While watching Raw this week I got to thinking about something that has been bothering me about the product for quite some time, something that I feel is partially responsible for the reason they don’t have as many bankable stars or even viewers as they have in the past. The reason is simple, with the exception of the world title/WWE title (on Raw/Smackdown respectively), the other ones are useless.
It appears the creative team spins all their cycles trying to come up with a story revolving around the main title on the show, and then try and sell a ppv around that. If they give any thought into it at all, they will spend weeks building up a feud revolving this title. The problem is, they don’t bother at the same time to develop any compelling stories for the rest of the roster, and the rest of the titles, and then will slap something together at the last minute that is just filler and expect fans to shell out 35 bucks to buy a PPV that they are trying to sell on one match. The result is a big disappointment that is no different than a random episode of their weekly TV show, just with longer matches that you don’t care about because the creative team didn’t care enough to try and make the matches feel like they are anything more than picking two names out of a hat.
Case in point: The Intercontinental Championship on Raw. This is currently held by Shelton Benjamin, who is a very talented worker. What has he done since winning that title? Nothing aside from some throwaway random title defenses on Raw against Snitsky, which contained no rhyme or reason as to why he was contending for this title after jobbing to Kane a bunch of times in some lackluster brawls. Wrestlemania 21 is coming up in a few weeks and instead of building an interesting story around his title and someone trying to beat him for it, they put him and 5 other talented workers in a ladder match, but the match isn’t for the IC belt, which would have been cool, but it is for a future “world title shot”. Six workers that would be well suited to be part of an interesting program for the IC belt are now being used as a throwaway for the one thing anyone focuses on.
Back in the big heyday of wrestling in the 80s, all the belts held prestige. Randy Macho Man Savage winning the IC belt was a big deal. The Hart Foundation being tag champs was a big deal. Not everyone had to be gunning for the belt currently held by HHH or JBL. You actually cared about the other titles too and it made the big ppv’s and shows a lot more meaningful, and worth your money to witness. There was very little filler and more time spent building a program around the various titles. Now no one cares because the creative team doesn’t care.
There are plenty of people on the roster being under-utilized that would benefit from a compelling program revolving around the tag titles and IC title (and the US title over on smackdown). If they spent the time to build some compelling stories around these titles and make them feel like they mean something again, the fans will buy into these stars more and it will likely help them transition to big money makers in the future. Wrestlers like Simon Dean, Hurricane, Val Venis, Christian, Jericho, Shelton Benjamin and Matt Hardy among others would only be helped by taking the time to use them as something else besides a random meaningless filler match to fill out the card that they had plenty of time to plan, but are so narrow minded that they spent all the time on one thing.
And don’t get me started on the women’s title. Here you have Christy Hemme feuding for the belt at Wrestlemania when she has never wrestled a real match in her life. While she is now some hot playboy model and that will perhaps in the eyes of management, “increase the buy rate”, it comes at the expense of Molly Holly and Victoria, who are actual workers and would help add some meaning to that division and make for a more entertaining match at the company’s biggest show instead of having to suffer through Trish trying to carry that match and make it watchable for 10 minutes just waiting for it to end despite the hotness factor of the two women in the ring. There are plenty of other ways to utilize Christy Hemme’s hype surrounding her being in playboy without having it revolve around a wrestling match for a title that would be better suited around the waist of someone who can actually work a match. With Lita being out injured, I know the women’s roster on Raw is a little thin, but they have two women sitting in the back not being used for weeks, even on Heat that are more suited to be wrestling at Wrestlemania in that match and the TV time given to that match would be a lot more satisfying.
My advice to the McMahon family is either dump the single-minded writing staff you have now, or, if you have to, hire MORE writers if the ones you have can’t be bothered to think of the big picture instead of viewing your product with the tunnel vision. Make those other titles mean something again and suddenly your mid card and lower card have something to do and the fans will care about them more, and care about your product more too, then instead of watching your show when there is nothing better to do, they will make a point to watch the show every week like they used to.
I was going to mention the second-rate NWA TNA, but this post is long enough and I’ll save it for another day. The problems with that federation would make for just as long-wined a post as this one, if not longer. I covered them in the past on this blog, and a couple years later nothing over there has changed aside from the shape of their ring, which wasn’t an improvement.