The WWE has been often lambasted over recent years for all of the things that they’ve gotten wrong.
There was CM Punk getting so disgruntled that he completely quit the wrestling business, there was the longstanding refusal to push Daniel Bryan to the top of the card, there’s been the boring Authority angle dragged out for far too long, and then there’s the constant pushing of Roman Reigns down everybody’s throats. Those things are just the tip of the iceberg, though.
The Internet Wrestling Community loves to moan about the business at the best of times, and man, did they have plenty to complain about over the last few years. But not all has been horrible lately. As surprising as it has been to some fans, the WWE has seemingly started to make some changes to their product. And god only knows how badly those changes have been needed!
Following a so-so at best WrestleMania, the WWE has actually, shock horror, managed to give fans want they want to see to a certain extent. Dare I say it, but the company has actually started to get things right… or at least better.
Is the current WWE product flawless? Hell no, but there has definitely been a whole lot of things that have been handled well since WrestleMania happened. And with that said, here’s 10 things that the WWE has managed to get right since the Showcase of the Immortals.
10. Giving Us Sami Zayn Vs. Kevin Owens
Whilst we all wanted to see it at WrestleMania, we’re finally getting to see Sami Zayn take on Kevin Owens on a WWE PPV.
For well-versed fans of the non-WWE wrestling landscape, the rivalry between these two is the stuff of legends. From the very infancy of their careers, the paths of Sami and KO have been constantly intertwined, whether that be as BFFs or mortal enemies.
That hugely popular feud has already been featured on NXT, and now we’re seeing these two canvas warriors do battle on main WWE TV.
Sure, we may have been deprived of seeing a singles bout between the pair on the Grandest Stage of Them All, but seeing the ongoing rivalry of Zayn and Owens continue has been a major plus point of the post-WrestleMania WWE TV.
9. The Work Of Chris Jericho
Since turning on AJ Styles, Chris Jericho has been one of the very best things about WWE programming. To steal a phrase from Styles, the work of Jericho has been nothing short of phenomenal lately.
During 2008, Jericho was the very best professional wrestler on the planet. His work was flawless and he was a complete master of his craft as he engaged in a legendary feud with Shawn Michaels before then going on to have a great rivalry with Rey Mysterio.
Since then, during his various returns, Jericho has always done well, including battles with the likes of Dolph Ziggler, CM Punk, and Bray Wyatt, but he’s never managed to hit the same heights as ’08.
Y2J’s current work is a perfect example of a heel being a heel. Not a cool heel, but a total ass who evokes hatred from the WWE Universe and helps elevate his opponents.
8. The Handling Of Cesaro
For the last several years, Cesaro has been one of the finest talents under the WWE umbrella. The thing is, every time he began to get some momentum, the rug would be well and truly pulled from under him and he’d drop down the card faster than you could say “Swiss Superman”.
After having some star-making matches with John Cena last year, it looked as if Cesaro may finally be given a nudge up towards that next level, only he then got injured and missed WrestleMania.
Since returning on the post-WrestleMania edition of Raw, Cesaro has been made to look like a million bucks. Complete with his new James Bond-esque entrance and tear-away suit, the former United States Champion has been on fire.
He may have lucked out in his shot at becoming the #1 contender to the WWE Title, but Cesaro seems on the cusp of something special.
7. Putting The Dudleys Up Against Enzo & Big Cass
Despite a well-received return last year, The Dudley Boyz had unquestionably become stale after merely a month of returning to the WWE. Even a heel turn didn’t do that much to freshen up this veteran act, but for the first time in a long time, Bubba and D’Von seem to have a new motivation. Key to that has been their butting of heads with Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady.
When allowed to be, Bubba is a great talker, particularly when positioned as a heel. Whether it was during his time in ECW or even his run as Bully Ray in TNA, Bubba is a fantastic trash-talker. Throw the energetic, frenetic chatter of Enzo Amore opposite him, and that makes for hugely enjoyable TV.
This feud is perfect for both teams, with it a great way to debut Enzo & Big Cass whilst also bringing new life to the veteran Dudleyz.
6. The King Of Strong Style
Yes, he may well be in NXT at the moment, but there’s no disputing that Shinsuke Nakamura’s arrival has made shockwaves throughout the entire WWE.
Anybody who’d seen the King of Strong Style before he arrived under the WWE umbrella knew just how special a talent Nakamura was. And in terms of making a splash, his NXT debut against Sami Zayn during WrestleMania weekend is the perfect example of what makes wrestling great.
Since ‘Mania, Nakamura has competed several times on the WWE Network’s weekly NXT show, and the response to him has been nothing short of spectacular. Wherever he goes, whoever he performs in front of, and regardless of who he’s up against, Shinsuke never fails to impress.
Now the big question is just how long it takes before Nakamura turns up to wow audiences on Monday and Thursday nights as part of the main roster.
5. The Tag Team Tournament
When done correctly, everybody loves a good tournament.
Whether it’s one of the more memorable King of the Rings, WrestleMania IV’s WWF Title tournament, or even the competition for the WWE Championship at last year’s Survivor Series, tournaments always grab the interest of fans. And this latest tag team tournament has done exactly that.
Not only has the Booty-O’s-sponsored tournament allowed for some great skits from The New Day, it’s also helped to showcase two recently-debuted teams in the form of The Vaudevillains and Enzo & Cass. Additionally, the focus on the tag division has seemingly brought some fresh life to the oft-stale Dudley Boyz team.
The WWE tag team division is in a great place right now, and this tournament has been the perfect chance to highlight that during the post-WrestleMania period.
4. AJ Styles In The Main Event Scene
It’s safe to say, many of us were wondering how badly the WWE would handle AJ Styles after the Phenomenal One arrived from NJPW. But in fairness to Vince McMahon’s organisation, the former TNA Champion has been used brilliantly since his well-received Royal Rumble debut.
Even though AJ lost to Chris Jericho at WrestleMania, a result which surprised many smart fans, he’s since moved on to bigger and better things, becoming a fully-fledged member of the WWE’s main event scene.
Battling the golden boy of the company, Roman Reigns, is a sign that the WWE is firmly behind Styles… at least for now. Then again, we all thought that the wind would’ve been taken out of AJ’s sails soon after his Rumble debut, but the WWE has kept surprising us with how they’ve positioned the talented performer on the card.
3. The Suspense Around The Bullet Club
We’d all known for a while that AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson had signed with the WWE, but it’s only in the aftermath of WrestleMania that we’ve seen Gallows and Anderson debut on WWE television.
The way that the two former Bullet Club members arrived caused an instant stir in the company and in the wrestling industry as a whole. Just how were Doc and Machine Gun going to be used? Were they going to be working with AJ Styles? Would Finn Balor get involved somehow? So many questions, and it’s all made for some fascinating viewing.
Over the last few years, there’s been minimal times where the WWE product has had genuine intrigue surrounding it. Thanks to the arrival of Gallows and Anderson on WWE TV, to quote Jim Ross, business has certainly picked up.
2. Minimal Authority Presence
Yes, Stephanie McMahon is now back on WWE TV and Triple H is likely not far behind, but it was hugely refreshing and a positive step to have had nearly a month of shows without The Authority turning up.
The notion of a heel group pulling the company’s strings has been beaten to death over the past 3 years, with the shtick having gotten old and boring a long, long time ago. In fact, The Authority and everything that they stand for, including those painful 15-minute promos to start every single Raw, are one of the reasons why the WWE’s ratings have been on a constant slump for the best part of the last year.
With a minimal Authority presence since WrestleMania, it’s the first time in a long time that the WWE product has felt new, interesting and dynamic.
1. Shane McMahon As An Instrument Of Change
When Shane O’Mac turned up on WWE TV in the build-up to WrestleMania, it was one of the biggest shocks in recent wrestling history. Absolutely nobody saw it coming and, as a result, the reaction to Shane’s return was deafening.
Sure, the fact that Shane has been running Raw despite losing to The Undertaker at ‘Mania and as such has made their match totally pointless, the use of Shane McMahon as an instrument of change within the WWE has been a breath of fresh air.
The WWE product badly needed a shake-up, but it was just a case of how to do such a bus flip without making it blatantly obvious that the WWE was desperately trying to change their ways. Enter, Shane O’Mac.
Using Shane to usher in a new era was a brilliant masterstroke in the aftermath of WrestleMania, with it allowing the WWE to go in a different direction whilst still saving face on a business level.