The WWE has changed drastically in the last five years. But declining television ratings could lead to changes in 2017 that could undo the recent evolution.
For several years, fans have wished for certain superstars to one day make their WWE debuts. Even five years ago, people like AJ Styles and Samoa Joe never fit the supposed mold that WWE was looking to fill. They were also older than most superstars they recruit and likely nearing the end of their careers.
In the last five years, we’ve seen a change in the WWE. It goes back to something that Triple H said in a promo debuting the Evolution faction in 2003. “You see, in this industry – just like in life – everything evolves.”
That evolution started down in Florida where the Leader in Sports Entertainment decided to rebrand the development territory as NXT. This came with a brand new Performance Center and regular shows on the WWE Network. Both are better preparing young superstars for the main roster. The real evolution isn’t in how the next generation of superstars is prepared.
The real evolution of the WWE is in what type of wrestlers they are looking for. The types who were once considered too old or too “independent” are now holding championships. Did anyone expect five years ago that Kevin Owens would be the Universal Champion on Raw? How about AJ Styles holding the top title on SmackDown?
The WWE has changed with a new vision that started in NXT with Triple H. But with 2017 right around the corner, more changes could be up ahead for Vince McMahon’s company. And depending on how things go, Triple H’s vision could continue to thrive. Or it could end up fading away as a footnote in WWE history.
It all depends on how the company improves or declines in the next year. The television ratings haven’t really supported the case for champions like Styles and Owens to be big draws. Television ratings have declined for the better part of the last decade. Fans are still frustrated with the WWE in a lot of ways.
But the resurrection of the Cruiserweight Division certainly helps things. The true wrestling fans are enjoying the matches with exciting superstars like Brian Kendrick, Rich Swann and Jack Gallagher.
Storylines have still fallen short of the expectations from the fans. Fans still want better writing from the creative direction. The WWE has been guilty of maybe going to certain things a little too much recently. Heels get over with interference or cheating. That’s usually the way heels would win, but it becomes predictable when it happens the same way every night.
Same thing with constant title changes (i.e. Raw Women’s Championship). Consistency might be the biggest concern with the WWE moving forward. They haven’t been doing their roster any favors by making the content hard to watch for fans. Low ratings usually means that the wrestlers getting screen time aren’t over.
If the ratings continue to drop, don’t be surprised to see the WWE eventually convert back to their mentality of putting over the wrestler that fit the old-WWE mold. Wrestlers like Styles and Owens would fall down the card before they eventually left and we would go back to the way things were.
What happens in 2017 is going to be very interesting. There’s hope that the WWE continues to evolve to a point where NXT continues to be a strong feeder program. The talents that come into the company are a diverse collection of strength, agility, and technical skill. Additionally, one can hope that the cookie cutter mold is thrown away in the WWE Warehouse with other odds and ends from the past.