Let's be honest: these days, watching WWE programming can be a bit of a chore. Three hours of RAW, two hours of Smackdown, NXT, Main Event, Superstars, Saturday Morning Slam, AM RAW and the occasional PPV Sunday, and you're looking at about 40 hours of original programming WWE puts out a month. That's a lot of wrestling, especially when about half of it is used on recaps of Monday Night RAW anyway (I kid. Maybe.). Many of us remember the day when all we had was the Saturday morning show Superstars (or Wrestling Challenge, depending on where you lived I suppose), and if you had cable, the weekly cable show (RAW or Prime Time Wrestling or...I'm really gonna show my age here...Tuesday Night Titans).
In essence, while wrestling on television is presented better than it's ever been, WWE still finds ways to ruin the viewer experience. In the first part, I talked about how WWE ruined RAW, Smackdown, and NXT. I might as well go after their other programming too.
But before doing that, I'm gonna rant on the one thing that has been bothering me (and perhaps a lot of you) A LOT in recent years.
21. WWE ruins commentary. I may have to go back and correct this, but there have been exactly three good commentary teams in the WWF/E since the company went global: Vince McMahon and Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Gorilla Monsoon and whomever he was partnered with (not named Art "How much does this guy weigh?" Donovan-way to embarrass my hometown of Baltimore, broseph), and Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler. But these days, well, since 2009 when the WWE's two lead announcers were forced to swap shows via the WWE Draft, Michael Cole has been the lead voice of RAW, and I gotta say it. He is AWFUL. Yeah, yeah, there was that one show where Cole held it together Lawler had a heart attack right on the air. I get that. I commend him. But for most of the last few years, the "voice of the WWE" is the reason why I (and probably a lot of other people) watch RAW with a finger on the mute button. Seriously, you must be bad if there's a Twitter account dedicated to how bad you are. Granted, he's not as awful these days as when he was practically sucking The Miz's dick on air (I mean, you could practically hear the suction if you listened carefully enough) and his "feud" with Jerry "The King" Lawler, but that's comparing a douche with a turd sandwich. I know Vinnie Mac feels his commentators should tell stories and ignore the holds and such, but I'm of the opposite opinion (and call me old-fashioned if you want): if there's a match in the ring, regardless of how good or bad it is, CALL THE MATCH. As the commentator, you are the conduit between the people in the ring and the home audience. Give me a reason to care about what's going on in the ring, not your latest trending topic or the latest thing John Cena is doing, or shilling your awful WWE app that takes up a full GB of my iPod so I deleted it (because 240 more songs on my iPod is way more useful), unless, you know, it's directly related to what's going on in the ring. If there's a reason your home audience doesn't care about what's going on in the ring or who's in it, it may be more than just what's going on in the ring or who's in it.
22. WWE ruins Survivor Series. Remember how big a deal Survivor Series was? Back in the days of the Saturday morning show, big name talent only got together on your television screen about once a month: Saturday Night's Main Event. And occasionally on Superstars, where the home viewer was fed one squash match after another for an hour in hopes of convincing the home viewer to see the next live event, where you got to see the good stuff. Enter Survivor Series in 1987. Coming off the heels of an epic as all hell Wrestlemania III, the WWF wanted to ride the momentum of the Hulk Hogan-Andre the Giant feud until the wheels fell off. Survivor Series was like the NBA All-Star Game, where teams of five faced off in elimination tag team matches. Elimination tags were hardly new in 1987, but the fact that nearly every cable system chose a PPV of all elimination tag team matches over Starrcade must have meant Vince was on to something (side note: Vince also forced cable outlets into choosing one or the other. Those that went with Starrcade would not get Wrestlemania IV. In the end, just five PPV providers went with the NWA offering over Survivor Series.). In 1989, they added fancy team names. In 1990, they had a final match of survival featuring all the winners from earlier matches. I admit, I wish they held on to that one. Of the first five Survivor Series events, there was exactly one singles match: Hulk Hogan vs. The Undertaker for the WWF title in 1991. Ok, excusable. But in 1992, it went off the rails. One elimination tag match. Granted, that night also had an epic tag match and Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWF title, so we'll give it a pass. The all-tag match PPV returned in 1993. 1994 had two non-tag matches, but one had Bob Backlund winning the WWF title via towel throw-in, and the other had CHUCK NORRIS as special enforcer, so it's cool (however, 1994 also had Sleazy, Queasy, Cheesy, Dink, Pink, and Wink as participants. Not cool. Not cool at all). The mostly tag-match format stuck around, but it went off the rails again in 1997, never to return. Two words: Montreal Screwjob. The 1998 one went with a "survive and advance" method with a one-night WWF Championship tournament, something not done since the Wrestlemania IV debacle. With the same number of men involved and same number of byes, they managed to get the whole thing in (and two additional title matches) in half the time of Wrestlemania IV. With a Montreal Screwjob remix ending. That was not cool. 1999 had four (including an elimination handicap match won by Big Show in 86 seconds). And that Montreal Screwjob-type ending. By the turn of the century with WWF having six hours (or more) of original programming every week, and big names appearing on nearly all of them, Survivor Series felt less special. But here's the biggest ruining of the once-upon-a-time Thanksgiving classic: Bragging Rights in 2009, where the main event was...wouldn't you know it...an elimination tag match. Real nice considering that the PPV was right before Survivor Series.
23. WWE ruins the Royal Rumble. Created in part as a response to Jim Crockett Promotions' Bunkhouse Stampede, the Royal Rumble was first brought to television in 1988 (it was actually born a few months earlier in October 1987, but less than 2,000 people saw it and is not formally acknowledged), and put a new twist on a wrestling standby: the battle royale. Instead of everyone in at once, two people start, and another person enters at regularly-timed intervals, usually two minutes. The objective is the same, however; over the top rope = out of the match. The rules have been adjusted to include two feet on the floor or it doesn't count, and if a wrester goes over the top, but catches himself before going out, he can come back in. And the occasional if the referee doesn't see elimination, it doesn't count (see Austin, Steve, 1997). The Rumble match featured twenty men in 1988, but has featured thirty men every year since, save for 2011's edition that had forty. So when did the Rumble get ruined, you ask? 1992. Hang on, hang on. Let me explain. The first four Rumble matches had nothing at stake. Nothing but bragging rights. The WWF Championship situation got all muddy and such in the fall of 1991, and the title got vacated, giving the title to the winner of the 1992 Royal Rumble match. Deemed by many as the greatest Royal Rumble ever, thirty men, about half of whom have gone into the WWE Hall of Fame, went into a fight for survival over the WWF Championship. After just over an hour, Ric Flair (who was in it for all but about two and a half minutes) won the whole thing. Every year since, the Rumble winner gets a guaranteed Wrestlemania main event. However, with the bonus thrown in, the match has an unintended consequence: it's become one of the most predictable matches on the WWE calendar. You don't always know for sure who will win, but you definitely have an idea of who won't-anyone not on the periphery of the main event scene has no shot (oh, but try and convince us as you might, Santino Marella). And let's be honest for a moment: they're never gonna top the '92 Rumble match. Ever. But we'll go through this exercise every year: WWE tries to convince us that anyone can win the Royal Rumble, yet only about five guys will have a realistic shot. And we'll all be glued to our TV or computer screens when it goes down.
24. WWE ruins Wrestlemania. This may be more of an indictment of this year's "Showcase of the Immortals" than anything. Here's this year's show in a nutshell: the three matches we were supposed to care about all telegraphed winners weeks in advance, and five matches that you didn't give a damn about at all. And one match that didn't make the show at all, and apparently not because of time constraints (if that's the case, that's truly disgusting). Oh, and a performance by Diddy that no one wanted. Granted, this will likely go down as one of the most bought Wrestlemanias ever, so who am I to judge, right? I could list the many ways WWE ruined the year's biggest event, but I'll go with two numbers instead: 60 and 70. To the nearest dollar, that's how much the standard and HD feeds were for this year's event. Sure there are many fans willing to pay for it, but there are also many fans that being "priced out" and will resort to questionable means to watch Wrestlemania. And this is not going away, by the way, especially with the official Internet stream of this year's show going dead about a half hour in. Oh... and for the love of God, budget the time better. Each of the last three Wrestlemanias had an announced match cut from the show. Wrestlemania X-Seven and X8 each had eleven matches and a musical performance (X8 had three) and still finished with time to spare.
25. WWE ruins pay-per-view. Rising costs aside, I'm going to say something that has been said for a number of years by lots of people other than myself: there are way too many PPVs. Asking the average fan to pay $45 or more for what is essentially a commercial-free Monday Night RAW every single month is too much of an ask. It just is. I can't believe I'm about to do this, but I'm going to suggest WWE might want to take a page out of TNA's playbook: scale back your PPV schedule. Not to four; that renders more than half your television stuff irrelevant. (Seriously, you can watch maybe every third episode of Impact and feel like you haven't missed anything.) And the PPV names... gaaahhhhhh. Most of them got replaced in 2008 and 2009 for reasons I really can't understand, and now nearly everyone is named after a gimmick. No Way Out, which actually made a hell of a lotta sense, became Elimination Chamber. Backlash became Extreme Rules. Unforgiven became Night of Champions (you know, WWE, you do own the rights to the name Clash of the Champions. How's about you use it?) No Mercy? Hell in a Cell. Armageddon? TLC. And the June PPV has been renamed so many times the last decade, I may need to give it its own fanpost. Outside of the Big Four, PPV names have descended into silliness on the level of In Your House...when they weren't giving away houses anymore. In their defense, I kinda like the name Payback. But how's about you bring back Backlash, or better yet, the PPV that was held every June for a decade, King of the Ring? But let's be honest: the scaleback argument is useless. No way WWE's gonna hand millions of dollars in revenue back, which is why the presumed dead WWE Network was a bad idea in the first place.
26. WWE ruins Superstars (1996). Raise your hand if you got excited when you heard WWE was bringing Superstars back. Of course, you did. For many long-time fans, their weekly fix of WWF action was WWF Superstars, which in essence, served as little more than a one-hour informercial with a few squash matches thrown in. You get your storyline updates, a few promos and plugs trying to convince the viewer to see the next live event in your area, then a feature bout with the main roster. The show remained in syndication until early 1996, when it was moved to the USA Network, and was out of syndication altogether internationally by early 1997. It was no fault of their own as in their late days, the WWF's flagship show became Monday Night RAW. But once it went to USA, Superstars became the Monday Night RAW recap show. And the Smackdown recap show once they added Smackdown. It was the same for about a year when WWF programming was moved to Spike until it was finally done away with in 2001.
27. WWE ruins Superstars (2009). Raise your hand if you got excited when you heard WWE was bringing Superstars back. Of course, you did. For many long-time fans, their weekly fix of WWF action was WWF Superstars, which in essence, served as little more than a one-hour informercial with a few squash matches thrown in. You get your storyline updates, a few promos and plugs trying to convince the viewer to see the next live event in your area, then a feature bout with the main roster. In 2009, WWE brought back its longest running show in Superstars. Expect everything, we were told. By the 2009 reboot, WWE was split into three brands named after its major shows: RAW, Smackdown, and ECW. They got themselves on a somewhat decent network in WGN America (home to the Chicago Cubs, White Sox and Bulls) It got a pretty cushy timeslot too: 8pm on Thursday night, the original timeslot for Smackdown. The premise was that each brand would be represented with one match every week. Pretty nice, yeah? As time went on (and when three brands became two), you started seeing more of the people you didn't care about as much and less of the people you did. And when the most recognizable names and faces you see are in the opening and in highlight form, your show's in trouble, and in 2011, WGN America pulled the plug. The show still airs internationally. But if you want to see it in the States (legally), you'll have to pay $9.95 a month for a subscription to Hulu Plus (which, by the way, includes all WWE programming, including NXT, but only half of RAW). One would assume that replacing high-end talent with low-end talent can kill your show would be a less they would take with them. As it turned out, this the second show they ruined in such a manner.
28. WWE ruins Sunday Night Heat (2000). Here's an interesting little nugget: Sunday Night Heat was originally supposed to be a six-week run. It lasted for ten years. Heat was the WWF's #2 program in its early days, and was basically a one-hour version of Monday Night RAW (and some weeks, it had the energy of a Monday Night RAW, as some early episodes were live, especially those before PPVs). But in the summer of 1999, Smackdown became the new #2 show and Heat briefly became a recap show before going back to the exclusive match format. But the show arguably got ruined when it moved to MTV in 2000. Three words: DJ Skribble. The live portion from WWF New York was retired following its closure in early 2003, but by then Skribble was long gone. The matches featuring RAW's lower-card talent during the brand extension era, and believe it or not, Heat retained some of its popularity. But then the Viacom contract ran out. When the WWE went back to USA, Heat and its other secondary show Velocity didn't go with them, relegating the shows to internet-only programming. While such programming is quite popular today, it wasn't in 2005, but still it maintained an audience, especially in international markets. The Heat brand was finally put to pasture in May 2008. Heat could actually work in today's market. It just happens to have another name for it now: Superstars.
29. WWE ruins Saturday Night's Main Event (2007). Raise your hand if you were excited when you heard WWE was bringing back Saturday Night's Main Event. You were not only excited, you were probably ecstatic. Saturday Night's Main Event was the WWF's once-a-month or so (excluding most summers) special that replaced Saturday Night Live on NBC and later FOX in the 1980s and early 1990s. There was also a Friday night version called The Main Event (the first, the Wrestlemania III rematch between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant remains the most watched wrestling program in American television history), but the premise was the same: big matches featuring the main roster, or more or less what you see on WWE programming today. This was a big deal back then, as most television matches were of the star versus jobber variety. Ratings were strong for many of these shows, but NBC started losing interest in wrestling in the early 1990s (especially after picking up the NBA TV rights from CBS), and FOX didn't exactly have a commitment to it either, show SNME just twice in 1992. The show laid dormant through the New Generation, Attitude, and Ruthless Aggression eras (though one can argue that by the turn of the century, there was little need for SNME), but was revived in 2006 on NBC just before Wrestlemania 22. And it was a blockbuster card: the opening match was the Wrestlemania main events facing off in a tag team match. The show also featured Stone Cold Steve Austin outdrinking (and stunning) JBL, psycho lesbian stalker Mickie James (my personal favorite Mickie) going heel and making out with Trish Stratus, and Shawn Michaels getting the Detroit Screwjob at the hands of the McMahons. The other SNME from 2006 featured John Cena and Edge for the WWE Championship. So how the hell could WWE possibly ruin this venerable brand? Kane, Doink the Clown, and Eugene versus Viscera, Umaga, and Kevin Thorn. This was the main event of a Saturday Night's Main Event episode in 2007. No. Just... no. This doesn't main event Smackdown. Hell, at the time, it could barely qualify as a main event in ECW. And Wrestlemania XI guest Jenny McCarthy and other celebrities shilling the Generation Rescue charity put the death knell on the brand in 2008 (of course, a 0.7 rating, 75% less than what the 2006 reboot did in the same timeslot, will do it too). But by then, Saturday Night's Main Event has long outlived its usefulness. Star versus star was the norm now, not the exception. But even still, with the reboot, at least act like you're trying. You did in 2006.
30. WWE ruins Main Event (2012). Raise your hand if you were excited when you heard WWE was bringing back Main Event. Of course you got excited. Saturday Night's Main Event (both the original, its sister THE Main Event and its brief reboot) have quite the story in WWE lore. Hogan-Andre II, the Megapowers explode, Uncle Elmer's wedding, Hulk Hogan's "Real American" music video, Mr. Perfect smashing Hogan's world title belt all happened on Saturday Night's Main Event. The Montreal Screwjob (2006 edition-Detroit), Mickie making out with Trish Stratus, divas on bulls, and DX defeating (burying) the Spirit Squad in a 2 vs. 5 handicap match happened on the reboot. Now imagine bouts like that EVERY week...on network television. Okay, it isn't exactly network television, but you get the idea. It got ruined before it even hit the air. The odd choice of night (Wednesday) on a network that was once famous for an awful game show where nobody got paid because the producers went broke, Highway to Heaven reruns, and infomercials doesn't exactly inspire confidence. While the structure of the program was at first unique (video packages introducing the combatants for the featured bout, followed by pre-match interviews), it soon became just another WWE show: have a match or two, recap RAW. It basically has fallen into the same hole that every show not name RAW has: have a few matches, recap RAW, shill social causes, Twitter, Tout, and the WWE app.
So, what has WWE ruined for you? I'll cover it in parts 4 and 5.