As WrestleMania 32 approaches, it is interesting to look back on the rises, and downfalls, of the WWE this past year. Only 3 months into 2016, we think about all that has happened, and all that we expect, or hope, to happen in the coming months and year in the professional wrestling world. From retirements, to championship wins, to story line adjustments, the WWE never fails to throw a curve ball our way every so often.
There is much to look forward to in WrestleMania 32, namely the anticipated match between Shane McMahon and The Undertaker. Of course, we also look forward to Monday Night Raw the night after WrestleMania, what usually turns out to be the best Raw of the year. It is always so difficult to anticipate exactly what will be thrown at us: a debut? A surprise superstar return?
We know that John Cena is never out for as long as they say he will be, so will this year’s return be Cena’s? Maybe Seth Rollins? Whatever it is that the WWE has in store for us this coming year, there are plenty of realizations we’ve had since 2015 came to an end. Here are a few things we know so far in the first few months of 2016.
13. Jericho Is A Natural Born Heel
After his most recent turn on AJ Styles, we can’t help but notice that Chris Jericho seems to be a natural when it comes to portraying a heel. He has an incredible ability to gather the crowds in the palm of his hand, and works hard to make sure everyone hates him. Most recently, at his very entrance and promo, Jericho managed to even have his own hometown in Canada turn against and boo him! It takes real talent, and his obvious hard work, to get your home town turn on you. Jericho embodies a true heel, and obviously enjoys playing the part. Jericho just loves being hated, and we all love to hate him.
12. Shane McMahon’s Still Got It!
He may not be a true ring technician, but there is no denying that Shane O’Mac is as entertaining as they come. Despite the fact that he is not a professional wrestler, time after time over the years he has sacrificed his body and overall well-being for the entertainment of the crowd. Not only are we impressed that McMahon is making this return after so many years, but he is returning by jumping straight into WWE’s most brutal match, Hell in a Cell, opposite one of the most feared opponents in WWE history, the man who made Hell in a Cell what it is – The Undertaker.
11. Roman Reigns Is Being Shoved Too Far Down Our Throats
At this point in time, the general consensus seems to be this: the wrestling community is quite tired of having Roman Reigns being shoved down their throats, and the WWE seems to finally be taking notice. Being a part of The Shield is where Reigns’ career originally began to take off, however once the group split and the star was pushed into Main Event status, we began to see spikes of fans turning against him. Is it the boredom we feel when he is on the mic, coupled with mediocre wrestling ability? Lack of charisma? There just seems to be something about him that some can’t quite put their finger on, but all they can say is “I’m just simply sick of hearing about him”.
The dude certainly has “the look”, but somehow is just not up to snuff when it comes to capturing the hearts of the fans. Whatever it is, the crowd’s boos seem to be getting louder and more aggressive towards Roman Reigns, and it seems to be about time for the WWE to make some adjustments to the story line – and soon.
10. The WWE Needs To Use Bray Wyatt More
It seems to be a pretty popular opinion: Bray Wyatt is being severely overlooked by the WWE. The Eater of Worlds could use a well-deserved push. Wyatt has feuded with the likes of superstars such as John Cena and Dean Ambrose, entertaining us and proving himself against these popular wrestlers. We are continuously seeing Wyatt do all the talking, yet when it comes down to it, Rowan, Stroman, and Harper end up doing all the wrestling, seeming as if WWE is pushing Wyatt aside into the shadows. Even Stone Cold has made mention that the WWE is holding back the Bray Wyatt character. It is about time for Wyatt to get more singles matches. With superstars like Cena, Rollins, and Orton out of the ring, now would be a perfect time to allow Wyatt’s character to shine and develop, and enter Main Event status before fans lose interest in the character all together.
9. The WWE Lost Something Great In Daniel Bryan
The hearts of wrestling fans everywhere shattered a bit on February 8, 2016 when superstar Daniel Bryan officially announced his retirement on Raw. As fans stood and chanted his famous “YES!” battle cry, a neatly trimmed up Bryan closed his eyes and tearfully soaked in every moment, every ounce of energy that filled the area. The premature retirement comes as a result of Bryan’s extensive history of concussions during his 16-year long wrestling career. Bryan had questioned the future of his career in recent years, however this time it was the real deal. Between the frightening seizures, and his desire to begin a family with his wife, fellow WWE star Brie Bella, it was ultimately the wisest choice to throw in the towel on this chapter in his life. The WWE has lost a tremendous talent, and an incredibly loved champion, much too soon.
8. HHH Is Still Entertaining As a Performer In the Ring
With The Authority being his main focus these days, Triple H has been just a part-time performer for quite a few years now. However, his story telling, especially lately regarding Roman Reigns, has been superb. Recently partaking in impressive matches with Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler, we can see that his infamously tremendous mic skills have never wavered. Triple H has a remarkable ability to sell his opponents, giving them plenty of opportunity to shine and gain popularity in the industry. Although these days it is a relatively infrequent occurrence, we know that Triple H will likely never disappoint.
7. Dean Ambrose Should Be The Face Of WWE
I’ll just throw it out there – why is Dean Ambrose not the face of the WWE yet? Day in and day out, match after match, the man has proven his worth over and over again. The crowd is fully behind him, and he has all the fans pulling for him. The former Shield member never fails to put on a good match no matter who he is up against. His most recent match against Triple H for the title just goes to show that the man knows how to utilize his abilities and unique wrestling style. With the current face of the company, John Cena, out for an extended period right now, it’s time for the WWE to send Ambrose up to the top. The lack of overall star power at the moment is an ideal opportunity to allow the former Intercontinental Champion to shine, and give Ambrose the push he most certainly deserves. Even with the star power presence, he has proven that he should be main event status. Ambrose is ready, fans are ready; it’s time for Dean Ambrose to be the champion and face of the company.
6. The New Day Should Stay On Top Of the Tag Team Division For A While
From “New Day Sucks” to “New Day Rocks” chants, these tag team champions certainly have wrestling fans eating from the palms of their hands. They take ideas that, on paper, seem immature and overall ridiculous (hello, unicorn horns!), but make them work in their favor, much to the entertainment of the crowd. The New Day gained their popularity as heels, taking a formerly tacky gimmick as babyfaces and creating an energetic, entertaining performance as heels. Of course, we should mention that the group is comprised of three incredibly talented wrestlers, making The New Day even more likeable. Genuine talent coupled with crowd involvement and entertainment. It is because of this that we hope to see them stay on top for quite a while.
5. Dolph Ziggler Needs To Get The Push He Deserves
Dolph Ziggler has proven himself time and time again for many years now. He is the full package to a degree: the look, his wrestling abilities, and he is as entertaining as they come. Sure, his mic skills could be tweaked a bit, but overall he puts on entertaining matches, and always gets the crowd behind him. Plain and simple, the fans want more of Dolph Ziggler. It is disheartening for fans to continue seeing the WWE keep Ziggler at mid-card level, despite the fact that he is now being defeated by wrestlers of a lesser status. What gives? He does the job for so many wrestlers, loses matches time after time, is being overlooked, yet you never hear a peep or complaint out of him. It’s time for this former world champion to gain main event status.
4. The NXT Continues Proving Their Worth Time and Time Again
Triple H’s baby, NXT, has everything up-and-coming wrestlers could ever need to become superstars. The training facility at Full Sail University in Florida is the site for future stars of the WWE to develop and fine tune their skills to be the next great talent. Wrestlers at NXT work on mic skills, physical training, intros, character development, and every tiny detail you could imagine. The program, which has only recently gained such popularity, is to thank for many WWE superstars today, like Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and many of the Divas. Many former members explain how saddened they were to have to leave the training program, telling us what a great experience it is, and how much fun they had during their time at NXT. The program recently took an event up to Brooklyn, NY, and were met with a sold out show. If you can sell out a show with a New York crowd, you know you’re doing something right. They just keep proving time and again how extraordinary the NXT brand is.
3. WWE Is Entertaining Without John Cena
After news broke in January that John Cena would be out of the roster due to a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery, many wrestling fans wondered how the WWE would cope with the superstar’s absence. However, it seems that they’re doing exceptionally well, considering the large blow to their plans kicking off the new year. With stars like Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, and the much anticipated match between Shane McMahon and The Undertaker, fans have plenty to keep themselves occupied with during Cena’s recovery.
While Cena is a seasoned champion, and an overall solid performer and athlete, we can’t help but notice that he sometimes casts a bit of a shadow for some new up-and-comers. It is nice to see some new talent shine during this time, without the looming legend John Cena standing between them and the spotlight.
2. The Divas Division Has Become More Relevant Again
In past years, the Diva’s division of the WWE was known to be more of the eye candy, or as some would say, the “bathroom break” portion of the show. Thanks to NXT, the Diva’s division has now become more relevant than ever in the last 2 or 3 years. Gone are the days of “bra and panty” matches between female wrestlers that were mediocre at best. Back then, it seemed like the WWE would just choose the hottest females that had some sort of wrestling ability, and toss them into the ring clad with lingerie for men to ogle and drool over.
Triple H made it a point to develop the Divas, seeing potential in many female wrestlers that were not being utilized correctly. Since then the Divas have become less sexualized, and the world was introduced to the new-and-improved division, comprised of some pretty kick-ass, beautiful, and talented wrestlers. It is refreshing to see them have the opportunity to prove their full potential.
1. The WWE Could Ditch the Ultra ‘PG’ Programming
Long-time WWE viewers remember a time when the aftermath of a match involved a blood-stained mat and beaten, bloodied faces of the competitors. Gone are the days of Mick Foley diving onto a pile of thumbtacks, and gruesome gashes across foreheads by the end of the match. Today’s programming tends to be more PG, aimed towards the younger, more delicate demographic (ahem, John Cena fans) of the WWE. What happened, guys?
Stars were never afraid to get their hands dirty in past decades, why stop now? The recent kid-friendly ratings have severely impacted the quality of the material, and lifelong fans of the sport have come to find the new guidelines a bit disappointing. At times when the matches or story lines get a bit stale, a good, old fashioned match where blood is drawn would be a refreshing scene for many fans. Not too sure how the younger crowd would react, or how it would affect overall ratings. We do know that quite a number of fans would be thrilled to see some more brutality return to the ring.