WWE just finished up its final Pay-Per-View before they go to Dallas for their biggest event of the year, WrestleMania. And like WWE’s been for quite some time, they’ve been one breath-taking roller coaster ride. One month you’ll believe they are the undisputed number-one promotion in the world, and the next month you are convinced they are putting one of the worst products out there. There’s no greater example of that than the first two months of 2016.
It began when the news began to run rampant the first week of the New Year, that New Japan megastars Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson, Shinsuke Nakamura, and more notably AJ Styles would be leaving NJPW and head to the WWE in the coming months. Every wrestling page, website, and Twitter account was on that news, posting any little bit they could to remain excited for four high-value and top-dollar acquisitions headed WWE’s way. WWE was on the road to WrestleMania, and even in the downward slope of the roller coaster that’s led to many top WWE talent to the shelf (John Cena, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, Randy Orton, etc), everyone knew that these four contracts could make WrestleMania 33 amazing, and 2016 one of the best years in WWE’s long history.
AJ Styles would go on to debut first at the Royal Rumble event, in the Royal Rumble match, entering at number 3 and lasting nearly 30 minutes in the match. Shinsuke Nakamura would be confirmed to be headed to WWE’s alternate brand, NXT, as he’s scheduled to wrestle former NXT Champion Sami Zayn at NXT Takeover Dallas, as a part of WrestleMania Weekend. As for the tag team duo of Luke “Doc” Gallows and “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson, they have yet to be placed by the WWE, but it’s only a matter of time before they enhance the depth at the tag team division at either Raw and SmackDown, or NXT.
Then you have February, a short month that seemed to kill if not most, but all the momentum for WrestleMania. There were quite a few well-fought matches at Sunday’s WWE Fastlane event, but it didn’t matter when fans filled the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland with boos after Roman Reigns won the main event, punching his second consecutive ticket to WrestleMania for the opportunity to challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, the same decision that was just as unpopular 13 months ago when he won the Royal Rumble and had the first ticket.
With one’s weekly Raw and SmackDown shows, one can come away with a promising perspective, or they can come away with a bunch of empty, unfulfilled promises and expectations. For example, the first Raw of 2016 looked promising, while many said the January 4th edition of Raw was better than any Monday show produced in all of 2015. You have WWE’s Thursday Night SmackDown, which the company is trying to push as time well spent for your week, which the first couple of episodes featured many title matches and were quite enjoyable… Then you have the go-home episode for Fastlane on February 15th that looked sloppy, completely and utterly boring, and they couldn’t fill 3 hours worth of television if their lives depended on it. So you see why so many are afraid to commit.
WWE Fastlane saw some highlights, like Kevin Owens defeating Dolph Ziggler to retain his Intercontinental Championship in a superb match. You could point at the divas matches, where they’ve both already received great compliments for their work tonight, something I haven’t seen in years in the WWE. But, on the other hand, you could also point at the six-man tag team match where everything went wrong, including burying the “monster” faction of The Wyatt Family to the two old dudes and Ryberg.. I mean -back, Ryback. Then, once again, you could look at the triple threat and asked why they killed Dean Ambrose’s momentum and the hope of the fans to let Roman Reigns headline his second WrestleMania, where the outcome is all but unpredictable.
What am I trying to say? Are you going to enjoy WrestleMania weekend? I believe you will, as I left the previous two Manias impressed and a bigger wrestling fan. Are you going to enjoy anything before or after that? You should feel overly privileged to truly enjoy 40% of the shows between now and the WrestleMania followup PPV, Extreme Rules.
I’m trying to say that WWE may be the number one promotion in the world, or they may not be, based on what your scale looks like. But in my opinion, until they constantly make you want to tune in 3-5 hours on a weekly basis, they will not be what they had to be when they upped their game to keep WCW from taking over.