The more things change the more they stay the same, right? Hello everyone. Merry Christmas and happy holidays. I hope you're doing well and thanks for joining me again for Planet Kayfabe.
Have you ever been in an abusive relationship that you ride out hoping it will get better?
Yeah. I know that's a pretty heavy question, but a lot of us can relate even if this relationship wasn't necessarily abusive. Perhaps you were simply unhappy and wanted certain things to change and you were promised change and changes never come yet you still wait it out because you remember the good times and want things to return to how they once were.
I think you know where I'm going with this. It's the first day of winter so time to drop some ice cold truths. That's how I felt this past Monday watching Raw when we were promised a "new era". Basically the McMahon Family came out with a bouquet of flowers and said "I'm sorry. I'll change." and most people ate it up, but it didn't take long to see that changes aren't going to happen and what does change will only be superficial and make no impact one way or another on the show. What exactly needs to change? That's what I'll be getting into today.
Before I have to see a comment like "IT WAS ONE WEEK JUST GIVE THEM A CHANCE" let me ask you this: Were you a fan two years ago when they already dubbed this the "new era"? Following Wrestlemania 32 they announced actual changes like the brand split coming back and Smackdown moving live to Tuesday nights and they announcer a new crusierweight division exclusive to Raw. They beat it over our heads that its a "new era" for a couple months until it was never really mentioned again. In that time it seems like part timer, Brock Lesnar has always held the Universal Championship. You make be a big fan of Brock, but most fans are tired of not having that belt on TV and here we are going into 2019 and once again he has that title. They continued to push guys that you don't want to see, but Vince does. They pretty much turned everyone popular heel in an effort to not have anyone rise above Roman Reigns and in the process had him go over everyone on the roster and every active legend despite wide-spread rejection. Jinder Mahal was hot-shotted to be WWE Champion on Smackdown for half a year which nearly killed that show in 2017. As for that crusierweight division? It's its own brand on the WWE Network called "205 Live" and no longer a dedicated segment to the 3 hour Raw show. The result the last couple of years has been a declining audience both live and in the ratings. This month in particular has seen record lows for WWE in terms of ratings.
So, what do they do when ratings get low? Bring out Vince McMahon to announce a NEW..er ERA! This past Monday Vince came out looking very old and kind of skinny. Not the big, imposing figure you're used to even when he was 60. Now he's 73 and looks like an old man who doesn't get any sleep. I'm not making fun of him, I'm just pointing out he has a depressing face for TV now and I don't think him looking and sounding like an old man helps the show. Anyway... Vince, Shane and Stephanie McMahon along with Triple H came out to basically say "sorry we suck" and promised changes. One of the changes was getting rid of General Managers. Shit, what did Paige do to deserve that? It's not her fault the ratings suck.
The McMahons promised fresh faces, new match ups and more listening to the fans. Why did they ever stop listening to the fans? I doubt that changes, by the way. This show is not going to change because it is still run by Vince McMahon at the helm. The writers write for Vince. They don't write for me and you. They write for Vince McMahon and the wrestlers are like his little jesters that dance for King Vinny's amusement and spectators are allowed to watch. If they know what's good for them with the audience declining the way it is they WOULD write for the fans and try to please their consumers but this company is fat and lazy resting on their billions they're in line to get from their new contracts with NBC Universal FOX and the Saudi government.
The things that need to change to improve the product and make WWE really fun and interesting again I highly doubt will be changed. They aren't going to change by doing a bulk call-up from NXT. They aren't going to change by throwing Tyler Breeze in the ring with Dean Ambrose in an open challenge. They aren't going to change by having more segments with more McMahon family members on BOTH shows so they can be portrayed as the big stars and the wrestlers are just a bunch of little kids in their daycare center.
What needs to change:
50-50 booking: Here's one that's actually possible before I list other highly improbably changes. This 50-50 horseshit needs to stop because NO ONE gets over from it unless your name is Dwayne Johnson or Bryan Danielson. I used Drew McIntyre as a recent example. He was supposed to be built up as a legit top heel. Instead he's losing matches to Dolph Ziggler and Finn Balor. I told you all in my TLC review that on Raw McIntyre was going to get his heat back by breaking up the Ziggler vs Balor match and that's what happened. So, why not just have McIntyre win at the PPV? Instead you have the babyface win with interference and then get his ass kicked the next day so his win means nothing as if it meant much before and on top of that your supposed top heel you're supposed to be groom has yet another pointless loss on his record. So... No one got over. McIntyre isn't a bigger deal and Finn got a win and fell right back down. McIntyre was supposed to be elevated by breaking away from Dolph Ziggler and instead WWE pretty much has him at the same level of Ziggler.
WWE has been using that 50-50 crutch for many years now and it has failed them. No one feels special. No one is a star. No win means anything. You have to pick someone you want to get over and run with it and live and die by it. If you try and put everyone over then no one gets over and right now no one is over in that group of McIntyre, Ziggler and Balor. How quickly things change because not too long ago I would have said McIntyre was on fire and poised to have a huge 2019. Now I'm not so sure. I mean, he'll probably win a belt but who cares? Everyone wins belts in this company. That's not special anymore either.
Mustafa Ali got a good win in a tag match over Daniel Bryan. The smart thing to do here would be to build off of it and perhaps make Ali US champion to ride the momentum. Instead I'm sure Bryan, who as a heel could afford the loss, will just get his win back and make both his loss and Ali's win pointless. Not only does no one get over, but the fans don't like feeling like everything they watch doesn't matter. Even on Raw they had Vince make that match where Corbin is fighting for his job... AGAIN! Why?! He lost at the PPV. That was the match. So the match at the PPV was a waste of time because they're doing a re-do on Raw. What's the point? That's not a change at all. That's right out of the 2010's era Vince McMahon playbook.
Raw is still going to be 3 hours: If Raw was 2 hours, this would help matters but it's going to remain 3 hours. You're still going to get a lot of long, boring promo segments where half the locker room comes out to say the same thing every week. You're still going to get a bunch of replay packages. Since 2012 Raw has suffered in the 3 hour format. Just like how Monday Nitro did before it. The audience has declined every year. Its a clear failure and no new fan wants to start watching a 3 hour show. Especially kids. Especially in this age of shortened attention spans. However, its what USA wants and WWE is making more money for it so its hard to go back. The money they make makes no difference to the fans though and the people have spoken in regards to 3 hour Raw. Shit, even Triple H basically said it was a dumb idea on Steve Austin's podcast.
The creative staff is still going to be a bloated an unnecessary 25-30 people: Here's a big one because this show would be better if the creative team was maybe five people tops and they weren't all just writing to please Vince McMahon. I know I already touched on it, but this is the big one. It doesn't matter that they removed Baron Corbin from a kayfabe position of power. The show in real life is written and run by the same people who are trying to please the same out of touch old man. So, what do you think suddenly next week some geek writer is going to stand up to Vince and say "no, your family is on TV too much and the toilet humor is lame"? Come on. I want to be hopeful like some of you people out there, but this is basically what it comes down to. On TV they took away the fake power of Corbin and Paige. You're just getting more McMahons on TV. That's the only change. The show in real life is still the same. Booked by the same people trying to please the same one guy.
Things will still be overly scripted: This is the hand that washes the hand above. The promos in this era are garbage. Everyone with VERY FEW exceptions talks like the same person using the same WWE language we hear every week. They all have to recite their lines word-for-word and nothing is natural or done on the fly. Everything is scripted, homogenized and boring. Commentary is the same way. Commentary is lifeless largely due to them having to repeat everything Vince tells them to. Do you think he's going to shake things up by staying the f*** away from commentary from backstage? I don't. Commentary is a huge complaint with fans these days and has been for the past decade largely because of how overly produced they are. I highly doubt in "shaking things up" Vince is going to step aside and just let commentary call what's before them naturally without having to regurgitate WWE lingo and walk on eggshells because they'll get bitched at for saying words like "title match" and "belt".
I understand some of you who want to give WWE the benefit of the doubt. I did it with that Dean Ambrose turn and later regretted it like a week later and then had to write a column a month later about what an idiot I was for buying it. Its the same thing here. How many of these reset shows have we seen? How many times have we been promised a "shakeup". Things aren't going to be shaken up by adding new graphics to the screen or by calling up more names from NXT that will probably be booked like everyone else on this show and put in the same bad comedy segments and all suffer the same fate as everyone else. In this era of 50-50 booking the current WWE roster is like a chessboard full of pawns that serve a purpose but are all interchangeable. The locker room is like an NFL team full of 2nd string quarterbacks all ready to come off the bench when called upon but not one fan knows who they are and there's no line to protect them. Use any analogy you want. Call this is the New Era or the New-er Era. It's all just another shade of lipstick on a pig they harvested over to us 2 years ago already.
There's my thoughts on this so called 'new era' which looks a lot like the old "new era" if you ask me. Again, if you want to be one of these "wait and see"/"I'll give them the benefit of the doubt" types then God bless you. This same company was going to book Triple H vs Batista as the main event of Wrestlemania in 20-f***ing-19 before Hunter tore his pec and right now the big rumor to stop the bleeding is to bring back John Cena to have another world championship run.
Are you kidding me? That's more of the nostalgia Band-Aid bullshit that has defined the 2010's decade in WWE and going into 2019 I doubt that changes. Hey, if next year I eat my words and I'm writing a column about how they've laid off 80% of the creative staff, Vince McMahon stepped aside at least from over-producing commentary, they gave guys real pushes instead of 50/50 one foot in the water start-and-stop pushes and they stop having every little promo overly scripted to the point where every person on this show is a faceless robot saying the same thing then I will happily eat my words and declare this truly a new era.
To end on a positive, I wish all of you a merry Christmas. Continue voting in the NoDQ Year End Awards. I'll be back to talk about that next time. Have a safe holiday and happy new year if I'm not back by then. Follow me over @PlanetKayfabe Here's to another year. God bless and happy holidays.