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5 Things WWE has gotten right

ANALYST
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34.05K   //    Timeless

The begining of the ‘Roman Empire’It’s a miracle! Two straight Monday Night Raw telecasts and there is a reason for excitement in WWE.Maybe it’s the fact both John Cena and Randy Orton are off camera – Cena asked for the time off, Orton is dealing with a shoulder injury; or maybe it’s because the creative team has had to work a bit harder to make sure there are compelling stories and an arch of Roman Reigns rise to the top of WWE’s highest zenith.Whatever the case, fans have been treated to three hours of better than usual television.Does this mean there will be more to come? Possibly. Cena is not coming back to television until the middle of December, in time for WWE TLC. Orton, who has had issues with his shoulder before, is out of action as of now for four to six months.For weeks, fans and wrestling media alike have been clamoring for change in the company’s programming and how they have developed storylines. Now, it would appear a formula is working. Maybe that was the plan all along, but that is just conjecture.Professional wrestling across the board is not the booming bonanza it used to be and Vince McMahon has basically exhausted all avenues of storylines – trying to reinvent the wheel and use old spots with new faces.That has not gone over well with the fans of an older generation.But for now, fans can look at the past two weeks as something positive with WWE and its cast of characters. Here are five reasons the programming is finally working – for now anyway.

#1 Building around another Champion

WWE’s last pay-per-view event, Hell in a Cell, told a story. Solid matches that were magnified by the Undertaker-Brock Lesnar main event.

It was also punctuated by the return of Alberto Del Rio and the exit of John Cena. The fact the company has not talked about Cena and his whereabouts tells me the time has come to move on from the leader of the band.

Cena is still a huge part of WWE, but now there is a new sheriff in town. Funny how we are talking about Roman Reigns and he has not captured the WWE World Title yet. Seth Rollins is still the company champion.

It’s only a matter of time until that changes.

This move to make Reigns the centerpiece is reminiscent of Hulk Hogan taking over where Vince McMahon stepped in back in the early 1980s. John Cena isn’t Bob Backlund, but there are similarities.

The Samoan Superman is McMahon’s hand-picked guy, adding to the comparisons.

How the company builds around Reigns will be the major story of 2016. With Rollins and Dean Ambrose in the picture, it is a good bet these three could pass the title around and keep the fans extremely happy.

#2 A lack of authority

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The idea that the Authority runs WWE is well known and for a while was a solid story line. As we all know good things must come to an end.

Right now, the angle is old, boring and makes little sense. Seth Rollins does a better job on his own. He is the company’s best performer right now. The problem is how the Authority is fading. There should be a story or a program where both Triple H and Stephanie McMahon turn on the current champion or confront him after losing the belt to Roman Reigns.

Another possibility is the power couple turning on each other, which leads to the dissolution of the angle. There is nothing better for ratings than watching the McMahon’s turn on each other. Right now, there is the McMahons, Rollins and nothing else. No Kane, no J&J Security and no interference from Vince McMahon.

If Vince McMahon came back to Monday night, it might become must-see television again, but for now, there isn’t the heavy segment filling attraction there and fans are more accepting of it.

Also, Rollins needs more down time, not to be included in four or five segments. But for now, the doses of the power couple fans are spoon fed works.

#3 His name is Bray Wyatt

If there is an underrated performer on the WWE roster, it has to be Bray Wyatt. His continual brilliance in the ring and on the mic is so refreshing.

The best part about Wyatt is he is a man who does not need a title. And when he decides who his next victim will be, we the fans never know what will come out of his mouth or what will happen in the ring.

When I look at Bray Wyatt, I see Raven, Kevin Sullivan and James Mitchell all in one character.

Professional wrestling has gotten away from the idea of sinister characters. Call it sensibilities to the day and age of social media. And the fact everything seems to be scripted on a PG level. It did not used to be that way.

Professional wrestling’s dark side was a huge turn on for fans. The fear and excitement of the unknown – the constant state of Halloween and the idea that these larger than life characters really did eat, sleep and breathe the roles they played. Kevin Sullivan was a master at it. Raven took it to another level with his Flock in ECW.

Wyatt’s ability in the ring (he is the son of Mike Rotunda and the nephew of Barry Windham) shine through. He does not need a title for validation as long as he can pick his spots and woo the crowd.

Professional wrestling needs more dynamic characters and performers in the business.

#4 A solid Tag team division

If you have noticed, WWE is not only working in making its Divas division a strong component of network broadcasting, but the addition of Bubba Ray and Devon Dudley, as well as the return of Jimmy and Jey Uso has made the tag team division white hot.

The New Day hold the straps right now, but there are solid teams that can challenge for the titles without the need to have Fatal Four Way matches and 6-man tag matches.

Tag team wrestling has been a staple for decades in WWf/WWE. In the 1980s and 1990s, tag team wrestling was a major selling point on television, in the arenas and on pay-per-view events. The trend is beginning to grow again and the division could grow some more.

Now that Sheamus is a man on an island with a Money-in-the-Bank briefcase, what is being done to book him properly? Nothing, really. He and Wade Barrett make a dynamic tag team combination and could be just the bruising type of team the division needs to compete. 

#5 Keep it simple

The best part of Hell in a Cell is WWE planned fewer matches that lasted longer and focused more on wrestling.

Maybe this has been the problem all along. With Triple H and Stephanie McMahon having more input in how Raw, Smackdown and overall programs are written, the effort was there, but you can tell they are overthinking.

What if the product becomes better because the basic principles of wrestling are making a way back to the mainstream idea that there is a hero, a villain and plenty of drama in between. Wrestling is supposed to tell a story and have a beginning, middle and end. There must be title contenders and a true road to a championship.

We saw this with Reigns, we see the path Wyatt takes. These are the ideas that wrestling was founded on. It’s not rocket science.

If Kayfabe is all but buried and the idea of high-impact performances are what will get people to come to the events or plunk down $9.99, should the matches and the feuds be entertaining and mean something?

Keep it simple, sell more cable buys and get more people to the arenas. 

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ANALYST
I've been a fan of this business for over 40 years and have been writing about it for the past 20 years. I'm an old school NWA guy who believes in the Texas Bull Rope Match and the wrestlers from "parts unknown". Yes, the Midnight Rider was robbed and should have been NWA World Champion. Wanna know more? Just ask more. Or better yet, read my work.
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