I think the title sums this one up pretty well. I was sitting around trying to think of something to talk about this week and nothing was coming to me. There are things going on at the moment but I can’t bring myself to care about almost anything taking place. Nothing is overly exciting right now but I could think of quite a few things to complain about with every promotion.
So that’s what we’re going to do: look at every major or minor promotion (or at least the ones I watch) going (or getting ready to go) today and look at what one of their biggest problems is. I’m not going for subtlety today as there is no point in something like this. It’s a simple idea: here’s a thing about each promotion/show and why it sucks. These aren’t going to be the biggest and they certainly aren’t going to be the only things, but they are what gets my attention more than anything else.
These are in no particular order.
AEW: Not So Fast My Friend
We might as well start with one of the big ones. Contrary to what some may think, I enjoy AEW quite a bit. There are a lot of things about it that do very well, but there are also several areas where it seems like they are just doing what they think makes sense and hoping for the best. That can be a major problem, and it kind of ties into what I see is the biggest issue.
How many times does Dynamite start off with people already in the ring? How many times does it feel like they are jumping from one thing to the next as fast as they can? How many times has Dark seemed to be a show that could be cut down into thirds or even fourths without losing much? How many times has a match seemed like it is going just for the sake of going?
This is a lot in a long show:
It all comes down to the same idea: it feels like they’re rushing and trying to get in as much as they can. So many things feel like they don’t have time to breathe or settle in and that is going to burn some people out in the long run. AEW already has two shows that are running two hours (or more in the case of last week’s Dark) and a third is on the way. That’s getting close to WWE levels of content every week and it could very well turn into the law of diminishing returns.
So how do they fix it? Just calm things down a bit. You don’t have to be running ahead of everyone else all the time. Let the shows and stories that you’re telling get the time they need instead of adding on time for the sake of adding on time. Not everything needs to run through a commercial break and not every wrestler needs to get in a bunch of offense. Let things go at the pace they need rather than stretching them out to the length that you want them to be. And cut Dark down by half or more. That’s kind of a layup as AEW controls the whole thing.
NXT: This Sounds Familiar
NXT has long since been one of the havens for modern wrestling fans. It was basically an indy all star show with WWE’s budget and production values, which is the kind of dream scenario you can only get in a place like this. The show had more stars than it knew what to do with and any two people could be put together into a great match that felt like must see TV.
But then AEW came along and so did NXT expanding to two hours every week on USA. The problem became very obvious: the show was now twice as long and it stopped feeling special. Now you had to fill in more time so things were being stretched out and the ability to leave people off of television for weeks, which did a great job of keeping things fresh, was thrown out the window.
It’s not rocket science:
In other words, it felt like Monday Night Raw and SmackDown, which was made even worse when the style of the show changed. NXT has long since been a show where anything could feel like the top story but until last week, we had a comedy team as the Tag Team Champions, the Women’s Title was just a thing, the NXT Champion is gone (not their fault due to injuries) and none of the feuds feel all that important because so many things just come and go with little reason or development.
So how do they fix it? Obviously they aren’t going back to an hour (and they shouldn’t as the TV money is too good to pass up) but they need to start making things feel important again. Stop acting like what you’re seeing is just a thing that is going on until we get to the main event and treat everything like the most important thing in the world at the moment. This is what made NXT feel special, along with developing new stars. Make us care about who we are seeing rather than just having those people do various things. It worked for years and it can work again.
Smackdown: Who Else Is There?
This is a tricky one after the Draft has only recently come and gone, but the SmackDown roster has been completely changed and that is probably a good thing. Granted as long as Roman Reigns is on top of the show, I can’t imagine it is going to be the biggest issue in the world, but there was something missing on last week’s show and it was a fairly glaring problem.
Part of the problem is Reigns, but not in the way you are expecting. Right now, who in the world is supposed to be a real threat to Reigns? On Sunday night, Reigns gained the services of the Usos, making him even more invincible. Before then, Reigns didn’t have many serious challenges and that is going to be the case all over again, but even worse. Think about it for a second: who is there who can challenge Reigns?
You might need to get used to him:
We have just come off back to back pay per views with Reigns defeating Jey Uso (albeit in a good story). There was never any doubt that Reigns would retain, but who is he supposed to face now? The only serious option is Daniel Bryan, who feels more like a one off challenger at best. It’s way too early for Big E. and Kevin Owens just got squashed by the Fiend. Who else is there? Rey Mysterio? Aleister Black? King Cor…never mind. Reigns is outstanding and the best thing in WWE right now, but he has left a big gap between himself and second place.
So how do they fix it? For now, you throw what you can out there. Bryan can be a fine one off challenger for the Royal Rumble or Tables, Ladders And Chairs and Owens could take the other spot. After that though….is there anything else that can be done other than hoping the Rock is available in late March? That would be the ultimate dream match scenario, though I wouldn’t get my hopes up for it. Other than that, someone is going to have to be turned, elevated or a big surprise, because Reigns is ruling the world right now and should be doing so for a long while.
Impact Wrestling: Step It Up
Yeah Impact Wrestling is still around and actually they’re the inspiration for this week. I was watching Bound For Glory (worth checking out if you need something to watch) and it became clear that very little feels important. The show’s main event featured Rich Swann challenging Eric Young for the World Title and it never felt like it fit. Something else should have headlined the show, but it was apparent that their options were limited.
Looking up and down the card, nothing else was going to be able to go into the main event slot because nothing else felt important. When your main event doesn’t feel important either though, you’re kind of in some big trouble. That has been the situation in Impact Wrestling for a very long time now and it is still the case today: everything feels like it is roughly on the same level and there is nothing that feels like it is worth going out of your way to see.
That’s a problem because when everything is on the same level, what is the point in watching anything? The World Title doesn’t feel like it has any value and the X-Division Title isn’t that far behind it. The Tag Team Titles and Knockouts Title are important but not that important, and that’s the situation for everything. When nothing stands out, it becomes a rather stale show that doesn’t feel worth your time.
So how do they fix it? This might be the easiest one: make the World Title, or even some big story, feel bigger than other things. You don’t need to downgrade other parts of the show, but take what you have and build it up above the rest. Looking back to WrestleMania X7 (hey I talked about that recently), there was one match above all else on the show and it helped a lot. I can’t remember the last time that was the case with Impact Wrestling and it is showing badly.
NXT UK: Who Are These People?
This is a similar problem to some other shows but it is a little more prominent here. There are so many talented people on the NXT UK roster and a lot of them have come from around Europe, if not elsewhere, to make the promotion a rather fun place. However, having so many people come together at once has caused a bit of an issue: not many of them stand out.
The top of the NXT UK roster is outstanding with people like British Strong Style and Imperium being awesome, but how many other people are there beyond them? How many people on the roster get your attention and make you want to watch them? That’s where NXT UK tends to fall down a lot: I don’t know much about these people and I don’t have much of a reason to care about them.
Who are you again:
Sometimes you’ll get a quick video explaining something about the wrestlers, but for the most part, you are sitting there watching people who are going t be able to show you what they have in the ring but there is little reason to care about them. This is a problem in a lot of promotions, though not on one with weekly television. I don’t know who a lot of these people are and I’m not sure I care to learn that much more about them.
So how do they fix it? Again, kind of an easy answer: develop their personalities and characters a bit more. Take some time to let us learn about them with some of those outstanding videos where WWE truly shines. They know how to tell the wrestlers’ stories but NXT UK hasn’t done so well in that area. Show and tell us who these people are and the interest will go up in a hurry.
Monday Night Raw: Where Are We Here?
This could be a column in and of itself because sweet goodness this show is bad as of late. I’ve lost track of how many problems there are on this show, but ignoring the three hour run time destroying anything good that they might have going for it, the bigger problem is how creatively bankrupt everything seems to be.
Consider the main event of Hell In A Cell, with Randy Orton challenging Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship. The match was set up with Orton attacking various legends and McIntyre fighting to claim vengeance on them. How much different is that than the way their match at Summerslam was set up? If there is some big difference between the two of them, I’m certainly not catching it, and that’s quite the problem.
I’m not sure I can see the Draft helping all that much either, as the new roster only seems somewhat different than the old. Throw in people like Keith Lee already being lost in the shuffle and Retribution being one heck of a disaster and it isn’t like there is much going on of note. Oh wait: Lana has been driven through a table what, five times now by Nia Jax? I guess that’s something of….note? Maybe?
So how can do fix it? Given that we seem to be having some form of this discussion every single week, I can’t give you much of an answer. If I had to pick one thing though, it would be make more of a plan. Monday Night Raw often seems to be thrown together at the last minute with little planning for the future (which reports would seem to indicate would be the case). It isn’t something that can be so easily done, but just take a little step here and a little step there to make things more logical and planned in advance. Grow there there, but you have to start at some point.
205 Live: Why Does This Exist?
That might as well be the subtitle for the entire series. 205 Live started all the way back in 2016 and there is no reason to believe that things are going to get much better. The show feels like a supplement to the division that supplements the minor league promotion. How in the world is that supposed to make me want to watch this show week in and week out (which I of course do)?
The problem here is how low level everything feels. It is very clear that the cruiserweights are the lowest of the low on the WWE roster and these are most often the wrestlers who aren’t good enough to make the cruiserweight section of NXT. There have been some great things on the show over the year and some of the matches have been among the best things going in WWE at times, but the stakes are so uninteresting that it isn’t going to get much better.
Sure why not:
What I don’t understand is why the same wrestlers have been around here for so long. It seems like the kind of wrestlers who could be jettisoned off the roster and almost no one would notice. I get that they can do something like this for the sake of the dark matches at television shows, but at the same time it doesn’t exactly feel like something that belongs as its own weekly series.
So how do they fix it? I’m not sure what to say here as there is almost nothing going on that would suggest the show can be made into anything more positive. You can have some good matches here and there, but above all else, it isn’t going to matter until the stakes are raised. Maybe bringing in some bigger names for the show, but even then I’m not sure what difference it is going to make. Turn the show into something a little more important if you can, but this feels like the biggest lost cause going today.
Ring of Honor: Turn On The Stars
I’m not sure what to think about this one, mainly because Ring of Honor has been one of the best shows going since their return. The company has been focusing on the Pure Title Tournament and that is the most bare bones, basic ways of running a wrestling story available. There are not many stories going on, but with a tournament like this, the stories aren’t quite the point.
Running a tournament is something that makes a lot of sense in the current situation as you only need a handful of wrestlers, with some of them being gone every week. You can add in the other wrestlers and names that you need as things move forward, which can make for some much more tightly made shows. That being said, it doesn’t exactly make the show’s lineups the most thrilling.
Maybe they can help:
This is where Ring of Honor is a little bit slow at the moment. They are presenting two tournament matches a week, but some of the names involved aren’t the biggest stars. The Tag Team Champions are both in the tournament, but the TV Champion and World Champion are nowhere to be found. That isn’t their fault due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but something else needs to be done to make up for the issue.
So how do they fix it? Be patient. Seriously that’s about it right now. It is going to be a long time before Ring of Honor is going to be back to normal (like so much else) so the best thing that they can do is focus on the in-ring aspect. You know, like the whole point of the promotion was originally supposed to be. Ring of Honor can do a lot of things with what they have, but you might not have the biggest names to be doing so for the time being.
Wrestling is in a weird place at the moment but as has always been the case in the industry, there are good and bad things about every promotion. That is certainly true at the moment and unfortunately these problems are made even worse when you have the shows on television/online every single week. Some of the problems are worse than others, but there are certainly things that every promotion needs to fix, which will always be the case and it sucks.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!