I’ve been watching wrestling for over thirty one years now. I’ve been around for nearly every modern star, every latest era and a lot of the old ones as well (Hulk Hogan’s first title reign ended two days after I was born so I was even around for that). In that time, I’ve seen a lot of wrestlers, stories, angles and even promotions come and go. Of all the time I’ve watching, one thing has never been clearer to me than it is right now: what you’re watching at the moment does not matter in the slightest.
Think back back with me to Friday’s Super ShowDown. The top matches on that show were Goldberg vs. Undertaker, Seth Rollins defending the Universal Title against Baron Corbin and Kofi Kingston defending the WWE Championship against Dolph Ziggler. Now on paper, that’s not the worst card ever (though it’s not exactly a thrilling one), but then you got to actually watching the show.
Consider what happened on the show. Rollins defeated Corbin to retain (and thwarted a Brock Lesnar Money in the Bank cash in attempt, which we’ll get back to later), Kingston successfully defended against Ziggler, and Undertaker and Goldberg managed to not kill each other in one of the scariest exchanges of botches (understandable given the circumstances, but they still happened).
First and foremost, let’s get the easiest thing out of the way first. Undertaker vs. Goldberg is never going to happen again because WWE isn’t going to allow that kind of a mess in the ring again. It’s over for these two (at least in this combination) and there is no point in running them out there again when one of them could seriously hurt the other, if not themselves. The match isn’t likely to be mentioned again, as is the case with most of these top matches from Saudi Arabian shows.
Then you have the World Title matches, with both champions retaining. Both champions won their titles at WrestleMania 35 and are about nine weeks into their reigns. Therefore, these are some of their earlier big title defenses, and they both survived their threats. Oh wait though. These wins don’t mean much, because both rematches were announced for sixteen days later at Stomping Grounds because WWE feels the need to run them again rather than moving on to ANYTHING else but Corbin and Ziggler as the challengers to the World Titles.
So all the hype that was built up for these matches? Don’t worry about it, because you’re going to get to see the same matches again, just in an American arena with a gimmick each. Ziggler will get his rematch inside a cage, because that cage match at Money in the Bank was a whole four weeks earlier and that’s MORE than enough time to have another one right? Ignore how many times these two have fought, because now they’re fighting in a gimmick match you saw a month ago in a rematch of a match you saw about two weeks ago. Totally worth your time you see.
Then you get into the other match, which has even more issues then Ziggler vs. Kingston. Corbin claimed that he was cheated by the referee and because reasons that aren’t important enough to explain, he has been granted a rematch with a special guest referee of his choosing. Who is that referee going to be? Well that’s what we get to spend two weeks worth of Monday Night Raw figuring out. We didn’t find out last night because the main event of the show was just a tryout for Sami Zayn as guest referee. In a related story, Monday Night Raw drew a non-holiday edition record low number of viewers.
Are you surprised whatsoever by the low number? To be fair the show was up against the potential series clinching Game 5 of the NBA Finals, but WWE didn’t exactly help itself with a main event featuring a tryout for a guest referee for a rematch where the most boring main eventer of all time gets his rematch. Let me repeat that: the big angle for Monday Night Raw was an audition for a guest referee for a rematch from two weeks ago, featuring an ex-middle management lackey who looks like he works at a middle of the road family restaurant and whose career highlight is a forgettable United States Title reign.
And yes, that is what WWE thinks you should be watching. But wait, in addition to that, remember that the winner gets to deal with Lesnar’s Money in the Bank contract, because nearly TWO YEARS of Lesnar in the World Title scene just wasn’t enough and we need to wait on him to get back into the title picture.
It’s not even just the main event scenes. Consider the United States Title situation. Samoa Joe was just handed the US Title back, but this week’s Monday Night Raw saw five challengers coming for the title. That would be Cesaro, Ricochet, Braun Strowman, the Miz and Bobby Lashley. Ignore the fact that Ricochet won a series against Cesaro two matches to one and Strowman pinned Lashley clean at Super ShowDown, because none of those results matter and they’re all going after the US Title on equal footing.
Looks cool, doesn’t mean much:
That’s where we get back to the problem: it doesn’t matter if you watch Goldberg vs. Undertaker, because they’re both going to be gone from TV. It doesn’t matter if you watch Super ShowDown, because you’ll get to see the matches again later. It doesn’t matter who wins the Universal Title because Lesnar is right there hovering over their head and he’s what REALLY matters. But it doesn’t matter what happens there, because it’s all about who takes the title off of Lesnar. Then we REALLY get to what matters, even if it takes a few years to get there.
The interesting thing is this is far from the first time a company has done this. Off the top of my head, you have the infamous Dusty Finish, where you would have a title change or a big moment take place and the decision was overturned sometimes weeks later (including the main event of Starrcade) because of some technicality. Eventually the fans gave up because they knew what was going on, to the point where some crowds chant DUSTY FINISH to this day because they know what’s coming.
The same thing was true in the AWA with Hulk Hogan, who won the AWA Title probably a dozen times before it was taken away because of some technicality. Believe it or not, this didn’t go well for the AWA because the fans figured out what was going to happen and didn’t buy the false finishes anymore. They also didn’t buy tickets, because why would they waste their money on something if they knew it wasn’t going to matter past the next hour?
Does any of this sound familiar? WWE is making it very clear that nothing you’re watching is going to matter in the long term because there is always something else going on. Even WrestleMania doesn’t matter because we’ll just do a rematch (Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre, Miz vs. Shane McMahon) or have the former champion chase the title again (Lesnar) no matter how tired people are of him.
Another match you’ve seen before and you’ll see again:
So where does that leave us? Heck if I know, but it’s not a place that many fans want to be. At the moment, the fans are leaving in droves and a lot of that has to do with the creative direction. It feels like WWE has no idea where they want to go with a lot of this stuff and that has been old for a long time now.
I’m not sure how WWE can fix this situation, but it would be nice if they had an actual direction for a change. Or if it felt like we weren’t stuck on some endless loop that keeps passing the same things over and over again as we look for a way off. It’s not fun to watch WWE at the moment and contrary to what they may seem to think, that’s something that does matter.
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 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the History Of In Your House.
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