By Joshua Scribner
Just a short 7 days ago as of this writing, there was a new Brand Extension in the WWE, and as the Tag Team Champions would say “ITS A NEW DAY, YES IT IS.” WWE has been around for several decades, and has constantly had to reinvent itself for a new audience, and this “New Era” will be no exception. But is this yet more lip service by the McMahon dynasty? Not if Monday’s Raw and Tuesday’s Smackdown shows are any indication.
First and foremost, the best thing that WWE is doing is taking the focus off of management. Between Austin/McMahon, the McMahon-Helmsley Era, and a parade of heel authority figures for the better part of a decade and a half (Vickie Guerrero, Johnny Ace, Eric Bischoff just to name 3), the main storyline focus it seems has been the interaction between the wrestlers and the management team. Be it a heel champion that gets the greenlight, or the face challenging against that, it’s been that way for a long time. So, if this truly is a New Era, that is going to have to be shelved. Keep Stephanie and Shane McMahon off TV as much as possible. Same for Mick Foley and Daniel Bryan. Keep their appearances special, and only for when something significant is happening. From both shows this week, aside from the opening promo, it seems as though this is the direction they are heading in, making the show be about the guys and girls performing in the ring. As it should be.
Secondly, WWE must make titles important again. It seems as though a lot of the titles, especially the midcard belts (Intercontinental and US specifically) had lost some of their luster. It will be important to make sure that these belts have a place of value on the show, especially with the impending launch of the Cruiserweight Division at the end of the Cruiserweight classic. Raw is launching the Universal championship, and if you include the Cruiserweight title, they will have five championship divisions on their show (Universal, US, Tag, Women’s, Cruiserweight). Will they be able to give them all the time that they deserve? And what of the competitors that belong to a division but are on a show without that belt? For example, Becky Lynch is on Smackdown, and the Women’s title (won by Sasha Banks in an AMAZING match, by the way) is on Raw. How will WWE compensate? They’ve already said they’re trying their best to make the Women’s division matter. I think introducing another women’s title would dilute the division. But how will they work around it? It’ll be intriguing to find out.
Last but not least, they must embrace the modern fan. This has been something that they have been seemingly moving towards with the likes of AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose being elevated not to mention Finn Balor getting a championship match at a major Pay Per View on his first night on the main roster from NXT. But they must keep it up and make sure they are promoting their guys who can consistently deliver in the ring night after night. This means that Roman Reigns must be reinvented for the time being (preferably turned heel), and that they can’t get caught up in the same mold looking for the guys who are 6’3 and built like a Greek God. Today’s fan likes a variety of things, but the one constant is that they deliver in the ring, and are good on the mic.
These are just some of the things that they will need to do and keep up to make this New Era a success, but not the only things by any means. And I intend to explore this topic further, not to mention doing proper reviews of both shows, but as it stands currently, if Raw and Smackdown this week were any indication, WWE is headed in the right direction.
It’s a GREAT TIME TO BE A WRESTLING FAN!
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