Welcome everyone. You've landed on Planet Kayfabe for THE FINAL TIME... in 2017. I hope you enjoyed your Christmas holiday. I did, thanks for asking. Thanks to Santa, I'm now the proud owner of Metallica's "Load" album on vinyl. So, if you think I come off as a heel sometimes in internet wrestling circles, this has nothing on the heat I'd get in hardcore metal circles.
Yeah, suck it elitist pricks and self-appointed purity officers. I put "Bleeding Me" next to any of those classic 80's tunes any day.
Anyway, before this column turns into an 8,500 word wall of text about why Load is one of the most underrated albums of all time, I turn my attention back to WWE and the upcoming new year. I'm sure many of you have resolutions. Maybe you want to lose weight. Maybe you want to quit smoking. Honestly, neither of those are toxic on society than society as a whole in 2017 getting more bitter and sensitive about everything, so everyone should just resolve not to be a bitter SJW bitch in 2018 and my the internet and the world a happier place.
Much like you and I, WWE should resolve to be better in 2018, too. Coming off a rather... 'meh' 2017 that outside of Kurt Angle coming back has been fairly uneventful I have done all the brain work for WWE and come up with my own resolutions for WWE in 2018. Let's get started...
In 2018 World Wrestling Entertainment should resolve to...
Have a less scripted product: This one you probably saw coming a mile away. As obvious of what a young meatball trying to burn off that "Freshman 50" in the gym on January 2 resolved for the new year, this one is as glaringly obvious, only I doubt in this situation WWE will even step in the metaphorical gym once never mind about 3 days like most "new year; new me" types.
The gym here is WWE allowing their talent to flex their own creative muscles. We've seen plenty of examples of great unscripted moments. From The Miz on Talking Smack, which actually ignited a career resurgence for him to which today he's Rolling Stone's Wrestler of the Year (depending on how seriously you take those old, out of touch, communist ass bags at RS, but I digress) and to the recent Mojo Rawley promo that he recorded in his basement or something with his phone and posted on Twitter which ended up being one of the best WWE promos of 2017.
The point is, WWE can trust their talent. If someone falls on their face and cuts a bad promo on live television -- IT'S OKAY! Look at Roman Reigns. When his rise began he was plagued with terrible scripted promos that he delivered terribly and it costed him a lot of fans who may never forget "suffering succotash" or when he forgot his lines at TLC and all the other bad jokes and fairy tales he was doing around that time which leads to the reputation he still has with many fans to this day. I mean comes on, WWE... If Roman went out there flying by the seat of his ass do you think anything he could have possibly done ANY worse than that?! Even if he did, at least the big dog would learn and not have to sit there like a puppy waiting for good material to be fed into his mouth to regurgitate back to the fans and hope that is comes out at least somewhat natural sounding.
In 2017 we've seen a lot of good wrestling but Jesus f***ing Christ in Heaven do the interviews and promo segments suck right now. They're just wasted time with the same robotic WWE talking points coming out of everyone's mouth and very few people stand out as individuals because of it.
What happened to "Bigger, Badder, Better"?
As I mentioned earlier this month, I was in attendance at Raw in Providence. While I enjoyed myself and had a great time outside of some drunk ass hipster douche covering his thinning hair with a knit cap refusing to sit down and hopping in random unoccupied seats when he did decide to park his ass.
If people complaining about the lack of pyro on Raw and Smackdown these days makes you scoff and roll your eyes and feel fans are just nit-picking, it's a different story live and if this does in fact bother you being a home viewer, it probably bothers you 10 times more in person.
Aaron Rift has said that Raw should feel like a huge rock concert like it used to in years prior and since pyro got cut out of WWE's budget the shows have really lost that high-energy rock show like feel. So, I feel it's the perfect analogy. Now we don't need Attitude Era levels of pyro or like in WCW where pretty much anyone regardless of their spot on the card got pyro for their entrance. I understand budget cuts have to be made. However I disagree with guys like Road Dogg who so easily brush this off by saying "In 3 months it'll be the norm and no one will care, that's our current society. Pyro in a Wrestling show isn't a priority in life."
Road Dogg Jesse James made those comments back in July. As we approach 2018, we still care. Pyro on a wrestling show may not be a priority in life like eating and sleeping, but you can't over-look the role it played in the show. When Raw began with explosions and fireworks it felt like you were apart of something huge and not just an ordinary house show. When I was at Raw, it was nice to see Kane but... it was just... nice. There was no fire when he came out and none shooting from the 4 ring posts which was a trademark of his for almost 20 years -- TWENTY YEARS! Kane without his pyro is just some old guy in a Halloween costume. God bless the guy... but... Kane in not-so-monstrous shape at 50 years old in the middle of a mayoral run is not something that excites me, so you damn well pop me with some f***ing pyro at least!
Another thing is the sad state of the WWE Titan Tron. I know I've mentioned this in the past year or so if not here on Planet Kayfabe then on my Twitter... @PlanetKayfabe but I can't stand how they nixed the old Titan Tron videos which were almost like a music video for the individual performer with a simple logo. It's like we're going backwards to the dark ages of 1994, yet the company claims to be bigger than ever. It sure doesn't feel like it. The set itself feels like a minimalist approach with no character at all. Shit, at least the small sets of old had some charm to them.
I guess I can't complain too much. Last year I said after the brand split it would be a good time to finally change that set that they've been using since the year 2,00-and-f***ing-8 and they did... I mean kinda I guess. There's more LED shit to look at on stage and the LED posts and the LED ring apron. With the way attendance has been this year they might as well put LED fans on the backs of empty seats. Whatever. It was a change, but I would have liked MORE of a change. Something that stands out and defines this so called "new era". (Do they still even say that?)
I'm not expecting another big set change for the TV shows though, but at least pop some pyro during the open and don't neuter guys like Kane who all he really had left was that entrance. Again... with all due respect.
Pump the breaks on false finishes: 2017, much like 2016 and 2015 before it has been a year rife with false finishes in matches in WWE. Not just on Pay-Per-View, too. On ~FREE~ television! I think it's safe to say WWE has finally jumped the shark on false finishes. What used to be reserved for the occasional big match is now commonplace where even guys like Elias are hanging with Roman Reigns for 20+ minutes and kicking out of his signature moves in the process. Even the usually portrayed as cowardly and uptight Hollywood elitist The Miz can kick out of spears and Superman Punches. Does this company not know that they can book long, competitive matches without having there be multiple false finishes?
It almost feels Russo-esque in a way. Like how Russo would see a title change on TV popped a crowd or the occasional swerve would generate interest in an angle, suddenly because it worked once you were bombarded with title changes weeks apart and random swerves that made no sense but were just done for the sake of swerving and no one cared. That's what these false finishes feel like. These matches aren't all f***ing HBK vs Undertaker at Wrestlemania 25 or Rock vs Austin at Wrestlemania 17. They're RAW and Smackdown -- TELEVISION matches that don't all need to go on a half hour spree of killing all the top signature moves in the company.
Like I said, these are good in doses, but it's seemingly every week now. You may like Elias, but give me a break... There's no reason a guy like him should be going that long with Roman Reigns on TV in a non-feud match where he kicks out of his signature move... but... this is 2017. He HAS TO kick out his signature moves because everyone else does and if Elias loses to just one signature move in those 20 minutes, suddenly it buries him because these spots have been devalued so much. It's entirely counter-productive. It's like the John Cena US Open Challenge which despite everyone touting it's praises for giving us good TV matches in a vacuum, in reality it did diddly f***ing dick for the wrestlers because all of them, after hanging for 25 minutes with John Cena were ousted back to the midcard the next week after he beat them where they would lose in 4 minute matches to much lesser stars than John Cena for months to come.
Other than Kevin Owens, no one was really "made" from John Cena's "hard fought" US Open Challenge matches and ya know why that is? Because Kevin actually beat Cena -- CLEAN! What a concept. Going over a big star to get someone over a legitimate talent. No, instead they do this one step forward/two steps back bullshit where they have a midcarder lose to guys like Roman and Cena in long, boring matches while commentary tries to put it over like some big deal. It's not. It's commonplace. If you want to put someone over pick someone and DO IT! Giving every midcarder a spotlight moment on Raw where Cole puts them over as being "very game" in a losing effort is not special and doesn't do anyone any favors when everyone above the likes of Curt Hawkins is booked in this manner.
Utilize Finn Balor better: I single out Finn, but you can probably list a handful of main roster wrestlers that could be booked better and played up to their strengths more. Finn Balor is probably the biggest victim of WWE midcard purgatory booking. They want to keep him somewhat credible, but don't want to push him for whatever reason. The inaugural winner of the Universal Championship is just another guy on the roster right now and amazingly the crowd still reacts to him (and more than just during his entrance) However this year he's been left to carry shit feud after shit feud and right now he's locking up with The Miz's lackeys while he's off filming a movie in a nothing feud that no one cares about. Not because they don't care about Finn, but because the fans know he's better than having to sell for f***ing Bo Dallas and f***ing Curtis Axel of the f***ing Miztourage for 80% of a match before he eventually makes his comeback.
I don't know why this seems so difficult to them. WWE always touts out that bullshit about how "the fans make the stars". Yeah, maybe 20 years ago when WWE was held accountable by fans because if they didn't like what they saw they could just watch f***ing WCW and see what's going on there. We can't really do that today. At least turn to a different wrestler show on Monday nights. The ratings every year in the 3 hour Raw era indicate that many people have found another way to occupy that time of their day that doesn't invole WWE forcing out there who they think you should accept as a big star. It's just crazy to me. WWE after seemingly listening to the fans and seemed primed to turn Jason Jordan heel since the fans overwhelmingly have rejected this angle with Kurt Angle and his shit acting and total lack of charisma despite his incredible in-ring skills. But no... He's a still going to be a babyface and you fans are just going to have to like it, dammit.
There's a few simple resolutions for WWE as we head into 2018.
By the way, what the hell is up with this poll WWE put out today? The ask "Which of these veteran Superstars is most likely to become a world champion in WWE?"
When you think of "veteran superstars" on today's roster, who do you think of? Randy Orton, maybe? Guys like AJ Styles or Nakamura even though one is currently a world champion and "new" in WWE's mind. How about a guy like The Miz? He's been with WWE for over a decade now and has come off the best 18 month stretch of his career. Or maybe even John Cena? Sure, he's part time now pretty much, but you know he's coming for that world title record.
Well, none of those were of the four option. Your choices are: Triple H (of course. I think he's in EVERY WWE.com poll) Kurt Angle who is the current General Manager and has yet to wrestle a singles match in WWE since returning. The Undertaker who will be turning 53 next year and looked about 83 in his match with Roman Reigns last year. And finally... Goldberg. Another 50 year old who already had his storybook return that included a world championship run.
Uhh... How about NONE of those choices? How about since it's 2018, we finally put the 1990's to rest? Shit. They're gonna bitch about how the current crop of talent can't get over when every year we have to sit through these nostalgia runs. Sure, I'd like to see Kurt have one last singles match at Wrestlemania in WWE, but he doesn't need to win a title. Just like how HHH didn't have to win a title when what was once a pretty hot Dean Ambrose would have been a perfectly acceptable opponent for Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 32. You may laugh now, but in context of that period a star would have been made if Dean won that Rumble. Instead he lost. Got squashed by Brock. Went into obscurity and is just now kind of...ish gaining back some steam. Then this injury happened, but this is WWE and sometimes the best thing that can happen to a wrestler these days is being off their TV show for a few months. As crazy as it sounds.
When Vince was on Steve Austin's podcast and he referenced millennials that lack ambition and don't want to "grab for the brass ring" it reminded me of, oh say about 18 years ago when Hulk Hogan used to say shit like "no one under 40 draws in WCW" when asked about them building some of the younger talent. Of course that's bullshit since Goldberg was under 40 and was WCW's biggest draw and last hope of survival before that pissed that away, too. Also not to mention the long list of talent that, perhaps were not as big as Goldberg, but were under 40, jumped to the WWF and became big stars.
The point is, how do you know if you don't try. Isn't of have a designated chosen one that, gee what a shock, is put over by being in matches with guys like HHH and Undertaker you put more effort in creating the stars of today. The stars of this generation. The average age of a WWE fan goes UP...and UP! Every year! Why?! Because teenagers don't give a f*** about the 90's. If you're reading this and you were a teen in the 90's would you give a shit if let's say Bob Backlund suddenly main evented Wrestlemania 15? I doubt it. I'm sure people who were like 35 in 1999 would have popped for it, though. WWE rides the nostalgia wagon too hard. They used to use it sparingly in healthy little doses to please the fans. Now they rely on it like a band aid because they think somewhere along the line wrestlers from the 90's became the last possible draws and certainly no one today under the age of let's say 33 is capable of connecting with the fans. Bullshit. Teenagers don't want to watch a bunch of old men pretend to fight. They didn't want to watch it on Nitro in the late 90's. That's why they turned to Raw. It was a younger and fresher product they could identify with. No one wants to see bald, 50-whatever year old Triple H out there wearing trunks and a leather biker's jacket. Teens, which having a healthy base of ensures that your product is hip to the current generation, don't see Triple H the same way fans saw him 18 years ago. They don't see Undertaker the same way they saw him 20 years ago, although he remains well respected. WWE has to trust the younger talent. They're the one's in tap with the current generation and knows what young fans want to see and they're the one's the fans want to be like. When I was watching Raw 20 years ago, I wanted to be Shawn Michaels. He was cool, handsome, a smooth talker, a wise ass, a bad ass. He had it all. I didn't once say "gee I wish I was like that Honky Tonk Man" who they still trotted out despite being 10 years past his peak stardom from the late 80's. I only saw an old man. As older fans, we're probably more forgiving when we see guys like Kurt, Hunter and Shane McMahon in the ring, but I'm sure most casual fans sampling the product again that maybe they ditched in younger days who are about 15 years old now see those old guys still the focal point and roll their eyes and watch something else that identifies with them better.
Think of it this way. I talk a bit about retro gaming on Twitter, but to me those games aren't "retro" they're just the games I grew up with and still enjoy. With few notable exceptions like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, ya know, your heavyweight franchises that remain major players to this day, most young gamers don't care much for those old NES games. The same way the NES and SNES generation didn't care much for the Atari age that came before, again, outside of the absolute hardcorest of the hardcore in the community. Young and old fans alike were thrilled when Nintendo re-released many of those old games on a miniature USB console recently, but I don't think today's gamers would be thrilled if Nintendo decided, since fans like nostalgia, they are going to back to releasing their games exclusively on 8 bit cartridges and if HHH wins yet another world title in WWE or any title period that's exactly what it would feel like.
(Okay, let's try closing this column again)
Thanks for reading Planet Kayfabe. I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year. The so called "season of giving" is over, but that doesn't mean you can go back to being an asshole now. It's going to be just as cold in January as it was this Christmas past week, only we tend to be less warm to others than we are around this time of year. So get along, everyone. It's 2018. I just talked a lot about generations. This current generations claims to be the most evolved yet, but all I see is a bunch of bickering like we're back in the stone ages. This shit wasn't going on when I was your age. Which wasn't even that long ago. Instead of being a bunch of self-centered SJW brats who feel the need to join a social media mafia whenever you got offended by some piddly bullshit or feel your pride was bruised some how, take a step back, breathe, laugh a little and realize the world doesn't turn just to make your day.
Okay, that's all. I'm Paul Matthews for NoDQ. Take care. Happy New Year, everyone.