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Wrestling Soap Box: Is it time to Reboot the WWE?



Is it time to reboot the WWE?

 

WWE Television is currently a stale product. Professional wrestling always has its down time before another boom period arrives. In order for the boom to take place, however, a new star needs to emerge. This person needs to be a bonafide superstar the caliber of Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. Simply being a wrestling star such as John Cena, CM Punk and Randy Orton will not move the needle in the required direction. When this boom period finally occurs, it’s usually a wrestler who was waiting in the wings for their big break. These days, Dolph Ziggler is the usual suspect. He is a good worker but can he be the box office smash that brings the business to Attitude Era heights?

 

On October 1, 2012, Monday Night Raw drew its lowest rating in 15 years. The company improved its rating by having its 67 year old chairman wrestle the WWE champion. While it was certainly an attention grabber, it was only a short term solution since Vince can’t wrestle every week. While Raw moving back to two hours would be a move in the right direction, it doesn’t address the larger problem at hand. The process of booking by committee dilutes what story lines ultimately end up on television. If the big three can’t do any more than they already have and there is no legitimate heir apparent on the horizon; what else can be done?

 

This idea will probably light up the comment section but maybe, and I stress, maybe, it’s time to reboot the WWE. Rebooting an entertainment franchise means completely starting from scratch and ignoring everything that occurred in the past. This means Hulk-A-Mania, Montreal Incident, The Streak, ECW, The Four Horsemen, Steamboat vs. Savage and the legendary careers of Lou Thez, Bruno Sammartino and Ric Flair never happened. Anything and everything would be erased. This would be a big pill to swallow.

 

Pretending the grandeur of the past was just a dream could make the process of creating new stars easier because you would be free from the restraints of continuity and it would mean a fresh start for everyone on the roster. Some wrestlers could change their look, while others can completely change their character, attire and name. Wade Barrett could go from bare knuckle brawler to Wall street sleaze and Rey Mysterio can go from masked luchador to unmasked Dungeons and Dragons wizard, Rey Merlin. Subtle changes can be made as well, such as turning Randy Orton heel and importing new talent form Florida and beyond to give the reboot that new car smell.

 

Changing the name of the TV shows and pay-per-view events could also be done, or at least change their look, feel and presentation. WrestleMania could be in July instead of April and who says WrestleMania needs to be the premiere event anymore? Money in the Bank could now be the granddaddy of them all. Create a new event or dust off names from the past such as No Mercy or Starrcade. If you want to tweak the reboot, leaving some things the same can also work.

 

DC Comics rebooted their entire universe last year by renumbering all of their books to issue one. Their universe is now only five years old. Everyone got a fresh coat of paint and new or revised origin stories. Lois & Clark were never a couple, Aquaman is cool again and Batman and Green Lantern were the only characters whose continuity was completely left intact. Superman’s first appearance was not in the first issue of Action Comics from back in 1938. It was in the 2011 inaugural issue of Justice League.

 

If the WWE were to follow this model or something similar, equivalent examples could be such as their universe is only three years old while John Cena and CM Punk’s continuity could be left alone. Dolph Ziggler and Vickie were never a couple, Sin Cara is over like gangbusters and Hulk Hogan never slammed Andre the Giant in front of 93,000 people.

 

While comparing WWE and DC Comics may be lost on some people, professional wrestling is really a live action comic book so the comparison is valid. DC’s reboot led to record business and they have consistently sold the majority of the top ten monthly comics for a year now. The WWE needs to do something to make wrestling exciting to the masses again. A reboot may or may not be the answer but whatever they do, it needs to be something outside the box and it has to be done with precision planning and unfaltering faith in whoever they give the ball to.

 

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22 Responses

  1. echo says:

    WCW tried this. It failed. Badly.

    You can’t erase 30+ years of actual history. This isn’t a franchise of made up characters. Some of these guys are 2nd and 3rd generation wrestlers. It just doesn’t work that way when real human beings are involved. And there’s no way any fan is going to just forget everything that ever happened in WWE history when they still can’t get past ECW.

  2. Dragon says:

    While you can easily reboot a comic with only backlash from fans at conventions and on the internet how would that even be remotely possible with the WWE fandom. Perfect example being Tensai despite everything the fans are told everyone knows its Albert to the point that fans chant albert in a bunch of his matches. You figure thats just albert a mid card guy whos been away from WWE for years yet it has no effect on his previous characters. So its pretty impossible to see everything scrubbed with fans every night remembering the past. Does anyone else remember the uproar over the change from WWF to WWE. That was just renaming the brand, no changes to the product.
    Fact is WWE does need a change, but the fans will not let it happen at the expense of the history. I know plenty of fans who cant stand the way Benoit(despite the tragic end) has been erased as if he never mattered. So imagine if it was all gone. It would honestly be more tragic to have the WWE come out and act as if it all never happend. Its easy to rewrite a fantasy world but even if wrestling is scripted the moments happened, thousands of people were in every arena for every pin, submission, and Title change.

  3. Kid Vicious says:

    ooh, interesting idea, although i’d say way too drastic.

    i’d keep it simple for now.
    shorter shows for sure. 2 hours is long enough and it give more prestige to the main events. maybe less shows. a raw and one of those superstars type edit-shows. less ppv’s. drop it to 6. by doing that it’ll mean it’s shoved down your throat a lot less and is easier to follow.

    storylines. not everything has to be about a belt.
    some of the most memorable storylines have had nothing to do with a belt: off the top of my head, dibiase vs rhodes, warrior vs macho man, roddy piper vs bad news brown, bulldog vs warlord. anything jake the snake. (totally given away my age there).

    managers. bring em back! start with heyman. then get guy with the look and/or move set but zero talk and put them together.

    some more wrestling would help as well.

  4. Kid Vicious says:

    ps, rey merlin. wow.

  5. Atlee Greene says:

    First, thank you guys for reading my column. Both of you bring up some great points.

    Echo: WCW did more a restart than a reboot. They still acknowledged the history.

    Dragon: There was a lot of backlash from the comic book community when DC rebooted their universe. Marvel was the consistent leader in comic book sales before the reboot and now it’s DC Comics. While a lot of their books are awful to a long time fan, lots of casual fans were excited about this because they got a fresh start. Casual fans always bring in the most money for any genre. DC announced their reboot four months in advance. If WWE did the same, there would be massive buzz. We would hate it but we would all watch to see what happens.

  6. Atlee Greene says:

    I agree with you Kid Vicious on the PPV front. 6 ppv’s a year would bring more buys because you have more time to build the matches which would create more excitement and anticipation. Savage vs. Warrior @ WM 7 is one of my all time favorites.

  7. Deathedge says:

    YES! We’ll change the name back to WWWF. Maybe change John Cena’s ring name to Johnny Sammartino and Alberto Del Rio can turn face and be Alberto Morales. We’ll pretend it’s the mid 70s or early 80s as well… let Michael Cole go solo as Michael Solie, etc. We CAN re-write history and make it seem like the past never happened…

  8. Dragon says:

    I never said there wasn’t a backlash on DC but at the same time you cant compare moments in an already fantasy world and events that happen in the real world. Its also one thing for a new fan to dish out a few dollars for a comic but no new casual fan is gonna dish out the price of tickets especially the likes of Mania or the other 3 of the big 4. The only buzz WWE would generate is that vince finally got hit in the head one to many times

  9. Deathedge says:

    Seriousl though, it’s called TRANSITIONS! Just getting up one day and saying “Hey, I’m changing everything about the product” never has and never will work without build up. Unless someone has a storyline to make a reboot make sense, it won’t work. Oh, and yes, this goes for comics as well (Crisis on Infinite Earths, Flashpoint) you gotta build it up, otherwise, it’ll blow in your face.
    That’s honestly why WCW’s failed, good idea, no build up. Eric and Russo came out there and sqid “It’s a new day” type stuff and it just seemed random.

    One last thing… After a reboot comics tend to go back in time and re-tell the stories with whatever changes they wish to make. If you were to re-boot WWE, can you really do that? I highly doubt it and that’s why comparing comics to pro wrestling is ludicras in this sense. It takes MUCH greater suspension of dis-belief to read a comic then it does to watch pro wrestling. In the real world, you can’t erase history.

  10. jim says:

    No no no no noo way Jose… and wwe even said early when tensi returned that he was a former wwe talent. I get ur point but the only way to get huge pops and huge ratings is to makenit more edgy which isn’t happening with Linda in politics. Unless they are about to go down the toilet nothing is gonna be a big change. I once was lucky enough to run into tommy dreamer at work when he was picking up his kids from school durj ng the anonymous gm saga. He laughed and said wwe doesn’t even know who it is and due to Linda they just won’t lose the pgs tag.

  11. Scott says:

    If you are talking about total reboot, screw the past. No. Just no. That would probably alienate what older fans that are left. The WWE bouncing back can be done without rebooting.

  12. Atlee Greene says:

    Deathedge: Rebooting would be the boldest move imaginable for the WWE. While I agree that it does take more suspension of dis-belief to read a comic book, WWE carries itself as an entertainment company. Not sports or even professional wrestling. They have writers now instead of bookers. If anyone could make a reboot work, it’s Vince. Think of all the ridiculous stuff he has produced in the past and people still eat it up. I’m willing to bet that he would have Matel create a Little Jimmy action figure and people would pay money for it.

  13. Djt says:

    I thought everyone loved Wade Baretts Bare Knuckle gimmick a month or two ago ? The problem is with both the wrestlers and writing. Most of the guys are not believable , compared to years past . On top of that some of them just can not wrestle well and are extremely limited , which dulls the product . The ones that can wrestle n work have far too choreographed matches for long term success. Even their entrances are over choreographed

  14. The Kayfabe Ninja says:

    @dragon—I agree with the tensei comment, works for the type of talent you hardly remembered, it would be like John Cena disappearing for a few years, reappearing with his hair grown out and calling himself John Spartan, every knows him as John Cena, word life!

    1—Broadus Clay: Rikishi reincarnate, gimmick not working, not sure how to market his look, honestly.
    2—Ryback: Goldberg reincarnate, it will work, McMahon’s new enforcer?
    3—Team hell no: Pairing up Kane with Daniel Bryan is one of the few angles worth progressing, good job.
    4—Santino Marella: Go along with the comic relief, make the cobra poisonous, rendering the opponents like it’s a sleep maneuver.
    5—Damien Sandow: Lenny Paffo/Genius reincarnate, potential top heel, why is he carrying Rhodes? Mr. wash, rinse, repeat, bam, new Rhodes gimmick?
    6—David Otunga: If he could wrestle, could become a top heel, he along with the Miz, are TV talent using WWE to springboard their acting careers!

    So there you go, a few examples from a fan with 25+ years viewing experience.

  15. Steve says:

    Atlee, I typically agree with you, however on this one I feel your decision to “reboot” goes a little too far. I think they just need to pull the trigger on one of the guys they already have. Cody Rhodes looks ready to carry the brand, as does Ziggler. Remember Kofi’s feud with Orton a couple years back? That was awesome, what happened with that? Nothing. WWE has a history of failing miserably at pushing its upcoming talent. Stop the short-sighted booking, and begin to look longer term. I’ve heard you make this argument before, and I think its a good one. Ignore the guys in their mid-30’s leave them where they are, and start taking a good hard look at the guys in their 20’s. That’s the future of your company, and they need to be booked as such, otherwise you risk losing the quality of your product even more drastically over the next 5 to 10 years when guys like Cena and Punk and Orton hang up the boots.

  16. Reid D. says:

    A total reboot definitely cannot be done. However, maybe just rebooting the current product would be good. Scrap the names of the TV shows and most PPVS. Brand new belts. Strip all titles from current holders and have a year long build up to naming a single world champion at WrestleMania. Ignore the “split” roster. Make a Tough Enough series with lower level talent & have vets decide if they should stay on the roster or not. I think those kind of reboots could help the business.

  17. TG says:

    This was kind of a stretch. WWE and DC are really not alike at all. WWE might have the overtones of a comic, but it is *gasp* more real than a comic. Those are characters who really haven’t changed in 50+ years, so a reboot is necessary. A reboot makes no sense in *gasp* real life. Hulk Hogan doesn’t have 100 years in him like Superman unless you recast, and that just ain’t gonna work.

  18. Deathedge says:

    @Atlee Greene

    Maybe 10 or 15 years ago. If it’s the same people in charge of that writing team and everything keeps going through Vince though, I have a serious doubt the product will change. Again, WCW’s “reboot” was still a Vince Russo booked show and you could tell. Same thing will happen with a WWE reboot… UNLESS BIG changes are made on creative. Right now, I don’t see that happening. Pankowski is probably another yes man, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s alot like Gerwitz.

    Fact is, there are too many variables to take into account. I will say this though, Vince could market it to where initial interest is high, but like the XFL, that can wear off fast.

  19. Syckoman says:

    First: 2 brands
    Raw-same look
    Smackdown- make a totally separate look from anything WWE has done before. Example…Different colors,fonts. Maybe use cables instead of ropes(similar to wcw) new announcers, ect.. Make it feel like a completely different show or even business. No cross branding except for Wrestlemania. Creates a huge build for the year that everyone can get excited about.
    Second: Each brand has a champion
    Raw- WWE Raw Champion
    SD- WWE SD Champion
    Then have 1 World heavyweight champion that is the only wrestler who covets both shows (for kayfabe purposes “businesses”) This will give a classic feel to a major champion working between territories.
    Third: 7 PPV’s per year- 3 for Raw 3 for SD 1 Wrestlemania for both.
    This will allow a steady build to WM where the Main Event will feel like it means something.
    Fourth- Create a ranking system
    Yeah I know “It’s not a REAL sport”. I get that but I think if wrestlers have more to fight for it can make the matches more compelling even at the lower card. It could still be manipulated (BFG series on TNA) but it adds an excitement that builds around talent and keeps people guessing more often. Beats the terribly predictable crap that they do now. I have many more detailed ideas on this subject but would crash the server if I continued but that’s a general idea for starters.

  20. Rup says:

    Rock and Austin were in the same generation. Wouldn’t classify Punk and Cena in the same class.

    Otherwise … Cool story, bro.

  21. Robert says:

    Make WWE resemble a real combat sport. The only matches they have on television are squashes, and main events that end with interference. Have wrestlers on the same level of talent compete, with clean results. Ziggler/Punk from last week’s raw is a perfect example. This would be a more meaningful way to build contenders and rivalries, and it would bring more prestige to the belts.

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