It’s easy to be negative about WWE. I often look for the good and try to ignore the bad on Raw each week, and I still catch myself complaining first. And there’s a lot to complain about. Well, that’s not entirely true. There is one huge problem with WWE’s product and it’s the writing. No matter how much I enjoy the matches and no matter how much potential I see in some of the characters, the “storylines” are so lackluster and generic that there’s rarely anything gripping on the show.
Now and then I have to remind myself what I like about what’s going on in WWE right now, because if I can’t find things I like I have to seriously question how much time I devote to watching the product. So here it is, everything good in WWE as of this writing.
I’m a big mark for NXT. Getting my dose of indie-style wrestling in high definition is a luxury, and it’s fun to see who is going to show up next. Without a viable second national wrestling company, seeing which former TNA, ROH or New Japan wrestler will show up on NXT is the closest thing to the Monday Night Wars’ roster shuffling that made the Attitude Era unpredictable and fun.
And now the Cruiserweight Classic is kicking off on Wednesdays immediately following NXT on the Network. I’m excited to see so many different styles presented on WWE television. For all WWE’s faults, there’s definitely a little something for everyone on the first three nights of the week with Smackdown going live on Tuesdays.
I love a draft. I watch and/or cover the four major sports drafts (although the MLB draft is almost impossible to watch) and going for a fantasy draft rather than a random lottery gives the chance to put over “who will be picked first?” or “will higher picks hold out for more money?” I know these aren’t traditionally entertaining storylines, but those stories get covered like crazy in real sports, and this brings that element to the WWE.
But really, the reason I like this “brand extension” is that it will shake things up. The product is stale and now they’re trying something. Is it going to be pulled off in an optimal fashion? Will it ultimately fall apart and lead to the further watering down of the product? That’s a different conversation. For now, I’m looking forward to the draft and the split and the following weeks’ fallout.
It’s absolutely shaky sometimes, but they’re essentially rebuilding the division from the ground up after the Bella-run Divas division set Women’s wrestling back 20 years. Like the division itself, its centerpiece Charlotte is a work in progress. She is growing in to her role, and shows signs of improvement weekly. Becky Lynch will be a solid performer forever, Sasha Banks has star potential. Natalya is the veteran who can play the utility role, wherever she is needed. Bayley, whenever she comes up, just connects with fans. But Charlotte has the athleticism, size and name recognition to be the franchise player of the division one day. It’ll be bumpy along the way, but I think in the long-run the investment in Charlotte could pay off. Also, does Dana Brooke have the biggest rack in wrestling? Ridiculous.
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
I get upset about the complete inability of the WWE to tell a long-term story, but I’ve enjoyed these two in a running blood feud and I feel genuinely good for them that they get a chance to work together in meaningful and entertaining segments on WWE television.
Cesaro is just finally starting to scratch the surface of his potential. He’s ridiculously strong, he’s learning to use his intelligence and sense of humor to connect with the crowd, and he just looks like a guy who can be a big star. I never fast forward through a Cesaro match.
I love him fighting the babyface reaction and continuing to try to play the bad guy. When he does turn it will matter. Being booked to address Roman’s real life suspension is a throwback to when storylines were interesting and the lines were blurred.
His spotlight is finally being utilized properly. Putting him on a team with Enzo & Cass automatically makes them more important. Putting over AJ Styles’ international and independent accomplishments and calling their feud a “dream match” builds his credibility in the minds of fans with whom he needed his credibility built. Booking Anderson and Gallows as legitimate threats to Cena elevates them. Even JBL is putting their international resume over as on par with the Dudleys, who are constantly referred to as the most decorated tag team in history. Cena is helping to create new stars and doing so in angles I’m enjoying.
Zack Ryder & Darren Young
Ryder is finally getting another shot. He still has fans, despite being ignored on television for what feels like years, and with the brand split coming, it feels like WWE has realized they need a deeper roster. Ryder gets a reaction so having him anywhere on either card when they’ve got five hours of live television to fill is a good move.
Young won the IC title battle royal and right now it looks like both secondary champions, Miz (IC) and Rusev (US) are being built up at the expense of babyface undercarders. But putting Darren Young in the battle royal and winning it means that these Bob Backlund vignettes at least have meaning, and maybe Young will get a real push. Same as with Ryder, it’s time to give some guys a shot and see how far they can go. It’s all about roster depth.
It was absolutely a ripoff of TNA’s Final Deletion with Matt and Jeff Hardy, and that’s the biggest reason I liked it. While it’s been a long time since I saw a storyline in WWE that made me say “that’s a fresh idea!”, I’m glad that WWE can recognize a good idea when they see one, because I’ve doubted even that for a while. The Final Deletion got the entire wrestling world talking, and doing things people notice and discuss is big for the company. Sure, I wish they’d come up with an original idea, but it’s good to see someone in the Stamford bubble hear the buzz around TNA and think “we should try that.” Maybe this is a stretch, but earlier today I told a friend/fan that calling WWE’s writing team the “creative” team was an insult to anyone with half an imagination.
Using TNA’s idea isn’t exactly imaginative, but going outside of their own comfort zone is a start for a product that seems exactly the same on a weekly basis.
So let’s try this. What are the things you actually like about what’s going on in WWE right now. What do I like that you think sucks? Hit me up on Twitter on @Billadelphia1 and let me know.