Vinny takes a look at the main roster of the WWE and some potential adjustments they can make in 2019.
Since their Jacksonville press conference, the coming All Elite Wrestling has been the talk of the wrestling world. We even touched on it in our first post of the new year. Cody and The Young Bucks have been overwhelming successful in their goal, making the fans question whether WWE really is the biggest force in wrestling.
And whether it always will be.
It is a fair question. Wrestling has been turned on its head in the last few years and, perhaps more than it has been in a few decades, the WWE might meet some real competition in the coming months. That said, it hasn’t happened yet.
As it stands, the WWE is still a juggernaut with no real competition. With Impact Wrestling’s current shift in TV deals, there isn’t even a promotion in the West close to their presence. Not to mention their total powerhouse of a roster. I can say with no hesitation that WWE has the finest group of wrestlers in the world under their banner, perhaps the greatest roster ever assembled. What WWE needs to start thinking about is how to maintain their dominance and reinforce some of their vulnerable points. Here are some thoughts on how.
Keep It Moving
Look anywhere that’s talking about wrestling and one of the first things you’ll hear are criticisms on WWE’s current creative. Even with some of the greatest wrestlers in the world, the company has been having trouble capturing the magic they should be.
Bluntly, the main roster too often lacks direction.
Raw has 20 potential main eventers and… that’s the problem. No one is allowed to extend beyond that and the crowd recognizes that after a while. It is a bunch of great wrestlers who seem to be running into each other with no resolutions. They give moderate time to matches, but don’t bother to drive it with a story.
Look to Becky Lynch, the company’s top dog (yes, I mean that) to see where it can work. The crowd reacted, creative responded and has crafted the hottest story in the company in months. Lynch’s rise may have been driven initially by the crowd’s frustration, but it has become a true triumph in wrestling storytelling.
Sure, there have been exceptions to this. Roman Reigns was certainly given the ball but even he had a somewhat bizarre journey. It also has to be acknowledged that the crowd was, at best, half behind him. Reigns never worked right because of this. There’s also the indomitable Ronda Rousey, but her developing skills feel a little off against the generally expert Women’s Division. There’s still a novelty to Rousey that helps her but, as I’m about to explain, that isn’t really what they need to focus on.
Fresh > New
I know, I know.
That means the same thing.
But I want to make an argument here. When the McMahon family walked out at the top of a recent Raw to proclaim a new era, one of the points made in the promo is that new talent would be coming to the main roster. That’s fine and all, and I love to see some young wrestlers get their shot, but it doesn’t solve the show’s bigger problem. In recent years, WWE has made a habit of bringing talent up to the main roster and then doing nothing with them. Not burying them, not pushing them, but just plain not doing much at all.
Before WWE brings up a ton of new talent, they need to make more of their current roster. Build big feuds with who you have and the fanbases they already maintain. There isn’t much risk in it and you can grow your stars. If you don’t think something like a year long feud between Balor and Rollins couldn’t become legendary, I’m not sure if you know what they’re capable of. That’s understandable though, because WWE hasn’t given you much reason to think like that in recent years.
(Don’t) Flush The Format
A bunch of the chatter around AEW has focused on presentation. Many assume that they will be embracing a more sports-like show, not unlike New Japan Pro-Wrestling. In turn, many have theorized that this is the direction that Raw and Smackdown! need to go.
Some of the WWE’s finest moments have been driven by their promos and backstage segments. It is not a question of favoring matches over them, but ensuring that the matches are intriguing both in action and storytelling. WWE developed a format that works. As with all art, there just need to be some tweaks to help it thrive.
Perhaps this is an opportunity to truly give Smackdown! its own identity as well. Though rumors are that the brand split is on its way out, that doesn’t mean Fox’s Smackdown! can’t feel distinct from USA’s Raw. Maybe it is a change like this that can really give talent some opportunities.
Cut The Roster
Okay, I always get a little hesitant proposing releases, but right now there is a lot of work in the wrestling industry. Plain and simple (and as amazing as the roster is), there is only so much television time to develop characters. Even if the WWE is truly behind all of their talent, most of them won’t get the spotlight on them long enough to make them true superstars. A lot of them would be better off as bigger fish in smaller ponds, where these days that can mean real money. It seems that some are recognizing this on their own. WWE should take advantage of this environment and make some real, identifiable champions.
Those champions are likely the key to it all.