WWE is currently going through their umpteenth rebranding process with the debut of SmackDown Live and reinstatement of the roster split. The company continues to boast everything is changing and evolving in new and exciting ways, and while certainly things definitely will start to get a little bit different in the near future, on the whole, there’s not a lot about professional wrestling that can be changed in the first place. Especially within WWE, there’s a certain status quo to the way things are handled, and it’s highly unlikely if not outright impossible that the basic structure of the company will ever change. Vince McMahon is a dictator in his control over his company, and he’s grooming his children and son-in-law to do the same thing whenever nature forces him to step down.
While part of the excitement of professional wrestling is the oft quoted mantra of needing to expect the unexpected, there are certain things so unexpected we can pretty much cross out any possibility of them ever happening. It might seem like we’re down on the idea, but the truth of the matter is – sometimes things don’t change because they’re working. In a few cases, it’s because of the McMahon family’s inability to adapt or change with the rest of the world, preferring instead to exist within the insular bubble they’ve created over the past several decades. That’s not always an issue, though, and in other instances it just wouldn’t make sense for these things to need a change in the first place. Keep reading to learn 15 things about WWE fans should never expect to change.
15. They’ll Never Fully Put An End To The Drug Problems
Most people know by now that there’s an unfortunate trend in sports entertainment that sees more and more former pro wrestlers dying at tragically young ages, through shocking and unexpected circumstances. WWE is making their best effort at curbing these tragic statistics through the implementation of their Wellness Policy, but as we’ve covered in the past, their prevention methods are flawed in more way than one. However, in all fairness, we have to admit the real reason wrestlers will continue to die at young ages at least for the near future lies within the lifestyle of being a wrestler in and of itself.
Whether working for WWE or some other company, wrestlers put a nightly and tremendous physical strain on their bodies, all the while needing to look tough and face the stigma of participating in a “fake” sport. They still hurt themselves all the time, though, and they work through it in order to make more money and keep their characters looking strong. This leads to addiction to painkillers all the time, and no matter how hard WWE pushes its wrestlers into rehab or towards other treatment methods, the job itself will keep taking lives for a long, long time. Hopefully, one day the problem will sort itself out through global education on drug problems, but WWE isn’t going to be the company that makes that happen.
14. Vince McMahon Will Always Micromanage Commentary
Plenty of fans have complained at length in recent years that the commentary team on virtually every WWE television show is uniformly terrible. Maybe some credit should be given to the NXT and Cruiserweight Classic teams, but these people exist outside of Vince McMahon’s radar, which both explains why those teams seem better than the ones on the main roster, and gives you a window into what exactly the problem is with those main roster teams in the first place. The issue is micromanagement, and the fact Vince McMahon very carefully controls almost every single word that comes out of Michael Cole or his other commentator’s mouths.
Extensive script notes leaked online detailing just how in-depth Vince is directing his crew, but that doesn’t even begin to tell us how often he’s screaming into their ears and telling them exactly what they should say live and on the spot. From the looks of things, he’s doing that pretty much the entire show, only stopping when he sees the need to be on camera himself. Vince doesn’t seem to have any faith at all in his commentary team, and it’s unlikely he’s going to find someone that he gives free rein to ever again.
13. Wrestling Will Never Beat Sports Entertainment
Some fans of professional wrestling in general will always have a strong qualm with WWE in that they prefer “professional wrestling” to “sports entertainment.” The two are essentially the same thing, but sports entertainment is WWE’s particular take on the idea of professional wrestling, and it’s not exactly the most traditional take on the concept. WWE has been the number one wrestling company in the world for over three decades now, so it’s kind of hard for modern fans to really grasp the idea, but wrestling actually used to be a whole lot different before Vince McMahon took over the world. It was a lot less colorful and much more focused on technical attributes athletes were able to put on display.
These things still exist within modern day WWE, but they aren’t the focus by any means. Fans see wrestling traditionalism in superstars like Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura, but those wrestlers will never get huge pushes over sports entertainers like John Cena or Randy Orton, because that’s not what WWE is about. One of the biggest criticisms against WWE is that for a wrestling company, they don’t seem to like the word wrestling, and the reason is the tradition it represents goes against their image. No matter how hard some fans might want that tradition to come back to life, it won’t ever happen in the WWE Universe (except for a few places on the WWE Network).
12. Non-English Speakers Won’t Succeed Ever Again
This next item is a bit more of a problem with American audiences in general than it is with WWE, but much of the blame does need to be placed on the top. WWE has had countless extremely talented foreign superstars throughout the company’s long history, but only a small handful of non-Americans have won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Amongst these non-Americans, the only superstars to have achieved the top prize in WWE without the kayfabe ability to speak English were Yokozuna and The Great Khali. Obviously, both men understood English well enough to sign their contracts in reality, and on camera they had managers who took care of the talking; not to mention these two clearly had physical attributes that were more important than any words could be. And fans still didn’t connect with them on the same level the execs who decided they should be champion did.
The point is, aside from certain massive exceptions, a superstar needs to speak English in order to get ahead in WWE. This might night be entirely fair, but it’s just the way the company works. Public speaking is far too integral a portion of a WWE superstar’s job description for someone who can’t perform for the widest section of their audience to become a main event talent. Fans are begging for Shinsuke Nakamura to break the mold and prove us wrong on this one, and if anyone has the talent to do so it’s the King of Strong Style, but the fact he continues to be a big fish in the small pond of NXT when he could be a championship contender should prove our point for the time being.
11. John Cena Won’t Turn Heel
It wasn’t the intention, but much of this list is going to wind up focused on complaints fans have about WWE that they should probably just get over already. When looking at it from that parameter, there’s nothing that WWE could make more clear than the fact John Cena is never going to turn heel. John Cena is the good guy of all good guys, so clean and babyfaced that if he were to challenge Bruno Sammartino at Madison Square Garden, they’d boo Bruno for the first time in history. Well, in the 1960s anyway, since as any fan these days is aware plenty of WWE audiences are more than fed up with Cena’s shtick and boo the hell out of his smiling babyface act these days, begging for a change many feel is desperately needed for the survival of the company.
The thing is, Cena staying face is actually what’s needed for the survival of the company. Well, maybe they could survive without him, but it would certainly hurt both Cena’s pockets and those of the entire McMahon family to have their number one merchandise seller amongst children suddenly be a bad guy. The Make-A-Wish Foundation would unfortunately suffer as well, considering Cena has made more wishes come true for that organization than any other performer in history. Based on the stories, Cena might enjoy those visits with sick fans more than any other part of his job, so for his own sake he’s never going to do anything to make those kids sad. And while we’re on the subject of Cena never changing…
10. Cena Wins, LOL
If John Cena is going to be stuck as a smiling doofus good guy for the rest of his career, some fans are obviously going to hope this at least means he’s going to start losing. Unfortunately, we’re here to tell you that doesn’t seem to be the case, either. Fans were shocked when Kevin Owens defeated John Cena in his main roster debut in 2015, but then Cena beat Owens clean twice in a row, even making Owens tap out while Michael Cole mocked him on commentary, making it clear who the real star here was. AJ Styles likewise got a surprising first win over Cena, but that’s been followed up with several definitive Cena victories, and we doubt AJ is getting the last laugh.
Cena might not literally win every single match, but for the foreseeable future, he’s going to win every war. His entire gimmick is that he rises above adversity and overcomes all the odds, and just like WWE will never turn Cena into a bad guy, they’ll never turn him into someone who goes against his word, either. Cena is starting to reach the latter half of his career, and hopefully this means he’ll step away from title contention, but we think he’ll still be getting the last word on every feud and rise above the roster in one way or another.
9. The Year Will Always Revolve Around WrestleMania
Moving away from the negatives, here’s something more on the positive side of things. Despite the fact WWE is more focused on sports entertainment than traditional professional wrestling, one facet of the company that will always buck towards tradition is their loyalty to the yearly spectacle that is WrestleMania. WrestleMania 32 took place in April of 2016, and like always, it was the sports entertainment event of the year. Fans around the world flocked to Dallas, Texas to create one of the largest crowd in WWE history, and the same thing will happen next year and the year after that in the various cities that host WrestleManias of the future.
WWE might switch up every one of their TV shows, move around the roster, change the names of the monthly special events, and even switch up the names of the wrestlers sometimes, but WrestleMania will always remain WrestleMania. The showcase of the immortals will always be the biggest and most explosive show in WWE, and now that the company has reached a point where all a superstar needs to do to spark the feud of their career is glance at a sign, the trend will only grow from here. While other wrestling companies have come along over the years and made reasonable names for themselves, none have ever come close to creating a single show on a level with Vince McMahon’s Super Bowl of wrestling, and it seems impossible that anyone ever could.
8. They Will Never Tone Down The Touring Schedule
We already covered the fact pro wrestlers will always have drug problems and addiction problems thanks to the strains of the job, but we admitted at that point that there’s not really anything WWE can do about it. While it’s true no mere drug policy will every truly end drug use, there actually is something the company could do to give the superstars a little bit of a rest period against the strain they put on their bodies. WWE superstars are on tour almost the entire year and barely have any time off, either for medical reasons or simply to spend time with their families, and this plays a huge role in how minor injuries turn into lifelong health problems. Unfortunately, it probably won’t ever stop.
A pro and a con to splitting the WWE roster means that half the wrestlers don’t need to be at every house show, thus giving them time off from the non-stop touring schedule. The con is, WWE uses this information to book two house shows instead of just giving one half of the roster the night off. They don’t always do this, and there are nights off along the way, but WWE superstars still need to travel more than people in virtually any other profession, but thanks to the amount of money these live shows bring WWE, there’s no argument that could get them to stop forcing their employees to do it.
7. They Will Always Have Too Much TV
In addition to forcing their wrestlers to travel too much, especially in recent years, WWE has been criticized that they simply have too much television airing each week for average fans to keep up with. With Monday Night Raw, SmackDown Live, NXT, the Cruiserweight Classic, The Main Event, Superstars, and a handful of various pre-shows and post-show recaps to boot, there’s easily over 10 hours of wrestling content produced by WWE each and every week. During the peak years of pro wrestling, considering time periods like the late 80’s and The Attitude Era, there was at most half this much television per week, stretched out far more than it is today. There may cumulatively been as much at times thanks to other promotions, but nowadays WWE is producing more content by themselves than their competitions ever were capable to combined.
The problem gets more embarrassing when you realize fans aren’t just annoyed there’s too much to watch, but rather that a whole lot of it is terrible, and it’s getting harder and harder to sift through to the good stuff. Regardless of how WWE is viewed on the whole, they are still the number one wrestling company in the world, so the best wrestlers want to work there. Fans flock to see these great wrestlers work no matter how much garbage TV surrounds them, and WWE use this to their advantage when it comes to bringing in as much advertising money as possible. A three hour show is more profitable than a one hour show, so WWE will never go back to the less is more approach, as long as USA keeps giving them all the airtime they need.
6. The Attitude Era Won’t Come Back
While fans may not have any one specific consensus on what exactly they want changed within WWE, one thing a majority of people seem to agree upon is that wrestling used to be better “back in the day.” What exactly that means depends on how old you are, so we’ll go with the demographics reading our site and for now focus on The Attitude Era. Even if you prefer the classic era of the 80’s, or sometime before then still, everybody watching WWE today needs to accept the fact that these eras are long gone and will never come back. The Attitude Era, especially, will never come back, thanks in large part due to Linda McMahon’s decision that her family’s programming is intended for children, and it’s going to stay that way forever.
There were pros and cons to The Attitude Era, so it’s not like it needs to come back for wrestling to be good again or anything as hyperbolic as that. True, it would be nice if wrestling were as popular as it was back then, and some of the edge and violence is undoubtedly what lead to it connecting with a wider and more adult audience. But the kids (and their parents) are giving the company enough money that they can continue this way for decades. The fact of the matter is that while presenting a product for children might turn away an audience of adults, presenting a product for adults will definitely turn away an audience of children.
5. TNA Will Never Be Viewed As A Threat
We’ve been using pretty absolute language throughout this list, so let’s take a step back and acknowledge that things could change in pro wrestling on the whole. There might be some billionaire like Ted Turner out there ready to experiment, and with the right money and resources, something drastic could change the wrestling world. We just don’t think WWE is going to be the company to do it, and their closest competition, Total Nonstop Action, completely blew their chance almost every step of the way over their near 15 years of existence. As a result, while WWE is increasingly acknowledging they aren’t the only game in town by having wrestlers make references to Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and various other small independent promotions throughout the world, they will never, ever mention TNA on their programming.
Total Nonstop Action holds a unique place in the sports entertainment oeuvre, in that they are ostensibly the number two wrestling company in America, but even their biggest fans seem incapable of doing anything but talk about how poorly the business side of the company has always been operated. The closest WWE ever came to acknowledging TNA was on The Edge & Christian Show, where AJ Styles was asked if WWE would ever talk about “the company he worked for over the last 13 years,” causing AJ, Edge, and Christian, all to laugh and say of course not.
4. Outsiders Won’t Be Accepted
With the fact places like TNA and any other company that gets big enough to pretend they’re competing with WWE will never get acknowledged on WWE television, it’s worth noting that there’s more to it than just that. With a very few choice exceptions who Vince McMahon has a unique personal fondness for, unless a superstar is a homegrown WWE talent, they’ll never fully be accepted by the McMahon family as a major player in their company. Ric Flair is pretty much the only wrestler in history to make a huge name for himself outside of WWE to then join the company and succeed in an equally legendary way. Up to and including AJ Styles, any other superstar who was able to become famous on their own before joining WWE has always been blocked from being a standout star, and we don’t think this trend will ever change.
Call it the ego of the McMahon family, or call it Vince McMahon’s inability to understand an idea that wasn’t his, but WWE just doesn’t push people who think for themselves, especially not anymore. While we’re not saying it’s a bad idea for a wrestler to have an original thought about their career, it might be better for them to save that idea until they get a pitch meeting with a McMahon, so that McMahon thinks they had something to do with the idea, and allow the wrestler to use it in their company. If the gimmick got over somewhere else, they’ll probably need to come up with a new name and character so WWE can copyright it and take all the credit, which is why they demand originality in the first place.
3. Women Will Never Be Given Equal Time
The WWE spent the better part of the last two decades referring to all women as “divas,” a term that most people outside of the wrestling bubble have accepted as a pejorative term since it was introduced to the public lexicon. To put it more simply, the company has been insulting every woman to work for them the second they signed their contract for multiple eras, and none of the women could say or do anything about it, because there was no other place for a female wrestler to make a living. They’ve finally seemed to realize their flaw and decided to call the females superstars just like the men, dropping the Diva’s Championship for a rebranded Women’s Championship, but the company is always going to be a little bit regressive in its treatment of women.
While the matches between the female superstars are better than ever before, and some of the most talented female wrestlers in history are with the company, most fans feel an unnerving trend has yet to leave the WWE. Outside of NXT, whenever two women get into a feud, their characters are stripped away and they turn into bullying “mean girl” caricatures, evidence of the fact the writers have no clue how to write for females in a compelling or accurate manner. Despite the fact, or perhaps because, Stephanie McMahon is one of the highest powered creative minds in the company, women also don’t receive equal pay or screen time, as noted by AJ Lee on Twitter only a few months before she quit the company. WWE didn’t do anything to address AJ’s complaints, and it’s unlikely any of the other women wrestling for them today will speak out unless they’re ready to leave their jobs like AJ was.
2. Tag Teams Don’t Matter Anymore
While female equality is the bigger issue in the grand scheme of things, we can actually draw a parallel between the way women are treated in WWE and the way tag teams are treated in the company. Women get it worse, which probably isn’t a surprise thanks to the state of the world in general, but tag teams are equally cast aside and forgotten about in WWE despite being an integral part of the show. The real connection we wanted to draw, though, is that it might look like things are getting better for tag teams down in NXT, but as soon as those promising tag teams make the jump to the main roster, they’re treated like any other team in recent WWE history. That is to say, they lose a bunch to the established stars and commentary treats them like idiots for daring want a partner.
It happened to The Ascension in a vicious way, and then The Vaudevillians faced a similar fate. Both times, despite the fact both teams were very popular in NXT, Michael Cole called them weird outcasts, and JBL flat out said he didn’t like them. They tried to do the same thing to Enzo and Cass, but the Realest Guys beat the trend through their charisma, not to mention the potential Vince allegedly sees in Big Cass as a solo star. And therein lies the issue with tag teams in general—someone always decides one of them would make a better solo star. This is why no matter how great American Alpha or the Revival are, they’ll become just another tag team in between the time they hit the main roster and the moment one of them becomes a star.
1. The McMahons Will Always Be In Charge
It’s come up indirectly through almost every item on this list, so we might as well just come out and say it. Even if 14 out of 15 of our predictions on normalcy turn out false and WWE changes in shocking and unimaginable ways the very day this article is posting, one thing we’d bet our lives on is the fact Vince McMahon and his family will always be in charge of the company. Of course, there hits a point where nature will step in, and everyone will either pass on or retire or whatever happens to people in the future, but the point is, the McMahon family are going to control the wrestling aspect of sports entertainment for as long as they physically can.
Vince McMahon is in his 70s now, and his wife stepped away from the business end of the company to focus on politics in 2009. There’s still his children Shane and Stephanie, though, and Stephanie looks content to take over the business with her husband Triple H the second they’re given the opportunity. If and when Steph and Triple H take over, there could be a whole bunch of changes to the company that prove us wrong in a multitude of ways, but the big one will remain the same: when those two take over, they’ll make sure it’s their family who will always be in charge of the company from then on. Almost nothing is known about their children yet, but given the way Stephanie was raised in the cult of Vince, it’s easy to assume her kids will likewise drink the WWE Kool-Aid into the next generation, and the company name will always remain the same.