16.2014
After engendering a ton of goodwill following WrestleMania 30, WWE has fallen on hard times! 411's Wyatt Beougher looks at how the landscape of the WWE has changed since WrestleMania and how all that goodwill has been squandered!
Introduction:Last time out, I talked about how the current iteration of WWE's developmental program is not only the best incarnation of it to date, it's also the thing that WWE does best right now. If you've been around since my first wrestling column, you'll remember that I was optimistic about the direction that the WWE appeared to be heading in after Wrestlemania and the post-Wrestlemania RAW. Now, two months later, a lot of that optimism has dissipated, and here are some of the reasons why.
It feels like only yesterday/My troubles were so far away
Let's go back in time two and a half months, shall we? In a twenty-four hour span, we saw what appeared to be a youth movement for the WWE, culminating with Daniel Bryan decisively beating the non-retired members of Evolution over the course of one show and becoming the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Even the most jaded wrestling fans seemed happy with the direction the WWE appeared to be taking. In just ten short weeks, though, the WWE has managed to squander most of that goodwill through a combination of unlucky injuries and the same old bad booking decisions that they've relied on since buying WCW and ending any real competition.
Sure, there have been some bright spots (the Intercontinental Championship tournament and its eventual winner, the Shield thoroughly trouncing Evolution, LANA~!), but by and large, the WWE has fallen back into the same rut that they've been in for seemingly a decade now. The elephant in the room is obviously Daniel Bryan's injury and how terrible his title reign came across as a result. Rather than go into too much detail about that, I'll just refer you to Jeremy Lambert's recent column about the subject, as he's captured my thoughts on the whole thing pretty well. One thing Jeremy didn't touch on is the personal aspect of it all - not only did Daniel Bryan achieve the pinnacle (thus far) of his wrestling career, but Bryan Danielson also married his model fiancee a week later. Almost immediately after returning from his honeymoon, Danielson's father passed away suddenly, and just two weeks later, he sustained a serious neck injury that could potentially impact not just his wrestling career, but also his life. What should've been the best month of Bryan Danielson's life will likely end up being better remembered for what he lost. I'm still hoping for a full and speedy recovery for Bryan and that he is able to pick up where he left off when he returns (though hopefully not with Kane, as that feud isn't doing anyone any favors).
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOPPPPPPPPPPEEEEEEEEE. /Lana (not the WWE Russian one)
And as much as the Daniel Bryan situation has bummed me out, if you've followed this column at all over the past two months, you'll know that my biggest issue with the WWE right now is that they're continuing to make John Cena the be-all, end-all for everything that's going on in the promotion. Cena went over Bray Wyatt decisively in their feud, making Wyatt look like little more than an afterthought (even in the match that Wyatt technically won) instead of one of the most promising young talents on the roster. Now Cena's been interjected into the story of the other group of super-talented young WWE Superstars, and there is little doubt in my mind that he will be the man who comes out of Money in the Bank holding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Sure, Cesaro and Bray Wyatt are in the MITB match for the championship, but at this point, the only guy currently announced for the match with less of a chance of winning it than these two is Alberto Del Rio. And while Cena hasn't been officially entered into the match yet, we're still more than two weeks away from the show as I write this, so I would almost guarantee that he will fill one of the two remaining openings in the match. It's classic "WWE Panic Mode Booking" - ratings drop? Give Cena the belt. Champion gets hurt and has to give up the title? Give Cena the belt.
And really, that's just the tip of the iceberg, as WWE has gone back to the well of uninspiration that I laid out in another previous column. Sheamus won the United States title and teased a heel turn, but instead reverted back into his sucker-kicking face persona. Wade Barrett rode a wave of phenomenal momentum from his re-debut straight to the Intercontinental title...only to pick up where he left off before he lost the IC strap the last time - losing non-title matches weekly and then winning on PPV. It feels like he has lost to Sheamus a dozen times in the past three weeks or so, and a lot of that momentum is rapidly dying. You'd think the WWE would want to make the holder of the midcard belt that they created seem more important, but when the US champion is Albino John Cena, you'd be mistaken. Oh, and did I mention that the only Diva who is consistently receiving television time on both RAW and Smackdown is basically acting out the "Bitches Be Crazy" axiom (although you'll never hear that on WWEPG TV...unless it comes out of a beloved face character's mouth)?
If you're not on board with Simon Gotch, I don't think we can be friends
Oh, and the icing on the cake is that Vince McMahon is now unsure about his three most recent NXT call-ups - Paige, Bo Dallas, and Adam Rose. While I agree with him on Rose (who is a fun entrance and a wacky supporting cast and little else), the fact that Vince is waffling on Bo and HIS DIVAS CHAMPION is proof both that he's an out-of-touch old man and also that I want to take a rocket ship out of the WWE Universe and dwell exclusively in the NXT Universe, where there are incredibly fun six-woman tag team matches (where all six women have their own personalities independent of men), a wrestling Zoolander, and AN OLD-TIMEY STRONGMAN! NXT is like the Narnia of professional wrestling, and if I didn't have over three decades invested in the regular, boring version, I'd never come back out of the wardrobe.
But that's the kicker - I have been a wrestling fan for over thirty years, and I do want to see the WWE do well, and a big part of that is ending the stagnation that they've been in without any real competition. Ten weeks ago, I thought they were looking to do just that, but now, not even one "big" pay-per-view later, I'm not so sure. For two months, I'd love it if the WWE would allow whoever books NXT to have full creative control over RAW, just to see how the ratings would bear out. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen, and if NXT is Narnia, then the main roster WWE is Groundhog Day - they just keep doing the same thing, over and over and over again, and it keeps getting them nowhere.
Plus, after Money in the Bank, I'm predicting we'll have six more weeks of Cena.
Wyatt Beougher is a lifelong fan of professional wrestling who has been writing for 411 for over three years and currently hosts MMA Fact or Fiction and reviews Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.