WWE Midyear Report Card
It's hard to believe, but we are already six months into what is promising to go down in history as the absolute worst year since 2015. Despite the rest of the world descending into chaos and mire, WWE it appears is doing slightly better. Touting a “New Era”, fresh faces are accompanying the tried and true storytelling WWE has been relying on for the last 25 years.
With six months of programming in the can, fans have had a lot of content to digest. From “Black Friday,” To Roman Reigns's dominance of nearly every facet of programming, wrestling fans have been very vocal about their opinions of the direction of WWE. While the premier brand showcasing the greatest sport in the world may currently be in a state of flux, as a whole, the year hasn't been too kind to WWE. They may want to get to the mailbox before Mom and Dad get home because the marks on the report card aren't that great.
*Editors Note: This article was pitched before the announcement of the Brand Extension. As such, it will not be referenced.
The Women's Championship/Diva's Championship
WWE had no choice leading into Wrestlemania. The Divas Championship had to go. Professional Wrestling had always operated better when they treated the product with a modicum of respect and realism. Crowning a female talent with the title of best “Diva” on the roster amounts to awarding the “Trashiest Stripper” in the stable. The word “Diva” carried with it so much negative baggage that the idea that WWE took this long to retire the championship is certainly a head scratcher.
Meanwhile, the Women's Championship isn't doing much better. Since winning the title at Wrestlemania, current WWE Women's Champion, Charlotte has retained her title through devious means in each defense. Charlotte has even gone so far as using dirty tactics during matches on Raw and SmackDown. Unfortunately, it goes a bit further than that as Ric Flair has been involved with each decision. Let it sink in that the marquee of the “Women's Revolution” has been determined by someone with a penis.
The Tag Team Championship
The New Day are the most over thing in wrestling right now, save for the live audience at NXT events. The Tag Division has a surprising amount of diversity currently but not a lot of depth to the roster. The Social Outcasts, The Ascension and Breezeango all play the same role as enhancement talent. Much like the New Age Outlaws before them, The New Day are more over than the belts themselves, which does present sort of a problem for up and coming teams like The Vaudevillains. However, with Enzo and Cass now on the main roster, expect the big pops to continue.
The United States Championship
Alberto Del Rio held the belt for a while. That was something that happened. Kalisto held it for a while and went on to have a lackluster title reign. It is worth mentioning that had Ryback not shit the bed in regards to his relationship with WWE months before, Kalisto's title reign may have been remembered more fondly. Although, as you can see below, Ryback did save Kalisto's life at WWE Payback so I'd say he certainly made it up to him.
PS: The John Cena United States Open Challenges were always a little stupid especially when you beat everyone for weeks on end.
The Intercontinental Championship
The best storylines and the best wrestling is currently taking place in the undercard. The Miz and company have singlehandedly saved The Intercontinental Championship, even if Zach Rider was sacrificed at the altar to do so. However, further thought would lead you to the conclusion that Rider likely wasn't the one to save the belt. Thanks to The Miz, Kevin Owens, Cesaro and Sami Zayn, the stepping stone belt finally feels like it means something again. As of press time, the belt is taking a hiatus of television while The Miz films a movie. A blessing in disguise as fans have a chance to wind down from their amazing fatal four way at WWE Extreme Rules.
The WWE World Heavyweight Championship
I'll be up front: the Title match at Extreme Rules was among the worst I've ever seen. My friends and colleagues in the wrestling community loved it and praised Roman Reigns for his efforts and some went so far as to name him the MVP of the night. Instead, what I saw was the hand-picked golden boy kicking out of half a dozen finishers and six chair shots only to deliver his one finisher for a victory.
At this point, Reigns is becoming a distraction and he's taking the belt along with him. The amount of trouble WWE is going through to get Reigns over is starting to seep into other storylines and effect the pushes of other talent. I've lived through plenty of champions that I didn't like. The main difference between Triple H and CM Punk were that WWE wasn't bending the entire creative direction of the company to get these guys popular with the crowd. That is was is continuing to happen here and at this point. I just want it to stop.
Monday Night Raw
Let's face it, guys. Monday Night Raw has become Saturday Night Live. Most of the show is god awful, and then you get to Weekend Update, and it's a crap shoot whether or not you start playing a video game. If you peel away the complaints of content, the commentators, the rating, the network, and the talent, you're left with one universal complaint: The show is too fucking long! Be that as it may, the brand is and continues to be the flagship of the company. For casuals and hardcore fans alike, Raw engages fans and garners feedback. Even if the show is boring as all hell, we're all back week after week. They must be doing something right.
Thursday Night SmackDown
If Monday Night Raw is Saturday Night Live, then SmackDown is a rebroadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. This past Thursday, upon returning to the WWE, Seth Rollins opened the show by starting a promo with, “As I said on Raw,” and gave the Cliff Notes version of his promo delivered days prior. SmackDown is nothing more than a glorified house show. The only reason to watch SmackDown is for the return of heel Jerry Lawler.
Several talents are out injured. Enzo Amore nearly died in the ring at the hands of Simon “Botch” Gotch. Ryback burned every bridge before his exit, and Cameron wasn't far behind. Black Friday rubbed people the wrong way as Damien Sandow was shown the door. Adam Rose was treated in an embarrassing and disgusting manner regarding his suspension. By his account, Cody Rhodes was also handled in a very questionable manner. Image wise, WWE hasn't been making a lot of friends when it comes to the fanbase.
The WWE Network
In all truth, There is a good amount of value in the WWE Network. Granted most of the original programming isn't that great, The Edge and Christian Show and Camp WWE make up for that in spades. Unfiltered and Superstar Ink provide decent distractions, but the meat and potatoes lie in wrestling content. Yes, some of it is censored and altered but given the decades worth of programming on the service, there isn't any reason you shouldn't be a subscriber.
Those who WWE entrusts to work without a script make the program much easier to watch. Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho are doing some amazing work on the microphone. Bray Wyatt proves, again and again, to be one of the best on the stick when he is given the chance. However, the limitations imposed on those with scripts become more apparent when guys like Roman and Kalisto give interviews or take the mic. Couple that with the limits of parental guidance and you're left with phrases like “suffering succotash”.