While Wrestlemania 32 gave us some fantastic moments, I think most would agree the ending left us feeling underwhelmed and disappointed, a sour note in an otherwise very solid show. I for one had went to sleep that night feeling very deflated, and quite frankly pissed off that they would so blatantly ignore the fans wishes, just to get the title on the good looking, muscular, Samoan dude. Everything was going to remain the same, Raw was going to kick off with a 20 minute Authority promo, and conclude with Reigns beating every member of the League Of Nations while Cole screams, “Roman Reigns has overcome all the odds tonight!” It felt like WWE had no plans on changing the product, being content with their current stagnant state, despite the outcry of smarks and casuals alike, for change.
Until… Well, the next night..
The Raw after Wrestlemania felt fresh, the focus on young stars was a welcome change of pace, and something just felt different, it didn’t feel like an average Raw, it started with Shane being put in charge and ended with AJ Styles becoming the Number 1 Contender in an incredible Fatal Four Way, with 4 of the best workers in the business. However, I still wasn’t convinced, Shane’s tenure in charge seemed like a one-week thing, and this focus on the younger and more ‘IWC friendly’ guys may just have been to please the crowd the night after Mania, who they knew, if they gave them the same old stuff, would crap all over it, their fear of which was apparent through the commentators’ “boo the people they normally cheer” shtick. My skepticism seemed warranted given what we’d seen in the past.
Boy was I wrong!
The weeks that followed have kept with this theme of intriguing storyline development, new stars being built in the likes of Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin, Enzo and Cass etc, and overall simply a better product. The card for Payback looks amazing, I’m looking forward to pretty much every match, the build has been fantastic, every match has been given meaning, purpose, and most importantly air time to build organically, little to none of it seems shoe-horned in, and there are two major plots which could give us a massive indication on the companies direction for the foreseeable future . The introduction of Anderson and Gallows has made for some compelling television, and an aura of mystic surrounds their inevitable eligance. Though it seems set up for Balor to join forces with Gallows and Anderson to turn on AJ, they could just as easily throw us a curve-ball, which hasn’t been felt in a very long time. Vince’s decision on Sunday, will shape the company for the next while at least, I can’t see it being as cut and dry as him picking one or the other, the possibilities are endless, which is very exciting.
Ratings…DO NOT PANIC!
Yes, the ratings have been fairly poor, but that should be expected, the new talent needs to be given time to settle in and get over with the casual audience. These guys are mostly unknown to casual fans, so when the guys they’ve known to be the stars aren’t on the show, they won’t tune in for a while, which is exactly why this opportunity needs to be taken, while a lot of your money and ratings draws are out, to enhance the new guys, and give them time to establish themselves with a new audience. Don’t go rushing back to the old guys in a panic because the ratings have dropped, it would completely derail all the good things that have been done since Wrestlemania.
Potential For Change:
I refer back to the title, the sense of change is looming, the opportunity to usher in a new era in WWE is very much in the companies hands, this Sunday, is a huge night for the WWE and professional wrestling in general, you can give back to us fans, and make us once again proud to call ourselves wrestling fans, the feeling of unpredictability once so synonymous with professional wrestling, feels like it’s slowly creeping it’s way back. The potential for two, company altering swerves, is here, my skepticism though not fully gone, is fading, don’t disappoint WWE.