1) End the Wildcard Rule IMMEDIATELY
I can honestly say that I have absolutely no idea who is on what brand and I am not going to waste my time trying to figure it out because when everybody shows up on both shows anyway, then who cares? Actually, is the wildcard rule even in effect or do people just randomly switch back and forth? I don't know, and like said before, I don't care to find out.
The rosters have no brand identity and everybody goes back and forth every week. This week was the first time I've watched both Raw and SD in the same week and on both shows, I saw Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe in matches. It just doesn't make any sense, and it only serves to confuse fans and dilute the idea that Raw and SD are separate brands.
If you're going to have Heyman and Bischoff run the two shows, then to me, it doesn't make much sense to have two differing visions try to continue stories one after the other and they need to have their own separate identities. Hold a roster selection episode, set the rosters in stone, and then stick to it. Once a year, they can do trades or something to freshen things up, but generally, I'd like to see Raw guys and gals stay on Raw and SD guys and gals stay on SD.
2) The Tag Team Division
Every time the WWE has had Raw/SD separate tag team champions, I have hated it. It reminds me of when Crockett had both the World Tag Champs and the US Tag Champs. Why have two sets of tag champs running around when you only have so many tag teams to begin with (and back then they had a better talent pool of teams to work with).
The WWE (or just Vince, I don't know) doesn't generally care about tag team wrestling, but there are somethings they can do to make it work better. Step 1 is unifying the Raw and SD tag titles. The sad truth is, WWE isn't currently experiencing a shortage of tag teams. Right now, they have Bryan/Rowan, The Usos, The Club, Heavy Machinery, The New Day, The Revival, and whatever the Vikings are called this week, and that's just off the top of my head. That is a decent core group of teams to work with, but when you spread them out over two shows, it deprives the tag team division of depth of competition and variety of matches.
To fix this, I say unify the Tag Team Titles, and make the division exclusive to one brand. This makes the tag team division more exciting again and allows one of the two brands to have something that gives them a different identity when compared to the other show.
3) The Women's Division
Very similarly to the tag team titles, I don't see the point of having two separate Women's singles titles. Even with the heavy focus on Women's wrestling, having two groups of women spread out to compete for two titles feels like it is spreading the division two thin. There is also the anomaly that is the Women's Tag Team Titles, which seems to spread things out even thinner.
In the past, I have presented the idea of unifying the women's titles and making them exclusive to one show. All of this was suggested as a way to make the Women's division better, provide variety of matches and depth of competition...all that fun stuff. But that got me labeled a sexist for suggesting such a thing, so OKAY, lets work around that.
Unify the two singles titles and make that belt exclusive to one brand, AND then make the Women's Tag Team division exclusive to one brand. That way, both shows can have women, but they present them differently. And if you have a tag team that breaks up, they can go over to the singles division on the other show, and if you have two women want to form a team, they can go to the tag team show.
Ideally, the show that gets the Women's Tag Team division would be the opposite show that got the Male tag team titles, so that way both brands can boast having tag team and women's wrestling, but slightly different ways of presenting them.
4) Fix the Cruiserweight Division
Does anyone care about 205 Live? Like, at all? I tried watching it week to week last year and I just could not get into it at all. That isn't me knocking the talents, but it is hard for me to get into a show that feels like a Smackdown post show with a tired crowd and something that builds up matches that just wind up on PPV preshows and are quickly forgotten. There were brief periods that had a spark of something interesting with the division, like when Neville was champ, or even when Enzo was champ and everyone hated him. Right now, I couldn't even tell you with 100% confidence who the CW Champ is.
The Cruiserweight Division was a big part of WCW programming back in the day and proved to be the national stage launch point for guys like Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Billy Kidman, Ultimo Dragon, and Dean Malenko. I think some people view the CW Division as a dead zone where talents get "stuck" but if you promote the division properly, give them feuds, and put the right talents in there, it can be pretty exciting on its own. I mean Jushin Thunder Liger made a career out of being a Junior Heavyweight and he did just fine for himself.
Couple of ways to fix the WWE Cruiserweight Division? 1) Make it exclusive to either Raw or SD, once again giving one of the brands a unique identifier to help set it apart from the other show and 2) Fill it with talents that the fans already care about. Part of the reason the CW division feels so unimportant is that you have guys that are either close to or within the 205 weight limit that was set, but they are off fighting for bigger titles and working with heavyweights. I can't remember the last time I saw Rey Mysterio work with a guy that wasn't a heavyweight.
There are a handful of guys in the main roster and NXT right now that if incorporated into the Cruiserweight Division, could at least elevate it in the short term and provide a nice system to elevate other talents and help the long term future of the division. Rey Mysterio, Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, Finn Balor, Aleistair Black, Johnny Gargano, and a few others. Right now, it feels like Cruiserweights are all over the freaking show...just not in the actual division.
Now I'm not saying that all the vanilla midgets need to be demoted to the CW Division and that no little guy can ever work with the heavyweights. What I am saying is that there is huge potential in creating some exciting matches in that division and to really help that belt mean something. To do that, the division needs depth, variety of talent, and a platform that makes it feel like it matters.
5) The 24/7 Title
Okay, I am not going to lie. I hate this thing. After not watching Raw for months, these last two weeks have been plagued with 24/7 Title segments and they have been mostly painful and terrible. Why would any human being want that belt in the first place? Who is filming all this stuff and why are they acting like there isn't a camera there in a hotel room? Also, what is the end game here? What can you really build with this? If it is just a random series of skits, I don't see the long term potential with this thing.
But, for right now at least, I am in the minority and people seem to like it. Okay, so what can I do to make it palatable for me and still keep what people like about it? Again, make it exclusive to one brand, preferably the show opposite of the new CW Division. Hey, lets say Bischoff's Smackdown gets the CW Division and Heyman's Raw gets the 24/7 Title, which is really just a spiritual successor to the Hardcore Title. How odd would that be? Eric back in charge of Cruiserweights and Heyman facilitating hardcore wrestling?
Anyway, make the 24/7 Title a brand exclusive title to, once again, give one of the shows a different identity. By giving Raw and SD their own identities, at the very least, people will have different reasons to tune into both shows as opposed to just mindlessly watching the same stuff for 5 hours a week.
People seem to like the randomness of the 24/7 Title, so I guess keep that aspect of it, but I would like for it to actually have potential to build to something. So lets say that once a month, on any episode of Raw and at any time, Paul Heyman sets off a buzzer that suspends the 24/7 Title rule. Whoever is holding the 24/7 Title at that very moment is awarded a prize that month: A 25-30 Spot in the Royal Rumble, A Spot in the MITB Ladder Match, an opportunity for a bigger title (IC/US, etc) next week on Raw. It sounds very game showy, but at least it fixes the problem of why anyone would even want this thing to begin with without sacrificing the random insanity aspect that people seem to like.
And for the sake of my own sanity, I would also explain that, at least during the program, a cameraman must follow the 24/7 Champ everywhere as a title change could happen at any minute. This at least removes the "Who is filming all of this?" question.
6) The Male Singles Titles
So right now, we have the two midcard titles (IC and US) and the two main event titles (Universal and WWE World).
Being honest, I have never liked the idea of having separate World Champions. How can you call yourself the number one guy when you have another guy running around claiming to be number one? So for me, I would unify the WWE and Universal Titles, but instead of making that a brand specific title, I would have the Unified World Champion be the one guy that can appear on both shows and defend the title against competitors from those brands. This makes the champion feel like a true, company wide, champion and top guy of the company and if he's defending the belt against a guy on Smackdown, then on Raw they could be competing for the next title shot or having a major blood feud be the main focus.
As for the IC and US Titles, make them the unofficial brand specific Raw and Smackdown Titles. WWE World Champ is head of the company, and the holders of those belts are heads of the brands. And treat those belts like the ones holding it are high ranking contenders in the heavyweight ranks, like how Rick Rude was high on the contenders list when he was US Champion. Not saying that the IC and US Champs should always get the title shots, but they should be considered near the top of the pack when contenders are being considered.
So 5 out of my 10 suggestions so far are largely about fixing the title situation. Like I said, it is a bit of the mess in WWE right now, but here are some ideas the formatting and presentation of the shows.
7) End Scripted Promos
Again, looking back on Heyman and Bischoff's history, what they were both able to achieve in the 90s was to give us personalities and characters that felt real. The nWo felt like a real invading force and not just another heel stable. Guys like Raven, Shane Douglas, Sandman, New Jack, and The Dudleys felt like they weren't playing characters, but rather being who they really are. Part of that is because of the promos being allowed to be as real as possible.
Far too often with scripted promos, the talents sound stilted and forced. I'll notice people providing full recaps of past events (take a shot every time someone says "Last week" and you'll be dead by the mid point of the show), saying things that no human being would say (who on Earth tells a Hotel front desk that he's going to consummate his marriage in those exact words?). Part of what made wrestling great were the over the top and exciting personalities, and it is really hard for those to shine through when every word of dialogue is written for them to the point where they all sound like the same person speaking.
Promos are a sink or swim scenario. You have to give the talents the stick and see what they can do. If they stink, get them a manager. If they are great, let them be great, but very few of them are trained actors and very few of them can recite memorized and scripted dialogue and make it sound believable. If you want to bring believability back to wrestling, starting with what the wrestlers say is a kickoff point.
8) The Look and Presentation of the Shows
I was having this discussion with a friend of mine, but try and watch one event from each year from 1990-1999. In that decade, so many changes happened to alter the look of the show that a show from 1990 and a show from 1998 feel like they come from completely different centuries instead of the same decade.
Now do the same thing for shows from 2010 to 2019. The talents and faces change, but the overall look and structure of the show is exactly the same. They have not evolved or changed how they present their programs at all. It almost feels like they hit this sweet spot in 2000 where they loved how the show looked and then decided to never change it. Every venue looks the same. Every episode looks the same. It just feels boring, stale, and tired and only adds to dull and lifeless feel the shows have now.
Oh and I also hate how WWE does backstage segments with everybody standing shoulder to shoulder and perfectly in frame with each other with no explanation for why a camera is there. It just looks and feels awkward.
And right now, if you look at Raw and Smackdown, there really is no difference between how the shows look aside from the color. One is red and the other is blue, and that's it. I miss the days when I could tell a show was in MSG by having the entrance opposite of the hard cam, or Raw in the Manhattan Center looking completely different from matches I'd see on Superstars or Wrestling Challenge.
Now compare that to something like Lucha Underground which fully embraced its "TV show" format and presented wrestling in a very unique way. Compare that to what Nitro used to be like where shows looked different depending on the venue (Wrestling shows with a moat are tight!). And ECW...okay ECW looked like garbage, but they kind of made that their identity. Low rent and cheap, but high energy. Even AEW hosting Fight for the Fallen in that theater venue felt like a breath of fresh air. Jericho holding his show on a damn Cruise Ship caught my eye instantly because I've never seen a wrestling show take place on a boat out at sea before!
WWE right now just feels stuck in there ways and is scared to death to change it up or even try different things for different venues. I mentioned Nitro and ECW and both shows had very distinct looks and presentation styles. Bischoff actually made WCW look presentable when he took over in 93, as prior to that, the programming looked absolutely dreadful. And like I said, Heyman worked with the little he had for ECW and carved out a unique identity to where people liked that it looked shitty. With them involved in Raw and Smackdown, I have to think they'd also have ideas on how to change up the presentation style to make it seem less visually monotonous.
Speaking of monotony, can we please get passed the WWE tropes that just make the show feel stale and repetitive? Paul Heyman said in a recent interview that Raw shouldn't spend so much time being about making the matches, to which I say AMEN! They spend so much time talking about how matches are set up and showing the guy in charge make the matches, that it feels like they only do it because they did it in the Attitude Era 20 years ago and don't remember why they did it in the first place. They did it back then because the angle was that Evil Boss was screwing over the faces by keeping them on their toes and changing the rules as well as competing for ratings with WCW to try and keep the show unpredictable. 20 years later, it feels just as dull and stale as the format they were working against when they created the Attitude Era. I don't need to know where every single match comes from, and it is okay to have a main event set up BEFORE the show starts so that you can advertise it.
And there are a ton of other overused tropes that I can do with out. Babyface wins 2 on 1 handicap match, theme music plays and causes distraction roll up loss, opening promo results in 10 guys piling into the ring to talk and talk and talk. And on and on and on. Hopefully Heyman and Bischoff are at least a little aware of these issues and are given the chance to address them.
9) The Commentary
For the love of God, can you please just let the commentators react naturally to things, call the matches, and stop being shills for the WWE every five minutes? PLEASE!!!
It has gotten to a point where the commentary in WWE is so bad, that heavily flawed commentary from other companies (AEW) almost gets a pass from me because at least I'm not in misery when I listen to them.
When I see Michael Cole reading from a script to react to Shane McMahon jumping off the Hell in a Cell, I don't even know what to think. Vince is such a micromanager that even somebody diving off a cell can not be trusted with a natural reaction.
But do you know why people get nostalgic for JR/King, Monsoon/Heenan, Monsoon/Ventura, and Gordon Solie? Because those announcers sounded believable and did not appear to be micromanaged to death. I really believed that Monsoon wanted to strangle Heenan. I really believed that Ventura hated Hulk Hogan's guts. I really believed that Gordon Solie was the most knowledgeable man in wrestling. When I watch these shows today, I feel like I can hear Vince in their headsets telling them to say stupid things, like calling a hospital a "local medical facility" or marking out for everything in WWE because everything is the greatest thing ever, and they wind up sounding like programed automatons.
Heyman and Bischoff, in their times, spend at least a little time at the booth, so they know what to do to make commentary sound good, so I would really like them to realize that is a major flaw in WWE programming and has been for a LONG time, and hopefully they can work to fix it.
10) Give Talents a Break
Okay, this part is hard given the current situation of a 3 hour show and a 2 hour show, but they really need to get over the idea that EVERYBODY needs to be on EVERY SHOW and that is EVERY SINGLE WEEK.
One of the major problems with the WWE today is that the talents are overexposed. Guys like Seth Rollins feel a lot less special when I see them every single week. People say the past stars are always more over when they come back, because, well, yeah, we don't see them all the time, so it actually is special.
For 52 weeks a year, that roster is on TV, every week, and it is made even worse with the wildcard rule because now I am just being beaten over the head with these same talents week in and week out.
Is there any full time performer in WWE right now that is worth tuning into try and see? I guess if you really really REALLY like someone like Becky Lynch or Roman Reigns, sure, but for me, it is hard to get excited when they have become an expected part of the show that I know is going to be there and is probably going to wrestle and is definitely going to be in the arena in front of the crowd.
Compare that to Hogan. When I was a kid, Hogan hardly ever wrestled on TV, so Saturday Night's Main Event felt like a big deal. Hulk Hogan Vs. Sika felt like a can't miss match because, fuck it, I get to see Hogan! Also, lets look at Sting in 1997, the most over guy in WCW. Never wrestled, never talked, and only appeared sporadically to enhance his mystique and the anticipation for his next appearance.
Nobody, and I mean NOBODY in WWE has that level of intrigue (at least among the full timers) because they are on TV doing the same things every single week. Old sayings definitely come into play: Less is more, absence makes the heart grow fonder, etc.
There are ways to continue stories and focus on different things without having the exact same people on there week to week. If the heel attacks a face and injures him one week, have the next week be about a medical update on the face where he isn't in the arena. If you are building a major main event, show both participants in a training facility and maybe do the split screen promo. If somebody did a big media appearance over the weekend, show footage of that instead of having them in the arena, and so on and so on.
Overexposure just kills the talents and makes them feel less special. And like I said, Raw is much longer than it needs to be with a 3 hour format, but I still feel like there are ways to work around it and not let the talents become an interchangeable cog that is taking up space.