WWE Super ShowDown: All that went wrong | Opinion
In December 2018, the entire McMahon family, comprising of Chairman Vincent Kennedy McMahon, EVP Talent, Live Events & Creative Triple H, Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon and Shane McMahon appeared live on a Monday Night Raw. The message sent out was a hopeful one - “The days of absentee management are over” and it is time to “empower the superstars”. “And more importantly, we’re gonna give you what you want.” After years of fans complaining that the company is not pushing wrestlers and matches which fans wants to see, it seemed like the break of a new dawn might be approaching.
If anything, Thursday’s pay-per-view in Saudi Arabia, Super ShowDown has ended all hopes that the company or the WWE management were ever anywhere serious about these statements not so long ago. After all, they made the fan-favourite ‘The Fiend’ lose to a 53-year-old Goldberg with a botched ‘Jackhammer’ in just over three minutes.
Do I mean the same Fiend, who just a few months ago, still got up after being put through a ladder, and receiving multiple chair shots, and multiple stomps from Seth Rollins, managed to get up? Yup, the very same.
But why would WWE do it? Here is a fact which cannot be denied - Goldberg provides a boost in ratings. According to Showbuzz Daily, the SmackDown episode last week, which featured a main event segment between The Fiend and Goldberg, averaged 2.49 million viewers during its two-hour broadcast, which was higher than 2.464 million viewers SmackDown last week. The episode also had the No.1 rating for the night in the 18-49-year-old demographic with a 0.7, which is WWE’s primary targeted audience.
Then why are WWE fans so unhappy with it? For one, Goldberg CANNOT wrestle anymore. He is fun to watch in promos and it is good to have him three-minute squash segments (Remember Dolph Ziggler at Survivor Series). But to give him the title so close to WrestleMania not only makes a mockery of the belt, it also puts him in the spotlight at the Show of Shows he is just not fit for. Not many want to see Goldberg in another botched match, especially for the WWE title, and especially at WrestleMania. His highly-criticised fight against The Undertaker last year at Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia, which turned into a risky botchfest, is still hard to get over. His best fight, since his return, was a five-minute marathon against Brock Lesnar which ended with loud boos from the WWE Universe.
Secondly, WWE had a great character going in The Fiend, who had managed to created an aura almost matching that of The Undertaker. He held the title for the past four months, and looked dominant working alongside the likes of Rollins, Daniel Bryan and Finn Balor, who are undoubtedly, more talented in-ring performers than Bray Wyatt. But The Fiend’s character was enough to put him over WWE fans, despite the company making plenty of bad decisions during his matches (red lights and DQ in a Hell in a Cell). But now, losing the title so close to WrestleMania to a once-retired, 53-year-old wrestler in under three minutes with a botched move (Yeah, I know I am repeating myself), completely murders his character, and could signal the end of his push.
Thirdly, WWE has struggled to create superstars since John Cena has gone to Hollywood shores. Wyatt’s new gimmick was fresh and could have attained the cult status the current crop of WWE stars are unable to find. But once again, Vince’s relying on older performers to boost ratings, has perhaps, ended his chance of ever achieving the same superstardom. In short term, it seems like a good strategy to bring back older stars and get higher ratings. But here is the long term question - who will you bring back 20 years later if you don’t create WWE superstars from the current batch? WWE needs to start asking these questions to themselves.
I read a really-well made point online which said that everyone hating on Goldberg, will help Roman Reigns after he beats him for the title at Mania. It will elevate his character and give him a much-needed push to retrieve his superstar status back, which he was on the verge of attaining a couple of years ago before a series of bad bookings and cancer battle derailed his career. If all, that is the only good thing I see coming out of this. But, in hindsight, WWE could have let Wyatt go over Goldberg in a reverse-squash match, elevated him, then built a feud with Reigns, and let them fight it out at WrestleMania. Defeating the unbeatable Fiend would give Reigns’ title win much more credibility than a match against ageing (read already aged) Goldberg would.
End, beginning and middle
Unfortunately, that is not all. The night not only ended with squashing of new talent, it started with the same. The Undertaker returning to pin AJ Styles with one chokeslam to the latter’s character and gives no hype whatsoever to their potential WrestleMania feud. It actually shows that Styles is a weak opponent for the Phenom. Moreover, Brock Lesnar squashing Ricochet further damaged his credibility as a potential WWE star and now it seems he may never attain the same attraction he did during his Indie days.