World Wrestling Entertainment Is Paying Me Back by Matt Corton

I love pretty much everything WWE is doing right now.

There, article over. Right?

Well, not exactly. I mean, for one thing, what’s the foundation for this love of mine? What am I basing this love on? I generally love things that are good. There’s lots in the WWE that’s good right now, so I guess you could say that’s my foundation. Reigns vs. Styles is good. Cesaro is so good he’s actually making me enjoy something the Miz does (and I like the Miz too, I just hate how he’s been used). Jericho is killing it (in my opinion) and bringing threat to his swagger with his recent big wins because contrary to a lot of opinion, everyone needs to win sometimes, or it becomes pointless having matches. Gallows and Anderson look as great as the Usos look done. The tag team tournament is a great idea and I’ve loved it because I love tournaments. Zayn vs. Owens is happening in the WWE, finally. All I can say to that is thank you. Wrap that up in the package of Raw being much better overall as a show and I’m happy to play pass the parcel with it.

Compare that to before Wrestlemania and that’s no small thing, because frankly as one of their loyal viewers they’ve owed me this for a little while. I’ve felt like the consistently casual attitude to storylines, lack of real exploration of the true depth of their roster and lack of focus on anyone outside of the select few has really, really hurt the product and I’ve been fairly vocal in my articles about that.

So it’s only fair that now everything is going well I’m just as vocal about how well they’re doing now.

And it’s been such a simple few changes that have done it. Prominently book some up and coming stars, who are familiar with a good portion of the audience and excitingly new to others. If you make them seem bigger stars, they will seem like bigger stars. Remove the forty-five minutes of Authority from the show and replace it with a still-fresh Shane McMahon, essentially doing the same thing just more quickly and more entertainingly, and you get more time to showcase the wrestlers in situations fans want to see wrestlers in. Give wrestlers real, true characters that aren’t necessarily all good or all bad, but shades of the same and the fans can recognise more of themselves in the characters.

It’s all great.

Only this being me, there’s just a couple of things that are still making me a little nervous and just preventing me from completely losing myself in my rekindled televisual love affair.

One is the Vaudevillains. I’ve always really liked Gotch and English and I like them better as heels rather than faces. Ticks so far, right? Well…almost. They’ve been completely overshadowed by Anderson and Gallows and Enzo and Cass and whilst that’s not their fault, it does mean they don’t half look a distant third on the rankings of the three ‘new’ teams. If they win on Sunday, which I think they will because I think the Dudleys vs. Enzo and Cass should happen at Extreme Rules, then I don’t think anyone in the WWE Universe will believe that they stand a chance of beating the New Day and I think that’s a problem.

The thing is, they bring such a unique look and way of moving in the ring (or at least everything they do makes it seem unique, which amounts to the same thing) that they could be a real breath of fresh air, in the same vein (if not the same way) as Too Cool were back in the last golden age of tag team wrestling in WWE. I hope I’m wrong and in all this they actually beat the New Day and take their rise from there, but I smell Ascension.

Another thing that worries me is the women’s division. Wrestlemania was a crowning moment for women’s wrestling. They gave it the big match feel with Snoop Dog participating in Sasha’s entrance. The crowd were as up for that match as they were any other on the card. The match itself was a legitimate contender for the match of Wrestlemania.

Natalya vs. Charlotte should be continuing in the same vein, and I’m sure the match itself will be awesome at Payback because they’ve had awesome matches before. Only…it doesn’t feel big, does it? It’s still got Ric Flair and now Bret Hart propping them up. It’s not as prominent on the card and it’s not getting the reactions from people that Sasha and Becky got when they were going for the title. That’s not really my main concern though, it’s not like every feud for the men’s title is captivating. The title itself eats feuds alive and can often be as much of a noose around a wrestler’s neck as it can be a benefit – when you have to be fighting someone for something at any point, then there’s a high chance that you’re not always going to get perfect stories and chemistry landing in your lap, you just get the next fight. Natalya vs. Charlotte makes sense, it’s just a bit of an anti-climax after Wrestlemania and it’s an anti-climax because Charlotte retained. That retention reduced their options.

But that’s not even what really concerns me about the women’s division. On Raw this week we got a quick win for Natty over Emma and pretty much nothing else from the women. We have a division encompassing Charlotte, Becky, Sasha, Emma, Natalya, Paige, Bayley (soon), and some others who aren’t quite as good or who aren’t on the main roster. There’s two problems with that, as a revolution. One – there’s not enough who are really good in the ring to be able to have that many side feuds that won’t spoil future title feuds. Two – that because of one, you’re going to, in all likelihood, be limited to one diva’s segment (likely involving the title) on Raw and that means the crowd don’t get to see a lot of the women often enough to really build a relationship with them.

Easily changed. Hire more female wrestlers and have them wrestle. Give them time like you gave Sasha, Charlotte and Becky time and there’s plenty of women out there who will deliver.

The final thing though, is the future. Not the nebulous unknown that stretches out before all of us, but the more immediate, predictable future which is Orton, Cena and Rollins coming back from injury. Where do they slot into the brave new world? Rollins you can make a case for slotting in almost anywhere, I have very few worries about the man who is going to be the mainstay of the WWE main event picture for years to come.

What about Cena and Orton though? How do they fit into the brave new world model? Well, they’re going to be the subjects of my next two articles so I’m just going to shut the hell up about them for now and talk about the mid card of the WWE instead, because actually, although I might fear for a few of the wrestlers’ spots once those three return, I really shouldn’t. Because feuding for the title isn’t everything. What I want is a stacked card, full of stars top to bottom, putting on great matches, with no (or hardly any) filler featuring people that aren’t in the same bracket. I want great feuds, which isn’t just about a bunch of things leading to a great match; I want great things leading to a great match. Zayn vs. Owens for nothing is fantastic. Cesaro (if he wins the title) vs. say, AJ for the InterContinental Title is awesome (for the record, I’m not saying this will happen, at least not soon, I just think it’d be great).

There’s one thing that puts all my fears right into my back pocket though and makes me forget about them because none of it really matters. If they do it right they can fix all three of those fears of mine without expending much effort at all and even if they couldn’t, the one thing that makes me put all those thoughts away is that at last, none of it is predictable.

I don’t know who’s going to win out of Enzo and Cass vs. Vaudevillains. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the Bullet Club and AJ. I don’t know how long Roman is going to hold onto the title for. I don’t know who’s next for Brock Lesnar. I don’t know, even, how Orton and Cena integrate back in yet and whilst I fear that a bit, along with all the other things I can’t wait to find out what does happen.

That’s what makes great wrestling. Keep me guessing, keep me glued, pay back my viewership with a good product. Good on you, WWE.

What do you guys think though? Do you want to see more women’s wrestling or is one segment enough? Do you think it’s great to have a stacked midcard once everyone’s fit or do you think there’ll just be a bunch of Stardusts everywhere? Do you like the Vaudevillains enough to care?