At the moment–Sunday November 17, 2013 at 8pm– Survivor Series 2013, has all of three matches although it’s set to occur in a mere 7 days. Surely at least 3 more matches will be added or the Punk/Bryan match will be expanded to take up more time and highlight more grapplers, but it’s a glaringly bad sign to have only 3 matches on the card with the 4th biggest pay-per-view of the year only a week away. One of our writers recently published a slideshow putting together a different version of Survivor Series, and some commenters felt that the organization of the organization of the card exposed how thin WWE’s roster is.
To be honest, the WWE roster isn’t actually that thin. The bigger issue is how the talents are being used or misused. Can we call a roster that has Wade Barrett, Jack Swagger, Antonio Cesaro, Fandango, Tyson Kidd, Seth Rollins, and Cody Rhodes thin? (Especially when you consider that none of those men are in the main event) This roster also has quite a few bonafide stars waiting to return from injury and waiting to be called up from the developmental system. The problem with the WWE isn’t a thin roster, it’s how shows are being arranged. This may not be a creative problem; this may be a CEO problem seeing that he greenlights all decisions. Let’s look at some of the flagrant ways that mismanaged shows make the roster look weak, despite having an impressive array of athletes.
Keeping fully healthy talent off main shows. There are quite a few superstars who for one reason or another have been dormant in terms of having appearances on Raw or Smackdown. Wade Barrett has become wrestling’s version of Waldo. Zack Ryder barely gets screen time. Tyson Kidd was barely on the two main shows until he became wrapped up in Total Divas. For some reason, Mark Henry and Rey Mysterio still haven’t returned. I could go on about the talents who don’t get to see the light of a ring/segment on Raw or Smackdown, who would add value to the show. No one is saying that these talents need to become World Champions or even have a title, and for that matter, no one is arguing that each talent has high-caliber skills. But if you’re paying them, why not use them? Having them on the shows would add depth to the roster and not make them seem like forgotten memories.
Promoting merchandise with extended TV time. This has been a recent phenomenon with the WWE taking a face character and then having them appeal for your help to be the “best seller in the WWE”—the hilarity in seeing Ziggler say this (and give words to a prevailing thought about his work) when he was promoting merchandise was not lost on viewers. It’s painfully clear that the WWE is now a commercial enterprise more than ever before, but the on-screen merchandise promos are over-the-top and a waste of TV time. Wrestlers could use that time to spark interest in fans, build their characters with segments, or hone their crafts with matches.
Excessive video packages. These aren’t as egregious as some of the issues above, as video packages can really make a match or storyline more exciting when done well. However, when the same video package for the same match is shown on WWE programming over 10 times in the course of a week, (a few times of Raw, 1 time on Main Event, 1 time on Superstars, 2 times on Smackdown, and then a few times on the PPV) then we’ve crossed the line from appropriate to redundant. With the cumulative amount of time spent re-showing the same video package, several singles or tag matches could be put together to show off members of the roster that fans aren’t particularly exposed to on a regular basis. So instead of a total of 48 minutes of video packages for a Lesnar/Triple H match at the PPV, we cut it down to 10 and instead use the extra 38 to put on a fatal 4-way for the right to be #1 Contender for the IC title, a few tag matches, or something that can edify the program and showcase the wrestlers. I doubt that viewers tune in to a 3 hr Raw to see clips from the opening segment 3 or 4 different times in the span of a night. Isn’t there an app affiliated with the company that would be a better conduit to push along an angle by replaying the same clip ad nauseum?…There isn’t? Oh.
With that in mind, the WWE roster isn’t particularly weak; it’s that the focus of the shows has seemingly gone from exhibiting the talent to other misguided aims. Considering the talent waiting to return or be called up, some could argue that the WWE roster is quite strong at the moment. Let’s hope that the WWE remembers their roots and returns to a time when showcasing the roster was most important. After all, the wrestlers are the backbone of anything that the WWE does.