Let’s face it: unless you’re Indian (or pseudo-Indian), 2017 has been a rubbish year to be a part of the WWE Universe. Booing Roman Reigns whether he’s being marketed as the face of the Shield, or booing Roman Reigns when he’s marketed as the biggest canine in the kennels, is tiring. With the exception of AJ’s championship win, the continued emergence of the women’s division and Braaaauuuuuuuuun, the dismal downward spiral of the product towards essentially race-based title management and the limp reliance on past personalities has led some fans to turn on the brand entirely.
Once-bright stars in the sky like Bray Wyatt and Finn Balor have lost momentum, and the tag divisions of both Raw and Smackdown have predominantly languished in pay-per-view pre-shows, disrespected by the company if not by the fans. The situation begs: what can the company do to return to the ravenous heights that it arguably last achieved during the Summer of Punk? The company has at times proven that it can still be topical and reactionary: The Miz’s promo sounding off against both John Cena and Reigns – undoubtedly the best in-ring segment of the entire year – set fires within fan hearts briefly aflame again. However, any buzz is usually drowned in a dose of Khalass-al failure before such storylines can gain significant ground. Here are a few storylines which won’t happen, but should.
The Miz Loses It
They said the era of faces and heels was over. They were wrong. Picture this: The Miz, apoplectically cross about losing his Intercontinental Championship to a man who he called surplus to requirements when still champion, decides that for the Miztourage, the only way is up. While Axel and Dallas needn’t play the same role of matchstick mercenaries that was carved out so poorly for The Singh Brothers, the trio can set their sights instead on the Universal Championship with Axel and Dallas playing the same roles they’ve played rather well over the past year.
After winning via hijinks in some kind of disqualification Championship Match – one can’t help but imagine the fans’ ire when the team of Miz, Axel and Dallas triple powerbomb Braun Strowman, and Brock Lesnar, Shield-style through some announce tables – the Miz would finally feel as if he was getting the “moments” denied to him through much of his mid-card life. My reasoning for this decision is twofold: first, this drags the Miz into the headline spot. There is no better talent on the microphone right now, and an exhibition of these oratory talents on the grandest stages is well overdue. Secondly, the Miz, a perfect heel, could be torn from grace by the ultimate face, namely…
Daniel Bryan Returns
Probably cleared to wrestle some months ago, Daniel Bryan’s hype train has been heading towards lightspeed ever since the infamous promo on Talking Smack! in which the Miz told Bryan to go back to the bingo halls. It is almost certain that he will return in 2018, and with the company’s ever-expanding reliance on overactive general managers (I see you, Shane and Kurt), it seems only natural to bring Daniel Bryan back to undoubtedly the biggest pop of the year.
Imagine that the Miz is well into his title run: fans have been forced to endure the Miz rant week on week, month on month about his destruction of the giants. Dallas and Axel stand smugly to his side. After a major pay-per-view (Summerslam perhaps, even Wrestlemania) victory against a plucky face, perhaps Jason Jordan if he can build up some momentum, Finn Balor maybe, The Miztourage proceed to kick the living shit out of him. The Miz carries on ranting about how this never-ending Universal Championship tour will cement him as a great above and beyond Cena and Flair. Everything goes dark. The first notes of Ride of the Valkyries play. Everyone loses their bananas. The feud writes itself and concludes at Wrestlemania. Feelgood proposal a la John and Nikki. Print money. Yes. Yes. Yes.
The New Day Implodes
As much as this is unlikely to happen, due to the rather obvious fact that merch is still flying out the door on behalf of Big E, Kofi and Xavier, the implosion of the longest reigning Tag Team champs would undoubtedly be seismic in the WWE universe. The question is thus: which one of them would break the team? Given ‘past transgressions’, and the continual emergence of his UpUpDownDown channel, Xavier Woods is out of the picture. Kofi Kingston will ad infinitum be a face, and his potential as a singles face should not be underestimated. Which leaves Big E.
E has already proven his credentials in NXT and his size allows him, in the Vince McMahon world of monsters and men, to compete right at the top of the Smackdown roster. There are many potential storylines here, but the gist of my approach would be surprise first. Not unlike the Seth Rollins ‘random chair to the back’ liberation during the first incarnation of the Shield, Big E could really develop his character into a vengeful heel, sick of being forced to tout happiness and cereal for exposure. Big E is a serious powerlifter; would you ask Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman or Kane to sell Booty-Os? Feeeeeeel the powaaaaaah. This cataclysmic change in the division landscape would also lead to a spot for new tag teams and stables, one of which being…
We saw a brief glimpse of Killian Dain (you might remember him from the short-lived WCPW as Big Damo) during the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal won by Rob Gronkowski. In hindsight, no one can possibly argue that Mojo Rawley benefited from that at all, as his main job nowadays largely consists turning heel and putting over what was left of the Wyatt stable. Regardless, if all goes to plan and The New Day collapses as described, only one decent team is left on the Smackdown roster: The Usos.
With the Ascension and Breezango limited to comedy skits, The Colons gimmickless, Benjamin and Gable going through the motions and all else on the side, the stage is set to allow Sanity a dominant introduction and title run. The Wyatt Family breaking up would have been a failure if Braun Strowman hadn’t emerged, so keeping Sanity and Paul Ellering together for the foreseeable future on the main roster can only lead to an enlivened Tag Team division on SmackDown.
The British Invasion?
There has been talk for years of a Wrestlemania being held in Britain. Personally, the premise of a Wrestlemania being held on the moon is more realistic. Nevertheless, the United Kingdom Championship showcased the best of British talent and the genuine thirst that British fans clearly still have for the product. After Tyler Bate was crowned the inaugural champion, the hype that climaxed at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool has rather gone off the boil.
With the exception of Bate’s embarrassment of Enzo Amore – and let’s face it, who hasn’t had a crack at the Certified G in recent months – nothing much has followed in terms of UK based product. Invasions provide a unique and often shocking introduction to a team or a division. Remember the Nexus before they were buried by Cena and Justin Roberts’ necktie? Picture Bate, Dunne, H.C Dyer, Wolfgang and company absolutely blitzing through a main event; surely a storyline driven by chaos is always better than simply lumping the UK Championship contenders in with the Cruiserweights and hope for the best?
We can hope that Triple H thinks the same. See you next year.
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