It has been another turbulent week for WWE, in and out of the ring.
We’ve seen Smackdown ratings continue to dwindle, Tito Ortiz smash up former WWE Superstar Alberto Del Rio in the Octagon, Bray Wyatt to wrestle as himself at TLC, the NXT UK Championship get stolen, AEW edge NXT in the closest ratings battle of them all, that dreadful Roman Reigns segment, Becky Lynch’s star power continue to fade, the first female Referee in WWE, John Morrison return to WWE, and Samoa Joe join the Raw announce team. So, let’s delve into it all right now.
If ever someone had buyers remorse, it surely has to be the Fox Executive who signed on the dotted line to give WWE over $250m to air Smackdown. It hasn’t been a success, to put it politely. It just hasn’t worked. The numbers are worryingly low, and despite the blue brand being home to Roman Reigns, it still feels like the B show. It started off fairly well, but that was due to the inclusion of The Rock. Since then, ratings have fallen faster than Manchester United’s fall from grace.
So, how do they fix it? By making the show an enjoyable watch. It’s not rocket science. Give us a reason to tune in other than endless matches and angles that go nowhere. Grip us. Excite us. Make us feel things again. Right now it’s only going one way, and that’s straight to FS1 before being axed completely. Vince McMahon may feel indestructible right now but if he continues to rest on his laurels for too long, he may go the way of WCW. It’s happened to one billionaire, it can easily happen to another.
Tito Ortiz Smashes Up Alberto Del Rio To Take Home Replica WWE Championship. Yes, that’s not a headline I thought I’d be writing in 2019. However, it did happen. UFC legend Tito Ortiz did in fact defeat Alberto Del Rio in a real fight to claim The Mexican Aristocrat’s replica WWE Championship. You couldn’t make it up. The two have been having a verbal spat online for quite some time before finally agreeing to settle their differences once and for all this past weekend. Ortiz absolutely dismantled Del Rio, stopping him in the first round.
I’m not sure what to make of it. If it was a publicity stunt to get more eyeballs on Del Rio, then it backfired dramatically as his tough-guy image has been blown out of the water. Ortiz doesn’t get much out of either, apart from a replica WWE Title, which aren’t cheap and will make a nice Christmas present for someone. He sort of redeemed himself after that awful showing opposite long time rival Chuck Liddell, but this was still pitiful. Two former stars well past their best, looking for that one last desperate moment in the spotlight.
Take this one with a pinch of salt. Someone saw the traction Chris Jericho got for doing something similar with the AEW Championship and thought it would work the same way for the NXT UK Title. It may have legitimately been stolen, but I highly doubt it. It’s just a creative way to draw attention to the product, however Jericho already beat them to it. Anything Y2J does always pays off, he’s just a master of his craft. I can’t see Walter doing the same thing, somehow.
For what it’s worth, the NXT UK brand needs all the help it can get. I’m still surprised WWE hasn’t worked out a deal with the BBC or ITV to air it here in the UK. They could even add Raw and Smackdown highlights to the package to sweeten the deal. There is a market for wrestling here in the UK, and I’m sure BBC and ITV would be more inclined to take a punt when WWE has their name attached to it.
Just 6,000 more fans tuned into AEW than they did NXT this past week. But on a more positive note, both shows had over 800,000 viewers. It’s still not great but it’s going in the right direction. I prefer NXT because it’s not a WWE ripoff and they don’t have a 50 year old as their World Champion, no matter how talented he may be. AEW can’t call themselves the future if they continue to promote their brand with ex WWE talent.
I do see NXT slowly overcoming AEW simply because it is the better product. Say what you will about Triple H, but he sure knows how to create a compelling wrestling show. AEW look to be fast running out of ideas. Their weekly shows are becoming a bore to endure and nothing seems to be happening there. Is there even a storyline happening right now? NXT is the place to be.
Here’s a big reason why Smackdown’s ratings are in the gutter. Angles like pouring actual dog food over your biggest star simply because his nickname is The Big Dog. It was humiliating and embarrassing. Can you imagine showing a non-wrestling fan that segment and explaining why you enjoy the artform? It’s impossible to defend WWE right now. It is that bad. In fact, it’s so bad that most fans are yearning for the return of 1995.
Bruce Prichard has not done a single thing of creative note since taking over the reins of Eric Bischoff a few weeks back. It’s just like Vince Russo says, they all live in the wrestling bubble. They don’t know what works anymore because they don’t live in the real world. They’re so fixated on wrestling that they don’t allow themselves to take a step back and see what’s going on in the world. I fear for the future of wrestling, I really do. It’s simply not fun to watch anymore.
Becky Lynch hasn’t even been on Raw the last two weeks because apparently creative have nothing for her. Can you imagine creative telling Stone Cold Steve Austin or John Cena that? Sad facts are, WWE is realizing The Man has lost her aura. She doesn’t turn the needle-like they had hoped. She isn’t even getting the same cheers as she was before. She is no longer the biggest star in the company. However, she holds none of the blame. She hasn’t changed. She’s still the same Becky Lynch she’s always been.
The creative team have failed Becky Lynch. Everything about her entire character has been botched from the get go. The forced heel turn on Charlotte Flair, losing cleanly to Asuka, that muddled road to WrestleMania which was more confusing to follow than an episode of Lost. The weird and flat ending to the Show Of Shows main event, her rivalry with Lacey Evans, her partnership with Seth Rollins and now she can’t even get on TV. Worrying times for The Man. She has the talent to bounce back, but do WWE have the writers to make her great again? I doubt it.
This wasn’t exactly the best-kept secret in WWE history, but now it’s official. John Morrison has returned to Vince McMahon’s kingdom. He last wrestled for the company in 2011 and has since played his trade with Impact Wrestling. He is a multiple time Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion. He has one of the greatest ring entrances of all time, and can do amazing things between the ropes. A good signing for the company.
I am surprised he didn’t opt for AEW, but perhaps he was tired of wrestling for the minor leagues and missed performing in front of large crowds. I can’t see him being anything other than a mid card attraction in WWE, but at this stage in his career he will be happy to just cash the large cheques. I’d like to see a reunion of sorts with The Miz, as those two were wildly entertaining together.
Speaking of The Miz, he will be challenging for the Universal Championship at TLC. However, his opponent will not be the indestructible Fiend, but Bray Wyatt himself instead. A bizarre choice by WWE, but time will tell if it pays off or not. I’m leaning towards the latter. The Miz just does not work as a babyface character, and seeing Bray Wyatt wrestle as himself as opposed to The Fiend will just seem a let down.
Daniel Bryan remains missing in action after being dragged under the ring by The Fiend a couple of weeks ago on Smackdown. I’m guessing Bryan will return at TLC and summon The Fiend, but I’m not invested in this supernatural rubbish at all. I love The Undertaker, but this stuff is just corny. If WWE aren’t careful they will kill off another Bray Wyatt character, and he will be getting his future endeavours.
Samoa Joe has been a breath of fresh air on Commentary duty Monday Nights, and now he will remain behind the announce table until he recovers from his latest injury. He reminds me a lot of Tazz in his style, which is a big compliment. It’s always better when the colour man has years of experience as opposed to someone who attempted wrestling but couldn’t hack it. I’m looking in your direction, Corey Graves.
Samoa Joe will bring a lot to Raw. He’s surprisingly articulate, knows what he’s talking about and has a tough guy presence about him. He’s everything Byron Saxton is not, basically. Raw needs all the help it can get to be entertaining, and Joe will help on that front. He tells it as it is, no bs, and he’s a badass.
Finally, the Women revolution knows no boundaries it seems. WWE has now hired the first full time female Referee in Jessica Carr. She has been working in NXT and gaining rave reviews for her style and commitment to the job. She made her Smackdown debut this past week, officiating Alexa Bliss’ victory over Mandy Rose.
AEW beat WWE to the punch here, as they had a female Referee officiate a World Championship match. However, is any of this really news in 2019? Women can referee as well as men? They can do a lot of things as well as men. I just don’t see the big deal. It shouldn’t matter what gender you are. If you can do your job well, that’s all that matters.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @JK_CFC3. Thanks for reading!