I’m not going to even sit here and lie to you: what you are about to read is complete fantasy, a topic that both “wrestling scholars” and countless dweebs have written about, and will likely never, ever happen. But damn it, this is the internet and I have a keyboard in front of me, so for once let me take a break from some of the more serious pieces I generally attempt to author on here and let’s all have a little fun.
I love the WWE, and whether you’d like to admit it or not, you either feel the same way or at least would like to. So I’m going to play Vince McMahon for a few minutes and change the landscape of the entire WWE. Let me channel my inner George Costanza and just say, “You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts!”
CREATE ANOTHER (ROCK SOLID) BRAND SPLIT; SMACKDOWN GOES LIVE
Personally, I was actually in favor of them doing away with the brand split at first when they made Smackdown important for a little while, but then that fell by the wayside. There is simply too much talent to be wasted and not seen on TV each week. Split the rosters back up, DO NOT cross them over, ever, unless for a super strong storyline, and allow each show to do its thing. Then, have Smackdown air live so it becomes (hopefully) must-see television and a place where you can only see certain superstars, rather than being an afterthought program. There are also multiple other reasons for the roster split, which I will get into more as we roll along here.
IMPLEMENTING AN OFFSEASON
Although I’m listing this second, my absolute first order of business would be to create an offseason. Yes, I get it, your initial reaction is to scoff because WWE will never have an offseason for the same reason that pro sports leagues do not want to eliminate games off of their schedule or from the playoffs: they don’t want to lose the ticket sales, merchandise money, and various other revenues that are generated from each show. Fair enough.
However, injuries and long-term disabilities are becoming a hot topic over the past few years, and it seems like the harder you ride the superstars out on the road, the more their bodies are breaking down. Wrestling needs an offseason for a few reasons, and protecting the talent is just one of them. It is also another way to keep the morale up in the locker room (would a guy like CM Punk and so many others have stayed if there was time off coming on the way? It’s possible), and from a “scumbag Vince” perspective, you might be able to get away with paying the wrestlers less for the reduced schedule, offsetting some of that missed profit from not running shows.
So where do we place this offseason? My idea is to push Summerslam up to the last Sunday of July and slap a month and a half rest period there, where we can return in the middle of September during sweeps, creating a true season premier for both Raw and Smackdown, which essentially will “reset” both shows (more on that in a moment). I feel like this would legitimately generate a buzz around the idea of wrestling returning, allowing the fans to recharge their batteries (let’s face it, we’ve seen some stretches of Raw be brutally boring at times and Smackdown utterly pointless to attempt to watch, with no end in sight) and get themselves excited for that initial Raw of the new season. You want your rating? There it is.
Additionally, and going back to locker room morale for a second here, you’d have to believe that everyone, after getting their rest, would be pumped to get back out there for the new season, and the mid to lower card guys would be especially so to see what’s in store for them coming up.
THE OFFSEASON DRAFT SPECIAL & TRADES; NXT’s TIME TO SHINE; PUSHING THE NETWORK
Of course, I am not saying that WWE should be completely turned off from the end of July to mid-September. That’s just crazy talk.
So those rosters that we split back up? The very next week is when we air the WWE draft special for the upcoming season in front of a smaller, more intimate venue like the Hammerstein Ballroom or something, live on the WWE Network (for just $9.99 [with six month commitment]). It’d be held very similar to drafts like the NFL and NBA have, except with the WWE flair and action, promos, backstabs, and everything else that they bring to the table. Who the hell wouldn’t want to watch someone get powerbombed through the draft podium? Plus, now is the time when NXT stars finally get chosen to make the main rosters. I’m a little torn on if I’d rather have a separate, exclusive NXT draft, or just allow the GMs to pick them in whichever round they’d like along with the main roster superstars, but either way they would be involved.
Speaking of NXT, this would be the only WWE in-ring show airing during the offseason, so they could really get some extra eyes on that program. Figuring that the champion would be drafted to either Raw or Smackdown, that would leave the title vacant, allowing for a tournament to take place, with a new champion being crowned at their pay-per-view/special event/whatever the hell they call it now right before the main shows go back on the air.
Circling back around to those two main rosters, the rest of the offseason would be the time where we would get trades leading up to September, and interview shows could be conducted for the Network, setting up a few early feuds leading up to that first week of programming.
Speaking of trades, I feel like that should be a thing we are cognizant of throughout the winter, with an actual trade deadline of the Royal Rumble. It would become a thing that fans would be very eager to hear about, knowing that trades are imminent at that time, and it would also be a good way to restructure the rosters if some of the feuds have become stagnant and need a little uplift before Wrestlemania time.
Yes, Raw and Smackdown would be gone for a little while, but I, for one, would be super pumped for the goings on of the WWE offseason.
THE IMPROVED PAY-PER-VIEW PICTURE
Right off the bat, we’ve eliminated one pointless special event (and effectively replaced it with the WWE draft, making for a much more important viewing experience), so that’s a plus. Here’s a look at the new format:
September is for Night of Champions, with the bonus that we are eliminating the Money in the Bank event and putting that match on this show, where the winner has until the end of the season to cash in the briefcase. Right off the bat we’re letting fans know a MAJOR storyline for the year ahead. Plus, this is our first look at the culminations of the initial angles of the season. The next few months play out like usual: October PPV, Survivor Series in November, December PPV, and Royal Rumble in January. (Also, as previously mentioned, this is the trade deadline. Can you imagine a frenzied Jim Ross announcing something like John Cena entering at number 30 only five minutes after he had just been traded from Raw to Smackdown? That’s gold right there.) Then we have the February PPV, Wrestlemania in March, followed by the April PPV.
May is now host to the returning King of the Ring event (because why on earth did this ever go away?), where the winner receives a title shot at Summerslam like it is supposed to be, essentially making this a second Royal Rumble-esque show. Then we have the June PPV, followed by the last special event of the season, Summerslam, in July. And with the offseason coming up right after, that would give this show the importance of Wrestlemania status.
Summarizing this structure, now we have (counting the newly anointed Night of Champions) a major special event every other month, and have basically created two Royal Rumbles and two Wrestlemanias in terms of significance.
WILL WE EVER SEE ANY OF THIS?
The answer, of course, as I stated above, is highly unlikely (or in our terms, hell no). Granted, I am biasedly in favor of these ideas, since, you know, they’re mine and all…but I feel like this entire structure of the WWE is pretty awesome, and is something I would thoroughly enjoy watching all season long.