Hello everyone, and Happy New Year to you all. 2012 has started off great for me. I only had to pay $108.75 on a car repair that would have costs $1500 if it wasn't under warranty. Hopefully that is a sign of things to come.
But enough about me, lets look ahead to 2012 in the WWE. It has already started with a bang with the return of Chris Jericho. Of course, many of you didn't really like the return. I did, and I explained it in my RAW Review this past week. Jericho will boost the in ring product and the entertainment side of the WWE. He knows what he is doing and I trust him to make whatever he does in the WWE work.
It has been a bit of an up and down year in the WWE. The year started off well with The Rock's return and the build to Wrestlemania. It took a down turn for a couple months but then got much better in the summer with the main event run of C.M. Punk. It hit another lull after SummerSlam and it looked to be picking up even though towards the end of the year even though the ratings didn't show that.
I've come to the point after being a wrestling fan for 20 years that the WWE is incapable of putting on a solid years worth of programming. It just isn't in their blood. They focus so much on building up to Wrestlemania that they are destined for a down couple of months after. History pretty much shows this is the case. Over the Limit has been one of the worst PPVs in the WWE the last two years.
The WWE always shows promise at the beginning of the year but then lets us down in the end. We expect big things from certain stars but they never happen. If anything, injuries to Alberto del Rio, Randy Orton, and Mark Henry showed that the WWE needs to do a better job of building up mid-carders in case they need to step in if a main eventer gets injured. There are other things that need to get done too, and that is why I have a list of 20 things that the WWE should do to keep me interested for the entire year.
1. Someone Other Then Randy Orton Should Win the Royal Rumble
I know Randy Orton is considered the favorite to win the Royal Rumble. The PPV is in his hometown, he will be coming back from injury a week or two before the Rumble, and the fans love him. But I've maintained forever that the Rumble should be used to build someone up and give someone their first major main event push. Even though he didn't win at Wrestlemania last year, it helped Alberto del Rio. It helped launch the careers of Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, and Chris Benoit (gasp).
Randy Orton doesn't need to win the Royal Rumble. He's already the #1 guy on Smackdown and doesn't need the win. If the WWE really wants to get Randy Orton in the World Title Match at Wrestlemania, there are other ways to do it. I know people don't like Triple Threat matches, but I would be ok with it this year. Why not have Wade Barrett win the Rumble, and then find a way to get Orton into the World Title match as well. Don't pull the trigger on a Daniel Bryan heel turn right away. Have him play a tweener heading into Wrestlemania, and if the WWE decided to turn him, turn him either right before or right after. After almost a year of Randy Orton being in the World Title scene, can he finally stay away for an extended period of time?
2. Alberto del Rio should re-debut on Smackdown
I thought Del Rio's move to Smackdown in the Draft last year was a dumb one. He seemed destined to be a top heel on that Brand, but he was immediately moved to RAW and struggled in his first few months there. Del Rio should be on the "wrestling" show of the two brands. Even now, when he comes back, he will be lost in the shuffle behind Kane, Chris Jericho, and even Miz. Del Rio could move to Smackdown and have a variety of fresh programs with Sheamus, Daniel Bryan and even Randy Orton. Del Rio needs Smackdown as much as Smackdown needs him. I think Del Rio could also be re-established as a serious threat on Smackdown more so than he could on RAW.
3. Arn Anderson should be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame
This is something that should have happened already. I know the WWE is running out of people to put in the Hall of Fame, but Arn Anderson should have gone in last year in Atlanta. Anderson is one of the best in ring workers to ever step foot inside the squared circle. He never wowed you with his flash and he was never an exotic character. Anderson did all of his business in the ring. He was a true master of the ring. He won't be a headliner, but he deserves to get in this year. So should the rest of the Four Horsemen at some point.
4. Daniel Bryan Should Turn Heel, Eventually
I know the signs are there for a heel turn, but a quick one won't really do it for me. Even as World Champion, you could still argue that Bryan is the #4 face on Smackdown behind Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show. At the Smackdown house show I went to last week, Big Show was cheered more than Bryan. Bryan almost got no reaction. Like I said in my first point, Bryan should be more of a tweener in a Triple Threat match at Wrestlemania. After Mania, or at Mania itself, I would turn Bryan full heel. Have him snap on Randy Orton if he wins the World Title. I know the WWE just did this with Christian, but they need to turn Bryan into more of a serious, bad ass heel rather than a wimp like Christian.
5. Someone Besides Triple H Should Fight Undertaker at Wrestlemania
I know that the WWE thinks this is the best match-up possible for Undertaker at Wrestlemania. And you know what, they are probably right. Especially if they can get Shawn Michaels involved somehow in the match. Triple H and Undertaker put on a great spectacle last year, but can it be topped? I don't know. They would have to have another No Holds Barred type match because I don't know how well of an in ring match they could have. That brings me to my main point: Someone else needs to face Undertaker at Wrestlemania.
I'm in the camp that Undertaker's streak should never be broken. Without the streak, Taker is just remembered as a mystifying character who has done some weird things in wrestling. And in the Undertaker's dying days of his career, he should be using the streak to give younger guys a rub rather than facing someone like HHH. I think the perfect person to face Undertaker at Wrestlemania would be Dolph Ziggler. He's cocky about his talent in the ring, and he has improved on the mic to the point where he could make people believe he could beat Taker at Mania. I wouldn't book Ziggler to win, but I think just having him in the same ring with Taker would be a good enough rub for Dolph.
6. John Cena Should Take Some Time Off After Wrestlemania
John Cena gets shoved down our throats constantly. People get sick of it. It is part of the reason many people have grown to hate Cena. It isn't just his corny, stupid act. It is also the fact that WWE pushes him down our throats to the point where he becomes unbearable. This whole program with Kane has done nothing for me. I don't care about it. I haven't cared about what Cena has done in a long time. Even when he feuded with C.M. Punk, it was more about Punk against the establishment rather than Punk against Cena.
Now come February, Cena will be getting shoved down our throats because of his match against the Rock at Wrestlemania. I will probably be fine with it because The Rock will be a part of it. But after Wrestlemania, win or lose, I think Cena needs at least two months away from TV. I know it is a big ratings risk for the WWE, but if they really want more people to like Cena, this may be the best way to do it. Cena could, gasp, come back fresh and just in time for the summer months in the WWE. Can you imagine Cena away from WWE TV for two months? It can give more younger stars the opportunity to get over. This works especially if Rey Mysterio is back from injury by then, as he can satisfy the younger viewing audience being on with Cena gone.
I would also like to point out that there should be some type of mandatory break for all wrestlers on the WWE roster. Even if it is for only a month it could work. They can spread out the top stars enough to keep ratings up and not lose fans.
7. Dolph Ziggler Should Be WWE or World Champion By June
Every year we always wonder who will be the first wrestler to win a Title that never has before. Last year many people pegged John Morrison for that spot, but he came crashing and burning down thanks to his own personal problems. This year, I think the clear cut favorite has to be Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler is already in the WWE Title match at the Royal Rumble with C.M. Punk. I think that's a sign that WWE management has faith in Ziggler. They could have done that with Morrison but they didn't. Ziggler has the WWE's backing.
Now if the WWE won't put Ziggler against The Undertaker at Wrestlemania, than the next best ting would probably be to have him win the Money in the Bank match, which is suppose to be returning this year at Wrestlemania. And if it is the type of briefcase that can be cashed in on RAW or Smackdown, then I would love to see Ziggler walk out of Wrestlemania as World Champ. The booking is simple: Randy Orton wins, Bryan attacks post match, Ziggler comes out and cashes in.
Even if that isn't how it happens, Ziggler has shown enough in ring that he can handle his time at the top. He's improved drastically on the mic, and with Vickie Guerrero at his side he is guaranteed to have some heat. If Ziggler isn't Champion by the end of the year, then the WWE has truly screwed something up.
8. Smackdown Should Move to Tuesday Night
I almost think this is a no-brainer for the WWE. Smackdown struggles on SyFy on Fridays. It does alright, but I think it could do better on Tuesday. Friday is more of an out night for people, whereas Tuesdays people are more apt to stay in. Smackdown stars have been on RAW to help them get more exposure. A move to Tuesday could eliminate the Supershow aspect of RAW, and maybe actually redefine the brand split. Tuesday ratings will also be higher for the WWE.
9. Michael Cole Should Leave the Broadcast Booth
It has only taken a full year for the WWE to realize that Michael Cole constantly burying talent in the broadcast booth doesn't work. He's started to tone down his act in recent weeks, but it is still annoying as hell. Cole is an average announcer, but he is no Jim Ross. Now I know Vince McMahon loves to embarrass Ross for some reason, but what he doesn't realize is having Ross in the announce booth and Cole as a heel manager is the best of both worlds. It gets the best play-by-play man in wrestling history back in the announce booth. It also gets Michael Cole out, and gives him the ability to get someone over as their manager. Similar to Vickie Guerrero, Cole will garner instant heel heat for whoever he is with. Cole's act may be growing thin, so it's a move the WWE needs to make sooner rather than later.
10. The WWE Should Establish A Solid Mid-Card
I'm talking about the mid-card at the mid-point of this list, pretty funny Huh? Huh?
The WWE does a good job of building up one or two guys every year. But the WWE needs to have a solid all around mid-card. You never know when a rash of injuries can happen. It appears that they are ready to bring up Seth Rollins (Tyler Black) and Dean Ambrosse (Jon Moxley) from FCW. They already have Claudio Castagnoli down there and may have Chris Hero and other Ring of Honor workers in the near future. If the WWE gives them a decent character and gives them time to develop, the mid-card could become relevant again. It's necessary for the WWE as a whole, but it could also help not lose viewers when the top stars aren't on.
11. The WWE Network Should Be A Big Part of Business by the End of the Year
Everyone in the WWE is rushing to get the Network ready by April 1st for Wrestlemania. There's a lot to get done by that time. If they try to rush everything into the debut, it may fail before it can ever get off the ground. If the WWE execs don't think the Network will be ready before April 1, then they should push back the launch date. It will be better for business in the long run. They need to get as many cable providers and deals made as possible.
But if the WWE gets everything in order in time for the Network Launch, then it should be very profitable for the WWE if they don't screw it up. Fans everywhere will buy the Network, especially if it will have 8 or 9 PPVs on it a year. Some of the first run program they have lined up sounds interesting. I like the idea of the Legends House, and there is also an idea to follow the WWE road crew around from arena to arena. That sounds interesting. The WWE shouldn't rush things on the Network. It has huge potential, but if done wrong it could be just another XFL idea that Vince and Co. severely mis-managed.
12. The Push of C.M. Punk Should Continue
I know ratings have been down with C.M. Punk, but the fact of the matter is that he sells a lot of merchandise. Look in the crowd at the next RAW, I think you will notice a lot more C.M. Punk shirts in the crowd than John Cena shirts. As long as Punk keeps selling t-shirts and apparel, he isn't going anywhere. I think a potential feud between Punk and Chris Jericho is the best thing for both men. Punk keeping the WWE Title until Wrestlemania will also help fans who don't like him now make a decision on him. Maybe Punk will grow on them. I also think Punk's continued interaction with John Laurniaitis will also help, because Laurinaitis is such a good heel that fans can't help but be on Punk's side. C.M. Punk isn't going anywhere, and it is the best thing for the WWE in the long run.
13. Chris Jericho Should Primarily Be Used to Put Young Talent Over
Chris Jericho is an all world talent. He knows exactly what he is doing in the ring and with his storylines. I'm looking forward to what happens next after his RAW segment from this past week. I'm still assuming that we will get Jericho/Punk at Wrestlemania, and that will be awesome. But after that, I really think Jericho should start a program with some of the younger talent in the WWE and help get them over with the crowd. A Jericho program with Miz would be fun no matter who ends up being the face or heel. I think Jericho/Sheamus would be fun. And of course a Jericho/Bryan program would be as well. We don't want to see Jericho/Cena, or Jericho/Big Show. Jericho being back gives the WWE a whole new batch of storylines and programs to explore and keep fans interested.
14. Sheamus Should Be the Face of Smackdown By the End of the Year
I for one am shocked at how over Sheamus has gotten since becoming a face. I didn't see it happening. I thought he might be a decent mid-card face, but he could get plugged into the main event on Smackdown right now and he wouldn't look out of place at all. I would never wish injury on someone, but if Orton was out for six months it would have been nice to see Sheamus get moved to the top of the show. But I think either way by the end of the year Sheamus is the guy on Smackdown. He's good in the ring and is arguably the best big man the WWE has right now. Sheamus can cut a decent promo as well. If there is a Draft, Sheamus should not be moved to RAW. Sheamus should get a continued push, and should be the top star of Smackdown and one of the bigger stars in the WWE by the end of 2012.
15. Brodus Clay Should Finally Debut, And Should End Up Flopping
The WWE had hyped up Brodus Clay for weeks a few months ago. Well, it's January and he has still yet to see WWE TV. Now the latest word is that he will debut at the Royal Rumble. But my question is: Will anyone even care at that point? Clay has now become a running joke among some fans with his continued promise debut than never happening. The WWE hasn't even shown video packages for him in the last month and a half. The only time he gets brought up is when John Laurinaitis is saying that Clay will debut next week, then the next week, then the week after that.
In addition to Clay's continued non-debuts, the other thing that fails to be mentioned is that there is already a Brodus Clay type character in the WWE, and his name is Mark Henry. Henry is already what the WWE hopes Clay can be: an unstoppable monster that runs through opponents with ease. You can't have two of those types of characters in the company at the same time. It is over kill. There styles will be very similar and fans won't care for Clay since they already have Henry. I just don't see Brodus Clay working out with the WWE, and I expect his eventual release come summer time.
16. Kane Should Retire By the End of the Year
Kane the man, known as Glen Jacobs, is a smart man. I'm sure he has his pennies saved and is ready for a post-WWE life. The Kane character has pretty much gone as far as it can. You could argue that the Kane character should have been done with years ago. The stuff they come up with Kane nowadays is ridiculous. The WWE has even managed to ruin Kane returning in a mask within the first weeks of him being back. Hopefully, this is the last year Kane is around as a character. I'm sure Glen Jacobs is a great guy, but with so little left for him to do, I think 2012 will be the last year of relevance for the Big Red Monster.
17. Kharma Should Return And Have An Extended Program with Beth Phoenix and Natalya
When Kharma debuted it looked like a sign of good things to come for the Divas division. All of that came to sudden halt when Kharma left the WWE to have a child. Assuming Kharma returns in mid-2012, a program with Beth Phoenix over the Divas title should be the first thing that happens. Kharma and Beth may be able to put on some of the best Divas matches the WWE has seen since the days of Trish Stratus and Lita. I would have no problem with a summer long program between Beth and Kharma, with a little bit of Natalya thrown in there as well.
18. The Tag Team Division Should Pretty Much Remain Unchanged
The WWE was lucky with the pairing of Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne working out for them. But those two can't carry the whole division by themselves. The WWE is trying to establish Primo and Epico as a tag team, but the only reason they interest me is because of Rosa Mendes. Yummmmm. They gave The Usos some attention for one week, but we haven't heard anything from them since.I don't see the tag division getting any better. Vince McMahon doesn't seem to care for it. I don't mind them taking guys that can't get over as singles wrestlers and making them teams. Why not try pairings like Justin Gabriel and Ted DiBiase, Tyson Kidd and Heath Slater, and Santino and Zack Ryder. Yes, I know Ryder is over right now. But sooner or later his shine will wear off , if it hasn't already. But status quo is likely what will remain for the tag division in 2012.
19. Wade Barrett and Cody Rhodes Should Be WWE or World Champion By Year's End
Yes, it seems like I keep saying a lot of these guys should win Titles by the end of the year. But we know Vince and Co. like to hot shot the Title back and forth, so it is quite conceivable that all of these men could be WWE or World Champion by the end of the year.
First lets look at Wade Barrett. After being reduced to nothing this summer, Barrett has been built back up quite well. His program with Randy Orton has been very entertaining and has helped establish Barrett as a credible threat. As I said earlier, I would love to see Barrett win the Rumble. He could use the rub from it more than Orton could. Barrett is very good on the mic and fans instantly hate him when he begins to talk because of how highly he speaks of himself. Barrett also has a very good skills set in the ring. His power moves look like they make an impact and it makes fans take him seriously. The Barrett Barrage should get to the top by the summer of 2012, if not sooner.
Then there is Cody Rhodes. Rhodes, as I say every time I talk about him, took a character that I thought was a joke and turned it into a serious threat. Rhodes is outstanding on the mic and his in ring work has improved every year since he has been with the WWE. Rhodes's program with Booker T is really helping him get over, and I think his eventual program with his brother Goldust will continue to do that, and bring credibility back to the Intercontinental Championship. Rhodes is a prime candidate to win a Money in the Bank briefcase at the PPV in July. I think Barrett's time will come first, and Rhodes looks prime for a World Title run come fall of 2012.
20. Brock Lesnar Should Return and Work Matches at SummerSlam, Survivor Series and Wrestlemania 29
It has been the talk of the wrestling world since Brock Lesnar lost his UFC fight last weekend and announced his retirement from UFC. There were rumblings of a Brock Lesnar return last year when he had a "confrontation" with Undertaker at a UFC fight. Lesnar would never come back and work a full WWE schedule. He doesn't need the money I'm sure and he didn't like that lifestyle before and there is no way he would probably like it now.
But there is no denying that Lesnar is a huge money draw. Not only that, but he may bring over some UFC fans to WWE programming and get them re-interested in the product. Who Lesnar would fight in his comeback matches would be intriguing to think about. Three choices I would throw out would be The Undertaker, C.M. Punk, and John Cena. Lesnar and Taker already have some history so that is easy to play off of. C.M. Punk can make any program he does work and could easily rip on Lesnar for not being able to handle the WWE lifestyle. Cena is obvious because of the amount of attention that match would draw with Cena being the top star in the Company. Cena/Lesnar almost seems like a Wrestlemania match guaranteed. I also can see Lesnar fighting Randy Orton, Sheamus, and even Wadr Barrett. No matter who Lesnar faces, if handled right, the WWE could profit greatly from his return.
So there you have it, 20 things I think should happen in the WWE this year. Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts and ideas!
Until Next Time,
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka