One would figure that for a pro wrestling company who has a reported Median Age of 54 years old (source: Forbes.com), they would be EXCITED for Edge making his WWE return again at the Rumble and actually winning the 2021 Rumble Match. Just 20 years ago, those 54 year olds were buying Pay Per Views to see Edge perform in TLC matches. Just 15 years ago, they enjoyed the "Rated R Superstar" finally finding Main Event success as a World Champion. Then just 10 years ago, they enjoyed his last ride before having to retire due to a neck injury.
Nope... What did we hear after Edge won the Rumble Match?
"WWE should have let a full timer win!"
"WWE should have let someone younger win it!"
And on and on and on... (many of the same fans are praising Sting in AEW!)
Folks, the WWE just can't have the monopoly on male athletes like they do for the Women's Division. Former College Volleyball players like Charlotte Flair or former College track stars like Bianca Belair can only maximize their income as athletes by becoming a pro wrestler, specifically for the WWE. As I discussed before, the WWE pays their women more than most other sports leagues aside from Tennis and maybe LPGA golf. On top of that, WWE women actually wrestle in front of larger crowds than say the terribly drawing WNBA (which needs NBA money to survive). Certainly, the WWE has options of new stars to choose from for the women. Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley were the finalists of the Rumble match and it was awesome.
It's not so great on the Men's side. WWE Talent & Developmental under Triple H has been terrible at scouting and signing the right talent while the Performance Center under Triple H's handpicked male trainer Matt Bloom has not been preparing male wrestlers properly. Since Triple H took over the Talent Relations spot during Mid 2012, the lack of talent signed and then groomed to be main event talent is appalling. Worse yet, nobody in NXT is being trained to remove bad habits such as trying risky spots during matches. Triple H seems to have a fetish with signing guys that should actually be appearing on 205 Live to fight over the Cruiserweight Title.
The fact of the matter is that WWE HAS to bring back older stars like Bill Goldberg and Edge and push them to the main event position because the rest of the WWE roster has failed them. Let's go through them...
- Seth Rollins - Already won the World Title 4 times.
- Braun Strowman - Won the Universal Title over Goldberg last year, nobody cared.
- Randy Orton - 14 Time World Champion and was just champion a few months ago.
- Jeff Hardy - 4 Time WWE Champion
- Dolph Ziggler - 2 Time World Champion
- Miz - WWE Champion before, been a rough road since of midcard action
- Daniel Bryan - Love the guy, but 5 time champion
- Sheamus - 4 Time World Champion
- Kane - 2 time world champion, full time mayor
- AJ Styles - Many championships and what else is left to accomplish?
Sami Zayn, Mustafa Ali, Shinsuke Nakamura, Xavier Woods, John Morrison, Ricochet, Elias, King Corbin, Otis, and Rey Mysterio have all peaked. They would have to change something significantly or grow a few inches, gain a few pounds.
Matt Riddle has a lawsuit and public charges hanging over his head... Until those are cleared, no dice on a big push. WWE will let him just hang out and say "bro" all day.
It was nice Damian Priest do well at the Rumble, but he belongs to a NXT show that draws 700,000 viewers on its best day.
And we can look at the rest of the Pay Per View card... Kevin Owens has had more than an opportunity to be the top guy. He is basically the modern day Mick Foley with his willingness to take major bumps.
Until YOU, the internet wrestling fan with an opinion, can provide me someone better than Edge to win the 2021 Royal Rumble match, you can't criticize the choice. Edge vs. either Roman Reigns or Drew McIntyre has serious potential to be a WWE "Match of the Year" candidate. Edge is THAT good and he'll make you believe that the match is a serious sporting contest. People forget how successful Edge was back in the day. When I ran statistical models to test against World Title reigns versus television viewership, only two people proved to be statistically significant as a draw. John Cena tended to add about 0.2 ratings points when champion, but Edge drew 0.3 additional ratings points when he was champion.
Let's stop and smell the roses here... Triple H has FAILED on the Men's side of Talent Relations for the WWE since he took the responsibility over from John Laurinaitis during mid-2012. Just look up and down at the WWE World Champions since that day and prove me wrong.
- CM Punk (John Laurinaitis signing)
- The Rock (Jim Ross signing)
- John Cena (Jim Ross signing)
- Daniel Bryan (John Laurinaitis signing)
- Randy Orton (Jim Ross signing)
- Brock Lesnar (Jim Ross signing)
- Seth Rollins (John Laurinaitis signing)
- Roman Reigns (John Laurinaitis signing)
- Dean Ambrose (John Laurinaitis signing)
- Triple H (signed with WWE during 1995, maybe Pat Patterson or Bruce Prichard?)
- AJ Styles (Triple H signing, but former TNA Champion)
- Bray Wyatt (John Laurinaitis signing)
- Jinder Mahal (John Laurinaitis signing)
- Drew McIntyre (John Laurinaitis signing)
- Kofi Kingston (John Laurinaitis signing)
WWE World Heavyweight Championship:
- Sheamus (John Laurinaitis signing)
- Big Show (former WCW star, Jim Ross signing)
- Alberto Del Rio (John Laurinaitis signing)
WWE Universal Title:
- Kevin Owens (Triple H signing, longtime indy veteran before that)
- Bill Goldberg (former WCW star and also wrestled for WWE during 2003-2004)
- Braun Strowman (Triple H signing)
Since mid-2012, only Braun Strowman, Kevin Owens, and AJ Styles were wrestlers that Triple H signed to WWE contracts WHO have NEVER been in the WWE before. I could split hairs with AJ Styles because he briefly worked for WWE and also spent some time in WCW. Braun Strowman is the only guy that Triple H signed who is completely homegrown. We could really split hairs on Tommaso Ciampa who was in the WWE previously and trained under Ohio Valley Wrestling.
Lots of John Laurinaitis signed guys up there and the WWE is riding on fumes of his reign as WWE Talent Relations guy.
Could we review what Triple H has sent the WWE as potential main event guys from NXT?
- Finn Balor - 190 pound cruiserweight that never looked tough in the WWE.
- Samoa Joe - Great talent 10 years ago, very injury prone since. Could never stay healthy in WWE.
- Shinsuke Nakamura - Great debut versus Sami Zayn, all downhill since.
- Bobby Roode - Older TNA wrestler, WWE has done nothing with him despite the great entrance theme.
- Drew McIntyre - Brought back to the WWE after busting hard previously. Jury is still out, as he has never had fans in front of him as champion. TV Viewership numbers on the other hand...
- Andrade - Come on. Midcarder in WWE. He's 5'9"
- Aleister Black - He's good, but just doesn't have an identity in the WWE. Seems to not have the aggression to want it.
- Johnny Gargano - Doesn't want to join the main WWE roster. Too comfortable in NXT.
- Adam Cole - Like the guy a ton, very talented... But he's very thin to look the WWE part.
- Keith Lee - Sent back to the Performance Center to retrain.
- Baron Corbin - All of the physical tools to succeed but nobody tried to fix his look, personality, or psychology. Poorly trained.
I could argue that guys that John Laurinaitis signed weren't helped by Triple H's developmental system. How did Rusev work out again in the WWE? Luke Harper was a last minute signing of Laurinaitis's. Both guys went through the FCW to NXT system and then worked with the WWE when Triple H was EVP of Creative. How did that work out again for both of them? Both guys left the WWE to join AEW as disgruntled athletes because of the lack of opportunities given to them by the WWE *or* they weren't trained to what Vince McMahon wants out of a superstar. Cesaro is another Laurinaitis signing who has had to endure Triple H's Creative view of things on the main WWE roster.
How about Daniel Bryan and CM Punk when they were fed into the Creative crosshairs of Triple H? Do you want to talk about those old wounds again? Both were Laurinaitis signings and both were sabotaged by Triple H. Punk during 2011's famous burial and during late 2013 after Bryan screamed at Triple H for stopping a match for injury concerns. Don't give me Wrestlemania 30, as that was a Bandaid for everything that happened from SummerSlam 2013 to March 2014. The FACT is that Triple H pushed for Randy Orton vs. Batista, two of his Evolution buddies, to headline Wrestlemania 30 and that was a major epic failure.
It's just not working, folks... WWE is NOT going to groom a new mega superstar with the existing Scouting System and Performance Center based training in place by Triple H. Triple H is a wrestler and has been a wrestler for over 15 years with the WWE when he started trying to become part of WWE's management. Unlike Jim Ross or John Laurinaitis, Triple H never had to manage talent, collect and form payroll, and work on the business side of the business. He doesn't have the educational backing in business or management, either. The WWE Performance Center plus the NXT promotion actually operate at a loss and the CEO/President Vince McMahon has been very generous to his son Triple H. Too generous.
And you can STOP it with the blaming of the WWE Creative Team. If you watched the WWE during the 2000s, you'll know that the booking as managed by Stephanie McMahon was TERRIBLE particularly after Paul Heyman was removed as Smackdown's lead writer during early 2004. Dare I show you Kane's "Katie Vick" storyline? How about Vince McMahon blowing up in a limo? How about the gimmick that Chavo Guerrero had to endure? Kerwin White. Look that one up and compare it to today's WWE Creative. The FACT is that despite the WWE Creative Team, the Pay Per Views were LOADED with great matches because the talent was great back then and was spearheaded by Edge peaking at the right time.
Oh, can everyone tell me who is technically the EVP of the Creative Team? Triple H since late 2013 when his wife, Stephanie McMahon, became the Chief Brand Officer.
Quit telling me that it's Vince McMahon's fault when Apollo Crews is like a deer in the headlights out there on the main WWE roster. Ditto with all of the tag teams promoted to the Main Roster from NXT. Wanna argue the Revival? How are they doing in AEW again?
You can give me the "but what about" the Women's Division all you want... It has been a nice Midcard attraction in parts, but the fact is that numbers only moved when Ronda Rousey arrived and created big match-ups. Otherwise, the numbers are there. Women's wrestling, though a nice midcard attraction, are not drawing when pushed hard. There is a big drop off after Charlotte, Asuka, Becky Lynch, Bayley, and Alexa... Belair and Ripley are nice additions, but again, Women's wrestling is not a primary draw. It's NBA vs. WNBA all over again. If you just watched the Women's Rumble Match, the height of the ropes continue to be a problem for the Women to get tossed over.
Because RAW is THREE HOURS, Smackdown is TWO HOURS, and we still have MONTHLY Pay Per Views, we have completely exhausted all top match-ups between the wrestlers on the existing WWE roster. We've burned everything out... However, aside from Randy Orton, nobody else has fought Edge before. After all, he retired during 2011 following Wrestlemania 27. Much of John Laurinaitis's signed crew were working Florida Championship Wrestling that was about to adopt the NXT brand name. Thus, besides the Jim Ross signings of John Cena and Randy Orton, nobody has fought Edge. Everything is actually fresh for him...
The fact is that the WWE needs fundamental changes on how they scout and develop talent. Triple H is honestly not the answer as proven by the LACK of World Champions that he personally signed since mid-2012. Until then, the WWE has to make a quick buck in the short-run because they've got NOTHING to work with in the long-run. Short-term, they should consider replacing Matt Bloom as head trainer and consider hiring Rip Rogers in his place. Rip is the one who trained Pat McAfee to look amazing as a non-wrestler and several wrestlers from his training school are popping up here and there. Rip was one of the trainers for Danny Davis and Jim Cornette's Ohio Valley Wrestling for much of the 2000s. Long-term, maybe await Jim Ross's AEW contract to expire during April 2022? Honestly, John Laurinaitis didn't do a bad job in hindsight. If you don't believe me, just revisit my World Champions list above... Mostly John Laurinaitis guys.
Thus, guys like Edge and Goldberg will always be brought back to excite that Median age group of 54 for WWE fans. And it will work everytime until those guys have reached their complete shelf life (Goldberg may have reached it at the Rumble versus Drew, that was rough).
Think of the WWE right now as a failing NFL team that is TERRIBLE with the Draft and also does a TERRIBLE job hiring coaches (Washington, Browns, Bengals, Lions, Jets, and now Texans). But then, that team tries to make a big free agent splash by signing an older name in hopes that he'll carry everything on his back. Doesn't work that way... You need YOUTH and coaches that can put a plan in place for that younger talent to develop. WWE, right now, is doing terribly on scouting athletes to recruit to become potential wrestlers and the Performance Center is doing no favor with the male wrestlers under Matt Bloom as the trainer.
Let's take a real step back on Women's wrestling, OK... Triple H takes it a little more serious than the previous guy but is it really drawing? We've had nothing but INCREASED amounts of Women's wrestling since 2015 and what has happened to the WWE's RAW Viewership numbers again? Oh, that's right, we went from 4 million to under 2 million viewers while we were losing thousands in the live audience before 2020. Women's Merchandise does NOT sell well at all.
Seriously, by 2015, WWE Women's wrestling could go no where but up. Bella Twins, Eva Marie, relying on Natalya to sometimes take it seriously... Remember when they were called "Divas"? They had a butterfly title belt that was pink... Remember that? Where Triple H failed on the Men's side by hiring Matt Bloom he actually succeeded in hiring Sara Del Rey. She trains females perfectly but then again, there's hardly any competition on obtaining top female athletes throughout the country. For as awesome as Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley, Rhea Ripley, Alexa Bliss, Asuka, and now Bianca Belair are, there are plenty that the WWE main roster are struggling to use like the Iconics, Shayna Baszler, Nia Jax, Ember Moon, and others while NXT might also now have a few lifers that WWE may never use (looking at you Candice LeRae and many like her).
And again, the only time that we've seen the Women's division obtain true top billing was with Ronda Rousey and that was a Vince McMahon decision to sign her for millions of dollars per year. BUT THEN AGAIN, Ronda's brief trips to the Performance Center didn't teach her much on how to be a pro wrestler besides executing moves. There is more to pro wrestling than just moves, as there is personality, promos, psychology, and presentation. Nobody at the Performance Center is spending time to teach that to allow their workers to do more than just in-ring athletic moves.
I don't know, folks... I believe that Vince McMahon needs to take his Father-in-Law hat OFF and put on his CEO/President/Board Chairman hat ON to properly evaluate Triple H as the WWE's talent guy. Since mid 2012 when Triple H took over the function, the developmental system has NOT supplied the WWE with a true top drawing main event guy. Yeah, we have a midcard but nothing that fans want to see at the top. It's time to re-evaluate how the WWE scouts talent, signs them, and then develops them. Triple H isn't cutting it, as for all we know, he's spread too thin between doing that and running live events. Let Triple H do his backstage producer stuff and hire someone better for the Talent Relations position. Rehire John Laurinaitis or wait until 2022 to re-sign Jim Ross (with staff hired to help him).
Otherwise, the WWE is going to continue to slide and be extremely dependent on these generous TV and Digital deals from desperate TV companies looking for live sporting content like Comcast or FOX. If that money were to one day dry up, the WWE would be doomed because none of their talent can draw big money for live shows and merchandise.
Grow some stones, Vince McMahon. You have more than taken care of Triple H. You have only given him fame, a massive fortune, and your beautiful daughter. He owes YOU more than you owe him. You've done more than enough for Triple H... All you have to say is "look pal, we're giving you too much to do. You're role is for managing Live Events only." Simple as that. And then hire a serious General Manager like thinker to go recruit athletes to convince them to become professional wrestlers and then hire better trainers at the Performance Center to mold them into better performers.
But Vince is way too nice to his family, so thus he'll rely on Nick Khan (recently hired Chief Revenue Officer) to squeeze more blood out of the turnip as seen by the recent WWE Network/Peacock deal.
So just chill... Until the next episode!
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