The biggest party of the summer, Summerslam 2021 took place this weekend, the second largest show in WWE’s calendar and the first Summerslam to have an audience since 2019. Summerslam 2021 saw many storylines come to a head including Roman Reigns Vs John Cena, Edge Vs Seth Rollins, and Bobby Lashley Vs Goldberg. On paper, Summerslam 2021 had all of the makings to be the hottest PPV of the year, but WWE dropped the ball and the event has made it clear that WWE needs a serious shakeup in creative.
When you’ve got Superstars such as Roman Reigns, John Cena, Randy Orton, Edge, Seth Rollins, and Alexa Bliss on your card, as well as the many other Superstars that were in matches, as well as the return of two of your hottest stars in Becky Lynch and Brock Lesnar, you have everything you need to create a memorable event. So why did WWE drop the ball so much? It is extremely likely that some of the booking decisions were a knee-jerk reaction to the return of CM Punk as he debuted in AEW the day before Summerslam. Vince McMahon and many people in WWE will never acknowledge that they are worried about AEW. Whether they are or not is irrelevant, they would be foolish to ignore the new promotion.
But all of the questionable booking decisions can’t be attributed to the return of CM Punk and instead points to a much deeper rooted problem in WWE. Vince McMahon has acknowledged multiple times that something needs to be changed in WWE, but whatever those changes are they never come to fruition. In the past we have seen the McMahons come to the ring and state that they are listening to the fans and things are going to improve, they ultimately didn’t. 2019 saw Eric Bischoff return to the company, as well as Paul Heyman being promoted alongside him to heads of creative. Within a year both men were no longer in the positions, with them instead of being consolidated with Bruce Prichard being given the sole responsibility of both brands. Between the two shows that are five hours of TV that need to be written and produced each week. WWE also has NXT but that is handled by another team. While this isn’t a knock on Prichard as he is one of the best people in the company right now, it is an extreme amount of work for him each week, so I couldn’t blame him if corners are cut at times to make deadlines.
When it comes to the creative team, the people in charge of writing five hours of wrestling each week, many of them have no prior experience in the wrestling industry, which I would assume makes it difficult to write a wrestling show. I have no experience writing movie scripts, so I’m not expecting Disney to ask me to write the next Star Wars movie, although I’m sure I could do a better job than Rise Of Skywalker.
In June 2021 a writer named Kenice Mobley was hired and then swiftly fired by WWE after she spoke on a podcast about how she had no wrestling knowledge, even getting Bobby Lashley’s name wrong during the interview. It is clear to see that she was only fired due to the negative backlash as she was hired with WWE knowing that she had no knowledge of wrestling, so how did they expect her to write a wrestling show? It is evident she wasn’t an isolated case and this is something that is common among writers throughout the company. So next time we see something happen in WWE that makes no sense, we have to remember that it isn’t necessarily the writer’s fault because they don’t know the subject they’re writing about. It doesn’t make any logical sense how WWE, a multi-billion dollar corporation can expect to make a high-quality wrestling product by hiring people with no interest in the product.
Circling back to Summerslam 2021, it is hard to tell whether the show was written by people with little knowledge of wrestling, or whether the company has become too much of a shambles backstage that the quality expectation is incredibly low. WWE still has the ability to get things right, such as the Edge Vs Seth Rollins match which was fantastic to watch, topped off by Edge using his Brood entrance from 1999 which was a great throwback. But the event was plagued by plenty of dire moments, such as Eva Marie being in the ring, she just isn’t good. Bobby Lashley attacking a 15-year-old minor, as well as the burial of Bianca Belair at the hands of the returning Becky Lynch, with The Man defeating Belair in 27 seconds following a strong seven-month build-up of Belair. This move completely derailed any momentum that Belair has and is the true definition of a burial. WWE also once again put a title on Charlotte Flair to the surprise of no one.
WWE has often been criticized for not being able to make new stars, and time and time again the critics get proved right. Superstars such as Bianca Belair have star power and the ability to connect with fans. But the company can just never seem to push them on a long-term basis. Other Superstars such as Kofi Kingston have been put in similar positions, with Kingston making history by becoming the first black WWE Champion, to then still be treated as a mid-card wrestler and eventually squashed by Lesnar in a matter of seconds. Kingston has then just gone back to the mid-card without any potential for being the main event talent again, through no fault of his own.
This has led to WWE relying too much on older stars and part-time legends such as Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, and most recently John Cena. Whenever the company needs to boost ratings you can count on one of these Superstars, or someone similar such as The Rock, making an appearance. The problem is, one day these Superstars won’t be available, as we’ve seen with The Undertaker finally hanging up his boots, and then this will create huge problems in the company. WWE has had success building stars such as The Fiend and Braun Strowman, as well as some Superstars such as Daniel Bryan, and Alastair Black connecting with fans. But, WWE released all of the above-mentioned Superstars this year, along with many others, with WWE doing all of the work to build up the name value, to then hand them over to rival promotions such as AEW. This means that the company has very few stars to call upon which means they once again have to rely on legends.
Giving credit where credit is due, there are still some fantastic competitors on the roster, such as Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, but for every Superstar like them, there’s also a legend propping up the WWE. If things don’t change soon in the company, especially with the likes of other promotions gaining a large amount of traction, the WWE could become in trouble over the next few years.