A funny thing happened over the last few months. . .
Monday Night RAW, and WWE in general, became super enjoyable again.
No longer are we bogged down in #CancelWWENetwork drama. In fact, outside of a few people who seem to rarely, if ever, be happy with all-things wrestling, people are pretty upbeat about the product as a whole.
So, what happened? What has caused such a turnaround in viewer attitudes?
I know that just about all of you are going to say the same thing - "It's HHH, he's taking over and he'll bring us to our own personal Xanadu of wrestling heaven!"
That may or may not be true - The fact is, none of us truly knows how much of the WWE product is being orchestrated by whom these days, so for today's piece, we're not going to focus on the behind-the-scenes parts.
Today, we're going to look at a handful of on-screen reasons that I feel have boosted WWE's appeal.
While I was, and still am, a proponent of having Brock Lesnar as the World Heavyweight Champion, there's no denying that having the title out there each week has caused life to be more interesting, at least for many. It also doesn't hurt that the WHC is arguably your most athletic superstar who has also developed into one of the strongest "love to hate" characters since Roddy Piper.
Coronating Rollins as the official Future of WWE certainly gives off a sign of optimism for the company that they haven't had in some time. While Lesnar could have held the title for years, defending it a grand total of 11 times, Rollins could hold it for years and defend it multiple times a month. That's a big deal.
I won't spend a great amount of time on this, since its been written about by many people, myself included, over the last few weeks, but this John Cena Open Challenge is a thing of beauty. Last night Zack Ryder. . . Zack Flippin' Ryder!. . . came within inches of pinning the biggest name in wrestling today. He didn't, and truthfully, I doubt many of us cared, because it just meant this story arc could keep going.
Now if WWE really wants to turn up the volume here, Ryder needs to become a bigger star. If he disappears again, it was a nice but fleeting moment. If this could somehow lead to Ryder challenging for the IC title in the future, being a more constant fixture on RAW and SD? That'd really be something.
I don't think its a coincidence that RAW has been far more "must-watch" since 'Adrian' Neville made his full-time WWE debut. I was far from optimistic about the former PAC's chances in the big leagues, mainly because I worried he wouldn't be able to get over as a character. In no way at all did I expect that his "character", as it were, was to just be absolutely astonishing in the ring. They're not trying to shove a lame gimmick down our throats, they're not even really giving him a whole lot of time to talk, WWE is just letting him go out there and do his best to steal the show.
I won't say that Neville vs. Dallas is the best match of Elimination Chamber - That's an insane prediction, even for me. . . What I will say is that I couldn't be happier to see those two renewing their NXT feud, and anytime Bo Dallas gets the chance to run around the ring, I'm a happy guy.
For much of 2014, many in the NAIborhood lamented that so many incredibly talented stars were "languishing" in NXT, even if it was the best wrestling we had seen in a while from a WWE entity.
Over the last few months, as has been written about before, the lines between developmental and big leagues seem to be blurred a bit. We've seen many NXT stars appear on WWE programming, and I wouldn't at all be surprised to see some WWE superstars start making their way to Full Sail with a bit more frequency.
WWE does its best work when it keeps its fans guessing. Nobody expected Kevin Owens to be in WWE this soon, nevermind the fact that he's fighting John Cena in his first match! We all hope this trend continues in the near future - Charlotte, Tyler Breeze, Finn Balor - these are the next wave, or so we hope.
At this point, you must be getting tired of me talking about how amazing New Day is. . .Even if there's likely very few of you who disagree with me at this point. It's true, though - this tag team division was dead in the water a few months ago, and now we're not only going to see a 6 team Elimination Chamber match this Sunday, but many of us can lament the fact that certain other teams (HarpRow, maybe even the Meta Powers) aren't involved as well.
I said on NAIpod some weeks back that I believed this was the plan from the beginning, and I still firmly hold to that opinion. Big E, Xavier and even Kofi Kingston are killing it right now, and one of the main reasons why is because of the way they had been booked in their initial time as a unit.
We have seen a marked improvement in character and 'personality' when it comes to the talent of 2015. Seth Rollins, New Day, Kevin Owens and even, in his own way, John Cena are being given the opportunity to showcase new and different sides of themselves, ones that are fully resonating with the WWE Universe.
For goodness sake, even Roman Reigns and Kane are becoming more interesting characters with depth and nuance. When that's happening, you know WWE is firing on all cylinders.
What's to come? Who knows? What I do know is that I'm excited to see it happen.
What do YOU think? Be Heard.