Much of this has been touched upon in the Booking SAW series as well as my “Part-timers and the Midcard in WWE” post. Even the recent “WWE ’13 Revisited” post touches on some of these things as odd as that may sound. The intention here is to kind of take all of these different aspects that have been discussed, put them together in this single post and give you an idea what my WWE may look like in 2013. I will attempt to break each of these issues into its own paragraph with its own heading if that style works for this piece. With that entire preamble out of the way, let’s dig in…
Titles and Squash Matches
A common refrain from the IWC is that WWE has too many titles. For whatever reason, that is something that absolutely rings hollow to me. I have often and recently said that the number of titles IS NOT the issue, how the titles and champions are used IS the issue.
Would I cut any of the titles? No. I believe WWE has a deep enough roster to warrant two “top” belts. The whole idea of having a WWE Title and a World Title has never bothered me at all. While the US Title desperately needs a physical redesign I would keep it alongside the Intercontinental title which looks sharp since the Cody Rhodes redesign. The first thing you have to do is treat the US and IC champions with more respect. That means no more jobber-to-the-stars appearances on free TV for them. It means coming up with better ways to build contenders than having your champions lose in non-title matches. These are simple things that can be fixed with a minor change in booking philosophy.
There is one painful thing that might help this though. That is the return of the pseudo-squash match. I know that’s a tough sell and the Monday Night Wars conditioned us away from those things, but it is important to use some of your lower card talent to help establish the guys up the ladder like Kofi Kingston, Wade Barrett, The Miz, and Antonio Cesaro.
I have long advocated using these secondary titles more like TV titles as well which WWE actually does to a degree. The problem with their current approach is that none of the matches feel important enough; they have their champions drop too many non-title matches and use their champions to build their main eventers too often. Even as often as they sometimes have the gold change hands, there is no reason it should not feel like a bigger deal. Winning the US or Intercontinental Titles should and can still feel like an event. All you really have to do is treat your champions and the rest of the midcard with some level of respect.
Honestly, I started with this one because I think this would actually be the most important tweak to their current product as strange as that may sound.
Don’t accuse me of being Theodore Long, but tag matches are an effective way to get your main eventers on TV without burning through your angles. A singles match with your champion should be special thing. Since I don’t really like non-title matches in general, I find tag matches to be preferable. Not totally off-topic, but while it is important to have your champion or top act on TV, I also think it should be acceptable to not have that individual wrestle anyway. That is kind of a side topic, but worth mentioning here I believe.
There should be a renewed focus on tag teams and the tag team champions as well. Team Hell No has gotten a nice run, but they still get involved in too many singles matches that they typically seem to lose. That does not help your tag division or your product in general. I am a big fan of trying to keep your singles and tag divisions separate to a degree with a crossover from time-to-time where you may do a six-man tag that includes your tag champions and a singles star or something like that. Again these matches should be made to feel special by featuring them on PPV and by avoiding the “champions lose a non-title match to establish challengers” story. That is lazy booking in my opinion and I just do not care for it. Build challengers by having them beat other teams. Have them call out the champions even. If you want, have them attack the champions and leave them lying. Whatever you do please resist the urge to have them go over in a non-title match just to establish them as the “next team up.” I hate that. I really do. These minor tweaks would improve the show and the tag team division in particular.
At this point I really believe these few changes would make a big impact on WWE’s televised product. There are some other issues that I am currently mulling that may appear down the road in a sequel to this column, but these things are simple things WWE could implement in a relatively quick period of time. The audience will have an adjustment period of course, but I know we can be retrained.