As a wrestling fan who hasn’t enjoyed a WWE product for many years, I decided to take a crack at Royal Rumble predictions a week ago. As I checked the results on Saturday night, I was predictably not surprised.
I correctly predicted that Brock Lesnar would win the Royal Rumble, either with the WWE Championship, or without it, if he dropped it to Lashley due to some kind of interference. The only match I was wrong on was the Women’s Royal Rumble. However, if I had known Ronda Rousey was confirmed to appear at the time of penning the article, I would have easily assumed that she would be winning.
Unconfirmed but likely matches now include Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns, Goldberg vs. Bobby Lashley, and Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey. (You know, the latter of whom bad-mouthed the business because she just doesn’t quite grasp it, but now gets to leap-frog other women for a main event spot…)
But before I ask this question of you WWE fans, I want to point out a quick fact or two:
-Every Wrestlemania main event since 31 (2015), has had either Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, or both. The one exception being 35 (2019), in which Lynch/Flair/Rousey headlined the show. However, Lesnar still took part in the WWE Championship match.
-Much in the same light, Charlotte Flair or Becky Lynch (or both) have been in the women’s championship match at every Wrestlemania since 31 as well. The rare exception being last year when both were out for non-wrestling related reasons.
In fact I even asked my wife, an AEW fan, who doesn’t watch WWE or follow wrestling news, who she thought will headline this year’s Wrestlemania.
Her response (in order): “Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns”. 100% dead-on.
So here is my honest question to WWE fans, and even NoDQ Review analysts:
Does this ever get tiresome to ya’ll?
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Year after year; the same talent in the same spots, over and over and over again…
Since 2020, many main event worthy talents have bid farewell to Titan Towers either by force or by simply leaving. These include names that were already considered main event stars, or future main event stars.
Names like: (Bray Wyatt, Malakai Black, Toni Storm, Chelsea Greene, Jeff Hardy, Braun Strowman, Daniel Bryan, and much more…
And meanwhile, while part-timers like Lesnar, Goldberg, and Rousey have their spots forever secured, they seem to surpass current names like A.J. Styles, Finn Balor, Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, Kevin Owens, Big E, Asuka, Drew McIntyre, and many more.
In 2015 I commented that WWE was failing to create new stars, and here we are 7 years later – and we’re still seeing the same talent shuffled through WWE’s largest PAY-PER-VIEW of the year. (You still pay for it with a subscription. Premium Live Event my ass.)
Now if you thoroughly enjoy the WWE brand, that’s fantastic. I’m not telling you that you’re wrong for doing so. But I’ve been watching professional wrestling since the mid-80s. I’ve seen the best and worst of it, and at this point, WWE barely resembles a wrestling product anymore.
So help me out. Help me understand.
Why are you a WWE fan?
Is It Conditioning?
In his promo on Dynamite weeks ago, Cody Rhodes mentioned that many fans were “conditioned” to like professional wrestling a certain way. This way includes an unwavering acceptance of the pro-monopoly empire Vince McMahon has created. A brand where profit will act as a glass ceiling for otherwise worthy talents.
So I’m generally curious how true this is.
Is it a meta-defense? Have you branded yourself a WWE fan, hence, you understand the “business” of marketing names like Rousey, Reigns, and Lesnar – so you defend it and enjoy it from a business perspective?
After all, professional wrestling started as a for-profit carnie ruse.
But operating under a notion that a form of entertainment is always supposed to be “this” way, leaves little room for anything else, doesn’t it?
This Isn’t Just About Predictability
For the record, being predictable isn’t always bad.
When “Hangman” Adam Page defeated Kenny Omega for the AEW World Championship at 2021’s Full Gear, we all knew it was going to happen. However, it was the culmination of a 2+ year storyline with a natural conclusion. For this story, the hero overcoming the villain was the story the fans wanted to see.
It’s the same wonderful story arc we witnessed when Bianca Belair defeated Sasha Banks at last year’s Wrestlemania for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. That’s one match I went out of my way to see on its own, and it delivered.
But that match seems like such an outlier, doesn’t it? Especially given how quickly the championship was ripped from her when Becky Lynch returned.
Predictability works well when a rich story has enough investment from its viewers that they’re dying to see the incoming payoff. Unfortunately, this comes few and far between with WWE’s current corporate driven content-over-quality type of entertainment.
Help me Understand…
As someone who grew up watching WWF, and then transitioned in-between WCW/WWF/ECW/All Japan — straight to the 2000s with TNA, ROH, PWG, New Japan, and everything in-between — I’ve seen it all. I have my own idea of what professional wrestling traditionally is, and what it could be.
This is the same sport where a Hello Kitty doll won a championship in DDT-Pro (also held by Britt Baker at one point). A sport where Kota Ibushi wrestled a sex doll, Kenny Omega wrestled a 9-year-old girl, and where you can go online and watch a match between two invisible wrestlers (Which, might I add, is better than you think…).
Professional wrestling can be exciting, dramatic, heart-breaking, hilarious, ridiculous, and even life-changing — but boring and predictable? I don’t get it. Is it just a larger comfort from a chaotic society and nothing more — no matter how bad it may be?
This has been the trope now for over half a decade in WWE. Nobody is forcing me to watch, and I don’t. I still haven’t seen a full episode of Raw or Smackdown in probably 3 years.
But when I can look at the Royal Rumble card and figure out exactly how it’s going to play out — and then look at the coming Wrestlemania card — it’s just kind of a head-scratcher. It leads me to an honest curiosity of the hardcore WWE fan base.
Why are you still watching?
Answer on social media or in the comments below! I will try to respond.