The past two years, the return of the NFL has seen the return of what some would say is the worst WWE has to offer.
Since SummerSlam started receiving WrestleMania Jr. treatment in 2013, the show has consistently delivered great matches and impactful moments. There’s no doubt at this point that SummerSlam is the second biggest show of the year for WWE.
Following up on that momentum has been a bit of an issue, though. The start of the last two football seasons has coincided with fans becoming more frustrated than usual with WWE’s programming. Storylines and feuds have failed to deliver in the manner fans hoped, and three hours of Raw every week sometimes felt like a chore to sit through.
Two years ago, John Cena was out injured after SummerSlam, and WWE’s top feud was between Daniel Bryan and The Authority. Things looked like they were headed in the right direction at that point. Bryan was set for a great chase at the title he had stolen from him by Triple H and The Authority’s new heel champion, Randy Orton.
Instead, we got a lackluster few months of television that no superstar greatly benefited from. The Shield and Rhodes family had some nice battles during that run, and the Tag Team Championships were deservingly highlighted. But that was overshadowed by The Authority’s failure to compel fans at the top of the show.
In 2014, there was also no WWE Championship presence on television from the end of Night of Champions until the start of 2015. We saw a never-ending series of hardcore matches between Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt, Cena battling to end The Authority’s power, and the infamous Bella sister feud that took a few years off of all our lives.
Survivor Series delivered one of the best matches of the year in the main event, though. Dolph Ziggler, with some help from Sting, took down The Authority, only for them to be reinstated by Cena a little over a month later when Edge’s neck was threatened. (Remember when Edge was thinking about suing the company because of that? Funny.)
Football season is once again right around the corner, and WWE is in a better position than past years to produce a product that will minimize the NFL’s crowd stealing performances.
The roster is deeper than ever. In the 10 matches that took place at SummerSlam, 43 men and women were involved (counting the likes of El Torito, Xavier Woods, Lana, Summer Rae and Paul Heyman). WWE has a lot of talented stars to pick from, and they added four more to that roster on Monday night with the debut of Braun Strowman and the returns of the Dudley Boyz and Sting.
There are many storylines that will compel WWE fans to continue to tuning in every week. This likely isn’t the time of year where they will add a massive amount of fans. That starts in January with the Royal Rumble.
I’m not asking for WWE to throw its top matchups at us this fall. Something like what we saw this spring after WrestleMania, where certain superstars continued their ascension (ironically The Ascension actually descended greatly, am I right?) would be great. I want what I’m watching on television to mean something in the long run, not just feel like filler until all the big names return for their big payday in Dallas next April.
Let’s see the Wyatt Family continue to evolve, with Bray eventually becoming a legitimate title contender with his new henchman at his side. Ryback had fans cheering for him over Kevin Owens in Brooklyn last night! His progress has been great, and seeing him featured more against legitimate competition would be very welcome.
It all starts at the top, though. Rollins has a unique dilemma with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the United States Championship. He has Sting to deal with for one, and I doubt Cena is just going to let his former title stay with Rollins without putting up a good fight. The weasel champion that always finds a way out of challenges is a character that has great potential. Giving him legitimate contenders and predicaments to escape (like Sting and Cena) will go a long way in keeping fans entertained.
Even the Tag Team Championship scene appears set for a boost. While Bubba Ray and D’Von took out the New Day on Monday night in Brooklyn, they also had a small confrontation with the Prime Time Players. If the “divas revolution” can actually get to revolutionizing, every title in WWE could have potentially compelling stories to be told this fall. There are definitely enough superstars for WWE to create competition for their belts and make them truly prized commodities.
The tools are there to maintain a quality television product this fall. Now it’s time for WWE to deliver and keep fans entertained until WrestleMania season rolls around.