Looking at this weekend’s WWE house show results, something really jumped out – you ought to be a fan of the WWE Superstars program if you attend a live event. When you watch TV lately, you see shows focused on Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, The Dudleys, and Sting. When you attend a WWE house show this weekend, you were treated to matches featuring Curtis Axel, Damien Sandow, The Ascension, Brad Maddox, Jimmy Uso, Bo Dallas, and Natalya on one swing, and Fandango, Adam Rose, and Jack Swagger on the other.
Last night in Fairfax, Va., around 3,000 people attended the event featuring John Cena vs. Kevin Owens as the main event, supported by a Sheamus vs. Jack Swagger match right before the main event. The attendance wasn’t good, but if you’re primarily a Raw viewer, unless you got your money’s worth out of Cena-Owens, a Divas tag, Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev, and a New Day tag match, you would have felt like you were watching WWE’s D league – the wrestlers not worthy of filling segments on Raw each week, and in many cases, not even Smackdown.
I get that WWE is selling fans on the “live experience” of seeing the very top stars in person, but the list of “very top stars” is shallow – heck, Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt headlined last night in Salisbury, Md. Once you get past the “top stars,” the dropoff in Salisbury was steep. The second biggest match on the show was the opener for the IC Title – Big Show challenging Ryback. After that, it’s difficult to decide the third biggest match, but probably Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper or Neville vs. Cody Rhodes.
Those are just not deep line-ups. WWE is so set on not putting wrestlers on Raw who don’t “hold the audience,” they’ve overexposed part time wrestlers and non-wrestlers on Raw who have a have bigger name value, yet they’ve lost sight of the power of their TV to show create stars. Their defeatist attitude toward, say, Cesaro and even Owens lately that they’re mid-carders unworthy of being touted as big stars by the announcers and built up as something special on Raw is undercutting the depth of the roster and leaving their house show line-ups bare bones.
How many fans who paid premium prices for house show tickets this weekend really felt satisfied watching Natalya vs. Alicia Fox or Sheamus vs. Jack Swagger as the semi-final matches of the night? How many of them who felt a little empty watching Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt as the featured main event will be back next time tickets go on sale?
The house show line-ups this weekend should wake WWE up to the fact that they need to work harder at utilizing three hours a week to build a deeper roster, and also start featuring actual wrestlers who wrestle in meaningful segments on Raw rather than filling the show with non-wrestlers or part-time wrestlers, or overexposing the few top stars they believe in. They need to go back to the star-making business, and instead of focusing on what Owens, Cesaro, the Divas, Luke Harper, and heck even Jack Swagger “don’t have” that they wish all their top stars have, find out what brought them to the main roster in the first place and start shining a light on their strengths and hiding their weaknesses.
Who do you think WWE is most underutilizing that should be featured better on Raw each week? Comment below.