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[WNS Column] How Can WWE Better Utilize Its Roster?

Posted By: Caylon Knox on Nov 05, 2015

[WNS Column] How Can WWE Better Utilize Its Roster?

It's a tradition in professional wrestling that sooner or later, all of the main-event caliber performers will start to help put over (lose to) up-and-coming talents from the next generation. It's been done for countless decades now. All great champions will have their day in the sun, but after they've gotten past their prime, they will start to pass the torch to the Superstars of tomorrow. There's nothing wrong with this if it's done right. A major victory over a more experienced and accomplished wrestler can make a young wrestler look good in the eyes of the fans. But when a veteran wrestler loses nearly 100% of his matches, it gets to the point where a victory over that wrestler becomes pretty much meaningless. Even if he is a former World Champion, loss after loss after loss after loss after loss will only take away from the aura of that wrestler.
 
WWE is always looking to create new main-event caliber Superstars to carry the company into the future. However, over the past number of years, it's become pretty clear that they are desperate to try to find somebody who can garner ratings and pay-per-view buys. Just look at their Roman Reigns experiment, which turned out to be one of the most epic failures in WWE history. Nothing against Reigns, who has always put effort into his work, but he simply wasn't ready to become the next John Cena like WWE wanted him to be.
 
Another good example is Jack Swagger. Everything that WWE ever did with Swagger was done far too early. They called him up to the ECW roster in September of 2008 and he still appeared to be very green (inexperienced, not ready). They gave him the ECW Championship in January of 2009, just a few months after his debut. They moved him to the Raw roster in the 2009 summer draft, when he probably should have spent more time in ECW to gain more experience before being moved to Raw and/or SmackDown. They gave him the Money in the Bank contract at WrestleMania 26 in 2010, and then they had him move to SmackDown and win the World Heavyweight Championship just about a month after winning the MITB contract.
 
They wanted Jack Swagger to be their next Kurt Angle and they wanted it instantly. They tried to turn Swagger into an instant main-eventer/World Champion, and it was as much of a failure as Roman Reigns.
 
WWE tries to rush things too much. They also make wins and losses, and even championship victories, seem almost meaningless and insignificant. It used to be that the Intercontinental Championship was highly prestigious. A Superstar winning the I.C. Championship was often a sign of bigger and better things to come. Anymore, both the Intercontinental Championship and the United States Championship are nothing more than a reason to squeeze somebody onto a PPV card, which would be a good thing if mid-card matches were made to look like they actually mattered. Unfortunately though, I.C. and U.S. Title matches are made to look like nothing more than fillers to take up time.
 
The same way that championship victories are made to look meaningless, victories over veteran Superstars have become meaningless as well. When a former World Champion and a former dominant force like Mark Henry is losing squash matches to somebody like Sheamus in about two or three minutes on Raw and SmackDown, you know that WWE doesn't put any thought into how that makes Mark Henry look in the eyes of the fans.
 
Not only has WWE ruined Mark Henry over the past couple of years, but they've ruined virtually all of their veteran Superstars to the point to where they're not worth spending your money to watch them anymore.
 
Mark Henry, Kane, The Big Show, Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, these guys are veterans of the WWE roster who are consistently booked to lose almost all of their matches anymore. Even The Dudley Boyz now are starting to become jobbers in the tag team division since they returned to WWE a few months ago.
 
Sheamus is teetering on that line as well. He wins some of his matches and loses some of his matches. Sheamus has had about a million matches against Randy Orton now and the result is always the same: RKO on Sheamus for the 1-2-3.
 
Even Randy Orton is no longer made to look as dangerous as he used to be. Anymore, a loss for Randy Orton really isn't all that surprising. He still wins more than he loses, but a Superstar getting a victory over Orton really isn't that big of a deal anymore.
 
The aura of The Undertaker was destroyed when they had Brock Lesnar break his WrestleMania undefeated Streak in 2014. They've tried to build Undertaker back up during his recent matches against Lesnar this year, but at the end of the day, they've just made it look like Brock Lesnar simply owns The Undertaker, just like Lesnar completely owns the rest of the roster. The Undertaker has been ruined. A lot of fans don't even want to see him anymore and wish that he would just retire.
 
WWE never should have brought Sting onto the roster. Not for the way they've used him so far. His loss against Triple H at WrestleMania 31 was a shock to many fans, but it almost did sort of make sense in a way. It was the final culmination of the Monday Night War between WWE and WCW. Even though WWE bought WCW and put it out of business a long time ago back in 2001, Sting was that last soldier for WCW who never did fight in WWE until now. Even though many fans would have liked to see Sting win, it does make sense that WWE would give themselves the final victory over WCW. And a loss against a true WWE legend like Triple H, who is still in great physical condition for his age, really didn't make Sting look too bad if you really think about it.
 
However, Sting's loss to Seth Rollins at the 2015 Night of Champions pay-per-view was what totally destroyed the aura of Sting. Seth Rollins has been made to look like he can barely get a clean victory over anybody. Rollins had just lost the United States Championship to John Cena, and Cena even gave Rollins an Attitude Adjustment on the floor outside of the ring. Even at Sting's age, Rollins should have been easy pickings. But instead, Rollins was booked to get a clean victory over Sting.
 
There was some controversy about whether or not this was the planned finish, as Sting suffered a legitimate neck injury after taking a Turnbuckle Powerbomb from Rollins at one point in the match. It did come out after the match though that Rollins was always supposed to get the clean victory over Sting, and Sting's injury did not change the planned finish of the match.
 
Sting can't beat Seth Rollins after Rollins just lost to John Cena and took not just one, but TWO Attitude Adjustments from Cena. Why should fans pay money to see Sting anymore?
 
Finally, there's John Cena. The 15-time World Champion who was made to look supernatural for nearly a decade. Over the past few years, Cena has suffered his share of losses as well. His loss to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson at WrestleMania 28 was surprising, but Cena rebounded at WrestleMania 29 and defeated The Rock for the WWE Championship. But since then, Cena has lost matches to Daniel Bryan, Rusev, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, and Alberto Del Rio. Most importantly, Cena was completely slaughtered by Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2014.
 
Cena definitely still wins more than he loses, but Cena is starting to get to that point to where a loss really isn't all that jaw-dropping. Even a year ago, Cena losing a match was something that was almost unfathomable. But over the past year or so, Cena has begun to lose more often. He no longer wins 99.99% of his matches like he did for a decade. He might still win about 95% of his matches, but he is no longer made to look truly unbeatable.
 
John Cena and Brock Lesnar are really the only two Superstars left on the roster who are made to look strong. Lesnar has been made to look like a supernatural god ever since breaking The Undertaker's WrestleMania Streak, which is how he should be booked after putting an end to something that meant so much to a lot of the fans. Lesnar is easily and without question the number one Superstar on WWE's roster right now. They've made the rest of the roster look completely helpless against Lesnar.
 
Wins and losses just don't seem to matter anymore in WWE. Championships haven't mattered for many years now. A victory over a former World Champion doesn't matter anymore in WWE. And then they wonder why they're having a hard time creating new stars who the fans will care about. They wonder why ratings and pay-per-view buys are at an all-time low. As a fan, it just feels like nothing in WWE really matters anymore. As a fan, why should we have an emotional investment in a match where we know that a veteran like Kane or Big Show or Mark Henry is just going to lose? Why should we care about an Intercontinental or United States Title match when it doesn't seem to matter in the grand scheme of things anymore?
 
If you really think about it, it's almost gotten to the point where the only intriguing match anymore is a John Cena match. You know that Brock Lesnar is going to win all of his matches, and the rest of the roster doesn't seem to matter anymore. Cena's been having some spectacular matches over the past year, and now we know that there's actually a fair chance that Cena might lose to whoever he's facing. It makes his matches more unpredictable and more fun to watch. But WWE needs to be very careful about having Cena lose. If Cena loses a match to somebody like a Kevin Owens or a Rusev, that person should be placed in a more elite category. Otherwise, Cena will just turn into another veteran whose matches don't matter anymore.
 
So what should WWE do to fix this situation? This may sound harsh and even a bit unrealistic, but maybe the veteran Superstars such as Undertaker, Kane, Mark Henry, Big Show, and Chris Jericho should just stop performing in the ring. You know that they're all just going to lose anyway, so maybe they should just leave it to younger Superstars who have more of a mixed Win/Loss record. For example, if you put Sheamus against Dean Ambrose, that match could conceivably go either way. If you put them in a feud against each other, have them exchange wins and losses so that way neither one of them ends up looking too inferior to the other.
 
Put Superstars with similar Win/Loss records against each other to make more intriguing match-ups. Cesaro vs. Dolph Ziggler can be intriguing because they're both extremely talented performers who are booked to lose most of their matches. Have more of the mid-card guys like that get wins and losses over each other in competitive and exciting matches, preferably I.C. and U.S. Title matches.
 
Superstars like Alberto Del Rio and Kevin Owens certainly have the ability to make things interesting with the I.C. and U.S. Titles. Del Rio is the current United States Champion and Owens is the current Intercontinental Champion. Build up the other mid-card guys to look like credible challengers to Del Rio and Owens. Regardless of who wins, a credible challenger and exciting match-ups can bring new life to both of the championships, just like John Cena has done with the United States Championship throughout 2015.
 
Phase out the veteran performers who are just going to lose all of their matches anyway. It really is sad to see them anymore. Let the younger mid-card guys battle it out and exchange wins and losses with each other. Build up the I.C. and U.S. Title divisions to the point to where the fans actually care about them. Give somebody a good run with the I.C. or U.S. Championship and then maybe they'll look like they could be a future main-eventer/World Champion.
 
But of course, if they're just going to have Brock Lesnar destroy everybody, it might not matter what they do. And that's not even a knock against Lesnar. That's a knock against WWE for making the rest of the roster look so inferior to Lesnar. Whether or not they want to admit it, wins and losses DO matter. You have to have more guys than just Lesnar and Cena look strong. All of the veteran performers have been completely ruined, so now you have to make at least a handful of the younger guys look strong.
 
Another key element is who exactly they choose to have look good. If it's somebody who the fans don't like, then the fans will just roll their eyes and change the channel. It's that simple. The fans aren't going to take an interest in somebody who they feel isn't up to snuff. WWE doesn't seem to understand that they can't just shove whoever they want down the fans' throats. The fans like who they like. If WWE refuses to acknowledge who the fans like, then they'll continue to lose fan interest. It's not rocket science. If the fans like Cesaro, PUSH CESARO. If the fans like Bray Wyatt, PUSH BRAY WYATT. If the fans like Dean Ambrose, PUSH DEAN AMBROSE. Whoever the fans like, PUSH THAT PERSON AND TRY TO MAKE MONEY OFF OF THEM.
 
WWE's television ratings have dropped considerably over the past few years, but that's not to say that WWE is "going to go out of business" or "they'll never be able to recover" or anything along those lines. WWE can recover, but they need to change their way of thinking. To put it quite simply: WWE's booking sucks. It doesn't make sense. WWE's irrational booking decisions is why the fans no longer have any faith in WWE to give them a satisfying product. The fans are smarter than what WWE likes to think they are. The fans know when something is BS, and WWE has been making a lot of BS decisions for far too long now. That's why they're losing fans, seemingly every single day.
 
WWE needs to make more booking decisions that make sense. They need to give the fans more of what, and who, the fans want. They've already ruined most of their veteran performers to the point to where the fans really don't want to see them anymore. They might as well just let the older Superstars retire and just focus on trying to create new stars out of the younger talent that they have. They definitely have a lot of young talent who the fans will want to see, IF THEY USE THEM THE RIGHT WAY. The success of the NXT developmental territory has proven that the fans are more than willing to pay attention and pay money to see new, young, up-and-coming Superstars. NXT is booked much better than the main roster, and that's why a lot of the fans prefer NXT over the main roster.
 
Again, it's not rocket science. It's pretty easy to figure out. Good Booking = Fan Interest. Bad Booking = Lack of Interest and Loss of Viewers.
 

Tags: #wwe #raw #smackdown #nxt #columns
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