Suggestions for a happy WWE 2005
By Rennie Detore
Sunday, December 26, 2004
Despite claims to the contrary, 2004 wasn't a standout year for WWE.
In fact, it's been fairly disappointing, not only from a business
standpoint, but also for entertainment purposes.
The brand split still exists, which is arguably the moment WWE headed
in the opposition direction of success. At the time of the split, WWE
boasted a roster littered with sports entertainment all-stars.
But the sudden departure of Brock Lesnar, coupled with The Rock's
status changing from part-time to no-time, left WWE without two
marquee superstars. Don't forget, too, that WWE opted to let Goldberg
walk after just one year on the job.
WWE faces a dilemma that seemed imminent after WCW folded: There are
no more major stars left to pursue.
Sting, who has never competed in the WWE, is the only option, although
he's hardly a viable one. He's content to stay away from the wrestling
business. Even if he did sign with WWE, he'd be a sporadic performer
at best, competing only on TV and pay-per-views. The days of the
40-year-old Steve Borden working house shows are over.
The idea of McMahon raiding TNA is pointless, because he likely
wouldn't know what to do with an A.J. Styles or any other X-Division
wrestler being featured by Jerry Jarrett. Styles, one of TNA's bigger
stars, would probably be demoted to cruiserweight status by McMahon.
With that, McMahon finds himself in a dilemma to create new
superstars, which is something he's failed to do in quite some time.
In fact, Lesnar was McMahon's last phenomenal creation.
While the names Randy Orton and John Cena come to mind, neither has
hit full-fledged stardom.
Orton still is struggling as a babyface on "Raw," with every
performance or interview feeling forced. He's lost his***y, heel
persona that connected him with fans and has transformed into more of
a Rock-Randy hybrid. He's trying to be too much like "The Great One,"
and it's just not working.
Orton's character appears so inconsistent that Batista is emerging as
more of a world title contender than Orton.
The difference between Orton's face turn and Batista's would-be one is
pacing. WWE is taking its time and slowly developing dissension
between Batista and Triple H. With Orton, WWE rushed and quickly
forced an Orton-Triple H feud, and the result was a forgettable,
one-month Orton world-title run.
Equally forgettable has been Cena and his lack of seriousness in each
of his feuds this year. Only recently in his altercations with Carlito
Cool and Jesus has Cena shown flashes of main-event potential. Who's
to say that once the feud is over that Cena won't return to caring
more about rapping and wearing Reebok pumps than his opponent?
The rest of the company is equally disjointed, with no serious
cruiserweight or tag-team divisions. "Smackdown," easily the worse of
the two shows, sports a pathetic cruiserweight division, now featuring
Funaki -- he was an announcer for most of the year -- as champion.
WWE squandered any chance of making the division profitable by
releasing Jamie Noble, downplaying Paul London and Billy Kidman, and
misusing Ultimo Dragon. The cruiserweight division hasn't been
featured prominently on "Smackdown" since a main event between Matt
Hardy, who is now on "Raw," and Rey Mysterio.
"Smackdown" also is suffering from a lack of likable superstars. Eddie
Guerrero remains the brand's most popular wrestler, but WWE has done
little with him since his world-title reign. He's the babyface
"Smackdown" should be built around, not The Undertaker, another WWE
JBL barely rates as an average heel champion, giving off too many
"Million Dollar Man" vibes to be taken seriously, and he's more
annoying than enjoyable as the brand's leading bad guy.
As for the tag-team division, it hasn't been this pathetic since 1995,
when WWE featured an array of weak teams such as Well Dunn and an
aging Heavenly Bodies duo. Other than La Resistance and The Bashams,
every other team (William Regal-Eugene; Kenzo Suzuki and Rene Dupree)
are just two singles wrestlers paired together out of convenience.
The overwhelming negativity and disappointment exhibited by WWE in
2004 should serve as a serious slap in the face to McMahon and
everyone working around him. He needs a major overhaul on "Smackdown"
and a lot less Triple H on "Raw" to turn around his fledgeling
Despite his slew of problems, McMahon can build from an
already-established foundation (Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Edge, Kurt
Angle, Chris Jericho) and continue to focus on building potential
superstars around them (Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, Carlito, Cena,
Batista and Orton).
First and foremost, though, McMahon should drop the Hugh Heffner act
and quit wasting time signing WWE Diva contestant rejects and start
focusing on the wrestling. Once that happens, everything else should
Rennie Detore's Pro Wrestling Insider appears Sundays in the