We asked PWTorch readers: “What single change would you recommend the McMahons make to improve their product?” Here are their responses, the fourth batch…
PWTorch reader Jordan Johnson writes…
Do we all know pro wrestling is fake? Sure. But, do we have to be reminded about it constantly? I also know the Batman series is not real. I still don’t want the movie stopped every 15-20 minutes to be told who the guy portraying the Joker is married to in real life. Or that the actors portraying Batman and the Penguin are really best friends off the screen. Why is any of that necessary?!?
Let’s go back to having clearly defined heels and babyfaces. (Part of that is on the fans, too. No, @SmartWrestlingFanThatKnowsTheRealNameOfProWrestlers, it’s not really rebellious to cheer every heel and boo every babyface because it’s “anti-establishment.”) Start with the announce team. Is there anything wrong with Corey Graves and Renee Young getting themselves over? I don’t think so. Jesse Ventura, Bobby Heenan, Larry Zbyszko, Jim Ross, and Jerry Lawler did it as well. But, they got the storylines over as well. And you knew if they were a heel or face.
A few more ideas…
- Let’s stop things like a lead babyface (Seth Rollins) bragging about “carrying” the show and let’s stop him putting over heels on the mic. Like, why? Who thought that was a good idea?
- I’ve seen this a lot in NXT, but sometimes on the main roster as well – the storyline about how Wrestler X spent 34 years on the indy circuit before making it to the big leagues. Okay. That’s great in real life that said wrestler finally made it, likely after he/she had given up. But in storylines? Makes the wrestlers seem like losers. And actually hurts other wrestlers. If this guy was unable to be taken seriously for two decades and is now beating other pushed stars, what does that say about the other stars?
- Finally, social media. As I already mentioned, everyone knows wrestling is fake. But, people watch to suspend their disbelief. It’s hard to get emotionally involved – and fans getting emotionally involved is what sells tickets – if you see Wrestler A and Wrestler B running to social media to share sweet messages and pictures with each other. It’s totally unnecessary. And the worst part about it is that the social media posts are done to attract attention. It’s not done to actually thank/appreciate the moment with the other wrestler(s). That could be done in person, via text, via email, etc., etc. Instead, they choose to run to social media.
- More focus on larger-than-life characters
- NXT being used more as a training ground than a third brand. Would greatly help the company.
- Pre/post-match promos
- The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar
PWTorch reader Conor Leaden writes…
I thought a lot about this question and it’s very difficult to suggest just one thing I would like to have changed about WWE. To come up with the answer I had a think about the wrestling matches/storylines I most enjoyed this year and what it is about these that WWE isn’t doing.
The storyline I have enjoyed most this year is the rebirth of Hiroshi Tanahashi as the ace of New Japan after spending the last number of years in the shadow of Okada, Omega, and Naito. Why did I enjoy this so much? Well, because it meant something.
Minoru Suzuki’s annihilation of Tanahashi at the New Beginning, Tanahashi proving he could still compete by pushing Kazuchika Okada to his limit at Dontaku, Kota Ibushi entering a Nakamura-like darkness which Tanahashi’s pure-hearted love vanquished to win the G1, and Tanahashi protecting his title shot and New Japan as a whole against the evil invading Gaijn Jay White were all pivotal moments in both Tanahashi’s arc and each individual man’s story as well.
WWE fails to create moments like this because nothing is presented as though it really matters, but I don’t think that is the fault of the storylines but rather the lack of definition of the characters. Having characters which are so weakly defined is what makes entertaining storylines so difficult. All the characters which played a part in Tanahashi’s story had clearly defined characters and were inserted into appropriate roles within the story.
Let’s take a look at WWE’s main characters, the two current champions, Brock Lesnar and Daniel Bryan and their most recent challengers Braun Strowman and A.J. Styles. Lesnar is presented as a want away champion more interested in getting the highest paycheck possible than the title he carries. Bryan, a holier-than-thou environmentalist again more concerned with advancing a cause separate to his title. Hardly the most engaging characters in the world.
Strowman and Styles were initially presented with interesting backstories: Strowman, the marauding monster finally set free of the Wyatt Family; Styles, the gritty career underdog who had finally taken his place on top of the mountain in WWE. Unfortunately, these are exactly the same characters they had a year and half ago and nothing has developed.
In summary, I would like to see WWE better define its characters and take more time and care with how they develop these characters.
PWTorch reader Pat Vincent writes…
I think the WWE needs to look into the PG TV rating. It limits their character development and it is not appealing to the ones who grew up watching the Attitude Era. I get they want to make it a family-friendly event for kids and to sell the merchandise to kids, but they need to push the rating a little more to bring the “older” fans back. I’ve seen the likes of Sami Callahan, Kevin Owens (Kevin Steen), and Luke Harper (Brodie Lee) in the indies and they could be so much more over if they were allowed to be themselves. Look how Sami Callahan has flourished in Impact wrestling.
Other things I would change:
- The announce team needs a true heel announcer (Bobby Heenan or Bradshaw) or comedic announcer. (Jerry Lawler), someone who is going to entertain the audience and make the audience hate them in the process. Everyone knows Renee Young is married to Dean Ambrose; let her stick up for him as a heel and talk down his opponents.
- Better Character Development. Rehashing old gimmicks like No Way Jose from Adam Rose is not the way to go.
- Take 50-plus year old wrestlers who act like kids off TV. They were good back in the day, but let the young stars get the spot light.
- Have a champion who is full time and not part time. Lesnar never wrestles on TV and you barely see him even on Raw.
PWTorch reader Dan from Pennsylvania writes…
No more evil GM/Authority/whatever. It was a great idea… twenty years ago! Vince McMahon is too old, Stephanie has “go away” or “change the channel” heat, and Shane has had more turns than the Big Show for anyone to ever be invested in him. Triple H is what he always has been: a bland, obvious self-promoter who married the boss’s daughter.
Beyond that, here are a few other suggestions…
- Go back to some old-style storytelling. Set up one wrestler (my vote is A.J. Styles) and build up various heels as monsters to make a run at him. This was one of the overlooked facets of Hulk Hogan’s run in the ’80s. Yes, he couldn’t wrestle, but the story telling was great. Styles can be a bit more nuanced than Hogan, but he is a great standard-bearer.
- Go back to superstar tag team pairings – both heels and faces – along with the regular teams.
- And please, stop referring to Asuka as “The Empress of Tomorrow.”
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS BATCH: Question of the Week (Batch 4): What single change would you recommend the McMahons make to improve their product?