NXT Debuts on the Main Roster

In the week following Survivor Series, there were five call-ups from the NXT roster, and one in-ring return. Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose shockingly showed up on Monday Night Raw accompanying Paige, who was making her long-awaited, long-debated return to WWE after a neck injury. Ruby Riot, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan made an impact the next day on Smackdown Live.

In a time where WWE is struggling to stay afloat, with viewership and ratings constantly dropping, the company is finally doing something right with the women’s division. I am a strong proponent of building and expanding the women’s division to hopefully one day become truly equal to the men’s division. I am talking the same amount of women on the roster, creative and challenging match conditions, and fans whose all-time favorite wrestlers are women. I am elated by the new prospects these women will bring to Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live, and I am thrilled that there are now five more openings on the NXT roster for new female wrestlers to continue to change the scene.

While I am so excited about Morgan, Riot, Deville, Rose, and Logan, I do question why these women were brought up to the main roster. I was expecting the Iconic Duo to debut on Smackdown after Raw’s new additions. However, I do understand that it is rather difficult to transfer talent from NXT to either Raw or Smackdown because the higher-ups do not want to change the atmosphere of NXT. And as fans, we do not want NXT to change either. We want it to remain an intimate, indy-like setting, apart from (but also connected to) WWE.

I have previously expressed my desire to transfer the entire NXT roster onto the main roster and start from scratch with a fresh batch of talent on NXT. But this would be risky, and WWE knows it, which is why all call-ups must be strategic and perfectly timed. NXT must have some of their big names carry the show while introducing and building new characters, until they – and we – are ready for them to pass the torch.

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Women’s Money in the Bank Match

Last night, history was made with the first ever Women’s Money in the Bank match. However, the match will be memorable for all the wrong reasons. It was an amazing, breath-taking match that would have gotten my vote for best match on the card – until the end. James Ellsworth unclipping the briefcase and handing it to Carmella was so, so, so cheap. Why are there rules, if the rules can be broken without punishment? The commentators tried to say, “Well, it isn’t technically against the rules…” But it is. Your friend can’t come down the ramp while you have a match against someone, pin your opponent, and try to declare you the winner of the match. A fan can’t hop over the barricade and pin someone and call themselves the winner. You can’t join a match that you were not scheduled for, just because you feel like it, and walk out the winner. That’s not how it works. Sure, it was a no-disqualification match, but there has to be some kind of law and order. WWE fans (I think) believe in fairness. This storyline – although annoying – would have been fine in a regular match, even a pay-per-view match, but the fact that it happened in this first-time-ever match is sad. What fans will remember is the ending, not Charlotte’s corkscrew off the top rope or any of the other equally impressive moves by the women in this match. The controversial ending downplays the rest of the match. Just like making Jinder Mahal champion, I think WWE made this decision for shock-value, and to gain viewers through this method. However, I think more than anything, it makes fans unhappy with the company. We don’t like to be duped. James Ellsworth won the match despite being in the match. If he can do this, doesn’t that mean that superstars can do anything they want? Where does it end?

WWE Network Advertising for WWE Network

I can’t be the only one who’s annoyed that they see ads for the WWE Network, while they’re watching something ON THE WWE NETWORK! Especially when those commercials happen in the middle of matches. If you’re creating matches that you don’t mind interrupting with an ad (the Hype Bros vs the Colons at Money in the Bank) there’s something wrong with the matches you’re making.

How Can WWE Improve Ratings?

Every week, it seems like, WWE hits a new record for low ratings. Both Raw and Smackdown’s ratings are poor and continue to decline week by week. There are even talks of NBC terminating their contract with WWE, to take Raw and Smackdown off the air in 2019, when the contract is up for renewal.

So what can WWE do to improve their ratings and keep their spot on cable TV?

Here are some ideas:

Listen to the people.

We – as a majority – do not want Jinder as champion, and we want the company to stop pushing Roman. These two “athletes” do not belong in the Universal/WWE championship running. The title does not carry the same amount of respect when it is given to just anyone. Roman has about three moves: punches, spears, and clotheslines. I want to see WWE favor superstars with actual talent. AJ Styles, in my opinion, is the most talented wrestler in the business right now. He is not my favorite (character-wise) but he has some serious talent. I think that the WWE needs to reward those with actual athletic ability and wrestling skills by giving them long title runs until there is someone worthy of holding the title. I feel the same way about Charlotte in the Women’s Division. She is clearly the most athletically gifted female wrestler on the roster. So to give the title to someone like Bayley – who has a good amount of fans, no doubt, but struggles with wrestling and talking – isn’t right. Ultimately, superstars that can wrestle should have a place in the business, even if their mic skills need improvement. Generally, the fans will accept superstars that are impressive wrestlers, even if they can’t talk well. If you can speak naturally and believably, that’s great, and you can gain acceptance from viewers in that way. But there are only so many places on the roster for people that are only good on the mic. This isn’t a talk show. And for some reason, there are superstars on the roster that can’t talk OR wrestle (aka Roman & Jinder). This isn’t right.

Expand the roster.

I don’t care whether this means bringing back former WWE superstars, stealing superstars from TNA, recruiting Indy wrestlers, sending up more superstars from NXT, or going to high schools and scouting graduating kids. WWE needs more variety. We are tired of seeing the same matches week after week, and being able to predict what is going to happen based on storyline patterns. There are almost no surprises on Raw or Smackdown. They rarely have superstar returns, or championship matches on the two main shows. Rather, they save everything good for the pay-per-views. And yes, you want your jaw to drop for the PPVs, but I remember ten years ago when I had this reaction every Monday night when I watched Raw. It was pure excitement.

I have to believe it’s possible to recreate the atmosphere of what wrestling used to be.

Orton and JBL’s Hat

Randy Orton had no sympathy for Jinder Mahal at Backlash, but the opposite is true for JBL’s hat. We see Orton handle the hat carefully, moving it out of harm’s way, on two separate occasions (2:20 & 17:50).

 

Booker T, Erick Rowan Exchange Backlash Kick-off Panel

We could all use a little humor to lighten the mood after Jinder’s title win last night. Fast forward to 52:30 and listen to Booker tell Rowan that he’s “looking real jacked, baby,” 7 times.