by Jason Howard Kelly
I am a fan of professional wrestling.
That very statement has, in my opinion, become slightly taboo these days. As soon as you tell someone that you are a wrestling fan that person almost immediately counters with one of three responses:
- “You know it’s fake, right?”
- “Oh my god, you still watch that?”
- “I stopped watching after The Rock and Stone Cold left”
That is what a typical wrestling fan such as myself has to endure when I tell a friend of mine that I am a fan of the WWE. Honestly, all three of those responses can be met with an eye roll and a deep sigh as far as I’m concerned. I especially enjoy the, “You know it’s fake, right?” response because it usually comes from someone who watches shows such as The Walking Dead or Vampire Diaries which are completely realistic, right? 🤔
Anyway, for those of us who have remained loyal to our love of wrestling over the years it has been, to say the least, an occasional struggle to find a reason to tune in to WWE programming. Ever since the end of the Attitude Era we have seen countless superstars come and go, many of whom fail to leave us with the same unforgettable moments that icons like Rock, Austin, or Undertaker left us with.
In the past five years specifically, the WWE has struggled to find “the guy” to lead the company forward. For a short time, back in 2013, it looked like CM Punk could have become that magnetic superstar that wrestling fans would be captivated by. But it was not to be. Punk quit the company out of frustration, and his absence left a huge void that WWE has struggled to fill at the top.
However, as we kick off the year 2016, there are plenty of reasons to remain optimistic that the WWE product is actually on the upswing.
- Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman / via http://www.f4wonline.com
When Brock Lesnar decided to return to the WWE, as opposed to going back to the UFC to continue his MMA career, it was a huge win for wrestling fans. Lesnar has always been a good in-ring talent, but what sets him apart is incredibly simple — He is truly terrifying.
Lesnar is one of the few superstars on the roster that can be extremely menacing without having to really try. His victory over the Undertaker at Wrestlemania has propelled Lesnar into the upper echelon of WWE talents. That victory combined with his superior physique has made Lesnar the true powerhouse of the roster.
And the best part? Lesnar barely has to say a word thanks to Paul Heyman. Heyman’s work on the mic is legendary, and when he is paired with a legitimate super athlete it is a combination that keeps the fans enthralled on Monday nights.
2. The New Day (And the rest of the Tag Team Division)
The New Day / via The Official Luis Moreno.net
New…Day Rocks! New…Day Rocks!
That’s right. The gimmick that most of us thought had no chance of succeeding has now become the best part of Monday Night Raw. Admit it, when the WWE took the rookie Xavier Woods and put him together with the struggling-to-stay-relevant Kofi Kingston and Big E Langston we all had the same thought: “No way will this work.”
Those of us who thought that could not have been more wrong. These three superstars have an amazing chemistry together and have created an extremely entertaining tag team. Everything they do, from the dancing, the trombone, and even Xavier Woods screaming his head off at ringside, is laugh-out-loud funny. To top it all off, The New Day consistently put on really good tag team matches.
This is not to take away from the work that WWE officials have done on the rest of the tag team division. The Usos, The Lucha Dragons, and maybe now even The Social Outcasts, have added a much needed diversity to the WWE tag team division.
My hope is that we get some tag team matches that harken back to the days of the Attitude Era. Fatal 4 Ways, TLC matches, Cage matches… That’s the only thing that could make this tag team division better than it already is.
3. The Divas Division
Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and Paige / via http://www.inquisitr.com
The WWE Universe has been demanding that the powers that be, “Give Divas a chance” — Well, it looks like they finally listened. The WWE decided to finally dip into the NXT roster and call up its young, talented Divas to revolutionize the main roster.
Bottom line — It worked. Charlotte is now the Divas champion, with both Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks gunning for her title. This influx of young female talent is exactly the jolt that the Divas division needed. For a long stretch of time the Divas Championship became a largely irrelevant title, with not exciting feuds and no truly captivating divas to lead the way. Not anymore. Now the Divas division is deeper and more balanced than it has ever been. With a strong mix of young, hungry talent and the veteran stability of Divas such as Natalya and The Bella Twins, the Divas division is more intriguing than ever.
The only thing that could improve it? Stop calling it the “Divas” division, or the “Divas” Championship. The WWE should revert back to calling it the Women’s Championship and ditch that girly, barbie-doll Divas title belt. These women are tremendous athletes and fierce competitors, and they should be treated as such.
4. The Commentary Team
Byron Saxton, Michael Cole, and JBL / via http://www.whatculture.com
Commentary may seem like a small and insignificant part to the massive production that is Monday Night Raw. However, having a good commentary team can make all the difference in the world. We all miss the days of the Attitude Era when it was good ol’ JR and The King doing commentary, but those days have long since gone, and the WWE is in an entirely different era now.
Michael Cole and JBL have formed a strong chemistry together at commentary and have proven that they can carry a three-hour long show while keeping the audience engaged. JBL in particular has become the strongest member of the commentary team. He is a refreshing change to The King’s outdated old-man jokes. JBL instead uses popular culture and sports references that the vast majority of the viewing audience will connect with more.
As for Byron Saxton the jury is still out. He started out pretty rough when he first joined the commentary table last year, but Saxton seems to be settling in now and developing good chemistry with Cole and JBL.
5. The McMahons Are Once Again The Evil Empire
Vince McMahon, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon / via http://www.insidepulse.com
Is there a better heel in WWE history than the McMahon family? The answer is simple: No. The McMahons have always been the supreme heel in the WWE throughout the years, and now they’re back to resurrect their empire once more.
Now labeled as, “The Authority”, the McMahons are experts at making life a living hell for whichever superstar gets on their bad side. For the moment that superstar is Roman Reigns, and that’s probably the best thing that WWE officials could have done for Roman. The WWE needs a top heel in order to put over its top babyface, or else the audience has no reason to cheer for that babyface. Standing up to the top powers of the company is what made superstars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and CM Punk just to name a few. By making The Authority the top heel the WWE is once again hoping to create a future legend, and they may just do it.