Positive Changes (& Ideas) For WWE
May 24, 2004 by Joseph Huber
Amid the sea of negative wrestling columns I see online I must say that I see some positive changes coming to the WWE. Some of them are already in place or planned for the future.
What I like: a return to characters. The return of the Dead Man gimmick. While not exactly the original Dead Man it is a cool return of a character we all know and love. Mordecai. While his costume/appearance might be a bit lame (a wrestling columnist referred to it as a kid dressing up on Halloween) it reminds me of the debut of Undertaker. Nobody was impressed with his in-ring work at first, but his character helped keep people interested until his in-ring work won more people over.
The return of faces and heels. I know the anti-hero is really popular. Stone Cold Steve Austin is a shining example. And while I am a Stone Cold fan, I think the days of the anti-hero are largely gone. A lot of fans want to see the return of good guys vs. bad guys. Like wrestling was when we grew up. I believe it is headed there. Even Stone Cold at the end of his WWE run, was considered pretty much to be a solid face. Notable anti-heroes who have made straight face turns: John Cena, Eddie Guerrero, The Rock & Stone Cold.
Selling injuries. I like that the WWE is back to selling injuries. For far too long the rules have been thrown out the window. We've seen it all. Mick Foley thrown off a 20-foot high (ok 16 foot) Hell In A Cell Cage, people thrown through tables as common as a family sitting down for a meal, chair shots etc. With that reality went out the window as well. If someone has steel stairs hit them in the head they are bound to be in bandages. For a long time there were no consequences for these type of bumps. No "selling" of injuries. After a recent match with The Undertaker the FBI came to a match with Booker T all bandaged up. I think this does well to sell Taker's moves (especially the Tombstone Piledriver).
Pushes for stars who were buried for years. I like the recent pushes for Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, John Cena and others. WWE fortunately timed this well since they lost Goldberg, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Brock Lesnar & Kurt Angle (Angle only for a short while). Wrestling is like a cycle. There are up and down periods and there are periods when main event stars come and go. Like in the early 90's we have recently witnessed a bunch of main event stars leave WWE forcing Vince to develop newer wrestlers and push stars that were being buried. I think this can only help Vince, WWE and us, the wrestling fans. It is making the product more interesting and building for the future at the same time.
Making main event stars "special" again. Remember back in the days when seeing someone like Hulk Hogan, Andre The Giant, Ultimate Warrior and other main event stars was a special thing on one of the weekly shows? It seems that the WWE is getting back to that. That's a good thing because if you leave us fans wanting it keeps us coming back for more. An example of this is the recent return of the Dead Man. Undertaker is now being made special again. His appearances are being hyped with promos, Paul Bearer, fog etc. It makes seeing Undertaker exciting like when he first came on the wrestling scene.
While stars like Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit & John Cena are not yet given this "special" status it helps give them more air time and helps all the wrestlers in the process by not having a main event star bury them on the card. HHH is another story. I am trying to write a positive column here.
I also like the push for WWE DVDs featuring past and current WWE stars. Look at how well the Ric Flair DVD sold. I've heard that a Bret Hart DVD package is in the works. I'd like to see future WWE DVDs of old-school wrestlers like Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, Hulk Hogan, Randy "Macho Man" Savage, Ultimate Warrior and many others from the 80's. I also like the idea of pushing DVDs of John Cena, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. I think WWE is doing a good job here. If only they would get to work on doing the first 10 Wrestlemania's on DVD. I'm sure there is a goldmine there. I know I would buy them.
Lastly, I want to say I like the idea of a return of ECW. I think eventually they should bring back WCW as well (in name not run the same). Think about it. WWE could create competition for itself like they are trying to do with RAW & Smackdown. I say cut shows like Heat, Velocity & WWE Experience. Who watches those shows anyway? They are either recaps of what we have seen already or boring as hell. Bring back ECW & WCW. Bring back some stars, managers etc to help build the pool of wrestlers and have a real draft this time. Not a small draft that doesn't change much. Change the whole works. Have a genuine draft where everybody's name is thrown into the mix and they don't know where they are going. Surprise works well as far as entertaining in the WWE.
Keep RAW & Smackdown as is, as far as the day, time & content. Have ECW be on Saturday nights (late night) on tape. ECW would pay off well not being live so any mess-ups would be covered up in the editing room. WCW could come back to Monday Nights (recreate the Monday Night Wars) or better yet Friday Nights. WCW and Smackdown could be old-school wrestling with some of the older & younger stars doing classic wrestling with cool characters/gimmicks. RAW & ECW could be hardcore style wrestling with real-personality type wrestlers.
Much like divisions in any sport you could split the rosters by style instead of location. You could have 4 PPV's a month (the only downside is some fans will miss out because of lack of $ ) and special PPV's featuring all 4 rosters (Wrestlemania, Summer Slam, Royal Rumble & maybe 1-2 others). Maybe they could cut it down to one PPV a month. One month it's RAW, the next month Smackdown, EWC then WCW. That would help make each PPV special for it's own brand (by limiting the # of PPV's for each brand) and help make longer feuds by not killing a feud every month. They could still run the inter-brand PPV's in the same month as a brand PPV and still do better then they are doing now. Also with the addition of ECW & WCW, WWE could bring back fans from both companies and offer old and new fans something different.
Anyway, this is just my opinions. Feel free to agree or disagree or post your own ideas. I'm just excited about the current WWE and whatever the future may hold. It looks like Vince is finally headed in the right direction (knock on wood)....
by Joseph Huber
I happen to agree with you on the idea of how WWE is turning around for the better. I am really impressed with how the Undertaker is being used, with him being used sparingly so that his gimmick won't go stale. I also like how they have superstars selling previous injuries, as it makes it more belivable for fans. It would seem stupid to have someone's back being worked on extremely one day to the point where he has to be carried on a stretcher, and yet the next week, they're good as new. I also agree with you on how the WWE are starting to create new superstars: guys like Cena, Benjamin, and Orton are perfect examples. The only point I disagree with is the returns of WCW and ECW. Honestly, what is the point in bringing back two brands that died three years ago? And also, it wouldn't really work in my opinion. If they did go with it, it really wouldn't be WCW, but rather 'WWE: The Sequel'. ECW, on the other hand, would be a complete disaster. Unlike WWE and WCW, ECW was more counter-culture based. It didn't follow the same formula that it's competitors did. So if the WWE were to revive ECW, it would go against everything that the old ECW stood for. And if they did go through with the re-launches of the two, it would just be Vince McMahon and his bookers in charge. It wouldn't be Bischoff, Russo, or Heyman; the men who made the two organizations power-houses in the first place. Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. But besides that, keep up the good work.
Bill (phillyt) wrote:
That was a great article Joseph very well written, I like the idea of bringing back ECW and WCW, I think it would be great for wrestling and wrestling fans, I also like the idea
of the PPV's for each company. I think the real problem with wrestler today is that the wrestlers are too selfish, like for instance you mentioned the Old School Undertaker, which was a great
idea, and I literally ordered Wrestlemania XX just to see him back as the Old School Undertaker, but
all it was is his Garbage Man Gimmick with a Hat, His Trenchcoat, Contacts, and a little Make-up,
I was very dissappointed, and I felt like I wasted my money. Anyway I hope Vince is realizing what the fans
want, and he is bringing back wrestling, to what it was in the 80's and 90's...
Joe Huber replied:
Thanks for writing Tayjon and Bill. Tayjon you have a good point about ECW & WCW. My point about bringing them back was to offer something different for the fans who are currently not tuning in to the WWE. WCW would have offered an old-school approach while ECW would be extremely hardcore. I still think WWE & Vince are thinking about bringing back ECW by the recent Heyman/Dudleyz storyline. Will it work? I don't have the answer to that one my friends, but hell it's worth a shot. Wrestling needs a boost right now and at the highest points in wrestling (no matter the fed WWF, WCW, WWE) they have gotten their viewers by being daring, innovative & creative. They pushed new stars at different times like Hulk Hogan in the 80's, Mankind, Stone Cold & The Rock in the 90's & Kurt Angle & Brock Lesnar in the early parts of this century.
Vince needs to be daring and take a chance. He has been best when he has done this with wrestling and not his other endeavors like XFL. My idea is the more Vince can offer the fans something different, as far as wrestling goes, the more he can bring back fans who have tuned out who were former fans of ECW & WCW. I agree that a new ECW could seem like a sell-out because it was a small fed and it would be run by the current WWE, but if they can make it seem like they are bringing back the old ECW run by Heyman they might be onto something. If it doesn't work at least WWE & Vince would have RAW & Smackdown to fall back on.
Bill I was kind of disappointed at Wrestlemania XX that the old school Undertaker did not come back, but then again things weren't so great back then either. Sometimes our memories of our childhoods are actually better then the reality was. I kind of like the new gimmick that meshes the new with the old. It took me awhile to get used to, but I prefer it to his badass gimmick, which made Taker seem old and used-up.
I just see WWE trying to head in the right direction now and I am being supportive of it. Sure some feuds don't have all the fans interest as of this writing (especially Eddie G/JBL) but I see that they are building for the future and that's good for both the wrestlers and us fans. I am really encouraged by some wrestlers who have stolen the fans hearts over the past year or so like John Cena, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit and people like The Undertaker who brought some of his past fans back. I also like the pushes for new wrestlers and gimmicks like Mordecai, Suzuki, & others. I think it is almost a breath of fresh air after a decade or so of "hardcore real type" wrestlers who are bland, that WWE is returning to characters. Sure we know Undertaker is not really a Dead man but it is more interesting seeing him with the hat, trench coat and eerie music. Thanks for writing guys.
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