Welcome one and all to the first edition of The Main Event for 2020. I am your host, Don Franc, and I hope you all had a fantastic holiday season. Even though it’s a new year, long introductions still aren’t my thing, so let’s get right to…
THE MAIN EVENT
Every year we as wrestling fans have our hopes and dreams of what the year in wrestling is going to be like. We try to make resolutions for things we want to do differently this year. We make wishes of what we want to see happen in the year to come. And we try to predict what’s going to happen in the wrestling world. Below you will find just that. Here are my 2020 resolutions, wishes and predictions…
Let Go Of The Stigma Attached To WWE
Right before I took a break from WWE I remember feeling like it was a chore to watch. Even before watching the whole show, just tuning in made me groan. Perhaps the prospect of watching a stale show was the cause of my disenchantment with the premier wrestling promotion. And I think alot of that has to do with the stigma attached to WWE. For years and years people have been saying how poorly booked their product has been. All over Twitter you’d see tweets chastising WWE for something they did on a recent show. This causes a negative mindset before you even start your viewing experience, which means a WWE show is doomed to fail before it even starts. Yes, WWE do make alot of bad booking decisions. However, with the stigma attached to WWE – one of disdain and apathy – you would be hard-pressed to actually enjoy one of their shows. Therefore, I’ll be attempting to avoid all negativity when it comes to WWE this year. I’ll be going in with a clean slate in an effort to find more enjoyment out of their product.
Speaking of finding more enjoyment from a WWE show, I think a positive outlook goes hand-in-hand with voiding the stigma attached to WWE. Instead of shooting their ideas down before they have time to execute them, I’ll instead take a step back and allow wrestlers/feuds time to develop and make an informed decision if it’s trash or not. Negativity surrounds WWE in this present day. The problem is that negativity can sometimes cloud our judgement and cause us to exaggerate the negative aspects of their shows. Positivity is key this year. Try not to judge a wrestler/feud before it has been established. Wait until things pan out before delivering your final verdict. In this day and age being positive about WWE is a tricky affair. However, how will you be able to enjoy a product if your mind is shrouded in negativity?
Watch More Independent Wrestling
With the rise of AEW toward the end of last year I found myself heavily invested in the product they have on display. Ninety percent of the guys on the roster are from the independent scene and I liked what they had to offer. This got me questioning myself about what else I’ve been missing from the independent scene. Of course I’ve watched some independent matches here and there over the years. However, I don’t feel like it’s enough viewing experience to formulate a valid opinion on that particular brand of wrestling. Therefore, this year I’ll be putting myself out there as much as I can. Most of the independent scene isn’t easily accessible where I’m from, but I’ll be challenging myself to consume as much independent wrestling as possible. That way I can come to my own conclusions if any of it is good or not.
Watch More Vintage Wrestling
As a fan who only started watching WWE in 2001, I have missed what many consider the classics moments. I’ve read many, many articles about the most memorable moments of years long since gone. But that’s not enough. It’s time I witness those events first-hand. Of course it won’t be the same as watching those events in the moment, but I think it should almost be considered compulsory viewing for any fan who has the Network. Naturally I missed the entire Hulkamania and Attitude Eras so the onus is on me to catch up. With watching vintage wrestling I think the challenge will be investing myself into something that I already know the outcome to. Nevertheless, watching vintage wrestling was the reason I got the WWE Network in the first place, so I think this year it’s time to use the Network for what I originally intended to use it for.
The Undertaker To Retire
For the love of God this man has to retire this year. He is going to die in that ring! He might think he’s already dead but someone needs to tell Marc Calloway that it’s just a gimmick. The Undertaker should have retired years ago and he is now in Ric Flair territory of a wrestler who just can’t seem to let go. His matches are pure shit and I think he does a disservice to his opponent who has to carry a wrestler who can no longer carry himself. I would accept no more than two final matches for Undertaker this year. One at Wrestlemania and then his final match at Survivor Series with him coming full circle. Father Time has caught up to ‘Taker and the sooner he accepts that, the less effect it will have on his legacy. I sincerely wish that The Undertaker finishes up this year and reflects on an outstanding career.
Wrestlers Not Being Over-Exposed
This is a huge problem in WWE. The word stale has been thrown around alot when mentioning WWE – especially by me – and maybe one of the ways to counter that is by not having the same damn wrestlers appear on the show in the same damn matches every damn week. Give some wrestlers a break every now and then to keep them fresh. Try switching matches up. Rematch after rematch is not the way to go and I wish WWE would learn to let that go. The reason why they have to have the same guys wrestle each other every week/second week is because none of the other midcarders are viable opponents to the more prominent midcarders. This creates over-exposure which in turn can bring about apathy which translates to “same old, same old”. The lower midcarders are under-exposed, which is why they lose in squash matches. Nevertheless, by the time the feuding wrestlers get to the payoff match you’re left with the sense that it’s not something you haven’t seen before. Even Corey Graves spoke about this. I just wish WWE wakes up and start to realise that over-exposure is not best for business.
Brock Lesnar Goes Away
I really, really wish that Brock Lesnar goes away after losing the WWE Title. I’ve been disillusioned by Lesnar for a few years now, but the final nail in the coffin was him beating Kofi in 8 seconds. I honestly can’t see what he brings to the table anymore. The only benefit of Brock Lesnar at the moment is that the United States Championship is considered the main title in his absense. I just don’t see any redeeming qualities in him anymore. Ninety-nine percent of the big matches he could have been involved in has already been done. Now he just breeds contempt. Storylines and wrestlers, amongst other things, all get sacrificed in the name of The Beast. Enough is enough. Brock is smiling all the way to the bank while we have to live with the scraps once his done with a story. In my opinion, he is a stain on WWE. One that I wish gets washed out for good this year.
Every Title On The Roster Means Something
Is it too much to ask for titles to mean something? Prestige is one of my biggest pet peeves in wrestling and WWE struggles to keep all their titles relevant all at once. I wish that in this year WWE puts more focus on their midcard and tag team belts. Sure, the United States Championship is a major focus on RAW right now, but once Lesnar returns all that goodwill will most likely have been for nought. I want WWE to start giving a shit about every single title on their roster. Yes, that is a pipe dream, which is why it’s on my wishlist. WWE can’t seem to focus on more than one or two championships at a time and that causes others titles to fall by the wayside. I wish WWE books their wrestlers to look like they want any given championship more than life itself. If only all champions could be booked like Samoa Joe when he held the United States Championship. This is a very important entry on my wishlist and I hope WWE will be able to rectify what they’ve been doing incorrectly for years.
Roman Reigns Wins The Royal Rumble
This is probably the easiest prediction anyone could ever make for 2020. Hell, there has even been rumours of Roman Reigns facing The Fiend at Wrestlemania for the Universal Championship. Nothing is set in stone, but If you were in a predictions contest this would be a safe bet. Despite Reigns being kept away from a World Championship we all know damn well that it’s just a matter of time before he is placed in that role again. The problem is that this may backfire. Roman was able to get over more or less the way WWE wanted him to by beating cancer. Then, when he came back he wasn’t immediately thrust into the World Title picture, which aided in him staying over. However, if he were to win the Rumble and then the Universal Championship the fans may look at it as business as usual and turn on him again, especially considering that fans are enjoying Bray Wyatt’s new character. I predict Roman Reigns will win the Royal Rumble but WWE has to be careful about how they go about doing so.
AEW Constantly Hits 1.5 Million Viewers
This is a very tricky prediction, but without predictions out of left field it wouldn’t be any fun. With the hype AEW amassed before debuting Dynamite they were able to clock in at over one million viewers for a few weeks when their show aired on television. That hype died down fairly quickly and now they hitting an average of approximately 900 thousand a week. Clearly they couldn’t maintain the hype with some of their fans and only their true supporters remained behind. However, I do believe that AEW is one major signing or a groundbreaking storyline away from hitting the one million mark again. With Dynamite only in existence for about three months they’re still a very young brand with all the potential in the world. This year I believe is make or break for AEW. What they do this year will truly set the tone for the remainder of their tenure. I predict that something big will happen in AEW this year which will change the course of their promotion and see them constantly hitting the 1.5 million mark.
205 Live Shuts Down And Merges With NXT
So the Cruiserweight Championship became a regular on NXT, which makes sense considering they need to fill up two hours. However, WWE has yet to make anything official. If the Cruiserweight Championship is defended on NXT then I don’t see the purpose of 205 Live. Sure, the purple brand provides exposure for the cruiserweights who otherwise wouldn’t be featured on NXT, but they only get seen by those who have the Network. I think WWE needs to shut 205 Live down and officially merge them with NXT. The Cruiserweight Championship could then become exclusive to NXT, which would help with the over-exposure of NXT regulars. This would also keep things fresh as WWE would then have a multitude of talent across NXT, NXT UK and 205 Live to avoid that stale factor. The more wrestlers you have on the brand the less chance of over-exposing the favourites. Besides, alot of guys across the two NXT brand can challenge for the Cruiserweight Championship anyway. Therefore, I’d think a safe prediction would see 205 Live officially merge with NXT.
CM Punk Does Not Return To The Ring
No matter how much we all want CM Punk to make an in-ring return to WWE, I legitimately don’t see that happening. At present time he does have his foot in the door but that’s on his own accord. Punk comes across as a proud man so a return to WWE will make his 2014 exit seem like a tantrum. Besides, will WWE even know how to book him upon a return? You’d think the storyline writes itself, but with WWE you just never know. The only thing Punk will gain by returning as an in-ring competitor for WWE will be buckets full of cash. Furthermore, he has everything to lose. His legacy, his potential as a someone who can draw, his ring rust and his proud exit will all come into question. I honestly think Punk still bears ill will toward WWE. It had to have subsided a bit but it still has to be there, that’s for sure. Nevertheless, my prediction will be put in the board as CM Punk not returning to a WWE ring in 202o. Because at the end of the day we have to ask ourselves: is a CM Punk return worthwhile? Find out next week…
So there you have my resolutions, wishes and predictions for 2020. I stuck to four apiece otherwise this column would have been a marathon to read. I sincerely hope that in 2020 WWE will be able to turn things around. But I’m not done with 2019 yet, there’s one more thing that needs to be addressed…
2019: The Year WWE Screwed Up Rollins’ Babyface Run
2019 was a very strange year for Seth Rollins. He started off the year like a house on fire. After winning the Royal Rumble you just knew that he was being primed for that top spot as biggest face in the company. He was red hot on the road to Wrestlemania as the fans were just dying for him to defeat Brock Lesnar, a man who many deemed as a stain on WWE, and as champion. Rollins used the common consensus of Brock’s frowned upon part-time status to fuel his promos to maximum effect. By the time he defeated Lesnar at ‘Mania he was on top of the world.
The problem is, once you on top the only way to go from there is down. Rollins became another case of being at the top long enough to see himself become a villain. But what went wrong? How did he go from being so over at the start of the year to the fans turning their backs on him at the end of the it?
I think the answer to that is quite simple, really. WWE screwed up his babyface championship run big time with one ineffective challenger to his title and poor booking decisions. WWE initially got everything right; from the Rumble win to the promos on Lesnar and subsequent victory over The Beast. They even got the first challenger to his newly won Universal Championship correct (AJ Styles). However, I think things started going downhill when he was paired up with Baron Corbin.
I don’t know what it is, but WWE seems obsessed with Corbin. I’m sorry, but he is not of main event quality and he never will be. Sure, he has heat but how much of that heat is genuine? Their feud really sucked the life out of Rollins’ title run and not even the popularity of Becky Lynch could salvage that. And to top it off, Rollins was practically made to look like the woman in the relationship. So yeah, Corbin was certainly not the way to go in terms of a title contender, especially an extended program at that.
But the final nail in the coffin of Rollins’ title reign was Lesnar regaining the championship. What in the actual hell were they thinking? WWE took a step forward by having Rollins defeat Lesnar at Wrestlemania. But then they took two steps back when Lensar toppled Rollins. The entire thing was shambolic for the mere fact that they ran the exact same program as they did for the road to Wrestlemania! Nearly identical promos and a similar match. That has to be one of the most confusing booking decisions in the history of WWE.
Rollins could not recover from this and everything he did thereafter was tainted by Lesnar’s unceremonious insertion in Seth’s 2019. His reactions started to lessen. His loud pops began to fade. It was as clear as day that the fans were turning their backs on him and there was no amount of damage control that WWE could do to prevent that. WWE screwed up big time with Rollins in 2019. From the man to make things right to a glorious hero. From starting his reign with a bang to the neutering of that reign. What could have been one of the all-time great championship runs turned into flippant tomfoolery.
Now Rollins is left with nothing but the memory of a year that could have been an epic validation of his status in WWE. Goodbye babyface Rollins, you’ll never get such an opportunity again.
And that does it for this edition of The Main Event. Do you agree with my predictions? What are your resolutions, wishes and predictions for the new year? Do you think WWE’s booking was detrimental to Seth Rollins’ Universal Championship reign? Please leave a comment below. Alternatively, you can pop me an e-mail at [email protected] or follow me on Twitter @donfranclop. Any and all feedback is always much appreciated. But until next time, folks…
This is Don Franc signing out.
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