It’s almost the end of 2013 now so I thought it was high time to take a quick look at WWE and evaluate the company’s performance over the past year. I’m talking solely about the show. I don’t care about ratings, PPV buys or merch sales. I want to reflect on how things have gone in the on-screen world over the last twelve months. I’m going to go through division by division, so to speak. Let me know what you make of my musings by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page. Thank you! Also, forgive my goldfish memory while I try to take a decent stab at this.
It’s been a hot and cold year for the presentational aspect of their shows. In terms of General Managers, it’s been forgettable. Vickie is the only stalwart I can think of. She has been consistently getting legit heel heat as she always does in the arenas. It doesn’t really translate to me on my sofa though. I’m just beginning to get tired with the character and the annoying voice. I think Brad Maddox has been a revelation and I’d love to see some more of him. I think Booker was still around early on, and maybe Teddy Long was involved. Neither of those guys did a particularly fascinating job in the role.
As for the announcers, I’d say it’s been a very positive year. Michael Cole has reinforced his image as an impartial, play-by-play guy and done away with the infuriating heel stint he had previously. Much like Vickie, he got to the point that I couldn’t even admire him for getting heat. It was the wrong kind of heat, the annoying kind. He doesn’t annoy me anymore, except for when he blurts on about the app or Twitter, but I know he has no control over that with Vince in his headphones. JBL has been incredible as he always is behind the announce desk. Long may his stay continue! I love Jerry Lawler to bits and I was extremely shocked and saddened by his heart attack. Nevertheless, I would really like it if he stepped back from his role. He was a great heel announcer in his day, but as this watered down childlike figure on current TV, he is usually boring or irritating. Justin Roberts is great, but I am sad to hear him toning down his John Cena introduction.
The Divas division is shaping up rather nicely. It’s clear leader AJ Lee has been going from strength to strength. I think the whole wrestling “universe” was shocked by her being pipped to a Slammy by the Bellas. That clearly showed how fake and fixed the app voting system is. Nonetheless, she has performed brilliantly and is recognised by real fans. Her evolution in the ring saw the introduction of her devastating Black Widow submission, and her mic work has never been doubted. When she laid that pipe-bomb on the Total Divas clique, it was music to the ears of every real wrestling fan. She is joined by Natalya, Tamina Snuka and Kaitlyn in the ranks of good workers. Brie Bella is coming along okay, probably due to dating Daniel Bryan. The rest of the roster is mostly eye candy, but compared to previous years, I’d say there has been a notable improvement.
I’ve been lamenting the lack of a legit tag team division in WWE for more than five years, but the company has really booked it’s ideas up this year in that regard. Nobody can say that they haven’t tried, and it’s difficult to say that they haven’t succeeded. Tag matches are usually the most entertaining encounters on Raw every week. The depth of talent they have now is startling: The Rhodes Brothers, The Real Americans, The Usos, Prime Time Players. That’s leaving out the great three man factions they have introduced (e.g. The Shield and The Wyatt Family) and the incredibly exciting six man matches they have spawned. Some of the in-ring highlights of this year have been undeniably down to the hard work of great tag teams in WWE. They deserve real credit for this.
The mid card has been a real struggle for some time now. The guys involved in these feuds often seem secondary. It’s not usually their fault, but that of poor booking and direction. I think the unification of the US and Intercontinental titles would be the death-nail of any meaningful mid card in the company. They do have a good few up-and-comers in this area like Langston and Sandow, but you worry that they will languish there for a long time. You only have to look at guys like Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston. They appear to be taking a guy to the next level, and then they either give up on them or drop the ball. It just leaves the middle of the card looking like guys who were never quite there, and guys who were there a very long time ago.
The most important factor in the business is of course the main event picture, and despite some false starts, I have to say it’s been a successful year in that respect. The part timers like Brock Lesnar and The Rock have been involved in some impressive marquee matches. The mainstays of the main event like Cena, Orton and Punk have all flourished at different times of the year. The most pleasing part of this year has been the rise of Daniel Bryan. I think everyone is disappointed with the way it’s been handled at times, but the fact that he has won the title twice and main evented multiple pay-per-views shouldn’t be underestimated. I think if he retired tomorrow, he would be happy to have gone far and above his logical expectations in WWE. They have made some mistakes with the main event picture, but in terms of names and star power, they have delivered. It makes me wonder how big they will go for Wrestlemania 30.
I would sum up 2013 with the word improvement. There have been definite mistakes and missed opportunities, as there always is with Vince’s company. But the successes have also been grand. They have introduced some great new talent, taken a lot of guys to the next level, and used the right stars of the past in the right way. The tag team division has come on leaps and bounds. The Shield are a home-grown faction of three certain future World Champions. Daniel Bryan has emerged as a main event player, and perhaps that has been the best thing about this year.
Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think sums up 2013 for WWE.