COMMENTARY – WWE announced its Superstar Shakeup will take place over two nights next week. After a successful WrestleMania 34 and Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live shows the following two nights, I for one am curious how the company will reshape its rosters for both brands.
I say this with a bit of caution. The last time WWE had its “draft” many superstars switched sides, but there wasn’t the balance in terms of star power fans expected. WWE still made Monday night the lead program, with an emphasis on three hours of action.
Tuesday nights may have featured AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura and Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, however a lack of talent forced storylines to run longer than they should have. Hopefully, Daniel Bryan’s return to the ring will add some much-needed depth to a shorter roster.
WWE must make Monday and Tuesday night count. For years it has been the M.O. of this company to drop the ball in terms of momentum. The concept of two or three shows hitting the mark and building on success falls short because the creative team doesn’t have the foresight to work from a concept of backwards storytelling. I never thought I would say this, but you can thank Eric Bischoff for that idea.
The one thing that Bischoff could do from his days in the AWA and with WCW was determine how he wanted a storyline to build with the ending as his starting point. It’s something that he mastered. And when he was developing the Outsiders and NWO program, he used this successfully. WWE may want to adopt this concept again if it wants the best result for fan interest.
WWE has the greatest assembly of talent on its roster since the Attitude Era. It has also become the company’s greatest curse. And there are only so many times you can spin the wheel and get different results. Storylines are rerun, which leaves fans bored and numb to their plot lines.
There are other reasons why WWE fails in shaking things up like it has over the past year. When fans showed their support for Styles as a main event star, the company listened. It’s rare that the world Vince McMahon built does a 180 and changes direction like that. While Braun Strowman is one of the hottest wrestlers on either roster, he has taken a step backward. He was a sure thing to win the Universal Heavyweight Title only a month ago, I’m not so sure he’s going to be the mega champion we all thought.
Remember, Roman Reigns is still considered “The Man” who is fit to lead the company into the future.
It’s possible that there are too many superstars within the promotion, with a lack of championship titles to go around. Too many wrestlers are part of the main event picture and there is no true ladder system of reaching the mountain top. WWE would get better mileage out of a storyline if the company built wrestlers up instead of starting them at the main event level. I know NXT is supposed to help with that, but it isn’t done enough.
What I want to see on Monday and Tuesday night is a defined roster for both brands. I want to see a definitive mid-card program. And I want to see three or four wrestlers competing for the title for the red and blue brand. Anything else is a little cluttered. I want to see storylines that mean something. I want to see tag team divisions that don’t give us the same match every week.
I know it’s a lot to ask for, but I’m a purist who has been following this business for almost 40 years I have been writing about it for over 20. I’ve become jaded in thinking that wrestling is supposed to be just that.
WWE can restore my faith in its attempt to tell a good story by making the Superstar Shakeup what it’s supposed to be, which is creating a new path for greater success. I’m hoping I will be surprised more than disappointed. I’m still holding out hope the creative team for both brands know what they are doing.
But until I see it, I’m not going to believe it can happen.