Almost two months ago the McMahon Family and Triple H stood in the middle of the ring on Monday Night Raw and declared that change was coming to the WWE. Most importantly, that change would mean that the WWE Universe will now be considered The Authority. WWE fans would be heard and their opinions would be taken seriously in terms of the direction of WWE programming. Fans would be getting new fresh matchups and new fresh faces on the main roster in hopes to bridge the divide between fans and front office. With little less than two months since these declarations were presented, are the McMahons and Triple H making good on their promises?
These promises were obviously met with skepticism from fans and justifiably so. We’ve been accustomed to getting our hopes up when a new shiny toy like a Finn Balor comes along, someone who can change the landscape of WWE, only to be relegated to meaningless feuds with a man dressed as an Olive Garden server. Personally, I was split on the promises we were getting and if we were actually going to get them. I like to think of myself as a more positive WWE fan always hoping that we’re going to get the best, most creative wrestling show possible. How could we not? Whatever your feelings are when it comes to WWE in comparison to other entities of professional wrestling, to deny that WWE is the top of the food chain in the game is foolish. They have an abundance of talent, one might think WWE has too much talent. This talent is more than capable of producing quality shows that cater to all types of wrestling fans and still get new eyes on the product. While these are all great things, fans often times get the same recycled stories with the same big players at the top. It has gotten to the point where even the most devoted fan would make a point as to why great things may be on the horizon but fans are still going to get more of the same.
When the declaration of a new WWE coming was set in motion it reintroduced feelings of when Vince McMahon began an episode of Raw telling the fans that a change in attitude would be seen on WWE programming. While it’s no secret that I am not the biggest fan of the Attitude Era it is a prime example of WWE staying true to its word. That change did come. Sure, we could have done without the constant need to have breasts forced into our minds or an old lady giving birth to a hand, but the fans got exactly what they wanted. An edgier, more realistic depiction of life using wrestling. With the fans getting what they want you saw more signs and a livelier crowd completely transfixed on anything that was happening in the ring. Those things are what I miss most about this era of WWE. If you loved WWE you loved WWE.
It wouldn’t be fair to chastise WWE and make claims that they’re blowing smoke up our behinds when they have taken small strides for change. A big thing for me was seeing Mustafa Ali on the main roster. Anywhere in the world, any company can take what Mustafa is building and easily make him their biggest star. While 205 Live would not be where it is now without Ali’s body of work, seeing him wow the crowd on SmackDown is a joy to watch. Another positive is doing away with the automatic rematch clause for former champions. Automatic rematches became so overused that it turned into a creative crutch to lean on that was clear to see by even the least privy of fans. I don’t even hate if a former champion stays next in line for at least one more title shot so long as they earn it. Gauntlet matches or simply saying “you lost, string together two consecutive wins and you’ll get another shot” makes it feel like that person earned their way to stay in the title picture. We’re getting Women’s Tag Team Championships, The Revival winning the Raw Tag Team Championships, and the top of the talent food chain starts with the likes of Ronda Rousey, Daniel Bryan, and Seth Rollins.
With that said we still see a lot of the same things that cause devoted fans to turn sour on the product. It seems like three hours of Raw means fans are going to get a blitzkrieg of product advertisements mixed in with feel-good company image pieces leaving little room for the actual content of the product. Of course, I know WWE needs its advertisers to stay a billion dollar company but do we really need all of them? Do we really need a meaningless 90-second hype video for Rey Mysterio, someone who doesn’t even perform on Raw, to appease Golden Corral? It honestly feels like WWE gives us a show that is 30% entertainment. Just enough to keep us for the 70% of ads that are going to be punching us in the face for the next three hours.
I do honestly believe some sort of change is coming to the WWE but not because they want to change. Ratings are becoming an antiquated system to gauge viewership but the day that 100k fans tune in rather than at least the norm of somewhere close to a million, WWE will go into full panic. The competition against WWE, while nowhere near the level of WCW yet, definitely has the potential to make WWE sweat. With more competition, it means more opportunities for talent who are not happy with their WWE standing to go make money elsewhere. With the financial backing that AEW has and the stability NJPW has been able to maintain, making WWE money elsewhere is no issue for talent. The internet has been around forever but still grows in terms of how the everyday consumer can find content that fits their wants, often for free.
WWE has gotten complacent with being at the top of the game with competition miles and miles away. While WWE certainly has it’s bright spots outside of the main roster shows, if its flagship products lose interest by the masses the whole foundation will crumble. Eventually, the gap between WWE and its competition will shrink and in those moments we will see if WWE can show everyone why they are the end all be all or why they couldn’t keep up.