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Cup of coffee in the big time: Despite roster depth, WWE leaning on old times for new goals


The WWE roster is loaded with talent. From NXT to 205 Live to Raw to SmackDown, there’s no shortage of fantastic wrestlers and personalities hitting the ring every week.

Were that existing talent not enough, there is a steady influx of top talents from the indies filtering in to the Performance Center.

Despite all this, we are headed to a stretch of big shows featuring ... well, those old guys (and gals).

Triple H vs. The Undertaker in Australia with rumors of Triple H & Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker and Kane in Saudi Arabia.

And at WWE Evolution, some of the top stars of the “Divas Era” return to the ring with Lita vs. Mickie James and Alexa Bliss vs. Trish Stratus already confirmed for the event.

It’s another confusing thing in the modern WWE. Despite more talent than ever on the roster, the writing can’t pull together consistently compelling TV and PPV events. Despite unstable ratings, we’re talking TV deals with millions replaced by billions.

Up is down, down is up, but it’s clear WWE doesn’t think they can sell the “special events” be they in new (or newly valued) markets or “experiments” like a show featuring all female talent without harkening back to the stars of old.

It’s understandable to a degree with Saudi Arabia. They’re catering to the whims of an oppressive regime because they’re willing to pay them boatloads of money to bring back names, or reasonable facsimiles of names. As pointed out in this Deadspin piece by David Bixenspan:

One wrestler who did take part in the show was Hiroki Sumi, a sumo wrestler who we’d never seen before. He awkwardly tussled with Mark Henry and was quickly eliminated. It was a weird character to introduce, and it’s likely we’ll never see him again. So why was he on the show?

The Wrestling Observer had an idea on its radio show: When a Saudi prince was talking with Vince McMahon about the event, he mentioned three wrestlers he wanted to see on the show: The Undertaker, Ultimate Warrior and Yokozuna. The latter two are dead, but it looks like the WWE was able to scare up Sumi as a kind of replacement for Yokozuna. Hey, it’s enough to fool the marks.

For now, bring in the names for the new markets is the WWE approach. Long term, it would help to see the writing get strong enough to make international stars from the widespread talent at their disposal.

Can this week be done yet?

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