“So Tell Me What You Want…What You Really Really Want”… Yeah, I started this column after a Spice Girls song. Sue me. I named it this partly because I went to a 90’s party Saturday night with my best friend who dressed as Sporty Spice and the song was stuck in my head all weekend, and partly because the opening is appropriate in discussing the state of affairs in the WWE.
The fans are clearly telling WWE what they want, and clearly they are being ignored. In my previous series I stated that I had not watched WWE programming in quite some time, as Powerslam Productions has been busy in Mississippi with our own events and the opening of our training facility, the Powershack Gym, and the fact that I teach school during the week, I don’t have any time to watch television! I haven’t even seen any of this season of Family Guy which turns my stomach. But that is enough boohooing about my lack of free time.
The point is, Sunday night for the first time since WrestleMania 29, I watched a WWE PPV. I have always loved the concept of the Royal Rumble and the good it can do to further storylines in the build to WrestleMania. I have always loved how, when booked correctly, it can launch a superstar into a major push (see Roman Reigns’ fantastic showing Sunday night). When WWE started putting Elimination Chamber matches on in February, it greatly diminished the importance of the Royal Rumble. Rumble winners lost their shots, champions lost their titles on the way to Mania, and a simple formula gets screwed up beyond recognition.
The formula of the Royal Rumble winner facing the WWE Champion at WrestleMania in the main event was brilliant and was a successful formula ever since WWE started it in 1993 with Yokozuna’s win. It launched his main event WWE career and established him as an immediate force. In 1994 they muddled their own formula with the Bret Hart/Lex Luger double win and double title shots at WrestleMania X, but the end result with Bret regaining the championship was a welcome one. Shawn Michaels 95 and 96 wins gave him Mania title matches, but 1997 saw the first real screw up of the Rumble formula when winner Stone Cold Steve Austin didn’t receive a title match, and the Shawn Michaels “I lost my smile” vacancy of the championship sent everything into a weird frenzy and the eventual title match was Sid vs. Undertaker.
The formula was a success in 1998 with Austin winning again and defeating Shawn in the main event of Mania 14, and was yet again screwed up in 1999 with Vince winning it. I could and maybe one day will get deeper into the past Royal Rumbles but I’m straying from my main point (which I tend to do, if you’ve ever had a conversation with me about wrestling, you would know.) Not too long ago, Mark Madden wrote a column on Daniel Bryan, in which he stated that the only acceptable ending to WrestleMania XXX was for the show to close with Daniel Bryan standing as the new WWE Champion and leading 65,000 people in the largest “YES!” chant ever. He was absolutely right on the money. As much as WWE claims to listen to their “Universe”, has there ever in their history been such a clear cut case of them not? I would say no.
With WWE poised for a network launch here in a few weeks, they have stepped into two humongous piles of shit that is going to take some major league time to clean up, but right here free of charge, I am going to clean one of them up. This is a LAST CHANCE for WWE to get this right. And I hope someone up there reads this and considers it, because even though I criticize WWE, think their booking sucks, and cringe at the career killing decisions they make on a weekly basis, I care. I care about the friends I made up there that depend on the success of WWE to pay their bills and feed their families. All of their paychecks are dictated by WWE’s creative decisions! If the WWE turns off their fanbase with their crappy storytelling and refusal to deliver the goods to the consumers, then pink slips can and will start being issued! And I don’t want that for any of those guys or girls.
I don’t want them to wind up like me and still have nightmares and be lost in a world of “real jobs” because WWE controls everything and it’s so hard to make a good full time living in wrestling if you’re not working for them. So WWE: this is your last opportunity, and it’s on the house. Bring back Money in the Bank to New Orleans. Have Daniel Bryan, Kofi Kingston, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Fandango, and Antonio Cesaro open up the card and start it off RIGHT. Put Daniel Bryan over, then have him cash in on Randy Orton after he defeats Batista. That’s your only solution to clean this mess up. That’s the only way to make this right. If you don’t do that, then heaven help the WWE Universe. It’s a simple, obvious solution that somehow, the upper echelon can’t or doesn’t want to see. And if that’s the case, then you’ll never get what you want.
I’ve been reading a lot of hate directed at Dave Batista. That pains me to no end. I worked the Smackdown brand with him for nearly two years, and this huge superstar of a man was as kind and friendly to a green horn rookie referee like me as anybody else on the roster. I was so excited to hear he was coming back and looked forward to the possibilities he brought to the table. Don’t give him flack for winning the Royal Rumble. He didn’t book it. WWE did! The Universe wanted Batista back but they sure didn’t want him to win the Rumble this early. WWE put him in a hole that he may not be able to dig himself out of. Don’t hate on him. What the hell was he supposed to do? Turn it down? Yeah right! So don’t hate Batista for a situation that HE didn’t create.
There’s not a person alive that could have won this year’s Rumble not named Daniel Bryan that would have left the crowd 100% satisfied. Roman Reigns could have pulled off the upset and won and although the response would have been good, people still would have complained. CM Punk could have went the distance and a portion of the audience still wouldn’t have been satisfied. I was convinced after Bray Wyatt defeated Bryan in the opening match, that Bryan was going to come out, win the Rumble, and then defeat Wyatt at Elimination Chamber in February in a rematch before going on to WrestleMania. Boy was I wrong!
Rumors last week was that for the third time at a WrestleMania, Bryan is pegged for Sheamus (remember the WrestleMania 27 Bryan/Sheamus US title match hoopla?) What the hell for? I know the two can have pretty damn good matches together but we have been there and done that twice at Mania already for Pete’s sake. The WM 27 US title match that was advertised, then bumped to dark match, then changed to battle royal halfway through was an insulting cluster to two hardworking men. Then the next year, Sheamus wins the Royal Rumble, gets his title shot against Bryan in the opening match (which pisses me off even more) and then in an effort to further bury Bryan, they job him out in 18 seconds. For what reason? Does Vince just not like Bryan? Because of his size? His look? What’s the reasoning? To quote Sheamus’ theme song: “It’s a shameful thing!” Well WWE I just offered you free pooper scooper for this flaming bag of dog crap you’ve made out of the Royal Rumble.
Now on to the OTHER mess that you’ve created. The word on the street is that WWE talent is concerned about how their payoffs are going to be handled now that PPV rates are going to go down. Also word says that WWE scheduled a talent meeting to address this issue, then cancelled it, and have yet to reschedule it! That’s not an encouraging sign at all. How was this issue not even addressed and taken into consideration during the course of establishing the plan for the network? That was the first thing that I thought of! I’m sure it was the first thing that ALL of the talent thought of! Did WWE just hope that the talent was so job scared that no one was going to bring the issue up? Is that the WWE environment these days? This is exactly why pro wrestlers need a union. To prevent garbage like this. The days of six and seven figure paydays for WrestleMania are likely gone forever. Oh how I weep for the future.
One thing I love about promoting my own shows, and working with Luke Hawx’s Wildkat Sports promotion in New Orleans is that we do our absolute best to give the fans what they want, and give them their money’s worth. How can these two small companies bring smiles to hundreds of faces with shoestring budgets with simple, effective storytelling, and the biggest company in the world ignores the obvious from millions? I’m on my hands and knees begging Impact Wrestling to get their act together and compete. I’m pleading with Jeff Jarrett to close this deal with Toby Keith and get his promotion off the ground.
Ring of Honor, Evolve, Dragon Gate, Pro Wrestling Syndicate, I sincerely hope one or all of you explode like dynamite into the mainstream and can start competing. Then maybe some wrestling fans will get what they want. This business model of WWE Network and the potential talent relations issues it could cause with the workers, combined with the WWE’s stubborn refusal to give the people what they want is not a recipe for success.
I’ve offered a simple solution to one of the two major problems, and you know that WWE won’t take it under consideration. Nor with they even come up with a similar alternative. I can’t help them with the other. The mysterious formula WWE has always used to grade payoffs will become even more mysterious with the launching of the network.
For all of my friends that are still up there, I hope WWE can dig themselves out of this hole. One of my last visits at an event two of my really good friends (whose names I will withhold due to privacy) were so excited to tell me about the births of their first children. These two same friends have also been buried by horrid booking, and potentially career threatening damage has been done. I’m sorry for all of you. These guys depend on WWE creative to book them in a position to where they can feed their wives and children. And WWE is doing a sorry job of it. I don’t want to look online on day and see that these guys have been released, then internally get the blame because “they didn’t get over”, or “Creative has nothing for them”.
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want. Well WWE, they are telling you. And if you don’t start listening to them, then pretty soon, there’s not going to be anybody to tell you anything.
What do you think? Post your thoughts, opinions, feedback and comments below.
Thanks for reading.
About Wes Adams: Wes Adams is a former WWE official/referee. Adams signed a WWE developmental deal in early 2007, and was assigned to Deep South Wrestling. After working as a official/referee on WWE television, he opened his own wrestling promotion “PowerSlam Productions.”