I think it’s fair to say that 2015 has been full of eventful and good feuds. In fact, on a main event level, I think the programs that have been presented have shown great success. After seeing the way Sheamus-Reigns has been built, I started to look back at the many main event programs the WWE has given us within the past year, and decided to analyze them. Characters and situations will always change, but there’s no denying that the most exciting feuds will always carry a simple formula. In this week’s edition of the Wednesday Wrap Around, I’d like to discuss why the most successful feuds of the year have worked and why the unsuccessful ones haven’t.
John Cena vs Seth Rollins
This was the most simple out of all the feuds we’ve seen this year, and it worked because since Wrestlemania 31 neither man was able to lose. By the time they collided at Summerslam, the outcome was unpredictable, and the stakes were extremely high. Cena was the unstoppable babyface, and he had yet to lose his US title, while Rollins was the slimy heel that could only win through cheating. The characters couldn’t be more opposite, and both men spent April-August building a ton of steam for their respective title reigns.
Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins
After Seth Rollins spent months weaseling his way out of feuds to protect his title, the audience was given hope in seeing his comeuppance. Brock Lesnar has been booked like a complete beast, and he never actually lost the title clean. With Lesnar’s godly status, most fans could believe that not even someone as conniving as Rollins could escape his wrath. This feud worked well because it gave the fans a sense of curiosity on whether Rollins could overcome this obstacle. It’s different from his feud with Cena, because at Summerslam, I didn’t see Seth as someone that was backed into a corner.
Roman Reigns vs Daniel Bryan
The smarks loved one, and loathed the other. One had won the Royal Rumble under controversial means, while the other had to forfeit his title months prior. Everything about this felt grand, and along with this both men were babyface characters. Yet they both did a masterful job at showing why they deserved a title shot against Brock Lesnar. During this feud, both men went from respecting each other, to hating each other .The stakes for their blow off match were high, as the winner would be going on to main event the biggest show of the year.
John Cena vs Kevin Owens
John Cena had just finished dealing with Rusev, and was in need of a credible opponent. At the time, fans couldn’t figure out who this next competitor would be, then the WWE took a chance and gave Kevin Owens the spotlight. The success of this feud was simply based on freshness, and many hardcore fans predicting that Cena would bury the former NXT champ. At the same time, it was exciting for fans to see someone new in the main event picture. Even though Cena went on to win two out of their three matches, it turned KO into an established star, as he continues to have main roster success.
For each feud I’ve listed above, the fans were given a reason to be emotionally invested in the wrestlers. Having fans invest into certain wrestlers may not be easy, but it’s a key factor to building a memorable feud .Along with this, all of these competitors were given a ton of momentum before and during their respective programs. It also helped that each competitor had an end goal, wasn’t nonsensically fighting.
What Didn’t Worked:
Bray Wyatt vs Dean Ambrose
A year ago these two made waves in terms of how this feud began. At first it looked exciting, but then Ambrose was continuously losing and was made to look like a fool. He didn’t just lose once, he seemed to have lost every single time. Of course this enhanced Wyatt, but at the cost of killing all the momentum Dean had gained from his feud with Rollins. While Bray went to Mania to face Taker, Dean was an after thought until Elimination Chamber.
Roman Reigns vs Big Show (December-January)
Similar to the Ambrose-Wyatt feud, Big Show continuously lost to Roman, but it was happening every week on Raw. After their first match, the rest of the feud felt pointless, because we knew the outcome. This would have worked better if Show had a series of squash matches, that lead to a showdown with Reigns. That way there would be some real pay off.
In all fairness to the WWE, I thought they executed this feud much better for Extreme Rules.
The New Day vs The Dudley Boys
The initial part of the feud was fun, as it gave fans someone new yet familiar to take on the hottest product in the company. They completely ruined this when they booked the teams to wrestle at the MSG special. After that, they became comfortable by booking them more often than not. By HIAC, the finish to the match was a given, and the Dudleys had lost all momentum.
Sheamus vs Randy Orton
This was a simple mid card program that had no reason to happen. The two just wrestled a ton of matches week to week, and it was given the title of a feud. The matches themselves weren’t bad, but neither man had purpose. This program alone had killed any momentum Sheamus received after capturing the briefcase. It could have turned out much better if the booking wasn’t so 50/50, at least one of them would head into their next program looking stronger.
Giving the end result too many times. All of these programs had the potential to be entertaining, but the WWE’s lack of patience ruined them for fans. Instead of making both sides look credible week to week, one side must always come out looking for foolish than the other (except for Orton-Sheamus). There’s a deep enough roster where the company doesn’t always have to book the same matches .Similar traits can easily be spotted in the Sheamus-Reigns feud. Contrary to the feuds that were a success, most of these feuds had no end goal.
Of course we can’t expect every feud in the WWE to be epic, but as fans we just want something we can get behind. The roster is filled with a wide range of talent, and when given the right opportunity, most of them know how to step up. Let’s hope this company is willing to put more thought into the rest of the card instead of just the top stories.