Raw has over 1200 episodes, SmackDown over 900 episodes, Superstars over 380 episodes, NXT over 340 episodes, Main Event over 200 episode. And that's just the current programming. They have a ton of former programming as well.
The WWE Network sums this up perfectly. To put it simply, as of the Network's launch, all of the WWE pay per views to the end of 2013 and the entire WCW and ECW PPV libraries were available to view, with the last two years (and a few classics) of Raw and SmackDown episodes on top of that. Three months after launching, several years worth of classic Raw episodes have been added, the latest shows are added a month after airing, the latest pay per views air live on the Network and are immediately archived, they're gradually adding out of print DVD documentaries, releases, and Network-exclusive original content has begun airing. Thankfully, each show is bookmarked in case you want to watch a specific match or segment again, so you can search by the name of the wrestler involved.note Except for Chris Benoit—while his matches and segments remain on the shows, none of them are bookmarked and the search engine brings up no results for his name.
Badass Decay: A persistent trend in WWE is that, when a wrestler gets over, said wrestler is given a heel turn/face turn which makes no sense and/or gets stripped of everything that made them get over in the first place. Some notable examples are:
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin was a pretty vicious badass during the early stages of his 2001 heel turn and when he feuded with Angle. The REAL cause of his badass decay was his slow turn into a self-deprecating comedy character that said "WHAT?!" at the end of each sentence (WHAT?). It eventually ruined other wrestler's promo time (WHAT?), it still haunts a wrestler's attempt at selling a match or a feud to the audience (WHAT?). It's even been heard in TNA. (WHAT?). Alternatively, the WHAT chant can be a sign as a heel that you're drawing good heat (WHAT?), and can even be good for humor (WHAT?), as when Chris Jericho insulted the fans when he called them "gelatinous tapeworms." (WHAT?)
Shelton Benjamin was a rapid case that people didn't get over for decades. He came to Raw, beat perennial World Heavyweight Champion Triple H clean, went on a winning streak that saw him beat Triple H twice more and then got a random Intercontinental title shot against Randy Orton and lost. That was the start. Then he got injured and returned as basically an enhancement talent who occasionally got a mid card push.
Eugene Dinsmore was getting bigger pops that the main events using simple moves like airplane spins, sledges and ax handles. He made short work of former OVW rival Rob Conway and dominated World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit. Then he came out on the losing end of a feud with Triple H where Trips separated his shoulder. From there he slowly transitioned into the role of a jobber.
The monster Kane became the weaker half of a tag team with Rob Van Dam and lost his mask to Triple H. This was briefly rectified by him unmasking and repeatedly dominating Van Dam but then quickly made even worse when his next feud treated him as an equal to Shane McMahon and then a promising program with Goldberg was again derailed by Triple H.
Right before the 2004 diva search WWE was promoting Victoria as the best woman wrestler on the planet. After the 2004 diva search she was being repeatedly pinned by people with virtually no wrestling training who weren't ready for matches in gyms with an audience of 40, much less a national TV taping.
Hornswoggle underwent both Took a Level in BadassandBadass Decay: When first introduced in 2006, he was stereotyped as a cowardly, demented sort of Mini-Me for then-heel Finlay. He eventually turned face when he entered the Cruiserweight Championship Open in the summer of 2007 and won the championship belt from Chavo Guerrero Jr., after which he enjoyed a brief surge of notoriety when it was incorrectly believed that he was Vince McMahon's bastard son. By 2008, however, the Cruiserweight Championship had been Hand Waved out of existence and Hornswoggle was reduced to an Ugly Cute mischief-maker.
Wrestlers from NXT who get called to the main roster get hit with this HARD. Big E Langston,note Upper card champion on NXT, forgettable jobber on the main roster Bray Wyatt,note Had a good run during early 2014, has now become glorified Enhancement Talent Seth Rollins,note Despite being World Champion, he has devolved into an incompetent coward who is INCAPABLE of winning without interference unless the writers suddenly decide he CAN for the next half hour Bo Dallas,note Same as Big E Paige,note Once a buzzworthy placeholder for AJ Lee was no longer needed as champion, she was turned into another generic Total Diva / AJ clone as well as worfed into the divas' Jericho in about a year and a half Emma,note Paired with Santino until he retired, was subsequently treated as a complete loser to the point she had to return to NXT as well as completely ditch the bubbly dancer gimmick to get something going for herself Adam Rose,note Went from tough competitor Leo Kruger with a frilly persona to getting humped in the ring by a bunny mascot, more likely to be derisively called Adam Estrogen than to be taken seriously Xavier Woods,note Popular babyface on NXT who was put into the jobber role almost immediately after his main roster debut Tyler Breeze,note A popular heel who has rarely ever won any matches on the main roster The Ascension,note From cool Underworld-esque dark scavengers to wannabe Illuminati The Road Warriors with weaknesses exposed and no momentum to speak ofAdrian Neville.note Stuck in limbo, beating jobbers but never winning a single match of importance Out of all the previously mentioned, only Big E and Woods managed to re-increase their badassery again thanks to The New Day. Even Kevin Owens to a lesser extent.note Lost the NXT Championship during his main roster feud with John Cena, but later won the Intercontinental Championship twice and has remained in the Intercontinental Championship scene ever since, while also participating in matches for the #1 contendership of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship It's no wonder people are now begging the NXT stars to stay as far away from the main roster as possible.
"Let's go Cena!" "CENA SUCKS!" Acknowledged in-universe too. There are a lot of divisive figures in WWE history, but Cena stands out. This is particularly because dislike of him has nothing to do with him personally - by all accounts, he's a lovely guy and doesn't engage in the backstage politics that taint the reputation of other wrestlers - but some people still think he's the worst thing ever to happen to wrestling, while others love him or at least think he deserves his spot as number one guy in the company. There's also the belief of many that anyone he's ever feuded with who wasn't Randy Orton has been shoved down the card and the priority list because of him - either because he wanted it or it was just the end result of the feud, as if that feud would be the biggest highlight of the wrestler's career.
Randy Orton also qualifies. There are those who like him for his ruthless aggression and latent wrestling skills, not to mention the ever-powerful RKO, while others hate him because they claim he's absurdly overrated.
The women, due to WWE's policy of valuing looks over talent note This also applies to the men to some degree since it is well-known that Vince favors 6'5" bodybuilders over smaller guys either break the base or are scrappies. You could probably count the ones who aren't/weren't on one hand.
Character Tiers: On both Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown themselves, this trope is in effect every week. You're guaranteed to see, on average, five or six matches each episode, and usually only two of them are true crowd-pleasers. In order of importance, the basic match types will be: main-event match (featuring the world champion or someone of his caliber going up against another prominent opponent); midcard match (often revolving around the Intercontinental or United States Championships, which are more likely to be contested away from the pay-per-view events than the two world championships); storyline match (in which two popular wrestlers, usually a face and a heel, act out a non-title feud in order to settle a fictional or non-fictional grudge); tag-team match (usually concerning the Unified Tag Team Championships, although in theory any match can be held under tag-team rules); women's match (usually only a few minutes in length); and (if time allows it) "joke" match (which can feature anything from slapstick with comic-relief characters to a monster heel quickly defeating a "jobber").
Any wrestler who is over-pushed; that is to say, given more screen-time and wins than their talent level or popularity would deserve; you could probably place, say, Hornswoggle in this category. As of 2015-16 the most prominent example of this is Roman Reigns; at this point we are almost certain that Vince owes some kind of ancient blood debt to the American Samoans to keep pushing a hated figure like Reigns.
The Kliq was specifically founded by five wrestlers to reward friends and punish their rivals. The group eventually went off in two different directions (WCW's nWo Wolfpac and WWF's D-Generation X), with a respective member from each side, Kevin Nash and Triple H, eventually gaining creative control over their matches. Nash was the unluckier of the two, being that his company was the one that went under and he wound up traveling back and forth between WWE and TNA, while Triple H married into the McMahon family and became the company's third-in-command. His pastime, that of burying talent, became so well-known (see his content starting from WrestleMania X8 and going strong through 2005) that it became a IWC meme.
With all of the current talk of the Divas division being a waste of space, there was once a time when they were an inverted example; remember when Michelle McCool and Melina got into trouble backstage because their match together was apparently too good?
Kelly Kelly and AJ Lee are two good female examples. Kelly not only won the Divas Championship, but actually won a tag-team match for the World Heavyweight Championship (recall what happened with David Arquette in WCW and let that sink in...), while AJ developed massive emotional trauma that drove her into becoming a manipulative psychopath, gradually began soaking up all the attention on WWE programming, became a clone/disciple of Stephanie McMahon and finally was appointed General Manager of Raw (if only for a few months) for God-knows-why. She eventually managed to shake that branding off at least to some extent after she moved on to become an active wrestler and won the Divas Championship thrice, however, by that time WWE apparently had second thoughts or something; after AJ left the company, they kept the title on Nikki Bella to fast-track her breaking AJ's record for longest reign, just six and a half months before retiring the Divas Championship altogether.
It's no secret Vince McMahon was determined to make Dusty Rhodes look bad. At one point, Dusty, Goldust and Cody Rhodes were all employed and, for once, all on the same side, where McMahon pretty much openly admitted his family had been taking pleasure in humiliating the Rhodes for decades.
There is also a strange tendency to mock Jim Ross, a commentator the WWF took on as a sort of insult to NWA/WCW but later gave birth to what would come to be known as the "Oklahoma" gimmick in mockery of his Bell's palsy. The joke would be repeated at random, such as Hornswoggle scrunching up his face during an "interview" for no reason and McMahon himself once took part in a segment mocking Jim Ross for getting a colonoscopy. Ross, to his credit, hasn't taken it all from WWF/E lying down but he does always end up crawling back to the company or return to supporting it once they did just fire him (must be the royalty checks).
The Big Show was once one of these, despite the WWF releasing the oddities to make room for him. Wrestlers would be specifically instructed to beat him up during house shows/live events until he "got it", and he would almost always lose on TV. Eventually Show would "get it" and become a pet instead.
Ultimo Dragon became one when Vince McMahon uncharacteristically declared him not to be flippy enough but decided to keep him under contract anyway so he could tread water and have cheers for him edited out of prerecorded shows. Luckily for WWE Dragon stuck around out of a desire to appear at WrestleMania.
Joey Matthews was once a fairly hot name on the independent circuit and remains a favorite(of sorts) in Ohio Valley Wrestling but Joey Mercury, as WWE dubbed him, has rarely been treated with much dignity Raw or SmackDown. WWE clearly found him the weakest link of MNM, and it's not as if the other two felt they were being utilized to their fullest potential but Mercury, the centerpiece of the group prior, suddenly found many people pushing for him to be released, which he eventually was while Nitro and Melina got their WrestleMania moments, such as they were.
Sheamus, Claudio Castagnoli and Rusev are fairly popular with most WWE management for bringing in international credibility, but they're disliked by Kevin Dunn, who for better or worse has a lot of pull. Their roles in the company are not very consistent as a consequence.
Cult Classic: A case could have been made for Ohio Valley Wrestling back when they were still in the NWA but when they left the alliance in exchange for WWE handling 30% of their operating expenses with Jim Cornette at the helm, a joke on Obsessed With Wrestling and Online World Of was that WWE should stop broadcasting WWE and put OVW on TV instead. OVW remained successful, if mostly confined to its titular region, even after WWE pulled out.
2015, while initially showing promise around the time Seth Rollins became champion, eventually caused this as Rollins' title reign caused him to be booked incredibly weak, even for your standard Dirty CowardSmug Snake champion. WWE's constant need to protect their chosen golden boys at the expense of burying Ensemble Darkhorses, and refusal to do anything new or spontaneous in spite of the fans making their opinions very vocal has caused many to become rather jaded and bitter with the product and the direction of the company as long as Vince McMahon continues to be at the helm. Some have become so cynical that they admit they continue watching so they can see how the company screws up the booking come WrestleMania time. A good indication of this is how dead the crowds have gotten on Raw. Even Chicago, a city whose crowd skews toward the smarkier portion of the fan base, was dead. To say nothing of the falling ratings, which have reached lows not seen since before the Attitude Era. The company was successful in completely beating their fans into submission, and now they don't care about anything — even the most popular wrestlers barely get half-decent pops. WWE is now in panic mode in trying to fix the problem that they caused, but what they don't seem to get is that they're doing everything except the one solution that would work: giving the fans what they want and pushing wrestlers they actually like.
An indication of how bad the fans had this was shown when Dean Ambrose finally won the WWE Championship in 2016, breaking the chain of heel and/or disliked champions that held it ever since Daniel Bryan was forced to vacate it due to injury in 2014. While the fans were very happy that he won it (absolutely ecstatic, to be exact), the company had beaten them down so much that many were convinced he was a transitional champion and that Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns would win it back soon. A part of that was due to Ambrose's own booking, where he had come frustratingly close to winning the title many times — so many times that many thought that they would never pull the trigger on him. It wasn't until Ambrose pinned both men clean in the space of a week to retain the championship that the fans realized that Ambrose had become a permanent main eventer, and that they were getting a long reign with the first true Face champion since Daniel Bryan.
WWE has quite a few, but some of the biggest examples since the page was created were Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, and Zack Ryder.
The Headbangers were not booked very strong for champions and didn't have a very long run with the WWF belts, but chances are if any fan remembers the period, they remember it fondly. Most seem to be thinking of their slightly longer and all around more impressive NWA Tag Team Title run, which is understandable because most of it was still on WWF television.
Once Daniel Bryan got interjected into that 'Mania main event, the game changed forever. The fans were given agency, maybe a bit too much, and they liked the taste of it. It suddenly became, "can we do this with Dean Ambrose? Cesaro? Owens?" The answer was a resounding and almost insulting "no." 2015 was a terrible year for all involved, and it was poised to continue in 2016 had Roman Reigns not violated the Wellness Policy.
Ever since the inception of the "Rusev Day" gimmick, Rusev (and by extension, Aiden English) turned into one of the brightest examples.
Fandom Rivalry: WWE is attacked relentlessly by three separate but equally vocal groups. The first are older fans of the company with an unhealthy nostalgia filter for the Attitude Era who claim that the PG rating has killed wrestling. The second are fans of other wrestling promotions who spend nearly as much time criticizing WWE as they do loving the promotions they like to watch. The third are fans of mixed martial arts who hate the very idea of professional wrestling and simply criticize WWE because it is the only promotion they are familiar with. That's not to say WWE has done nothing to deserve a little (or a lot of) criticism.
WWE got their second popularity boom in Indonesia in 2007, though it was nowhere near the level the Attitude Era got in the West. It was probably caused by how it was the first time where SmackDown, Raw and ECW got their slot in the same channel (the first boom, during the Attitude Era, only had SmackDown).
The promotion has historically had bewildering success north of the border, despite Vince Jr nearly destroying its wrestling circuit when he gutted Stampede. When Bret Hart won the World Championship he practically became a national hero. By contrast, the majority of wrestling fans south of the border (aka Mexico) are only vaguely familiar with WWE and much more interested in local (CMLL, AAA, IWRG, ect) and Japanese feds (New Japan, Zero 1, Toryumon and such)
Despite theoretically having more immediate access to a wide variety of Spanish language shows, WWE is usually second only to the local product in Bolivia, and not a particularly distant second.
A fandom example rather than a region; women's wrestling fans make up the majority of viewers of shows like Main Event and Superstars. With Raw and SmackDown flip-flopping on how much time the girls get, these shows always give the women decent amounts of time to wrestle. For a lot of fans of the women, the highlights of the week are the matches on Main Event and Superstars.
Growing the Beard: TV-PG WWE seems to have finally found its niche, mostly by getting rid of the stupid comedy characters and making fun of the PG rating itself. While it still has its fair share of stupid, its significantly better than it was the previous year.
It's not that uncommon for a heel and face to feud, then feud again several years later. But sometimes they will have both switchedsides before the second meeting, and now the previous face is getting boo'd, even if they weren't as bad as the new face was to them in their prior feud.
The news Lenda Murray was getting a WWE tryout wasn't too well received because she was a champion body builder and fans were getting sick of black women being billed as butch and "physical" while one had to go all the way back to Chyna to find a white woman WWE didn't initially push as a cute sexy thing. After five diva searches and slew of fashion models getting on TV? The fans are overjoyed to see another butch black woman in Kharma.
Ho Yay: This being wrestling, is a given. But WWE being the most famous professional wrestling promotion in the world, it has its own page.
It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: Main Event has had difficulty attracting an audience because it hasn't successfully established itself as offering anything remotely different to Raw or SmackDown. Raw being three hours long and SmackDown being two hours long is probably enough wrestling for most fans in one week, especially if it's all the exact same guys in each of these shows. One of the reasons why NXT gets more viewers than Main Event on the WWE Network is simply because people like seeing different guys and girls wrestle, and they like the fresh and unique vibe it has compared to the other B shows as a result. Though when the WWE Network was launched, Main Event became a live show. So a few midcard story elements became more likely to happen there than on SmackDown - which became a lot more redundant.
Came to bite the company in the ass hard in 2018, as stagnant matchups and botched feuds finally began to take a toll on the ratings as viewers had had enough of constant repetition and began voting with their televisions, setting record lows for Raw especially, forcing the entire McMahon family to come out on the December 17 Raw and promise to change direction.
Love to Hate: Any decent heel, really. Edge, definitely. Chris Jericho is one such famous example, and no matter what CM Punk does, he'll always have somebody cheering. In fact, some of things he does is likely to make them cheer even MORE. Kevin Owens draws such reactions as well.
Madusa throwing the title in the trashcan was, until she took up monster truck racing and became better known for that than wrestling in general among fans of the United States.
To the Canadians, Shawn Michaels is forever known as the guy that screwed Bret Hart out of the WWF Championship. They would chant "YOU SCREWED BRET!" whenever he appears in Canada. Likewise, Bret Hart is still remembered by casual fans for him being screwed out of the title. However, Bret and Shawn seems to have finally lived it down when they reconciled years later and WWE has done a good job of presenting Bret in the positive light that he deserves.
The general Smart Mark reaction towards a Triple H victory would be to say that he's once again burying his opponent, despite the fact that, although Triple H has more or less acknowledged that he has backstage influence, he still has to answer to Vince McMahon, who is his father-in-law. Not to mention the long list of other wrestlers with booking power, it's not a trait unique to Triple H.
Older Than They Think: Night of Champions was an event of the Canada based New Brand Wrestling first, though it's likely WWE picked it up second hand from USWA.
Roman Reigns for John Cena as the new face of the company. Many fans believe there shouldn't be one top guy on the main roster who the rest get fed to, but if there has to be one, the fans much prefer Cena over Reigns. A kiddy-pandering, "Superman" All-American Face goody-two shoes is a terrible character either way these days, but at least Cena did the best he could to make it entertaining to all the fans and at the very least, remained watchable no matter how stale he was. Reigns, with his relative inexperience, inferior mic skills, and letting the hatedom get under his skin, was cringe-worthy the majority of the time and his push has turned off many fans from the product.
One of Vince's specialties. Vince has a history of taking mismanaged and underused guys from other promotions, shining them up nice and pretty, and making stars out of them.
Mick Foley - While he did have success in WCW, ECW and Japan, he was never considered a main eventer until his WWE career (and even then it took a few years).
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin - A WCW perennial mid-carder who had a small degree of popularity as a cocky heel, but fell victim to a Hogan-mandated hatchet in favor of his own buddies. A pissed-off Austin eventually found his way to the WWE and the rest is history.
Kevin Nash - Oz? Master Blaster Steel? Vinnie Vegas? These are some of the horrible gimmicks the big man endured in his first run with WCW. Then he became Diesel.
Scott Hall - Journeyman wrestler who never got over with the fans as a face or heel until the Razor Ramon gimmick.
Chris Jericho - Considered a cruiserweight midcarder for life in WCW (and is still to this day not considered main event material by Eric Bischoff). Has become a six time champion since joining WWE.
Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero were dubbed the "vanilla midgets" by WCW brass for their small size and perceived lack of charisma (yeah, Eddie Guerrero supposedly had no charisma) and were thus relegated to midcard Hell much like Jericho. They jumped to WWE a few months after Jericho alongside Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko. They were immediately injected into the main feud of the time (DX vs the top heels) and inside of two months, Benoit got the IC belt and Guerrero snapped the European belt. Controversies surrounding their last days aside, both were world champions by Wrestlemania XX.
The Rock - An odd one. Vince pushed him heavily, playing him up as a third generation superstar and even giving him the Intercontinental Title. Fans didn't buy it. They didn't like the brightly-colored upbeat Rocky Maivia. So Vince took him aside, told him to let them have it on the mic and the rest is history.
Michael Cole was never the most popular commentator, but officially moved into The Scrappy territory as fans became sick of his increasingly obnoxious heel persona, especially as Cole was the play-by-play commentator and the heel role usually falls to the color commentator. He was redeemed in the eyes of fans, however, purely by accident - Cole was commentating with Jerry Lawler when the latter had a legitimate heart attack at ringside, at which point Cole proceeded to help Lawler as much as he could whilst continuing to call the match so the viewers at home wouldn't necessarily realise something was wrong. After the next commercial break, Cole explained the situation the viewers at home and remained silent for the rest of the night, only speaking up to reiterate the situation and provide any updates on Lawler's health; subsequently, Cole was highly praised by fans for his actions.
Ever since the mid-2000s (and some would argue before that) the Women's Division has consisted of 2-5 minute matches, women who were not properly trained and basically served as jiggle fests or piss-breaks. Ever since the #GiveDivasAChance trend on Twitter in February 2015note A massive fan outcry demanding change to the Divas division resulting from a 20 second Diva match which lasted for several days WWE seems to be treating it's women's division more seriously. While it took them a while to get it going, the change became apparent in July 2015, after they brought in several fan favorite women from NXT, teamed them up with the most popular and talented main roster women and allowed them to put on longer matches thus kickstarting the Divas Revolution. NXT would eventually book a 30-minute Iron Man Match between Sasha Banks and Bayley as the main event of a special in October 2015. To say the match was well-received would be an understatement.
It didn't take long for people to condemn CFO$ when they took over Jim Johnston's job of music composer. But some time later, themes composed by them started becoming objectively better, featuring more diverse styles. This has culminated in a theme that many consider their magnum opus: "The Rising Sun", which officially has rescued them from the Scrappy Heap.
The latter half of 2015 seemingly reached the boiling point of this. To give you context as to how bad the Reigns/Sheamus feud is going, the main event of TLC 2015, their TLC World Title match, was arguably the least anticipated match on the entire card. People were more excited about the triple threat Tag Team Title match between the New Day, the Lucha Dragons, and the Usos. Hell, the Seasonal Rot has gotten so bad that the most anticipated match of that card was the Intercontinental Title match between Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens, which A) doesn't have a stipulation, in a PPV centered around them and B) had its build completely shot when Owens got sick for a week midway the storyline before the PPV (there were only three weeks of build between TLC and Survivor Series). When a standard midcard title match with practically no build is more anticipated than the TLC-stipulated main event title match that has been the focus of every show not named NXT for the last three weeks, for the last PPV right before WrestleMania season, there is something seriously screwed up about the booking. The fans have no reason to care about Reigns and Sheamus, and the feud has failed to the point where two wrestlers who have been left on the sidelines without any meaningful storylines for the last six months and are basically relying on the popularity they got from their last major singles feuds are still more over than them. Hell, despite being Demoted to Extra Ambrose and Owens still remain the most over singles wrestlers on the roster who aren't injured — which attributes to their talent as performers, and management and creative's complete inability to get anyone else over.
The general consensus of those who actually watched WWECW is that the show suffered this from around late 2008 to its eventual end. ECW suffered a major blow when its two biggest stars, Kane (who was their champion at the time and would later drop the title to Mark Henry at the Night of Champions PPV that year), and CM Punk (winner of the MITB that year, who proceeded to win the World Title his first night on RAW) were both drafted to RAW, but still had The Miz, John Morrison, Matt Hardy and Mark Henry to help carry the brand, along with a great amount of interesting younger talent such as Evan Bourne and Jack Swagger. Then in early 2009 Matt went back to SmackDown for his feud with his brother Jeff, Miz and Morrison were drafted to RAW and SmackDown respectively, and Mark (along with Jack Swagger and Evan Bourne) were traded to RAW in the summer. By that point, the only reason anyone watched the show was for Christian, who returned in early 2009, William Regal, and Shelton Benjamin.
So Bad, It's Good: NXT season three, one of the rare cases where a show was designed to be this and succeed.
So Okay, It's Average: This is really the big criticism towards WWE. It's not that it's really bad, it's just very... bland and samey. Most notably, the Main Event scene was virtually unchanged from 2006-2010, and the lack of building up new stars came back to bite them in the ass when all of sudden major players such as Shawn Michaels, Batista, and Chris Jericho (albeit temporarily in Jericho's case) left the company, and The Undertaker and Triple H have to work reduced schedules either due to wear and tear or increased work backstage. As a result, WWE has been scrambling in order to find other vets to place up at the top of the heap with John Cena, Randy Orton, and Edge, with Rey Mysterio Jr., The Big Show and Kane sitting on the fence between main event and upper midcard, and Sheamus being poised for a breakthrough; even then, Edge was forced to retire in 2011, Rey Mysterio is becoming increasingly injury prone, Big Show and Kane are nearing the end of their careers, and Sheamus is in limbo, leaving the only viable main eventers as John Cena and Randy Orton, with the only genuine main event talents established since 2011 being CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, the former who was already a multiple time world champion in WWE before then and the latter whose popularity exploded only after losing the World title, with various rising superstars such as Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, and Alberto Del Rio, and a few oldies like Christian and Mark Henry, being raised to the main event and dropped back down the card shortly afterwards. And then you have WWE's reliance on part-timers like The Rock, Brock Lesnar, and the aforementioned Triple H and Undertaker. All of this could be alleviated if WWE made room for the midcard talent. Essentially, it comes down to a combination of corporate unease (kids love familiar faces, so why fix it if it ain't broke?) and Vince McMahon's tendency to favor company men over newer acquisitions from rival promotions like ECW in the 90's and TNA and Ring of Honor in the modern times.
In 2003, Chris Nowinski debated Scott Steiner over the Iraq War. Nowinski was supposed to be the heel because he was opposed to the invasion. Problem was, a significant majority of the fans even then agreed with Nowinski, and that number would do nothing but grow and grow as the years went on. This wasn't helped by the fact that Scott Steiner is really not known for his promo abilities and Nowinski ran verbal circles around him.
Every single CM Punk heel run has this in spades, to the point that he still receives cheers because he's not exactly wrong when he calls out Jeff Hardy as a terrible role model, Randy Orton being a vile person, and John Cena being a bully who hogs the main event even when he's not the WWE champion.
Surprisingly Improved Sequel: The April/May Pay-Per-View, Backlash (now Extreme Rules) typically consists of rematches from WrestleMania. Sometimes said rematches will be received better than the preceding 'Mania. For a full event example see WrestleMania XXVII/Extreme Rules 2011; for a match example see Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan from the following year.
From the territories to the national WWF, from Rasslin' to cartoon characters, from cartoon characters to bird-flipping potty mouths, from that to the John Cena PG era, and now, changing their promotional name to "WWE, Inc." (the company is still legally known as World Wrestling Entertainment), which resulted in fans saying that the WWE is trying to drop "wrestling" from its product. And of course, the speculation that the PG-era changes were made to help Linda McMahon's political careernote If that really was the reason, her two failed Senate campaigns in a row indicate that it didn't help. rather than to improve the product certainly hasn't helped. Really any time the company enters a "new" era, this trope is invoked. Although as for the name change, according to various WWE officials, including Triple H, they say that it's Not So Different from Kentucky Fried Chicken and Apple Computer, which changed their names to KFC and Apple Inc., respectively.
The 'purpose' of SmackDown as a program. When the brands split it was hailed as the better show by most critics, if watched by less people do to not being live like Raw and then put in the Friday Night Death Slot. When the brand split ended it devolved into basically Raw recaps and a few inconsequential matches. It had much more importance when it had its own roster of champions. More importantly, it had storylines instead of five-to-ten minutes of wrestling apiece with nothing happening in-between. Then the brands split again and SmackDown, once again, became hailed as the better show, even without Heyman's booking.
Even during the first band split the quality of the television shows went down with the decision to integrate the pay per views in an effort to get buy rates back up. This meant that both Raw and SmackDown were always building towards an event, which wouldn't have been so bad if WWE could do good build ups with any sort of consistency. Calls came to just go back to the core four pay per views, to give people relief. The Network signaled the end of WWE actually caring about buy rates, the commentators at least once calling anyone who bought a Royal Rumble instead of watching it on the network an idiot, leading to Raw and SmackDown getting separate pay per views again.
Guys like Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, Kamala, Shane Douglas, Vader, 2 Cold Scorpio, The Public Enemy, "Dr. Death" Steve Williams, Taz, Raven, Diamond Dallas Page, Ultimo Dragon, Low Ki, Místico and a slew of others who had great careers before going to WWE and weren't made to look anywhere near as good inside of it, and often they were actively made to look downright bad. On the whole, it seems like Vince and the WWF/E were always very good at taking guys who'd been underappreciated/underused elsewhere and turning them into superstars, but not quite as good at taking guys who'd made their names and been successful elsewhere and using them well. Sometimes, this is because of other factors (Taz's neck problems, Shane Douglas' attitude problems) that the WWE can't really help. Sometimes, it's simply because there's just too many damn wrestlers in the company to push people that deserve it (the period after the fall of WCW saw many former talent get crowded out of the spotlight.) Sometimes WWE was obviously trying but just did not know how to bring out the best in a guy (Kamala, Místico) Other times (Ricky Steamboat, Dusty Rhodes), there's really just no excuse.
There are a few exceptions to the above: When Ric Flair bolted from WCW in 1991, taking the NWA Title with him, McMahon allowed Flair to keep his "Nature Boy" gimmick, with the only difference being that he now also calls himself "The Real World Heavyweight Champion", as a shot at both then-WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and at Jim Herd, then-president of WCW.
Not just guys either. Mae Young had been wrestling since the days of Mildred Burke. You'd think the WWF could have gotten loads of angles out of that, but the best they could come up with is was her being an old gross pervert. Not even a role as a trainer or commentator, which would have been perfect when they revived Young's old home promotion, FCW.
Considering they hired a detective to hunt down Luna Vachon, who was making no attempt to get hired by the company, you'd think WWF would have more for her to do once they got her.
Pat Tanaka and Akio Sato's careers in the fifty states were going about nicely until they both got stunted after being signed to WWF, where they were largely dismissed due to their lack of size, leading to them being booked as the jobber lackeys of Mr. Fuji. Others still went on to have great careers, these two never fully recovered.
Dan Severn, the most decorated amateur wrestler to ever come out of the United States of America, a huge draw for rapidly expanding mixed martial arts promotion Ultimate Fighting Championships, an NWA World Heavyweight Champion, the man Goldberg, one of the most popular wrestlers of the 1990s, actively patterned himself after. What role does the WWF give him? A Glass Jaw Referee during the Ken Shamrock-Owen Hart feud.
In 2000 The WWF wanted another Chris Benoit. So they hired Vinne Valentino and told him to pattern himself after Benoit. In 2006 WWE fired Valentino, now going by the name Gunner Scott, for being too much like Chris Benoit!
R-Truth - He went from a fairly popular rapping but somewhat bland face used to fill up the numbers when a group of faces were needed, to a paranoid heel who frequently blamed his problems on WWE's child audience, which he called "Lil' Jimmy". He became an Ensemble Dark Horse and even headlined a pay-per-view against John Cena. After coming back from an on-screen injury, Truth turned face again but retained the Sanity Slippage, but gradually fell out of focus, before quietly dropping the crazy guy gimmick and going back to the rapping persona. Hell, his rapping persona had a lot more mileage pretty much everywhere he went with it but here.
Paul Burchill - Adopts a pirate gimmick, channeling Captain Jack Sparrow and quickly gets over with the crowd. Vince McMahon himself swiftly killed the gimmick after a few weeks, as he was unaware of the films and believed the character should think he was an actual pirate and act more like the Jean-Pierre LaFitte character from the early 90s, and felt the character wouldn't work as a face, despite the positive reaction Burchill received upon starting the gimmick.
Eric Escobar got the company's attention through his partnership/rivalry with the Colons but was seemingly called out of developmental just so Shawn Michaels and Triple H could mock his pre WWE career, as he was released without fanfare shortly after they did so. His most memorable moment beside that was being defeated in a two on one handicap match after insulting Vickie Guerrero.
My goodness, how many heels have ended up this way in 21st century WWE? CM Punk, as WWE Champion, despite engaging in lively multi-match rivalries against Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan, never main evented a pay-per-view in 2012. John Cena, instead, has main evented every pay-per-view in 2012. At first this was justified, because Kane was preaching The Power of Hate and seriously testing Cena's character heading into the match against The Rock at WrestleMania, then it was about said match with the Rock, then Brock Lesnar had just come back to bring him the pain. But the pattern still continued after that despite Cena facing John Laurinaitis, an authority figure with a largely unremarkable wrestling career that ended in the 20th century, and The Big Show, who we've seen Cena beat a hundred times since 2004. Even a Money in the Bank ladder match became the main event of a show in spite of the obvious reasons this had never happened before, on the grounds of Cena being involved for the first time and thus declaring it a "historic announcement" — despite the fact that several other talents were competing in their first Money in the Bank match in the other such battle from that same night and no special attention was ever paid to this. Finally, on Raw 1000, Punk's WWE Championship title defense is finally the main event. But not only is this solely because John Cena cashed in MITB to become his first challenger, but that same night the Rock, a part-timer mostly working in Hollywood these days, came out in the middle of the ring and told him he had a WWE title shot booked months in advance at the Royal Rumble. Yet according to some representatives of the pulse of the WWE Universe, Punk attacking the Rock and demanding what many feel is his due respect for his work as WWE Champion means he's turned on everyone.
Abraham Washington, while managing his tag team the Prime Time Players, once made a joke alluding to rape allegations against NBA star Kobe Bryant in 2003 over sexual relations in a Colorado hotel. Despite the arena crowd not being very offended, WWE immediately apologized on-air for his comments, and his future in WWE was left in question. After continuing to be employed by the company, even long enough to help the Prime Time Players become #1 contenders, he was suddenly fired eleven days later due to a tweet of support to Linda McMahon's Senate campaign apparently being against WWE rules. This decision has been largely panned as the new exhibit A of the hypocritical and backwards sense of morality surrounding WWE's current version of PG, Linda McMahon's political aspirations, and the Be a Star initiative, and AW as a result has become more popular than he was his entire WWE career.
We Have Become Complacent: Some people claim this is the source of the WWE's current problems- they have a virtual monopoly on the mainstream wrestling industry in the US, their only real competition is a struggling promotion in Florida that has been on the verge of going out of business for years and a loose collection of indy shows that couldn't hope to have a fraction of their name recognition, and they control the most famous and popular talent in North America. What's more, they are well aware of all of this and seem to have come to the conclusion that they can do whatever they want without consequences, because casual wrestling fans have nowhere else to go, hardcore fans will never quit watching no matter how bad it gets and Smart Marks will stick around just to ridicule and demean them.
What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: WWE's Crown Jewel event was already controversial enough thanks to taking place in Saudi Arabia and the company quietly returning Hulk Hogan to host it, three years after his racist remarks on his sex tape got him fired. The event itself, however, became infamous for wacky booking decisions that wouldn't be out of place in the last waning years of WCW (to the point that Bryan Alvarez actually tweeted a link advertising The Death of WCW after said decisions). First, the title match for the vacant Universal Championship between Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman started off with Baron Corbin belting Strowman in the head with the title. After that, Lesnar proceeded to rehash the title match he had with Reigns at WrestleMania earlier that year with Strowman, including Strowman eating multipe F-5s and losing. That, however, was nothing compared to the following match: a tournament for the title "Best in the World" had been held throughout the night, and the finals were between RAW superstar Dolph Ziggler and SmackDown superstar The Miz. However, during a pre-match attack, Miz got kayfabe-injured, and the referee was about to forfeit on his behalf despite his protests. Shane McMahon, the commissioner of SmackDown, however, stopped him, and used his executive privilege to replace Miz...with himself. And then proceeded to win. It was at that point that the fans started to wonder if WWE had rehired Vince Russo alongside Hogan.
John Cena drew this for a long time during his first three reigns as WWE Champion, to the point where he was once booed out of the building in his own hometown. It eventually stopped because people recognized the fact that while Cena himself can be entertaining at times, his gimmick (which is what everyone actually hates) is a result of WWE management refusing to make him heel. Cena himself admitted back 2006 that he's wanted to drop down the card and turn heel, but management wouldn't let him, and at this point he's too far gone that a heel turn may very well be impossible to do. The only reason Cena still draws the dueling "Let's Go Cena!"/"Cena Sucks!" chants is because it's practically tradition for the audience, much in the vein of the famous "You Suck!" chants sung in-beat with Kurt Angle's WWE theme song.
The same thing happened to Edge during a triple threat match against Benoit Jericho and Batista during his face run after his neck injury. The WWE wised up and made Edge the brilliant heel that would wreck shop in WWE for years. Toward the end of his career, he also became an example of a longtime heel who ran its course and began sucking up his fans' built up commitment to him by turning face, done over the years by several wrestlers who were in the company long enough to do it.
And of course there's the Trope Namer, Sean "X-Pac" Waltman, who was so hated that "X-Pac sucks!" chants were heard at house shows he wasn't even booked on. After being a very over underdog babyface, he turned heel and rejoined DX for no conceivable reason. Then when DX broke up he didn't evolve his gimmick, even continuing to wear his DX gear long after the group had split. And although his card position was that of a midcarder, he almost never lost matches, to the point that recapper CRZ named him "X-Pac doesn't job in singles matches". And when the "X-Pac sucks!" chants started, since he was heel at the time, the WWE thought it was good heat and gave him his own stable, X-Factor. It was only when the WCW/ECW Invasion started in 2001 and the chants continued that the WWE realised the fans legitimately hated X-Pac, since he was the only member of the WWE roster in that storyline who was booed - All of the other heels turned face or joined the Alliance, with X-Pac ostensibly being one of the former.