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Posted in: Requesting Flyby
REQUESTING FLYBY: There Is EVERY Reason To Be Optimistic About WWE In 2016
By Maverick
Jan 5, 2016 - 5:16:45 PM

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There Is EVERY Reason To Be Optimistic About WWE In 2016

Excited Preamble

As we begin the new wrestling year, I am filled with an overwhelming feeling of optimism and excitement about the direction WWE is heading in. For a certainty, things are not perfect- when are they ever- but crucially, the Creative Team seem to have gone all in on the idea of making this year’s Road To Wrestlemania interesting, unpredictable and bumpy, and that should ensure exciting television and pay-per-view through April, and once we’re past ‘Mania season, who knows?

What I want everybody reading this column to do is to commit to giving WWE a chance without knee jerking and descending on Titan Towers with metaphorical pitchforks. We watch professional wrestling because we enjoy it, but too often, I feel that people make themselves miserable by poking so many holes in the product, it’s impossible to enjoy. As an internet columnist, I try hard to give most things a positive spin. Of course, I don’t always enjoy the product, but even then, I try to make my criticisms fair and reasonable. You will never hear me rant and rave about being “done” with the WWE. That kind of childish toy throwing is unseemly and ill befitting of somebody with the honour of writing for a major wrestling site. Thankfully, I don’t think I’ll need to be doing much criticising this year anyway, as WWE have set themselves up brilliantly for a memorable year.

Royal Rumble Booking Genius

The revelation at the end of Raw this week that Roman Reigns would have to defend his hard won WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the Royal Rumble match itself is one of the best pieces of advance Rumble booking in years, reminiscent of Chris Benoit being forced to enter at number one by Paul Heyman in 2004 or of the Undertaker/Hogan/Flair scenario leading to the title being vacated and contested at the Royal Rumble match of 1992. With babyface champions, it is always best to keep them on the backfoot, having them screwed again and again, because it makes them that much more sympathetic. Think how much more over Roman Reigns is as a result of the year he had in 2015, constantly being denied at the last. Him being screwed out of the title by having to defend it against 29 other men is a brilliant touch. If it ends up being Triple H who ensures he goes over the top rope, there’s your ‘Mania match. That’s before we even consider how unpredictable the winner will be, or even the entrant list. Will Brock Lesnar be announcing his candidacy on Raw next week? Will midcard champs Dean Ambrose and Alberto Del Rio be looking to upgrade? What about John Cena? How will rising stars The New Day continue to push the envelope of entertainment? Will stars from NJPW be appearing as has been rumoured? If you’re not excited for the Rumble, I genuinely pity you.

The Biggest Wrestlemania Yet?

Taking Wrestlemania to the enormous Cowboys Stadium seems to have provoked Vince and Co to pull out all the stops to ensure a blockbuster night of entertainment. The Rock announced last week that he will be appearing, most likely in an in ring capacity. With the return of Chris Jericho on Monday, and his entry in the Rumble, we have to assume that he will be there too. Lesnar is a given. The Undertaker is on home turf. Triple H vs Reigns seems like a given at this point. Will Daniel Bryan be back in time for Dallas? And that’s before we even consider the likes of Wyatt, Ambrose, Owens, Rusev, Del Rio, Neville, New Day, The Usos, Sheamus, Breeze and so on. A stacked full time roster meets a stacked part time roster? It could be a magical combination. My fellow columnist ‘Plan noted of Wrestlemania XXXI that it seemed to balance the part and full timers much more subtly than previous late era editions of the Showcase of Immortals. Let us hope that Wrestlemania XXXII continues that trend. I don’t see why it shouldn’t. Get excited now, people!

Tag Team and Faction Renaissance

The New Day were undoubtedly the brightest rising stars in the company in 2015, taking a gimmick that should’ve been stillborn and breathing life into it, becoming the most wildly entertaining trio since Team ECK in 2000. The good news is, they show no sign of letting up! On Monday, their interaction with Chris Jericho was a promising indication that one of the best mic men of the past will be regularly locking horns with three of the best mic men of the present. Sign me the hell up for that. Meanwhile, The Wyatt Family have launched themselves in a new direction as the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse, taking out everybody in sight, whether face or heel. I believe that this is exactly the kind of wildcard behaviour Bray and company should be indulging in. Last year, Wyatt was the star of the Rumble, poor match though it was, and now he has his troops to back him up again...watch out. With The Usos as reliable as ever, Ambrose and Reigns remaining a loose alliance of brothers, the new “Job Squad” of Axel, Dallas, Rose and Slater injecting some more lightheartedness and The Lucha Dragons taking the “flippy guys” role, and The Dudleys as over as ever, tag wrestling is in great health right now. Which is what we all want, right?


WWE Developmental is poised to once again be a hugely polished and satisfying product, mostly due to the talents that have been signed, but also due to the prominence given to the aforementioned tag team wrestling. The Mechanics, Gable & Jordan and The Realest Guys In The Room are three terrific teams that I enjoy watching immensely. The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic was undoubtedly one of my favourite things about last year. The booking of the main event scene is very solid, with Finn Balor, the current champ, working the good old fashioned “defend the belt anytime, anywhere” babyface gimmick to good effect. With Hideo Itami due back at some point soon, and other rumoured indy and Japanese names on the horizon, there’ll be many more interesting match ups to see on the WWE Network on Thursdays and on NXT: Takeover specials. I’m not one of these people that goes on about NXT as if it’s the second coming of Christ, but it’s certainly a very well put together pro wrestling show which is a positive for WWE moving forward, particularly as regards its core purpose: to create the next generation of main roster superstars. To that end, I expect to see promotions for Sami Zayn, Finn Balor and Bayley come the post-Wrestlemania landscape, and possibly The Realest Guys also.

In Conclusion

2015 was an impressive year in terms of match quality- see the playlist that myself and ‘Plan put together on New Year’s Day for evidence of that- but it was not always as successful when it came to storyline progression and consistency. The start to 2016 makes me hugely optimistic that the company will put that flaw right this year, starting with a Royal Rumble which looks as if it’s going to be absolute dynamite at the time of writing, in strong contrast to last year’s weak effort. If someone were generous enough to allow me a wish for this year, it would be for wrestling fans to magically stop obsessing about who is being pushed and who isn't. Listen, not everyone can be pushed at the same time. A wrestler being pushed does not improve the product just because they're your favourite, and a wrestle being pushed does not ruin the product because you don’t happen to like them. The story matters more than who's in it. Just relax and enjoy WWE doing their thing, because when they get it right, no one else comes close to being as good.

This is Maverick, requesting flyby!


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The Undertaker Is For Life, Not Just For Wrestlemania will resume next week with Part 14, examining the 2002 feud with Brock Lesnar