Jamie Lithgow, Brian Damage, Benjamin Trecroci & Amerigo Diehl
Go deep because in today’s Top Five the team are armchair quarterbacking all over the place. The premise is simple; if you were somehow even more powerful than Vince McMahon and the USA Network combined, what are the top five changes you would make to WWE programming?
5. Fewer Replays
‘Moments Ago’, ‘Earlier Tonight’, WWE make damn sure you don’t miss the major angles, even if you want to. I watched the one hour version of Smackdown recently and even it featured a replay of an angle earlier in the show. They cut an hour out of the show and still put replays in?!
4. More Mature Writing
I don’t mean having the guys and gals swearing all over the place, I mean I don’t want to be spoon fed. Some things are allowed to go over kids’ heads and it doesn’t harm their enjoyment. Look at how The Simpsons was written back in the day. Wildly popular with kids but most of the actual jokes were aimed at adults. I don’t need Michael Cole explaining every little detail of why someone feels betrayed or why a babyface or heel would behave a certain way. Let me join the dots with my imagination because it can probably do a better job than the writing team and Michael Cole anyway.
3. Less Scripted Promos and Interactions
This is clearly a trust issue. I absolutely understand why some wrestlers are scripted, particularly those who have been ‘handed’ a gimmick. However, the vast majority of the roster have had a great deal of creative freedom with their characters with many just being extensions of themselves. So, who would be best to verbalise these characters? A failed Hollywood writer, obviously. The performers on WWE TV are wrestlers, not actors, so it stands to reason that more often than not they come off as wooden and awkward while trying to remember lines written for them by someone else.
2. Reduce the Number of Shows
If TV networks are handing Vince McMahon buckets of cash for his shows what do you expect him to do? That’s even before we head into WWE’s own Network. I can actually make my peace with the pointless nonsense like Main Event and the Kick-Off shows because WWE has always produced unnecessary crap like that, only everyone knows they’re pointless and we accept that. However, with Raw, Smackdown, 205 Live, NXT, the UK stuff and everything else on the Network I feel forced to choose – and often I choose nothing – because I literally just don’t have time to follow all their weekly output.
1. Reduce the Length of Shows
The big one, and something WWE do have control over. Raw is an hour too long, I think everyone can agree with that. However, it’s the knock-on effect that annoys me. Traditionally a WWE PPV lasts 3 hours, but if Raw is 3 hours then PPVs need to last longer to feel more special, apparently. These are broadcast on the Network and pay per view so WWE can dictate how long they last, but for some reason they almost always go with the idea of quantity over quality. Not everybody has to be booked on every PPV, two or three big matches is all that is needed. That goes for Wrestlemania too. It would be a far better and far shorter show if there was not a priority to cram the entire roster onto the card. ‘Hey, you didn’t make the Mania card this year, tough shit.’
5. Let the wrestlers wrestle
Amazing concept, but every time Seth Rollins goes out there, he tears the house down. Fans will constantly chant….”This is Awesome.” The fans paid to see wrestling, so give it to them with longer matches. Let the match tell a story. Let the match build to a crescendo and get the fans fully invested. At the same time, there needs to be a reason why they are wrestling and that brings me to number 4….
4. More angles and storylines
I know, it is easier said than done….but there has to be a way to make certain wrestlers hate each other and want to do battle other than there being a title on the line. Make me care what is going on in a match. A great storyline will do that. I feel the WWE has deviated away from story telling in the last few years. There has been too much talk and comedy skits, but nothing of worthwhile value to what they are saying. Let a storyline play out for a few weeks to get people to follow along. If they miss a week of television…they may have missed a key element in the story.
3. Bring back blood on special occasions
I get why they keep away from it, but blood adds a better snap shot of why a wrestler hates another wrestler. Blood can add to a feud like nothing else can. Besides, it is really hard and unbelievable to have a cage match with each wrestler beating the life out of the other and not have any blood spilled.
2. Shorter Show length
As the old saying goes, less is more. There is no need to have three hours of wrestling each and every show. There is no reason why a pay per view has got to be 4 plus hours. There is such a thing as burn out. Even for the hardcore WWE fans. Two hours is more than enough for a show. Three hours should be the limit for a pay per view.
1. Vignettes and Character Build Ups
I realize that with NXT…it has become harder and harder to build a new gimmick or character up without him being way overexposed already on NXT television. That is why the WWE should hold back half of their developemntal from appearing on NXT tv and give those particular wrestlers good, quality well produced vignettes to build anticipation for a wrestler or tag team. It really has become a lost art.
5. Change the look and overall feel
For the most part Raw has looked the same since leaving the Manhattan Center in 1995. Would love to see darker lighting in the arena, maybe get rid of the ramp, change the announcer desks or get rid of it all together. Does every episode of Raw half to start with a talking segment? Just show a couple graphics of what’s going on and let’s go!
4. Get rid of the GM, Authority Figure.
The GM doesn’t always need to be on TV. Only bring them on for a major decision, much like they do on NXT. Other than that let the boys do the talking.
3. Let the stars do the talking
Imagine how lame The Rock or Steve Austin would’ve been if they were fed these lines of today? Word on the street is those guys were given an outline of what to say but did a ton of improvising and look how much it helped. Not saying that Apollo Crews is going to light a mic on fire with a promo but let them show their OWN personality.
2. Stop spoiling returns, title changes, online
In the last month alone we’ve learned about the return of Trish Stratus, Tomasso Ciampi winning the NXT Title from a spoiler from their own online platform. That’s terrible. It’s one thing for spoilers to leak out but posting it is another thing. It’s only a matter of time before they announce the Mae Young final before it ever airs on the WWE Network.
1. Dial it down
There’s no reason a non big four PPV needs to be four hours long. 2:30-3:00 hours and that’s it. Then the Big Four can be four hours and that’s including the preshow which only needs one match. As much as I love someone like Finn Balor, if you’re not putting him in a marquee match then don’t put him or anyone else on the card. Concentrate more on your weekly shows with some of the underneath guys and girls so each program matters.
5. Change the look
I agree things always look the same, I’m not saying every show has to look different, but Benjamin is right, not much has changed since the pre attitude era.
4. Better build up
When we only had the major shows: mania, summer slam, survivor series they could build an old fashioned white hot rivalry. Now there seems to be less build up, before it loses momentum.
3. Better factions
Trying to duplicate the NWO is all but impossible, that was a once in a generation idea. However other angles with factions can happen. Case in point: the shield.
2. Less title changes
No not the old days of Bruno’ 6-7 year run, or even Hogans 3 year run. For crying out loud the title changes hands almost every month. Just not long enough to build a good feud.
1. Limit the scripted promos
Letting a good talker vent, brings out true raw emotion that you can’t get through a scripted promo. Keep certain topics off limits sure, but don’t stifle creativity and emotion.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.