GM Mode: Fantasy Booking Submitted by LoneLee on 05/17/2019 at 09:26 AM
Does anyone remember the introduction of General Manager mode to Smackdown vs Raw 2006? It has played a big part of the UpUpDownDown YouTube channel within the last year featuring the comical booking decisions of Austin Creed and Prince Pretty (or Prince “Petty”). As result, a resurgence in it’s popularity has grown in the wrestling video game community pleading for the mode to make its return in this year’s 2K installment. I’m hesitant on that due to it’s nonsensical difficulty but it did get me thinking...how many of us already put ourselves in the authority roles’ shoes on a daily basis? How many times are we accused of not knowing what we really want or just plain never being happy?
Baron Corbin recently responded to a critical fan on Twitter by saying “I think you would cry if you picked the matches. Twitter turds are never happy.” The word “turd” has always made me laugh. Anyway, this week I thought a little fantasy booking might be fun, coupled in with a few opinions on what truly garners the most vehement criticism of the product and what I might do as a kayfabe GM to help fix it. After all, it’s easy to complain about an issue but who can sensibly come up with a better or more appealing overall idea?
Formulaic programming. The word “stale” is used to describe either Raw, Smackdown, or both regularly that the word has almost lost all meaning. Really, it is formulaic. I remember an interview in which Triple H stated something along the lines that weekly episodic programming is used to promote the monthly PPV, which sets up for the next months PPV, which all lay the groundwork for Wrestlemania. Having said that, really the only time anything noteworthy will be taking place is at each PPV. Each superstar is focused on three weeks from Sunday rather than tonight. So why should we care? With a drab three-hour Monday marathon why should we be bothered with what the company views as transitional?
Solution: Make every night feel important. Easy, right? But how do you accomplish that? Rather than a random Twitter post of an upcoming Raw match, have extensive build up to it through one of their many media outlets. Not just one match but all of the bouts. The YouTube channel produces phenomenal pre and post match interviews. Give Corbin or Ricochet 90 seconds to explain what this match means to them and what we could see by tuning in. What about a Network exclusive show consisting of only promos, vignettes, and hype for Raw and SD matches? Give us a chance to see more talent that aren’t always featured in weekly programming.
No NXT call-ups without a real plan. All of those big built up vids that started in January have only seen 2 stars emerge and the rest relegated to Main Event or dark matches. Surprise, surprise, it’s the blonde bombshell and the monster that plows through everyone. Talk about formulaic. Even with all of these call-ups both rosters feel so worn thin that a wild-card rule had to be implemented.
Solution: What ever happened to a slow build? Rather than over expose the big names they do have why not just give those new faces a chance to grow and shine? Calling back to my above solution, give us a chance to learn who these guys are. Why does he go by the name Ricochet? Why do Erik and Ivar act like vikings? Why is Robert Rude suddenly channeling Rick Rude with that sexy mustache? So far, the wild card rule has just meant that Roman Reigns is on both shows….yay...
No more authority figure storyline involvement. In a place of business, sure it makes sense to have someone of power on-site to make matches and adhere to talent concerns. The last thing we need is a McMahon interjecting themselves in a feud with an attempt to give the rub.
Solution? Vince, go do the XFL thing. Shane, stop jumping off of tall things. Stephanie, you never cared about the women’s roster and you still don’t.
Repetitive segments. I have no problem with talk shows like Miz TV, KO Show, Moment of Bliss, etc. WWE has been using these stages to stir the pot for decades starring some its most antagonizing heels. I do take issue with more than frequent contract signings. Seriously, a contract signing hasn’t felt special since Wrestlemania III when Hogan sat across from Andre to make the iconic main event official. Do we need this every month, sometimes twice a month? Now the pull-apart brawl is becoming just as familiar to the monthly cycle.
Solution? Pre-recorded backstage sit-down interviews with a moderator a la Stone Cold vs The Rock before Wrestlemania X7. A calm setting where both competitors give heartfelt speeches about the drive they have to do what they do. Also a setting Brock Lesnar thrived in without the need for an obnoxious Paul Heyman spouting the same spiel in front of a bored live crowd.
Let’s not forget the championships themselves. Excluding NXT and NXT UK, main roster has a total of 10 championships titles. Are they “belts” again? Champions lose non-title matches so much it makes us question their validity as a champion to begin with. Is that the only way WWE knows how to deem a number one contender? Oh, there’s another banned term. Come to think of it, how many people actually know what an “Intercontinental” title actually represents? Also, it seems the only time the US title name is recognized is during a “foreign” champions reign and thus every challenger is suddenly a patriot.
Solution? In order to make these titles feel important again they need to be put on a stage where they can shine. IMPACT recently closed out a PPV with a tag team title match. The state of the WWE tag team division is sickening but the last time this was done to my knowledge was 2001. WWE needs to treat each division like it offers something uniquely special, not just an undercard to the Universal title or whatever Roman Reigns has going on that night. Too many times a championship has been used as a prop for a struggling or rising talent rather than being a trophy for the best the company has to offer. How many times has a wrestler won one of these titles and promised for it to become relevant again? They should never have to do that! They need not to treat these belts like stepping stones to or a demotion from the World title picture but as a peek into the future of what the company has to offer. Tournaments to name a number one contender aren’t used very often because “Vince hate tournaments.” Not everyone hates what you hate, old man!
Lastly, a few feud ideas.
Is it just me or is Seth Rollins...kind of boring? He made his mark as the whiny, entitled Authority chosen one but since then he’s grown into that typical relaxed, easy-going babyface that really has no fire. Burn it down, yea, I get it. Eventually adding Baron Corbin to the mix does NOT help the situation. The Miz needs to be the top guy on Raw. It has been far too long since he’s been in the World title picture and he continues to entertain in his new role as a face. Maybe even a little tied-in promotion for his little reality show? The perfect foil for him in due time would be Sami Zayn. The interactions between the two would be enough to hype an eventual showdown.
You only get to make one first impression and the Viking Experience War Raiders time might’ve passed. Now the crowd greets them with a deafening silence. Instead of thrusting them into a feud with the jobber champions imagine a feud they could’ve had with The Ascension. Yea, they might be less than stellar too but they were once the most dominating tag team in NXT/FCW history. A little polish and motivation could bring that right back. And there’s something fun about two over-the-top throwback teams going head to head.
I had an idea a few months back about rebranding the B-Team. Their comedy act has gone about as far as it can go. The fact of the matter is they are both smooth athletes with a 3rd generation lineage. Give them a serious edge using their real birth names with the team name of “The Successors” and have them run roughshod over the dwindling SDLive tag division. Maybe even give them a HOF manager, if the chemistry is there.
Use managers again but sparingly, Zelina Vega is tremendous, please don’t let Andrade speak. Lana was once a heat-seeking missile until her accent went the way of Kofi’s accent. Poor Rusev, they just do not want him to succeed but it isn’t too late for Shinsuke Nakamura. Shin still has immeasurable charisma even while struggling with the English language. Give him an “interpreter” similar to the Berlyn gimmick of WCW or Ranjin Singh to The Great Khali. Maybe Paige? Just please avoid using Kurt Angle in this spot. I love Kurt but ever since his return to WWE he’s felt like a corny parody of himself.