What's Wrong With The WWE?
How the hell did we survive Survivors Series.
Last Sunday, I sat on a couch with some of my favorite people in the entire world and watched one of WWE's biggest "special events" of the year, Survivor Series.
Survivor Series has always held a special place in my heart.
Day 1 of CM Punk's 434 day title reign was at Survivor Series.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose debuted at Survivor Series.
Sting and Dolph Ziggler had huge moments at the event last year.
Hell, the Rock, Kurt Angle, the Undertaker, even the Gobbledy Gooker all debuted at Survivor Series.
Survivor Series, Money in the Bank, and Wrestlemania are my favorite pay per views.
So, while I'm still heartbroken about Rollins being injured, the card has potential...
No it doesn't.
Sure, the tournament is a fun angle... but everyone in the building knows who is gonna win.
The main event is going to be Roman Reigns, the company man, vs. Dean Ambrose, the fan favorite, and there's no way in hell that they let Roman lose clean.
Outside of that, they didn't have anything.
Two traditional survivor series matches that were thrown together at the last second just didn't make sense. In the first match, why was Neville the only babyface eliminated?
In a time where you are missing Tyson Kidd, Cesar, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, and John Cena... why bury a young babyface?
Nothing is riding on this match.
The Miz, The Cosmic Wasteland, and Bo Dallas... don't need the push.
There are no creative repercussions to this match with the exception of maybe reheating the "Dust" rivalry.
Why do an ancient Goldust, the Dudleys, and Titus O'Neil sans Darren Young get to stay in the match while the only young wrestler gets pinned?
Sure, it's the pre-show, but...
It just didn't get better.
Roman beats Del Rio in a painfully long and boring match.
Hey, didn't Del Rio beat John Cena clean?... Why is he now losing to everyone?
Ambrose beat Owens in what was easily, obviously the best match of the night... and not necessarily for a good reason. It was solid. It was okay. But again, we all knew Ambrose was going over, so there wasn't any suspense.
And then there was another tradition Survivor Series match.
The highlight of the entire show... as always... was the New Day.
Xavier Woods had amazing hair, Sheamus made an ass out of himself, and Wade Barrett danced. That was hilarious.
And then... they face off against the charisma-free babyface team?
Ryback, the Lucha Dragons, and the Usos... not a drop of charisma on the team, and then halfway through the match, 3/5 members of the team just leave?
No heel shenanigans, no coming back later, they just leave?
Charlotte and Paige... could've been so much better.
it really should have been so. much. better.
Instead, it was a botch-fest where the heel wasn't very heely and they just didn't have any chemistry.
I like to tell myself that they're just saving Charlotte vs. Sasha for Mania.
Breeze and Ziggler...
It was the same problem as Owens vs. Ambrose. Two talented performers in the ring... in a match that was insanely predictable. Everyone knew Breeze was going over, and then he didn't even win the match with his finisher.
As it the norm, the booking has been terrible to the kid from NXT and Breeze is dead in the water after a month.
The Brothers of Destruction vs. The Wyatt Family was pointless.
It was only there to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Taker's debut, and make Taker look strong enough for whoever he faces at his retirement match at Wrestlemania.
It was terribly booked, and instead of Braun, we got Harper... and they tried to act like we wouldn't notice.
If they don't care enough about the match to book it properly, why the hell should I?
And then Reigns vs. Ambrose.
How forgettable was this match?
Diesel vs. Michaels.
HHH vs. HBK.
Owen vs. Bret.
HELL, Ambrose vs. Rollins!
Two former tag team partners should put on a hellacious match!
But these two just couldn't put a good match together.
It was boring, and yet a-freakin-gain, we knew who was going over.
WWE can pretend all they want, that crowd booed the hell out of Roman.
They booed so hard, that they were almost excited when Sheamus cashed in.
I sat there after the pay per view, and I turned to my friends and I had a revelation.
Last year... the five versus five match was the main event...
Rollins, Cena, and Ziggler all had huge showings, Triple H busted out a couple moves, Sting debuted... and we couldn't wait for Raw the next day.
Rumor has it that the Raw after Survivor Series 2015... a pay per view that featured the return of Goldust, the Brothers of Destruction, and two WWE World Heavyweight Champions... drew a 2.16 rating.
For those who don't know... That's awful.
So... What went wrong?
Why does the product suck so bad?
Why can't it be like the Attitude Era?
Hell! Why can't it be like 2012?
Let me tell you why.
"Lack of Talent"
This is, by far, the dumbest argument you'll hear about the product today.
If anything, I'd say that the WWE has more actual in-ring talent than they've ever had before.
For every "big guy" that fills the 80's mold, there are half a dozen smaller guys who can wrestle their asses off on the roster.
Guys like Cesaro, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Neville, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, Jack Swagger, and Luke Harper are all extremely talented young guys.
And I mean... Those are only a few of the guys.
People bury John Cena for his five moves of doom, but nobody ever talks about the movesets that some of the old timers came out with.
Obviously, wrestling ability isn't everything, but don't ever assume that because they're not all dropping the people's elbow, brother, that they aren't as good as they were 15 years ago.
"PG Killed WWE"
This is probably the most common response when asking what's wrong with the modern product.
"The reason the attitude era was so great is because it was TV-14!"
"Stupid PG shit is why the show is so unbearable now."
I completely disagree.
What does TV-14 change? What does TV-14 have that PG doesn't?
Some sexual situations and bad language.
That's seriously it.
You could argue that blood makes a difference, but... ignoring the fact that people do still bleed, that doesn't make such a difference that the show goes from Awwwwwwesome to Unnnnnwatchable.
People act like the Attitude Era was perfect.
People act like it was the extreme stuff that made the 90's and early 00's so great.
"Well El Torito and wrestling bunnies wouldn't be seen on RAW back then!"
Are you forgetting that Al Snow has a mannequin head named... Head?
Remember when Head got destroyed, so he replaced it with a dog, that was killed, ground up into meat, and fed to him?
Remember when Mark Henry had sex with a dude?
REMEMBER WHEN MAE YOUNG GAVE BIRTH TO A HAND?
Do I even have to mention Katie Vick?
You know what, I'd take Justin Gabriel in a bunny suit over all of that.
Sure, getting some color in a match makes it feel more real, sure, getting some colorful language makes a promo more exciting, but... does that actually matter in the big picture?
CM Punk is one of the better mic men in WWE history, and he never wrestled for the WWE in the attitude era.
The Glass Ceiling.
Let's be honest.
The reason that the WWE used to be so great?
Had nothing to do with the rating.
Had nothing to do with the talent of each wrestler.
It was all about the booking.
Look at Wrestlemania 17.
Wrestlemania 17 featured Chris Jericho, William Regal, Kane, Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle, Chris..., Edge, Christian, The Hardy and Dudley Boyz, The Undertaker, Triple H, Stone Cold, and the Rock.
Look at that lineup.
At the time, most of those guys could have been in the main event.
Those are all Hall of Fame talents.
Now let's peek at Wrestlemania 31.
Who is a main event superstar?
Randy Orton, Triple H, John Cena, The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar are all holdouts from the Attitude Era.
This is the problem.
They fail to create new main event caliber superstars.
Once upon a time, the WWE had more established talent than they knew what to do with.
Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold, The Rock, Kurt Angle, Edge, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, and a myriad of other hall of famers were running around, and it was easy to book.
But... people started to leave.
The Rock became a movie star, SCSA broke his neck, Jericho burned out, and Shawn Michaels started losing his smile.
But they were prepared.
They were gifted one of the greatest rookie classes of all time.
Shelton Benjamin, Dave Batista, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, and yes, John Cena all came from the same OVW class.
Randy and Batista were paired with Triple H, and they became main event stars.
Brock Lesnar destroyed everyone before leaving for the UFC.
And Shelton Benjamin... Well... He was never really given the push he deserved.
But that other guy...
That other guy has had quite the run.
He had feuds against Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, and ya know what?
He was able to get over.
The older stars gave the young kid the rub, and before you knew it, he was the face of the company.
Some more time passed.
Randy's inability to stay out of trouble kept him from really becoming the star he could've been, and the other guys just left.
Brock went to UFC, Shelton went to Japan, and soon, Cena was alone on the top.
And the ratings began to plummet.
Here's the problem.
Somewhere along the road, the WWE forgot how to make main event stars.
They tried badly to create new stars.
Wade Barrett came in with the Nexus and was red hot.
Never became more than an IC Champion.
Alberto Del Rio won the Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank briefcase in the same year.
The fans never really got on board.
Recently, Roman Reigns became one of the biggest faces in the company, going undefeated for months at a time...
Which got him resented more than anything.
Guys like Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and Deam Ambrose got over organically...
But they were never part of the WWE's plans. They were never supposed to be "the guy" that the company got behind.
Know what these three men have in common?
Know why these three men rarely got to win?
For the same reason that Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler, and eventually the New Day don't get shots at the title.
They're already over.
The fans love them no matter what.
So they don't need to win.
That's why they never do.
Think about it, when was the last time any of those guys won a major match at a PPV.
Congrats Daniel Bryan, for being relegated to "IC Champion" after jobbing to Roman Reigns and spending five seconds in the Royal Rumble.
Congrats Cesaro, despite getting five star matches out of... basically everyone, the only wins you'll get are as a tag team champion. It doesn't matter that Mick Foley, Edge, or Ric Flair think you should be wrestling Brock at Mania, you don't get to win big matches.
"Because he doesn't connect with the fans", like the Cesaro section isn't a thing.
"He's not good on the mic", well suffering succotash son.
Congrats Bray Wyatt, the man who has to job to all of the part timers, only scoring a win over Ryback... who won the IC title at the next special event.
Damn, I think Survivor Series 2014 might've been his last big win.
Call him Mick Foley, because the last year of his career was spent putting over guys from the effing Attitude Era.
Know what else these men have in common?
They don't get to beat John Cena.
I'm not blaming Cena for this, but it's true.
The guy only loses clean when he wants a vacation or he's facing Brock Lesnar.
Money in the Bank 2011, the famous five star match with Punk?
Vince and John Snorinitus distracted him.
Summerslam 2011, the undisputed WWE Championship match?
Foot was on the rope.
Summerslam 2013, when Daniel Bryan had his Roman Reigns moment?
Gotta love Jon Stewart.
Other than that, Big Match John gets to beat everyone.
How are we supposed to take these guys seriously when they're obviously not on Cena's level, they lose to guys in their 40's and 50's who wrestle three times a year, and they get booked to lose all the damn time.
I get that not everyone gets to be a main event star, but you do have to have main event stars.
Who is a main eventer right now?
Congrats Rollins, you're so close because HHH sees all the HBK in you, but you're injured.
Orton? Gone. Cena? Gone. Brock? Gone. Bryan? Gone.
Who ya got?
Reigns? #Ratings216 says no.
Sheamus? #Ratings216 says no way, fella.
And that's about it.
Owens, Wyatt, and Ambrose should be, but judging by the fact that they never win at pay per views, they're not putting butts in seats.
Because you've showed them that they're not the real draws.
Brock Lesnar is a real draw.
The Rock is a real draw.
Hell, I've paid money to go see Jericho wrestle live.
But... each time you put these guys out there, they lose the shine a little, and by putting them over the younger guys, they never really get a chance to succeed.
Look at the Undertaker.
He's wrestled four times this year.
Against Bray? It was exciting, and you got the feeling it elevated Wyatt.
Against Brock? It was so unexpected that you loved it!
But... then against Brock again? It was stale.
Why is this grandfather wrestling?
Why is this monster struggling with an old man?
And then you have them come out and extinguish whatever heat the Wyatts had?...
Punk was the hottest heel in the WWE... before he lost to the Rock, the Rock again, John Cena, the Undertaker, and then Brock Lesnar.
Maybe people would look at Roman Reigns differently had he beaten a CM Punk that was relevant in late 2013.
If Seth Rollins had beaten Cena and Sting at Night of Champions, he would've been validated.
Instead, he gets whooped by Cena, and then rolls up Sting, proving that Cena, a midcarder, was still the real champion, and that Sting couldn't even beat what was left of Rollins, removing whatever shine the win would've had.
Here's how you fix this.
Remember Brock before Wrestlemania 30?
Sure, he was still Brock, but he wasn't a big deal.
He had lost to Triple H and Cena.
He was big, but... like... Ryback big.
Then he ended the streak.
Then he thoroughly beat Cena clean.
And now, the idea of pinning Brock Lesnar is insane.
Brock can't lose.
Brock doesn't lose.
And it doesn't feel like that's the case because of booking. You honestly believe in your heart that Brock Lesnar can not lose a fair fight.
Established main eventers have to put guys over, and they have to stay over.
John Cena is always portrayed as the underdog but he hardly ever loses.
Let Cena lose every now and then.
Let Roman lose every now and then, I bet people would warm up to him a little.
"Oh you don't know what you want, we'll put someone over and then you'll be sick of him in a couple months".
Daniel Bryan lost an 18 second title match to Sheamus at Wrestlemania 28.
Who have the fans been cheering for ever since?
CM Punk was getting cheered 430 days into a vicious heel title run.
Damien Sandow is the only person in WWE history to lose when cashing in (Cena was DQ'd), yet people clamor to his every gimmick.
When's the last time anyone over the age of 12 cared about what John Cena was doing?
Three hours is too long.
This is the simplest truth.
It's impossible to book a good wrestling show over three hours.
Too much talking puts a crowd to sleep, and penciling in repetitive, bullshit feuds... it doesn't work.
I really feel for the bookers, despite everything I've said here, because I just don't know how the hell they do it.
Things have to change.
Make the first hour NXT.
Show a "throwback match of the week"
But stay away from three hours.
Even Lord of the Rings feels dry after three hours.
The E is for Entertainment... Right?
At the end of the day, the WWE is not a sporting league.
Sure, Wrestling IS a sport, and it requires incredible athleticism to do well, but it's not organically competitive.
The E in WWE stands for entertainment, and I think they've forgotten that.
If they want to book dream-matches like Sheamus vs. Reigns in a "loser gets a personality" match, that's what the video games are for.
The fans don't want that.
They've been so incredibly audible about that.
They have booed Roman Reigns at every turn.
Putting Ambrose with him helped... but that's because PEOPLE LOVE AMBROSE.
Jericho, Stone Cold, Edge, and basically any beloved superstar ever have said this one universal truth.
"The best characters are the ones where the wrestlers take their own personality and turn it up to 11".
Ambrose being a crazy rambling dude? Seems about right.
Cesaro being an insanely talented wrestler? I seent it, yo!
Daniel Bryan being a down to earth, good guy? By all accounts.
Is Roman Reigns actually a security guard?
Is Sheamus actually a rooster?
Is Ryback actually a naked mole rat?
Stupid gimmicks don't work in 2015.
Which guys are the most over?
The New Day?
Is it because people love the "power of positivity?"
God no, or Bo Dallas would be over.
People love the New Day because you can tell they're having the time of their lives and being themselves.
People loved CM Punk when he was on the microphone, speaking his mind.
People loved Daniel Bryan when he was talking about how hard he worked to get to where he was.
People love authenticity.
People do not want Eva Marie.
People do not want Roman Reigns.
People do not want aesthetically pleasing, homegrown, WWE bullshit.
If I go to a restaurant, and I know they have killer jumbalaya, I'm gonna be pissed when they insist I have their tuna casserole because it's the best in the world.
Sure, it looks fine, and if I wanted tuna casserole, I'd be stoked.
But I, and the other patrons of this establishment, don't want to be forcefed something because that's what the chef wants to cook.
And it's really simple, if you don't like it, don't watch.
And I really didn't want it to come to this.
I love NXT, and as long as Nia Jax and Eva Marie get away from Bayley and ya know... the wrestling, I'll be happy as a clam to keep paying my 9.99.
But I didn't watch Raw this week.
And I won't watch Raw next week.
I'm gonna fantasize about a world where Rollins, Cesaro, Owens, and the New Day all come to NXT and it becomes it's own product. I'm gonna keep watching Ring of Honor and begging Jay Lethal to stay forever. And you better believe I'm gonna throw up the "Too Sweet" every time I see anyone repping Bullet Club.
It's going to be this way until things change.
I love professional wrestling, and in all honesty, no man, not Hogan, not Michaels, not Austin, not Cena, have done as much for professional wrestling as Vince McMahon.
But his product sucks, and I really wish that someone could step up like WCW did and remind them that they're better than this... but until then, I guess I'll just go back and keep watching the last minute and thirty seconds of Wrestlemania 31.