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The WWE and its (Supposed) Downfall

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A bi-annual look at the state of the WWE, my guilty pleasure and company that is apparently losing viewers by the handful.

Daniel Bryan. John Cena. Randy Orton. Bautista. CM Punk. AJ Lee. Cesaro. Seth Rollins.
These are just a few of the superstars of the WWE that have been significantly injured, on hiatus, or simply left the company over the past few years. Some tie the loss of these big names directly to the significant drop in ratings for the WWE's flagship program, RAW.

These critics, fans, and experts might be right. Perhaps the lack of these big names are turning viewers away from RAW. The lack of a true superstar giving the casual fans a reason to tune in every week, if only for a few minutes, is hurting viewership.

Or maybe, just maybe, the company and its creative team is currently in a lull. A lull that finds them often writing story lines into any direction they deem fit and keeping exciting wrestlers that fans want to see out of the main title picture.

Instead, they keep pushing on fans the idea of the Big Show, Kane, and Sheamus. Wrestlers that have had their hey day, some left over from the Attitude Era. Yet they continually appear on RAW (or in the case of Sheamus, who is currently the champion) and leave fans changing the channel.

And that's only part of the problem.

It's understandable to want to showcase stars that have certainly made the company popular over the years. The fact is, though, these guys aren't The Undertaker, Ric Flair, or the Rock. These are wrestlers that fans get excited for when they make appearances at wrestling events. The Undertaker, due to his many appearances over the past months, is probably one reason that ratings didn't dip even lower.

What happens, though, is wrestlers that fans root for and get excited for are generally pushed to mid-card status. Daniel Bryan was stuck there forever. Dean Ambrose was slipping into that status before the injury to Seth Rollins. Dolph Ziggler and Cesaro seem primed to spend eternity there. 

Ambrose and Ziggler are entertaining to watch, both with their personalities and their in-ring skills. Cesaro, while I'm not rushing out to buy a novelty license plate that reads "Cesaro Section", is more than impressive in the ring and was actually beginning to grow in popularity before his injury.

A lack of creativity and surprises (or swerves) in story telling doesn't help these guys, or the top stars, for that matter. Good stories were part of the reason I continued to watch the WWE, even as I reached my 30's. The last major surprise in story telling I remember, though, was when Rollins turned his back on the Shield. And that was exciting as hell but it was nearly 18 months ago.

Take, for example, the recent tournament to find out the new World Champion. I could tell you before the tournament even started who was going to be in the final match. Yes, both Cesaro and Ziggler were entered into the tournament but there was never any doubt they weren't going to reach the final. Both had great matches in the tournament but instead of staying in the title picture, Ziggler is right back to wrestling Tyler Breeze. At least the Big Show and Kane weren't entered into the tournament.

The most exciting division for me, right now, is the Tag Team Division. I'd rather see four tag matches on RAW than see the Big Show wrestling Mark Henry. The New Day, though it took some time, are entertaining and fun to watch. (That's what can happen when you stick with a story, creative team, and not just abandon ship on the first tiny leak). There are at least five solid teams within in that division, yet we hardly see them. I know it's probably too close to the event, but if I were the WWE I'd book a massive five-team tables, ladders, chairs match at the TLC PPV. Give us a taste of good ol' days when Edge, Christian, the Hardy Boys and the Dudley Boyz ruled the roost.

It's time to put some of the wrestling stars of yesteryear to bed. Many are reaching their 40's (or nearly 50, in the case of Kane). Let them wrestle  on a part-time basis or find ways to keep them in stories without wrestling. Some may cite the lack of exciting personalities for stars that do get a big push (see: Reigns, Roman) as a reason for the focus on the "old guard". The change needs to be done, though, in order to see who the next Triple H or The Rock is.

An even deeper drop in ratings may occur but do any casual fans remember watching wrestling from say 1993-1997? I do not. What brought me back were interesting stories and matches that were exciting to watch. It helped that over the top, charismatic personalities of wrestlers were at the forefront of excitement, and not relegated to mid-card status.

Don't get me wrong. There are wrestlers out there being pushed that have a chance to be superstars. Reigns, Ambrose, Rollins, the Wyatt Family, and Kevin Owens are all reasons I tune in. The Divas Division, as opposed to the old days of being paraded around with an occasional match, is on the rise. Interesting characters and feuds are being developed, but the same issue usually arises. With three hours of content available on RAW, you'd think there would be room for more than two matches between women.

Let the young bucks run. Ratings may disappear for awhile but that would mean the mid-cards and lesser known wrestlers may get the focus they rightfully deserve. People love NXT so let's see more of those wrestlers in the "major league". The answers can be two fold: Create better story arcs or give us more wrestling and less talk. Let the matches tell the story.

I'll even give you an arc for free. Let the Wyatt family begin taking the souls of the wrestlers we see less of, in turn growing the family. Let the Wyatts become more dark and mysterious while collecting members for their dark legion.  Soon, it's the Wyatt Family running RAW, while the Authority scrambles to control the situation. Keep a handful of the "Hero" wrestlers to fight a 20-man faction of the Wyatt Family. Put stakes into the story, like maybe the Wyatts threaten to move their faction elsewhere, leaving the WWE with no wrestlers. Build it up until Rollins returns, re-unite the Shield briefly (with new members, like Neville, for example), throw a few NXT stars in there, and have the new Shield save the day and the company.

I'll let WWE creative fill in the in-between stuff.

Let the current era die a slow death. Show us the new faces, the faces many fans want to see. Then, like The Undertaker, the WWE can be resurrected. Only then will fans know what they truly have and that they have a company that takes their desires into consideration.

If nothing changes, Monday nights are going to be filled with a shallow, empty feeling. And that's a reality no WWE fan wants to live with. Then. Now. Or forever.


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