WWE has been a big part of my life for 20 years. I have always watched it and I probably always will. There are things that I love about WWE, and there are things that truly frustrate me about it. This has become increasingly apparent in recent times. I’ve been writing columns on the web for a few years now, and I have come to realise that many of my most recent columns have been largely filled with complaints, rather than excitement and happiness. I understand that nobody really wants to hear or read negative things all the time, but many of us seem to find it more satisfying to focus on the negative than the positive.
Sometimes, we may feel that the negative issues are outweighing the positive things, and that’s where a few of my most recent columns seem to be coming from.
The question is often asked; ‘If you dislike it so much, why do you still watch it?’ That’s where I have to make things clear. I don’t dislike WWE, because if I did, I WOULDN’T watch it. Like a family member or an old friend, there are things they might do that annoy me and quite frankly it’s OK to talk about those little annoyances sometimes. But, enough is enough. WWE puts on their shows every week and as a result it isn’t going to be 100% pure gold every time. That’s just a fact.
It’s fine for us to remember the old days, the ‘Attitude Era’, etc – if I think back, I’m pretty sure that every single WWE show that aired in 1998 was absolutely brilliant – but it probably wasn’t. It’s human nature to say ‘those were the good old days’ or ‘they’ll never replicate that success’, so you’re going to hear it a lot. When talking about your favourite band, football team, or TV show – there’s always somebody that’ll say ‘those were the good old days’.
With all that being said, I would like to focus this column some of the things that I am enjoying in WWE right now. Not just because I might be gaining a reputation as a serial nit-picker, but because I am actually excited about a few things.
1. Damien Sandow. Take a bow, son. This guy is pure gold. He really has the potential to become a major star. From his very first studio-taped promo on Smackdown, he had my undivided attention. We have yet to see him wrestle a full length match, so his in-ring skills on the grand scale remain somewhat of a mystery, but that’s a good thing. His promo delivery is top class. Another interesting thing about Sandow is his physique – he’s another new guy that has come onto the scene who doesn’t have that massive ‘bodybuilder’ specimen. I think this is a good thing, too. As great as those behemoths are, it’s obvious that WWE has made a conscious decision in recent years to promote guys who have a smaller, more natural-looking body. Sandow is already a highlight of the WWE. It won’t be long before he’s dominant.
2. The Tag Team revival. Specifically, Titus O’Neil and Darren Young. Titus began to improve exponentially when he turned heel on NXT. Young had already started to impress by that point. Together, since they debuted as a team on Smackdown, they have been one of the highlights of the show. It’s great to see young up-and-coming-hungry-tigers force their way up the ladder, but it’s even better when there are slightly more experienced hungry tigers battling to keep their place by keeping the newbies down. The Usos, Hawkins & Reks, and the newly formed team of Kidd & Gabriel are examples of where the tag division could be headed in the near future. They all have work to do, but this area of WWE has vastly improved in the last couple of months, with this added focus. There’s another team on the way up – Conor O’Brian & Kenneth Cameron – The Ascension, who made their debut on…
3. The New NXT. Wow. Just a few months ago I was hoping NXT would be shut down altogether, and all it really needed was this facelift. The first episode of the new version just aired here in the UK and what a vast improvement it is. It’s great to finally see some new characters, and the fact that it’s on a much smaller stage provides a totally different, more intimate atmosphere than before.
4. Dolph Ziggler. Of course, everybody has been singing his praises for some time now. And rightfully so. He is ready to move up to the next level, without doubt. He is confident on the mic, and brilliant in the ring. His selling ability reminds me of a young Shawn Michaels. Michaels enjoyed a four year period as the main holder of the Intercontinental Title before finally winning the big one at WrestleMania 12. I think Ziggler should be well on his way to a WWE Title or World Title (a reign lasting more than just a few minutes) pretty soon.
5. Kane. After all this time, Kane is still performing at a high level and is still getting fans to emotionally invest in his character. He’s always been a favourite of mine, and he’s a living legend in WWE. Assuming they both deem it suitable to retire at the same time, I’d like to see Kane and The Undertaker have their final match against each other. It would be a fitting end for both characters.
6. Heath Slater. I mentioned him in my last column. I have thought for quite some time that he has something. I could see him on the sidelines of The Corre, quietly growing into his role, slowly getting better and better as the weeks went by. Now he’s getting more TV time and more mic time, he really is starting to become a highlight of the show for me.
7. Managers. AJ, Rosa Mendes, AW, Sakamoto.. We’re finally starting to see managers in WWE again. A manager can add significant value to a match and to a wrestler’s career. A manager who has successful ‘clients’ can be somewhat of a doctor to a floundering career. Legendary managers such as Mr Fuji, Jim Cornette, Bobby Heenan, Sensational Sherri & Paul Ellering ALL helped the show in their own special way.
8. Money in the Bank. Here’s something that’s only just come along in the last few years. The first MitB ladder match was at WrestleMania 21 in 2005. It’s a great concept and it adds great excitement. Since it became a regular Pay-Per-View in its own right, we’ve seen 2 ladder matches each time – one for Raw and one for Smackdown. This allows WWE to take two different routes in presenting how the MitB winners go after their respective championships. One might cash it in on the same night (Kane, 2010) and one might keep us all guessing for several months (Daniel Bryan, 2011). The question of IF the winner will cash it in hangs over every show. Not only that, but the MitB PPV last year included one of the best WWE Championship matches in recent history, and if that trend continues, it could become one of WWE’s most prominent shows of the year. Some would argue that it already has.
So there we have it. Some of you may completely disagree with a couple of the things I’ve listed here, and that’s just fine. There’s so much variety in WWE that there should be something for everyone. There’s always something that keeps me coming back – and if that happens to be the main event, the mid-card, or the brand new Superstar – it doesn’t matter.