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WWE’s Talent Waste Is Hurting Their Product by Matt Corton

In 5 hours of WWE programming this week, I enjoyed – and I mean really enjoyed, not just thought “hmm, that was ok” – one thing. Which is a fairly damning statement about how much of their show time WWE is wasting.

The thing I enjoyed was Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch. I absolutely loved that Alexa brought something a bit different to what I see every week with all the submission holds and the very clear working over of a body part – it was absolutely great to see a match focusing on presenting itself like a real fight and it made my night watching it.

So well done to those two.

The rest of both of the shows? I really could have taken them or left them. I know there have been a few things going on in the US this week and overseas shows are frankly never the best set of shows to watch if you’re expecting character or storyline development beyond the odd major announcement. But I think WWE wasted a good few opportunities this week.

The first one was not having AJ Styles wrestle live in front of the Glasgow crowd. I know if I’d have been there I’d have been majorly disappointed with that. I don’t know (or care) if he had a dark match after the show finished, but he should have been part of the main event.

WWE has dropped a few of these balls over the years – advertising Undertaker and Daniel Bryan for a tour only for them not to show up, showing a Glasgow football team on the titantron (only ever going to get at least half a set of boos) and the painfully annoying black cab and telephone box sets. They’ve also done some things well, they normally reserve a big announcement or two (such as Shane being on Team SmackDown this week) for being in the UK and I know I for one really appreciate that. But it seems a no-brainer to me to give the British fans a chance to see AJ in action in a WWE ring, on TV, on one of the few nights a year they can see that.

So that’s one waste, but that’s also not the waste I want to talk about. The waste this article is about is a more general, obvious and important one. Or several. Their names of those that are wasting away are Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin, Tyler Breeze and the Vaudevillains.

vaudev

The Vaudevillains at least got on television this week, albeit with the ignominy of not having a ring entrance, which is always a sure-fire guarantee that team is not going to win the match. When that match started, they clearly wanted to be on the SmackDown Survivor Series team so much that they lost in a couple of minutes to another team barely on TV. As important as the waste of talent, this is a waste of an overseas crowd’s time when you haven’t bothered to build those teams up beforehand and just throw them into a throwaway match on a major show for a major spot on another major show.

Apollo Crews fared similarly. He was clearly so concerned by his lack of current TV time, wins and prominence that he made a special effort for his latest important outing and got rolled up by a funny man in a few minutes.

Tyler Breeze? Well, he at least got the win over the Vaudevillains, or rather Fandango did. Might not have been much of a match or much of a storyline or much of an outfit (I hate the fashion police thing) but at least there was a W for the team. They’re a better bet of fun in the Survivor Series match than the Vaudevillains but the end result will be the same – an early, probably supposedly funny elimination.

Surely there was something different in store for Baron Corbin? This was a guy who was on the Survivor Series team representing SmackDown against Raw. This was surely a guy they would want to give some depth to, making sure he was invested in before the big event. Only then Corbin went and got injured in just a few minutes by a guy returning and looking for revenge who was being built up for what we learned later was his own title shot.

Such a waste. And Corbin’s is the biggest waste of all because this guy has a unique look, he has attitude and he’s not bad in the ring. You build up stars by letting them showcase their talents and they know how to do it. You let Enzo talk. You let AJ wrestle. You let Braun Strowman throw some jobbers around. You don’t put them in boring situations that the crowds don’t care about and expect them to come up with some way to get them over – that’s the writer’s jobs. So Corbin wasn’t getting a reaction? That’s not all his fault. The writes need to do their job and put him in interesting situations that make me entertained.

It’s a waste.

It’s not a waste of my time, but I don’t particularly like or dislike any of the five wrestlers I just talked about. And that’s the WWE’s biggest waste of all – they haven’t given me a reason to really like or dislike them. Sure Corbin has been presented as a jerk, which I like. It’s a differentiator for him, the one thing they have given us about him that makes him stand apart from the crowd and from being a caricature. The Vaudevillains were a team I hugely enjoyed in NXT but something seems to have changed to their in-ring style since coming up to the main roster and it’s not as good. It feels more basic. I don’t care about smiley Crews or selfie Tyler because…well, why would I?

The only thing that will ever intrigue me about Corbin – or Crews, Breeze or the Vaudevillains – is whether or not they are interesting.

If we’re talking about waste, could I have included Sami Zayn on this list? Maybe. But I don’t see Zayn’s current predicament lasting for a long time because he most definitely is interesting. He has what the other five I mentioned don’t have – guaranteed match quality. There’s no potential or upward mobility for Zayn, he’s already got all the tools he needs apart from the writing of the writers and the backing of the backers.

No, the real tragedy, the real waste, of the WWE is those that to me aren’t even interesting right now when there’s so much potential for them to be with just a little bit of effort.

What do you guys think? Which of the five I mentioned could be the most interesting for you and which is the biggest waste?