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Dry Socket Opinion: If They’ve Given Up, Shouldn’t We?

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WWE has given up and they don’t seem to care so why should we? During the first Presidential Debate, WWE scored their lowest ratings, ever. The argument can be made that they faced stiff competition between the Debates and Monday Night Football. The NFL is not a new form of competition, for the WWE. They’ve been battling them since day one. The only difference is that WWE doesn’t have any wrestling competition. They continue to “phone it in” and give us the same thing week in and week out.

This brand split, which I was totally against, was supposed to offer us new competition and new matches. WWE did what they normally do and drop the ball. They rely on lazy booking and celebrities. Look, WWE has the greatest roster they’ve ever had. It’s a shame to see what they are, now. In addition to constant rematches (and a best of seven series), WWE continues to fill their shows with mindless promos and non-wrestling segments. WWE makes their PPVs seem pointless when they just have rematches the following nights. There’s no growth for the wrestlers or storyline. It plateaus and becomes boring.

The commentary continues to force viewers to mute their TV. In a time when WWE rips everything off, they fail to copy the key elements of real sports. Sure, WWE can have a “20/20” style interview or an “all star panel” segment. But the commentators are just awful. The all-star panel tries to “predict” the predetermined outcomes of the matches (which most of the WWE fanbase has already figured out). They make it seem like the show is real and that the matches are legit. Five seconds later, WWE has Dean Ambrose stealing an ambulance. It’s tough to take that seriously. The commentators continuously argue and the match is put on the back burner. That is a slap in the face to the competitors and the audience. It makes the match seem like it’s not important. While it’s evident WWE doesn’t seem to care about wrestling, the second W, in their name, stands for WRESTLING. The commentators also try to make everything seem like a major moment. Let’s be honest: most of the show isn’t even close to a mediocre moment. Making everything seem like a big moment takes away from the moments that actually are. It’s exhausting to listen to the constant bickering and screaming. Call the damn match and stop making yourselves (the commentators) the primary focus of the show. You’re co-stars. You’re footnotes. You’re not important. You’re there to call the story, not tell it. Why should viewers see “muting the TV” as an option for a TV show? Just flip the channel to something better. At least the local weather radar doesn’t have a stupid commentary team. JBL over hyped The Miz’s homecoming to the point where fans rolled their eyes. Ronallo yells about every single thing with no rest. Cole continues to sound like an out of touch buffoon with an obsession  over social media. Again, you won’t find any professional announce team carry themselves in such an unprofessional manner during a live sporting event. Jim Ross knew when to exaggerate and when to pull back the excitement. Don’t get me started on the “Owen voice” whenever a wrestler gets “injured”.

WWE has no competition, that they choose to openly acknowledge, and this hurts their creative process. The New Day/Wyatt segment was a clear rip-off from the Final Deletion in TNA. This poor rip-off just furthers the notion that WWE has run out of ideas. Everyone has the same voice and the segments have become overly staged. Any dialogue segments feel forced and fake. In a time when reality shows have scripted dialogue, you’d think WWE would hire some writers to half-way mimic it for their own show. God forbid WWE allow wrestlers to use their own voices. Wrestlers have no individuality. Everyone has a catchphrase, at least one nickname, a t-shirt, and a flashy taunt that the crowd can chant back. The WWE training center is nothing more than a factory where guys are stripped of their identity and made to fit into a mold. If they don’t fit the mold, they’re thrown out. The wrestler’s name is almost forgotten because Cole has to constantly call them by a nickname that barely fits. Dean Ambrose as a lunatic? How much of a lunatic can you be with TV PG? We loved the CM Punk pipebomb because it was organic. It felt real. It broke the rules. THAT was “must see TV”.

By the way, don’t be fooled by online articles that invite the reader to find out an employed superstar’s thoughts are on current subject material. It won’t be anything but positive. An employed superstar saying anything less of the product would be career suicide. It’s common sense that a superstar wouldn’t bad mouth their place of employment.

Probably this biggest sign that WWE has given up is their reliance of part-timers and celebrities. Look at the new video game or toy line. Dwayne Johnson-a guy who has barely wrestled for WWE within the past ten years, and Brock Lesnar-a guy who half-asses every WWE run, are the main focal points (along with John Cena and Roman Reigns). We’re sick of Cena and Reigns is our new “fetch”. Stop trying to make fetch happen, WWE. Lesnar and Reigns have both been busted for doping. The company prides itself on being a “real sport” yet rewards these two guys despite their drug disqualifications. What kind of a message does this send to the locker room?

But hey, if you’re famous outside of WWE, you’ll get a push (unless you’re Titus O’Neil). WWE markets their Network (with constant plugs and well-placed mentions in promos), their crappy movies, and charity works more than their own bland PPVs! When was the last time you heard anyone say they wanted to see a WWE Film? And how about those “reality” shows on the WWE Network? I bet the new Bella show, on E!, is just going to bring in a massive payday for WWE. Let’s face it: WWE is losing money. They have to oversaturate their show with constant commercial breaks and in-ring commercials just to break even. It’s okay to hear a 15 minute talking segment with no interruption but when a match starts, they cut right to commercial. How many promos and video packages do we need? It’s painfully obvious that WWE is just trying to add filler to their show that already lacks meaningful content. I suppose it’s difficult to promote a feud or match that has already been done multiple times over. The Network is costing them major cash. Audience levels are down and so are ratings. Advertisers are seeing that WWE isn’t the once great audience grabber it was. Wrestling is dying and WWE is to thank.

WWE’s insecurities continue to bleed onto their show. They mocked CM Punk’s attempt at a UFC fight. They continue to mention their reign over WCW and bury those who got big before they came to WWE. The gimmicks aren’t attention grabbing and the buzzwords have grown stale. The SD! Divas matches are still bathroom breaks. They’ve got a cheap Iggy Azalea clone with music to match. Why tune in?

If you think I’m being hard on WWE, you’re damned right. This is the same company that gave us amazing moments and they can still do it. They know that. Kevin Owens is gold. He’s solid on the mic and in the ring. Pairing him with Chris Jericho was a fantastic idea. Too bad WWE is showing how current they are, with the times, and booking them in a feud with stars from “That 70s Show”. Does WWE really think that those two actors will bring in a major audience? It hasn’t worked in the past and it won’t help, now. If new viewers tune in, they’ll see just how stupid the show is and tune out. This tactic has been going on for well over five years and it hasn’t helped the WWE audience and TV ratings. WWE continues to miss the boat on current trends. Those social media scores show that people are talking about WWE but what are they saying? My bet is that the majority of the conversation isn’t positive. Thanks for constantly giving us the hashtag, Cole. Watch the NFL and you’ll see the hashtag in the corner. It doesn’t take away from the show. Watch WWE and you are reminded to join in the conversation using a stupid hashtag every 30 seconds.

Just when there’s a glimmer of hope and a sense that WWE will change, they fall back to into their old ways. They continue to rely on the past and push established stars. They focus on their outside media endeavors (and failures). We get “best of” series (with a dusty finish just to extend it) and rematches with no motivation to buy a PPV or even the Network. The excitement of “hell in a cell” or a “TLC” match has disappeared in knowing that one is guaranteed. The wrestlers go through the motions with their gimmicks. Bray Wyatt will say something with a poetic feel but it will be the same thing he’s been saying for the past few years. The New Day will do something almost comedic. Rarely anything is fresh. The light at the end of the tunnel has faded and we’re back into the darkness. The CWC brought in some great names but WWE has a track record of screwing up anything that’s good. Cesaro has gained a large following but I’m waiting for Triple H to tell him  he just doesn’t have it to make it in the business.

Kevin Owens, Cesaro, and some of the newer faces have been great. WWE just doesn’t know what to do with them or how to truly book them in feuds and angles that allow them to grow. It’s great to see the RAW Women’s division getting better but how long before WWE reverts them back to eye-candy divas? The cruiserweights have already gained popularity but WWE isn’t known for putting smaller guys over (yes, I know there are exceptions). Kevin Owens doesn’t have the bodybuilder physique. For all the good things WWE has going for them, their past leads the longtime WWE fan to believe they’ll screw it up.

I can come into a show, halfway through, and ask if anything exciting has happened. 9 times out of 10, the answer is no. We know this company can give us unforgettable moments but they don’t. There is no desire to try or push to stay alive. When WWE was facing WCW, everyone was fighting to stay alive. We know there will always be wrestling but the carnival act is dying. The fans have become smart and the show has left them bored. The proof is in the numbers. The excuse of football or debates is just an excuse. None of WWE’s current full-time roster is big enough to draw crowds away from those. WWE should have spent time building those stars up instead of pushing part-timers and celebrities. Who cares about Dwayne Johnson coming out to talk for 20 minutes? He’ll use the same jokes and catchphrases. But could you imagine, 15 years ago, if WWE faced MNF, the Debates, AND Nitro? You can bet we’d get Austin vs. Rock in a hell in a cell match, Jericho vs. Benoit in a ladder match, Triple H facing Angle in an iron man, The Hardyz vs the Dudleyz vs. Edge and Christian in a TLC match, and a bra and panties match between Trish and Lita. WWE would pull out all of the stops. They’d work overtime to beat all three. And those gimmick matches were surprises, at the time. They weren’t overdone. Love and Hip Hop? A news commentary show? Sportscenter? They wouldn’t even be on the radar. But we’re supposed to stay tuned for a career vs. title match that is already predictable? John Cena going for a 16th world title win? Who cares? As long as Roman Reigns looks strong and gets the final upper hand, WWE is happy.

A lot needs to change but it won’t. We’re coming to October. WWE needs to be like everyone else so they’ll ramp up the pink and exploit breast cancer. It’s disgusting to see them support such a crooked charity. But doesn’t it raise awareness? Not when WWE fails to mention mammograms and self-checks. Instead, they just jump on the pink bandwagon and go through the motions. When they’re not doing that, they’ll be promoting a crappy WWE DVD and the new season of Total Bellas.

The problems all funnel down to there being no legit wrestling competition that WWE chooses to openly acknowledge. They’ve come to the point where they’re ripping off TNA. If they were going head to head with another company, WWE would be forced to improve their product. Since there is no alternative, WWE writes for the audience of Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon. Don’t think WWE truly listens to their audience. After all, Roman Reigns continues to dominate the main event picture. Until the audience and the wrestlers have an alternative, we’re stuck with the current WWE. They’ll always be around in some shape or form. Smackdown and RAW are owned by WWE so their “competition” is just a storyline. I’ve said it before–WWE’s minor leagues are more entertaining than their “big time” programming. No single superstar is going to save WWE. AJ Styles hasn’t done it and Samoa Joe won’t. No single segment is going to save three + hours of programming and it shouldn’t. WWE should be able to give consistently solid shows from start to finish. Viewers won’t stay tuned for one single segment when the rest of the show is completely draining.

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