The end of November is here. There’s only one more pay-per-view on the WWE calendar this year and it’s time to start thinking about the year that was while also looking ahead to what’s hopefully an exciting 2019 for WWE. Before that, though, I wanted to open up the WWE Mailbag to cover a variety of topics. One of the more popular topics this week was about how poor WWE’s Monday Night Raw program has been over the last few months.
This week’s Raw was probably the worst of the year. It featured just one good match, but everything else was bad in the ring, the promos were lame, most of the faces on the show were made to look like such losers, and there was bad comedy that included Drake Maverick peeing on the robe of Boddy Roode on a toilet. Smackdown was a lot better even though they only had three matches in two-hour show. At least they know how to advance storylines better on Tuesday nights.
All of the questions for the WWE Mailbag come from Twitter. You can follow me on Twitter @johnreport where I mostly tweet about wrestling along with sports (go LA Rams and Toronto Raptors) while making random Simpsons and Seinfeld references regularly. Let’s get to it.
1. From @NickDeRose87:
Do you think WWE will cut Raw down to two hours like Smackdown?
It’s not going to happen. One of the biggest stories earlier this year was when USA Network agreed to pay WWE over $1 billion for the next five years of Raw starting in October 2019. It’s USA Network that wanted WWE to extend Raw to three hours back in 2012 and there’s no indication of that changing.
Should it change? Yes, because it would make Raw a better show if they had less filler. That’s one of the most frustrating things about being a WWE fan right now because Raw is so boring at times. Taking off an hour would help for sure. I just don’t see it happening.
2. From @uiwuagwu91:
Who do you see winning the NXT Championship off Tommaso Ciampa?
A few months ago I would have said Johnny Gargano eventually, and that’s probably going to remain my answer because I think this heel gimmick he has is a short-term thing. The other choice is Velveteen Dream, who came up just short at the last Takeover, but maybe that’s a way to show that he was close and he’ll get Ciampa the next time. I guess Aleister Black is a possibility, although I see him more as a main roster call up at the Royal Rumble. Ricochet is another choice, although as North American Champion, they may be reluctant to do it soon.
For now, I’ll say Gargano at Takeover on WrestleMania weekend. I think the story will be something where Ciampa trusts Gargano as a heel, so it looks like #DIY is back together, but then Gargano will reveal he only did it to regain his trust and the fans will go back to loving Gargano again. That can lead to the title change.
3. From @ManLikeMeyer:
One WWE legend you’d like to see return to the ring? They have to be alive and capable of actually wrestling.
CM Punk for sure. I think it would be such an incredible story, given that people hate the guy for leaving and others love him because he really made an impact during his run in WWE, especially in his last three years. I’m sure there are other names we can all think of, but the one that sticks out the most is Punk.
With all of that said, I don’t expect CM Punk to return any time soon, especially since he was involved in a lawsuit with a WWE doctor (Punk won the lawsuit) for a few years. I also didn’t think Goldberg would ever return a few years ago after he badmouthed Triple H for about a decade, so “never say never” in WWE.
4. From @aaronpupko:
How do you fix a product like Raw?
That’s a whole column for another day and maybe I’ll write it before the year is done. For now, my answer is that I really think they need to simplify things.
They need to cut back on the stupid comedy segments, limit the backstage segments, get rid of the repetitive promo to start the show, and build up WRESTLING rivalries. Book the faces as likable guys instead of jerks that continually get their asses kicked while showing no intelligence in terms of overcoming the bad guys.
During a three-hour show, you should have at least 3 very good matches over 15 minutes every week. There’s plenty of time. Instead, they give us so much crap. They overproduce and over-script everything. Keep it simple. I know fans today are fickle at times, but simple pro wrestling booking can and will work today just like it always has.
Get rid of Baron Corbin as the acting Raw GM. It’s boring. He’s not a good character. People want to turn the show off when he’s on and it’s not because he’s a good heel that you want to see get their ass kicked like Vince McMahon twenty years ago. It’s the kind of heat that makes you want to stop watching, and that’s never good.
I would also give Triple H more booking power. Vince McMahon still runs Raw and the entire company as we all know, but maybe if Vince steps back a bit, that would be the “best for business” as WWE likes to say. Vince is 73 years old and if you’ve got family members in their 70s, you know they aren’t as sharp as they once were. That’s the reality of life.
5. From @Jwhite6068:
What do you think of Nakamura’s US Title reign? It’s horrible. Who do you think will be the one to beat him?
It’s why I don’t want more titles in WWE. Once they made all the PPVs Raw and Smackdown shows, I knew something would happen where some of the titles would look worthless. That’s what happened to the US Title and the Raw Tag Team Titles. You can only give so much time to the big matches on PPVs, so those titles get pushed aside as if they are nothing. Nakamura is good performer and would do fine carrying that title, but WWE has no interest in featuring that title as much as they should. The title reign is boring.
As for who is the one to beat Nakamura, it’s a tough call because Smackdown is lacking in terms of younger babyface wrestlers that could use a win. It might be Rusev, who appears to be Nakamura’s next feud, but I think Rey Mysterio will be the next US Champion because WWE likely wants to get a title on him again now that he’s back in the company.
6. From @TD_DarkMATTer:
Do you think Rousey’s legacy will be made in WWE as opposed to her UFC career?
In a lot of ways, yes. However, she became the big name that she is because of her rise in MMA and taking women’s fighting from not even being on the show to main eventing shows because she was a top draw in the UFC.
I think in WWE, she’ll have a great career for as long as she wants to do it (I know she wants to have kids soon), but I think her UFC run will be more of what she’s known for because she really was a trailblazer and history maker in that sport. It’s hard to know the answer to this question right now because she’s still so new in the wrestling business.
7. From @MikeMakesRight:
Do you see Finn Balor ever getting another title run?
He should have a title run based on his talent, the crowd reactions he gets, and his ability to have good matches with anybody. I don’t know if it will happen because of his size. You would think Vince McMahon would look past that a bit since he’s an Irishman like Vince, but I think the size of Balor is a factor. I could be wrong on that because both of AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan as WWE Champion. They are under six feet tall and around 200 pounds, yet they reached the top on Smackdown. I just feel like Vince sees Balor in a different light.
If I had to guess, I would say they pull the trigger on Balor on Raw or SD as a Universal/WWE Champion at least one more time, but it’s far from a lock.
On another Balor note, the last time I did a WWE Mailbag it says “Finn Balor being underutilized” and that was two months ago. Balor’s in a worse position today than he was back then.
8. From @MattTSabol:
Are some wrestlers content to stay in NXT indefinitely or is the money on the main roster too big of a draw?
I think some of them are content to stay in NXT for sure. It’s a bit of a lighter schedule, there’s more of a fun atmosphere, and Takeover shows are amazing. Main roster talent does make more money, but I doubt the top NXT guys are hurting for money.
Triple H spoke recently about keeping some guys in NXT for a long time, so that makes me think perhaps the likes of Ciampa and Gargano will remain in NXT for years instead of just being two short dudes on the main roster. Fans will have to realize that just because somebody is in NXT right now doesn’t mean they will automatically be on the main roster. I think it’s a great idea.
9. From @KTankTJR:
Do you feel Lars Sullivan will be successful on main roster because Vince loves big guys or will he ultimately be forgotten about because he’s similar to Braun?
I have low expectations for Lars. I think he’s going to win a bunch of squash matches every week for six months, then get some random big push where he beats on guys like Finn Balor because they are short. Lars is not an interesting or exciting addition to the main roster. Remember Vladimir Kozlov getting a big push on Smackdown about ten years ago? It didn’t work out well, and I can see Sullivan failing like Kozlov did.
Raw especially needs a boost, which is what guys like Ricochet or Velveteen Dream could do. Instead, we get a boring guy that makes angry faces. I’m not optimistic about it. My prediction is he’ll get a big push, but the fans won’t react to him as a big deal despite the announcers pushing him hard because that’s what Vince wants.
10. From @bowdust:
In my opinion, this is the worst period of Raw TV there has ever been, do you agree? I feel Vince wanted reigns so bad for everything he now has no plan B as never went all in with Seth, Balor etc.
I think 2009 was the worst year not counting early 90s squash days and most of 2010 too. The guest host crap was boring while most of the feuds were bad aside from some Jericho stuff. I was so sick of Triple H, Orton, Cena matches all the time. This year has been frustrating to watch, but there’s some good occasionally thanks to guys like Rollins, Ambrose, McIntyre, and some of the women they have.
11. From @jimbog83:
Hey John, how would you book the WWE Title between now and the end of Wrestlemania?
I really hope Daniel Bryan is still the WWE Champion going into and walking out of WrestleMania. I’m not sure who the face opponent would be because there isn’t a face on SD that I could point to as a young guy that could benefit from working with Bryan. I can see them pushing Rey Mysterio or Jeff Hardy, but that’s not exciting when they are guys in their early 40s. If there was a younger guy like a Ricochet, Velveteen Dream or Johnny Gargano to push then I’d pick them, but I don’t see that happening. Perhaps Aleister Black because there are rumors that he’s close to getting the main roster call up.
While I like a lot of what WWE is doing on Smackdown, they are hurting in terms of younger talent aside from Andrade Almas, who is barely used on the heel side. To finally answer the question, I don’t know who they can put against Bryan at WrestleMania. I hope something becomes more clear soon. The perfect guy would be Finn Balor, so maybe he can win the Royal Rumble and challenge Bryan at WrestleMania. I don’t know if that’s very likely, though.
12. From @JonathanB3:
Hey John, what do you see NXT and NXTUK becoming?
NXT is a very good third brand already. It’s part developmental and part third brand, so that’s fine. I don’t know if it will ever grow that much more, but it’s fine. The NXT UK brand is the same sort of thing, just more focused on WWE’s second-biggest market in UK. I think NXT will likely remain a WWE Network show because that’s what is best for WWE now. If Fox wants to put it on FS1 and pay WWE for it then that’s fine, but it might hurt WWE Network.
I think NXT well established as the third brand that puts on the best major shows with their Takeover events five times a year. The NXT UK brand is about building the fanbase over there. Both brands exist because WWE’s business is strong right now. If business wasn’t going well, there would be no NXT.
13. From @ChrisBroadyUK:
If you could do only one of these choices next year, what would it be: A) Royal Rumble winner to main event Wrestlemania, B) Women’s tag champs or C) Raw/Smackdown talent moved to NXT?
I would go with introducing Women’s Tag Team Titles, which should have been announced at Evolution last month. My concern is there are too many titles (8) on Raw and Smackdown already, so it’s tough to feature them all on PPVs. My addition to the answer is, yes do women’s tag team titles, but they need to be booked right and given a proper spotlight.
14. From @CoryFrizzell:
Crown Jewel was obviously a disaster of a show for several reasons (not monetarily). Are you okay with that being the final HBK match, or would you like to see 1 more singles match at Mania?
Shawn Michaels is my favorite wrestler ever that I watched for over 20 years, but I don’t think Shawn Michaels should wrestle again. I get that he wanted to do it because it was with four buddies around his age (Michaels is 53 years old), but I think he realized that was probably the last one (just based on his comments), so I’m content with no more HBK matches. Give the young guys a shot to have the spotlight at WrestleMania rather than bringing back multiple part-timers to take the spotlight away.
15. From @Fight_WWE_Fight:
Do you see the Undisputed Era making a name for themselves on the main roster?
I hope so, but I think Vince McMahon cares more about a bigger guy like Lars Sullivan than he does the Undisputed Era. Reality is those guys are four average looking dudes with Adam Cole as a great leader and Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish all working well together in tag team matches. Yes, they’re great, but Vince needs to see more than that, so it’s hard for me to believe they would get some huge push. There have been too many NXT talents called to the main roster that had a lot of hype and then did nothing.
That’s all for the WWE Mailbag this month. Here’s hoping the WWE product is solid in December with TLC set to take place in less than three weeks and hopefully things improve going into January’s Royal Rumble that will lead to WrestleMania.