I'm not completely negative about RAW right now, because I'm enjoying the emergence of young talents and new acts such as Ambrose, Rollins and Rusev, who appear to be getting genuinely set up as the main eventers of the future. I believe that the current roster, including the guys and girls still in NXT, is the best all-round roster WWE has ever had, and if used right can produce some memorable matches in the near future.
But the product WWE is putting out at this moment is disastrous, and Vickie puking is a perfect example of just how bad it can get. Not even a child could have found that entertaining; it could only ever appeal to Vince's warped sense of humour. And if Roman Reigns continues to get caught up in these wacky Cena-esque scenarios, he is going to lose a lot of fan support.
So what can be done to change this around? Well, as an armchair booker, I can easily suggest WWE look to New Japan Pro Wrestling's product to see some obvious changes that could be made. New Japan has had my two favourite matches of the year so far in Tomohiro Ishii vs Kota Ibushi, and Ricochet vs KUSHIDA. They put on great pro wrestling shows every month, whereas WWE's show quality has been very hit-and-miss lately. There's little to no chance WWE will ever change their presentation style until they are forced to by dwindling popularity and profit margins, but hypothetically, let's see what could be done to improve their product.
A greater focus on in-ring action
|Backstage skits can get really, really weird.|
There are still comedy characters such as Toru Yano who are still pretty important in the New Japan roster hierarchy, but his focus is still shown to be on winning matches and titles rather than messing around in backstage skits. A big part of Vince McMahon's image of 'Sports Entertainment' is a variety show with multiple facets, including what are essentially comedy sketches, but the writers have proven time and again to lack anything resembling comedy prowess. Maybe if the writers focused on telling stories in the ring, we wouldn't have to cringe our way through RAW's terrible backstage antics.
Rotation of Top Stars
|The big stars of NJPW... and Naito.|
In NJPW, there are 3 'mega star' draws; Hiroshi Tanahashi, Shinsuke Nakamura and Kazuchika Okada. In 2014, New Japan have taken advantage of their great popularity by attempting to split main events between them rather than relying on one top draw to main event a PPV every time. This month, Nakamura main-evented the Dominion show, while Okada main evented the big shows in April and May. Not only does this avoid burning through big matches too quickly, it prevents the big stars from becoming overworked and fatigued, which is especially important for the 37 year old Tanahashi. When one big star main events a show, the others typically work tag matches where they only have to wrestle half the match and maybe don't need to go as hard, keeping them fresh for their turn in the spotlight. It's a system that makes sense, and one that WWE would be smart to adopt, especially in the wake of Daniel Bryan's injury which forced him to drop the title and change their plans.
Announcing match cards well in advance
At this month's NJPW PPV, the lineup for the biggest annual wrestling tournament; G1 Climax, was revealed in a very cool video, and made me mark out in excitement big time by revealing huge match-ups such as Shibata vs Tanahashi, one month in advance. New Japan reveal most of the matches for their next big show about a month in advance, and this allows anticipation to build ahead of time.
In WWE, you'd be lucky if even 4 PPV matches have been booked one week ahead of the show itself. Most of the time, a show will include at least one unannounced match which naturally feels unimportant as it hasn't received any build-up. It seems like a no-brainer to inform the viewer of what matches you expect them to pay to watch, and announcing full cards well in advance would certainly make me more inclined to buy a WWE show.
Long lasting stables
A real Crusierweight division
|Ricochet with the Super Junior trophy.|
WWE passed on singing Ricochet earlier this year on the grounds that they already had enough 'small guys', if dirtsheets are to be believed. Ricochet is a 'once in a generation'-type athlete, and has become one of the best wrestlers in the world. You can never have 'enough' of these kinds of performers, so if this is the reason for WWE passing on Ricochet, then it's pretty damn petty and will hurt the quality of their roster in the long term. I'm pretty sure WWE will never say they have 'enough' big hosses, but this prioritisation of super heavyweights over cruiserweights is again outdated, with so many amazing regular-sized guys on the indies.
I know this reads as very negative towards WWE, and I am overlooking the aspects of NJPW that could be improved here. But as much as WWE wants to be in its own bubble, it's not, and needs to take influence from other areas of pro wrestling in order to become better.