Since getting back into wrestling about a decade ago — I had stopped watching early into the “New Generation” era of WWF — I find myself regular going back and forth as to whether or not it is great these days. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and it is easy to look back and remember the better storylines and character in WWE’s past. Then again, there are a lot of things that WWE did in the past that it could benefit from bringing back:
1) Inter-Promotion Pay-Per-Views
In 2005, WWE produced its first ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view. The card of One Night Stand featured a mix of WWE and ECW talent. A decade and a half earlier, WCW had one of these with New Japan. In recent years, New Japan has done this with Ring Of Honor. While it may be difficult to integrate talent from other promotions in with WWE, it would not be difficult to mix in NXT talent with other leagues, or to put the WWE Cruiserweights together with top talent from Evolve or PWG. A move like that would give WWE some indie-cool.
2) Talent Exchanges
Up until some point in the 1990s, WWE — then WWF — was fine with loaning out its talent to indie shows. Even top talent like The Rock, Mick Foley and Bret Hart were seen on indie shows at various points. The current WWE roster has a lot of contracted talent that it does not have a proper use for. For example, The Shining Stars are far removed from a meaningful feud or a title chase. The same can be said about Curtis Axel, Fandango, Tyler Breeze and Jack Swagger. If these wrestlers are healthy and want to work, why not loan them out — at a proper price — to indie shows? It would give underutilized talent the chance to work, while doing some grassroots marketing at the same time.
3) Hardcore Title
About two months ago, the History of the WWE Hardcore Championship: 24/7 DVD produced by WWE came out to little fanfare. Very much a shame when considering that the DVD included new commentary from Raven and Rob Van Dam, who are not currently on the roster. Given how many “street fights” have been done on live TV in recent years, and how many “extreme” pay-per-view matches WWE regularly puts on (e.g. Hell In A Cell, Elimination Chamber, TLC), there is room for “hardcore wrestling” — depending on the definition, of course — within the company’s current PG product. The Hardcore Title may not resonate as well with wrestling purists, but there are plenty of brawlers on the current WWE roster.
4) Cyber Sunday
Cyber Sunday is a pay-per-view that ran annually from 2004 to 2008. Its trademark was that it was an “interactive” pay-per-view where fans voted for all of the match stipulations. Whether or not that voting was entirely legit, if you have a strong roster full of improv-savvy wrestlers, then there is no reason that match stipulations have to be pre-planned. Running an event in 2016 or 2017 like this would truly show the WWE whether or not it is in touch with its fanbase.
5) Characters Singing Their Own Theme Songs
From memory, the only characters on the WWE roster singing their own theme songs are John Cena and R-Truth; it is possible that the Nikki Bella did, per an episode of Total Divas. In the 1980s and 1990s, there was plenty of talent that sang their own songs, even if they lacked vocal talent. Shawn Michaels’ theme remains iconic. Slick’s take on “Jive Soul Bro” holds up somewhat. Hillbilly Jim’s “Don’t Go Messin With A Country Boy” did its job. Honky Tonk Man’s self-titled theme song established who and what he was supposed to be. These days, auto-tune exists, making it even easier for non-singers to sound like singers to the average listener’s ear.