Editorial Columns

What Can Wrestling Learn From The Past Decade?

James Klonowski looks at what wrestling can learn from the past decade

The twenty-tens. The tensies. Whatever you want to call them, the last decade has been a wild and crazy ride for this world that we love.

Donald Trump became President of the United States, Ricky Gervais brought down Hollywood and a bunch of well-known celebrities either died or got outed as predators. Oh, and some schoolgirl claims the world is dying. 

Anyway, you get the picture. A lot has happened in the world in the last 10 years, but can the same thing be said for WWE? Yes, of course, it can. But just like the real world, hardly any of it has been good. Jinder Mahal as WWE Champion, the destruction of Nexus, the part-time era, CM Punk quitting, and not forgetting that diabolical Vince McMahon and Bret Hart match from WrestleMania. Wait, Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole also wrestled each other multiple times on PPV. Christ, they were clutching at straws this last decade.

Will it get any better in the next ten years? Here’s hoping so. Because I know Vince McMahon is a big fan of TWM and reads my articles ad nauseam (can’t prove he doesn’t) I have decided to compile a list of things WWE can learn from the 2010s in order not to make the mistakes again. Let’s make WWE great again.

Don’t Bury New Talent

This is one they repeated on a loop during the previous decade, and it’s one that needs to stop because the end result is quite self-explanatory. You keep burying new talent, sooner or later you have no one left the fans are willing to invest in. There’s only so many times you can wheel out the likes of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Undertaker before death actually arrives for the three icons.

There was so much wasted talent in the last ten years that it should actually be a criminal offense. Wade Barrett, Bray Wyatt, John Morrison, Ryback, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, the list goes on. All of them were either demoted for backstage shenanigans or fed to John Cena in the ring. Neither of which had a happy ending for the superstars in question.

It’s now time WWE stop making the same mistakes and begin building stars for today and the future properly. Guys like Drew McIntyre, Kevin Owens, Ricochet, and Aleister Black should all be pushed to the moon. Give them interesting stories, gripping action and a reason to believe in. With those four as the cornerstones moving forward, WWE can have a bright decade ahead.

Put An End To The Part-Time Era

While the likes of Stone Cold and The Rock were tearing it up in the Attitude Era they didn’t have to contend with an aging Sgt. Slaughter and Bob Backland trying to remain cool and steal the limelight in the main event. Unfortunately for today’s roster, the same can’t be said as they’ve been shunned time and time again for the older generation. Undertaker and Triple H keep picking up large cheques to wrestle once a year in a marquee contest while some of the most talented athletes on the planet are left to feed off the scraps in some shoddy battle royal.

WWE needs to realize this isn’t what’s best for business. They need to bring an end to the, albeit, lucrative part-time era. It’s literally killing the business. This isn’t just a WWE thing either. AEW has Chris Jericho as their World Champion. They can throw about all the excuses they want, but the fact remains they have a 50-year-old on top of their company. Independent promotions are even worse. They’d still book the Ultimate Warrior if they could.

Sometimes it is needed to bring back a legend to boost revenue and ratings, but both those things have been failing in recent years, which means WWE needs to go back to the drawing board. Lay the icons to rest and allow today’s generation to flourish. Let’s see if they sink or swim. If they do sink, then I’m sure Vince McMahon has The Hulkster on speed dial.

Stop With The Never Ending PPVs

What happened to 11 WWE PPVs being 3 hours long, a WrestleMania being 4? When did this 8-hour marathon rubbish begin? It’s madness. I don’t want to watch anything for 8 hours…. unless it’s Chelsea beating Spurs of course. Seriously though, only the die-hard fans will take that much time out of their daily lives to watch wrestling which is what has turned most away. We just can’t be bothered. We have lives to lead.

This decade WWE really should look at scaling everything back. That way it’s not overkill and WrestleMania will have its magic back that has been lost in recent years. WWE can easily do this but will probably choose not to simply because they can what the hell they want. It’s madness though. WrestleMania stretched over two days in some parts of the world. That’s some dedication you have to have to endure it.

All PPVs need to revert back to the traditional 3-hour length and keep the bumper 4 hour special for the Granddaddy of them all. It’s not rocket science. Maybe then lapsed fans will also return now they don’t have to book an entire day off work to watch the bloody thing.

Scrap The Overly Scripted Promos

Wrestlers are not actors and the sooner writers realize this the better. The superstars already have enough to deal with, like trying not to kill their opponent by dropping them carelessly on the canvas. Do you really want to add scripted promos to the workload of Seth Rollins? It’s not a good idea.

When promos are written by a team of writers, all the wrestlers end up sounding the same. We also have to deal with ridiculous name-calling like “sassquash”. No one talks like that in real life. It’s high time WWE put an end to scripts and give the wrestlers the freedom to say what they want, within reason of course. Telling Hulk Hogan to go out there and speak his mind will surely not go well.

I hate to keep harping on about the Attitude Era but Vince Russo nailed it perfectly. He gave the top stars bullet points to get the story across and allowed their character and personality to shine through. That’s what we need now, and maybe then we will be able to invest in guys like Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens when they aren’t forced to spill lines written by a 40-year-old virgin.

Start Listening To Fans More

Ratings don’t lie. They may fib a little what with the modern age and streaming but on the whole, ratings are gospel. That’s why WWE needs to start listening to the fans again. Give them what they want. I’m not just talking about the hardcore fans who want 1-hour iron man matches to kick off Raw every week. I’m talking about the whole fan base. Really listen to them, deliver the goods, and they will have a product that is watchable.

When the fans forced Daniel Bryan into the main event scene in 2014, we were gifted one of the greatest feel-good endings in WrestleMania history. Fans know what they want. Vince McMahon seems more out of touch with each passing day. He needs to sit back and allow the fanbase to direct the promotion moving forward. 

Give everyone a bit of everything, which was what made the Attitude Era so successful. More edgy storylines, more sex appeal, longer matches, unscripted promos, no more 50/50 booking….. all these little things will add up to create a compelling and entertaining show. 

Learn from The Greatest Villain Of All Time

No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mr. McMahon. The single greatest wrestling villain of them all. His character was so perfect. He was the ultimate evil boss. This allowed the top faces in the company to overcome all the odds to prevail and become a megastar. McMahon is so good that he even managed to get Roman Reigns over in 2015. 

WWE need to create a new supervillain, and that person is Triple H. Yeah, yeah, I know we’ve been there before with the whole Authority thing, but it could work perfectly if The Game put aside his ego and allowed himself to be fooled and beaten at almost every turn just like McMahon was.

Wrestling just isn’t the same without an evil boss. There needs to be some sort of narrative to weave all the stories together and there’s no better way to do that than with an overbearing boss. Not everyone will agree with this opinion, but you have to admit wrestling was more enjoyable with these sort of characters.

Remove Several Titles

There are just too many championships in WWE right now. On the last count, it reached double figures. That is just ridiculous for one promotion. I’m not sure anyone, apart from hardened fans, could even name all the current champions. Its time WWE scrapped a bunch of them.

Do we really need more than one World Champion, a mid midcard champion, a tag team Champion, and a women’s champion? At least this way the championships will actually mean something and give fans a reason to actually care about who holds them.

Too many titles lead to meaningless matches and rivalries that no one gives two hoots about. With NXT added to the mix, there’s only going to be even more championships in the mix. At this rate, by the time we reach the next decade, there will be more titles than wrestlers.

No More Instant Pushes

We don’t want another Jinder Mahal, I think we’re all in agreement there. That was WWE’s last instant push from jobber to WWE Champion overnight in 2017. It was ludicrous even then, completely insane now. Did they really think it would work? Apparently so otherwise McMahon wouldn’t have bothered unless he had taken some questionable medication on that day of the Smackdown booking meeting.

We need a more balanced rise to the top, and by that, I’m not promoting the idea of 50/50 booking. That will never work. What we need is a proper plan in place and commitment to see it through to the end. Vince Russo was excellent at this. I’m not sure WWE have anyone capable of being as patient these days, but we shall see.

Paul Heyman is a big advocate for that style of booking, and with him being the head writer of Raw, things look promising. That’s before you actually watch any episode of Raw from the last six months and realise its utter rubbish and Heyman doesn’t have a clue what gets over these days. 

Give The Women More Chances To Shine

Without a shadow of a doubt, the single biggest success of the last decade has been the Women’s Revolution. If you can stomach Stephanie McMahon taking all the credit for it, that is. It got so successful that the women even headlined WrestleMania this past year. That can’t just be a one-off moving forward, it needs to be a regular occurrence.

Becky Lynch is one of the most popular acts WWE have at their disposal. In fact, scratch that. She is THE most popular act WWE has on their roster. The spotlight needs to be on her as much as possible. Raw needs to be built around her. Give her the chance to lift the ratings. Put Seth Rollins on the backburner and let The Man take the baton.

If the rumours of Ronda Rousey returning are true, then that is a promising sign of the women continuing to take centre stage in WWE. AEW’s women’s division is non-existent, so there’s no better time to promote the likes of Lynch, Sasha Banks and Charlotte. Let’s kick off this new decade on the right note and have Lynch clash with Rousey in the main event of WrestleMania. 

Bring Major PPVs To The UK

If they can host PPV events in Saudi Arabia, then they certainly can put one on in the United Kingdom. The time difference means nothing now with the WWE Network. So if you hear Triple H spouting that rubbish, know it’s just excuses. Wembley stadium is ready and waiting to host the biggest WrestleMania of all time.

They have a major fanbase here the UK, so selling out Wembley will not be a problem at all. It’s just a shame WWE don’t seem interested in doing so at all. They don’t even seem keen on bringing Summerslam over to our shores. At this point, we’ll even be happy with Survivor Series. We really are that desperate. 

WWE is happy to cash in with twice-yearly episodes of Raw and Smackdown in the UK but wants nothing to do with bringing their famed PPVs over here. They’re happy to do business with a Saudi Prince, but Boris Johnson is a step too far. Says a lot.

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You can find the author of this article on Twitter @JK_CFC3Thanks for reading!

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