This week, we have Callum Wiggins, Stephen Wago, and Carlos Toro answering questions on the state of WWE and its future.
1. After WrestleMania 31, do you feel excited for the future storylines or wrestlers that could be getting a push?
Callum Wiggins: I feel that currently there are some superstars that are getting a lot more focus than others, and it is therefore hard not to get excited about their future in WWE. Neville in particular is looking like he is going to have a big impact in the coming months, and does not look set to become another disappointing NXT arrival that quickly depreciates down the card. I'm also intrigued by the development of Sheamus as a destroyer of the little guys in WWE, Naomi's new heel persona, and Seth Rollins' run as WWE World Heavyweight champion.
But, of course there are some storylines and individuals I am less confident about. I don't like the fact that they seemingly given up on Roman Reigns' push to the title and now don't really know what they are going to do with him in the main event. Daniel Bryan's latest injury puts the immediate future of the Intercontinental Championship in doubt. And I really could not give any care for whoever Bray Wyatt is going after next after he fell short against Undertaker at WrestleMania.
Stephen Wago: Unfortunately, WWE hasn't given us much to be excited for during the post-Mania season. I'll elaborate on that a little more later, but I'm trying to keep it positive right now.
I'm very much looking forward to the development of Neville. His in-ring style caters more to a mainstream audience than it does the NXT crowd. He's very flashy, has a great entrance, and so far has had nothing but fantastic matches. As long as they keep giving him a strong showing and don't push him too quickly, we may have a main event player 5 years from now.
The only other member of the roster to be really excited for right now is Seth Rollins. Many considered Rollins to be the member of The Shield that would struggle the most when they eventually split. I would have never thought Seth would be the top heel in the company, let alone the WWE World Heavyweight champion so soon. He is the first legitimate heel that we've had in a long time. I'm hoping he holds the belt for the majority of the year. His work-rate, mic skills and even look constantly evolve. I feel Seth Rollins is one the guys that can carry the company going forward.
Carlos Toro: This is the second year in a row where we see an NXT superstar become a member of the main roster the night after WrestleMania and have immediate impact. Last year we had Paige and this year we have Neville. Neville and the Lucha Dragons have sparked fans' interest in high-flying wrestlers and reminded us of how much we enjoyed watching Rey Mysterio in his younger days in WWE and Evan Bourne as well.
This is a lull period for WWE as we're now just recharging from the storylines that concluded at WrestleMania, so it's kind of hard to get excited at the future when we don't really know what that future is. Is Daniel Bryan a part of that future? Where do guys like Rusev, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose fit into those future plans? As far as I'm concerned, these are the three biggest guys that need something to keep themselves relevant at the top of the card (I'm excluding Ryback and Bray Wyatt since it's rumored that they're having a feud very soon).
I generally like to be optimistic about the future, especially since we can watch the potential future main eventers for WWE every Wednesday on NXT on the WWE Network. The main roster is going to be completely different 5 years from now when we have Finn Balor, Sami Zayn, Rollins, Reigns, Ambrose, Neville, and Kevin Owens (just to name a few) be the flag bearers of the company.
2. Is there anything you would add/take out or change that could make the overall product better?
Callum Wiggins: The WWE product has a number of significant flaws at the moment. Some are just to my personal taste, such as the constant referrals to social media, but this is part of the company's strategy so that has as much chance of disappearing as John Cena has turning heel. I'd like to feel a lot more secure that WWE has a long-term vision of where superstars are heading which they plan for a few months in advance. I get that feeling when I watch NXT, but it is absent from an episode of Raw or SmackDown.
Other foibles include the constant promos to start episodes rather than a match. Promos are important, but I'd like to see it change up a little bit. It has just become to formulaic and familiar, where suspense is hard to come by. They need to shake things up a little to get fans feeling shocked on occasion, which is easier said than done in this spoiler-laden environment.
Finally, one thing that really needs to be addressed is the tag team division in its current state. With Jey Uso injured, The Prime Time Players reduced to lame comedy shtick and The New Day hated by the audience, it really isn't a great time for the tandems in the company. Only Cesaro/Tyson Kidd and The Lucha Dragons have any fire behind them, so WWE could do a lot worse than throwing some lower card wrestlers together to add bulk to the division. How about a dancing combination of R-Truth and Fandango?
Stephen Wago: Two words: continuity and realism.
There is nothing more that I hate seeing than a guy who's just been screwed, robbed of his championship and broken come out the next night with a smile on his face and shrug it off—I'm looking at you John Cena. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. People know professional wrestling is rigged. But if you don't take your product seriously, nobody else will.
If someone did something horrible to you, how would you react? That's what the company needs to be thinking when booking. I get that it's entertainment, but it's time to scrap the fart humor and stupidity. It's not what people tune in for. They want over-the-top personalities put in hostile environments and then watch the chaos unfold.
Pro wrestling is simple, but when you start booking as a committee, with several hands in the pot, we get nonsensical trash. How often have you watched the product and thought to yourself "Didn't these guys feud not to long ago?" Chances are, they did. A lack of long term planning and on-the-fly decisions have hurt the growth of this company long term.
Carlos Toro: One thing I would definitely get rid of is the gimmick pay-per-views. No more Extreme Rules, no more TLC, no more Hell in a Cell, and even no more Money in the Bank. The constant oversaturation of monthly pay-per-views is starting to get on my nerves. I'm not alone when I say that half of these pay-per-views feel like a slightly more important Monday Night Raw.
In my perfect world, there would be only six pay-per-views WWE broadcasts: The Big 4 (Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series), bring back King of the Ring or something in between Mania and SummerSlam, and Night of Champions if they format it so that every match is a title match and last at least 20 minutes each.
This accomplishes several things. First of all, it gives more meaning to the pay-per-views and it gets fans more excited to see the culmination of months long feuds and matches that we want to see. Secondly, it gives time for the wrestlers and creative team time to flesh out the current angles and make it a real feud with real meaning and able to plan for the future. As much as I'm excited for Dean Ambrose vs Luke Harper at Extreme Rules, there's really no big story behind it. I still don't see why The Miz vs. Damien Sandow wasn't given a match on the card and instead got only two 2-minute matches on Raw.
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing and that applies to the pay-per-views. Overexposure to the product could backfire and unless WWE does something about it, it'll be hard to keep fans interested on whatever is being put on television.
3. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being terrible and 10 being amazing, how would you grade WWE as a whole:
Callum Wiggins: At this point in time, I would rate WWE a 6 out of 10. There are plenty of positives, such as the in-ring performances of a number of their biggest wrestlers that they showcase on a regular basis. The WWE Network has been a great resource for the discerning wrestling fan, and I think the creative team is doing well with a number of angles. Seth Rollins as WWE Champion makes sense, John Cena is rebuilding the United States Championship, and the Divas division has been a great deal more entertaining.
However, there are still some major issues that need to be repaired to improve its rating, and they really all came together on the latest episode of Raw. Too much talking, a lack of direction for a number of superstars, matches that are ridiculously short/forgettable and the lack of an adequate tag team division. Until these are addressed, WWE cannot be seen as performing any better than slightly above average at this moment in time.
Stephen Wago: I think WWE had one of their better years with 2014. Daniel Bryan finally toppled The Authority, The Shield's story had a lot of awesome moments, and Brock Lesnar's dominate title reign was nothing short of brilliant. Plus, to top it all off, we had Sting's shocking surprise at Survivor Series.
Then, I look at 2015. Was it not obvious that if they bought Daniel Bryan back, especially at the Royal Rumble, that fans would turn on Roman Reigns? Was it not obvious that the build for WrestleMania would blow if you built three feuds around part-time guys? Is it not obvious that people do not want to see Roman Reigns vs. Big Show?
I look at the current WWE product and I can't help but shake my head. We're at a weird stage in the company where the old guard is being phased out. The new guys coming in are fantastic, but WWE isn't giving them a leg to stand on. Reigns isn't getting over against Big Show, nor is Rusev getting over with "lol, Cena wins" booking.
In summary, there are a couple of things to look forward to, but on 5+ hours of television, I need more than that. So with that, WWE scores a 4 on my scale.
Carlos Toro: WWE gets a 7 out of 10 from me. My rating takes factors in consideration that aren't necessarily wrestling related. WrestleMania 31 was fantastic, the WWE Network has 1.3 million subscribers at least (which is a very good number for a service like that after only being available for 14 months) and the content keeps growing and improving. I love how the company is not only getting NXT stars on the main roster, but also giving them a good push. They're even giving Divas matches more time on both Raw and SmackDown, which is very fun to watch.
What is keeping me from giving WWE a higher score is the aforementioned large number of pay-per-views and the fact that two-thirds of what's on Raw is of no real relevance in the grand scheme of things.
I can't knock the company too hard, since this is typically the time post-Mania season that is hard for fans to truly get excited after months of buildup for the biggest show of the year. We won't really look forward to the next huge show until Money in the Bank which kicks off SummerSlam season. Ask me in a few months when fans are recharged and WWE is back to planning the next huge angle to kick off the second half of 2015.
Are your opinions similar to that of this article's writers? Excited about the future of WWE and are you content with the company at this very moment? Sound off on why or why not in the comments section below.