Desperate for attention, WWE loaded its Hell in a Cell go-home show. WWE’s viewership plummeted to its lowest mark since 1997. Its network subscriptions are still well below its anticipative total too. The company hauled in eminent bygones and reunited The Shield to temporary stop to bleeding.
Despite fresher faces, Raw’s exceedingly platitudinous formula did not transmute. It shadowed its repetitive, micromanaged formula, placing the important segments at the top of the hour and padding the rest with filler. Worse of all, the show ended on a rather anticlimactic note. As usual, WWE failed to do something to hard sell Hell in a Cell, which caused the show to become an afterthought as Raw signed off the air.
The show’s main objective was to sell the Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker match. Due to Undertaker, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman not being on Raw much for this month, WWE attempted sell the match on one endeavor. By creating subplots and abstract ramifications, Heyman essayed to ballyhoo the match. However, not even he could save the match’s lackluster build.
WWE should have done more beforehand to sell the match. The roster discussing the match’s importance and explaining why fans must see it would have been helpful. Hinting the match will be a realistic and chaotic match would have been helpful too. As it stands, the storyline lacked newfangled subplots. The writing team ultimately failed to augment the conflict to more heated and intriguing plateau.
No question, WWE has struggled to create interesting conflicts. It cannot create new ideas and will not even use different ideas that worked before. WWE is too over-reliant on the same dull ideas to progress a conflict. For instance, Brock Lesnar teasing to fight Undertaker to back away is an insufferably overused ploy. It garners no reaction from the audience due to them being so numb to it. Wrestlers are supposed to be unique individuals with different traits, actions and motives. They cannot be prominent when their actions are all-too similar. They become stereotypical heroes/antiheroes.
People have also been critical of WWE’s even-steven booking because it makes the wrestlers too homogenous. Wrestling is supposed to be art imitating life. Life teaches us that people are all playing on different fields. So, even-steven booking is a contrived imitation of life. Even-steven booking also makes pay-per-view (PPV) matches uninteresting. Interesting PPV matches ensue either when the wrestlers both look strong or when the antihero has a strong advantage over the hero.
When both wrestlers go in looking strong, fans are interested because something has to give. Both wrestlers have evinced they are hard to defeat and now only one can win. And when a sympathetic hero is outmatched or damaged, people are interesting to see if he or she can overcome the insurmountable odds.
WWE’s even-steven booking has become a self-parody. Under no circumstances should a wrestler limping in looking weak be the favorite to win a match. Yet, WWE’s tendencies have taught its fan base weaker wrestlers normally win at the PPV.
While the argument is truism, it is inexcusable how many times champions lose on television as a result of lazy booking. A title match is supposed to be a special occurrence, where both of the best in their respected division face-off. Therefore, both wrestlers should set foot in the PPV’s arena looking strong more often than not.
The rising action is the most interesting part of a drama because something disallows a character or group of characters to go back to a previous time. To avoid this, WWE uses even-steven booking to hedge their bets. The conservative approach allows the company to revert to a previous time. Status quo becomes god, meaning either nothing changes or everything resets back to the way it was in no time.
Despite WWE’s putrid day-to-day booking, it normally can deliver an enjoyable PPV. The roster has the dexterity to overcome the lackluster build and maladroit booking. However, the roster could not overcome WWE’s fatal flaw at Hell in a Cell. The lack of build, provocative stories and creativeness put into the matches hindered the wrestlers’ performances. Most matches happened multiple times before and unfortunately followed the same formula almost move-for-move. It resulted in a handful of dreary matches.
Strangely enough, John Cena curtain jerked against the returning Alberto Del Rio. Zeb Colter also returned to form an unlikely alliance with his former arch-rival.
WWE could come up with interesting reasons both teamed up. Most likely, it cannot come up with one. So, it will ignore it and move on as usual.
When the match started to transition out of first gear, Del Rio, with a kick that would not get him a yellow belt in karate, pinned John Cena clean. But why did WWE not allow him to break his arm or something? It would explain why Cena is off TV; it would set up a " Cena seeking for retribution" match later on, and it could have been interesting one if Del Rio has a dominating run with the title.
Del Rio’s return made something clear, though. The fans were bored with him during the end of his run, but after being gone for a year, he received a huge reaction from the crowd. He made it clear WWE needs to cycle talent in and out to freshen up the roster. They could do a variety of ways: keeping people off television, sending people down and calling people up from NXT and releasing people and then bringing them back a few months after. All those ideas would help wrestlers avoid becoming stale and static.
Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt had a polarizing match. Some believed it was a classic while others thought it was a pedestrian affair. In spite of a few highlight-reel spots, the match failed to remain interesting throughout. Too much downtime and plodding moments, and it failed to narrate a perceptible story. Half the time, they performed moves that had no purpose or meaning behind them. The match also never progressed to the crescendo. It instead dragged to the finish line and tripped over itself at times along the way.
Wyatt was not a serious threat to Roman Reigns; and Reigns lacks the ability to make people suspend their belief that his opponent is when they are not. He was never in peril, and the heel becomes irrelevant when the babyface is invincible.
New Day did not have their best match but continue to standout. They improvise, react and play off the crowd. It gives their performance an organic feel, in contrast to some wrestlers on the roster who seem too busy over-choreographing an envisioned match they have in their minds. Most of all, New Day is having fun out there. And since they have fun, people watching them are too. It is that simple; there is no need to over-complicate wrestling for what it is.
Charlotte has a bright future in this business. She is athletic and has a solid grasp on in-ring psychology. While she is still rusty around the edges, the more experiences she gets, the better she will become. She will not learn much from wrestling Nikki Bella, who performs random spots because her ring awareness is horrendous.
They had a decent match, though, as it was much better than their former PPV match that relied on generic limb-psychology. Nikki trying to do spots she is incapable of doing or failing to make them look convincing dragged it down So did the finish, which occurred Charlotte using her wounded back after taking a huge bump on the apron. But, overall, it was a strong effort from a WWE Diva standpoint. Charlotte needs to work with better opponents moving forward, though.
It was refreshing for Seth Rollins, the biggest deus ex machina champion ever, to gain a decisive victory over someone. However, Kane should not be main eventing WWE PPVs in 2015. He should not be wrestling, period. He is immobile; his moves look ineffective or like they missed by a mile; and he cannot take bumps anymore. Not to mention, his matches are indistinguishable from the other. Rollins, as usual, tried hard but could not camouflage Kane’s noticeable weaknesses.
Kevin Owens, one of WWE’s most talented wrestlers, was in the bathroom break spot. He and Ryback had an above-average match at Night of Champions. They did not get an opportunity to rekindle their magic tonight, though.
Brock Lesnar and Undertaker had the best match of the night. Both worked hard and their hard work prevailed. WWE finally limited the amount of kick-out finishers throughout the night, which made them more special in this match. The company also used good irony by having Brock Lesnar use the same underhanded tactics Undertaker used before to win, which demonstrated how insurmountable both are as only cheap tactics can finish the other off.
It was not a classic. It seemed as if the lack of build hurt as the antagonism was not as noticeable as it was at Summerslam. The lack of a sustained, deep, and layered in-ring story vitiated as well. However, they worked a hard-hitting and anarchic styled match, resulting in one of the barbaric PG HiaC matches ever.
Once more, though, WWE used part-time main eventers to help alleviate their woes. In the grand scheme of things, this match accomplished little that will help WWE from a long-term perspective. How long will WWE does these short-term gain for long-term pain main event matches? And, how long until WWE realizes how detrimental they are and instead tries using these former stars to put over their newer ones?
To no surprise, WWE’s ending received backlash. Undertaker and Bray Wyatt feuded not too long ago and their first feud did not light the world on fire. Undertaker does not have many matches remaining; so, wasting it on Bray Wyatt, who is a doormat for the upper-tier wrestlers, is not one of his few matches left people want to see. Unless Wyatt will brainwash and revitalize Undertaker into an unstoppable monster, or unless it sets up Team Undertaker vs. Team Wyatt for Survivor Series and ends after that – this feud has no legs to stand on and is ultimately a waste of time.
WWE has countless problems, problems that will not fix themselves over night. The entire company desperately needs an overhaul. It needs to be stripped down and replaced by a dawning of a new era. The company needs to allow wrestlers to work a different style than their own counter-for-counter style. It needs to end matches differently and use matches finishes to create or progress a story. In other words, make what happens in the ring an important aspect of the product.
The company also needs to use wrestlers based on the consensus opinion of its audience. It needs to get rid of its imprudent unwritten rules and stop saying something cannot happen because of a so-and-so reason. It needs to stop worrying about protecting everyone when he or she loses. Rather, realize it is a fictional television show and not that big of a deal. It needs to be accepting of newer ideas instead of running through its worn-out ideas. In short, it needs to shred its scripts and say let’s try writing something completely different from this.
There have been many perplexing eras in WWE but none like this. The company has run away from everything that worked for them a few years ago. WWE was doing well when they were creating meta-narrative angles that blurred the line between fiction and reality. It was a company winking to its audience and using its own clichés to its advantage. Now, the company is once again living in their own little bubble; they are pretending every direction and road they travel is something the fans have not seen and cannot forecast a million miles away.
It could not possibly be more frustrating.