It’s the holiday season, and that means it’s time to start stressing about presents for the people around you. And while we may always have trouble coming up with that perfect gift for certain family members, we’re pretty sure we’ve got the right idea when it comes to what we’d like to give certain WWE Superstars this year. So, if we could assume the Santa Claus mantle and gain the power to give everyone exactly what they needed, here’s what we’d put under some wrestlers’ Christmas trees this December.
Roman Reigns – A Fresh Start
We don’t know how we’d do it, whether through Men In Black-style mind erasing, or a wholesale gimmick change that puts him under a mask until everyone forgets who’s underneath it, but we’re starting to feel really bad for Roman Reigns, because he cannot possibly succeed in his current incarnation, mostly due to the fact that fans simply will not forgive the sins of WWE Creative over the past couple of years. Reigns is a good wrestler who hasn’t actually peaked as a worker yet, and it’s not his fault he’s been booked as far away from his strengths as possible. It’s also not his fault he got annointed the Chosen One at a time when the only person the fans wanted to see was Daniel Bryan. At this point, even if WWE pushed him down into the actual midcard for another year, the instant he rose up again, all those issues would come back, and that’s actually not fair. Somehow, some way, Roman Reigns needs a clean slate, and if we could, we’d like to find a way to give him one.
Stephanie McMahon – Anger Management Classes
Seriously, Stephanie, we’ve waited years for you to grow up and realize that you just can’t slap everyone you feel like when they won’t do what you say. It’s not actually empowering when you’re the millionaire part-owner of the company and daughter of the most powerful man in the business, and you’re slapping your “independent contractors” who don’t get benefits, can’t work anywhere else, and aren’t allowed to even think about putting their hands on you, even in self-defense. But there you go again, slapping someone else just because they dared to venture the opinion that you might be acting just a little bit unfairly in some of your business dealings. Fortunately, we’re good friends with this guy named Dr. Shelby, he’s worked wonders before, and we really think he can help you harness than anger into something a bit more productive, like, say, actually moving the creative direction of the show in a positive direction!
Brock Lesnar – Motivation
2016 actually wasn’t very kind to Brock Lesnar, who got accused of sleepwalking his way through the few matches he did have. His response was, basically, to shrug his shoulders and count the zeroes on his paychecks. It’s sad, because we know that when he wants to be, Brock Lesnar can be one of the best wrestlers in the world, even now. But he’s reached a point in his career where he doesn’t particularly have to be, and his contracts give him enough money that WWE still has to use him every chance they get in order to justify the cost, but also have the side effect of robbing him of any apparent motivation to try and do his job well. For Christmas, we’d really like to give Brock the full “Scrooge” treatment, complete with visits from Ghosts of Brock’s Wrestling Ability Past, Present, and Future, and have him wake up one day with a newfound desire to forget about the millions and just wrestle because he’s damned good at it, and could be one of the very best in the industry if he cared even a little.
Paige – A Last Chance
Paige is a woman who grew up in the business, and likely partially because of that, she came into WWE so young that WWE now has a rule about how old you have to be before they offer you a contract which retroactively would have made her ineligible. And like any young person, she’s made some pretty immature decisions. Hey, think about all the crappy things you did as a 19-year-old. Well, Paige did that while being a featured performer for an international wrestling organization, and starring in a “behind the scenes” reality show that focused on her personal life. It’s probably not surprising that she’s where she is now, suffering two Wellness strikes inside three months, in a controversial relationship with a men a decade her senior, and deep in hot water with WWE. But Paige is also an incredibly talented wrestler who had the misfortune of getting called up before WWE committed to making women’s wrestling something worth watching, and sort of got turned into a “Diva” by association, instead of getting the chance to become a cornerstone of the new era. Then her personal life exploded and she’s missing out on the true rise of women’s wrestling in WWE. So, for Paige, we’d like to give her that one last chance to have a successful WWE career after she recovers from her neck surgery, one that internal politics may dictate that she might not get otherwise.
Braun Strowman – Whatever He Wants
Look, Strowman isn’t a great wrestler, and he may not necessarily even be good. But he is absolutely perfect in his role as “big scary guy”, and WWE has actually booked him incredibly smartly most of the time (hey, it’s a low bar, but at least they’re clearing it for once). In addition, during his few interviews, he’s said all the right things about being totally invested in learning everything he can to make sure he sticks around. This is a guy who spent time as part of Adam Rose’s entourage just so he could be on TV, he understands what it takes to get noticed. With long-running plus-sized talents like Big Show and Mark Henry well into their twilight years, the door is wide open for a new giant to step up, and after several missteps in the past, it looks like WWE might have found a guy who could fill that role for years to come. So, what do you get the 6’8″, 385 pound guy who has a bright future in front of him? The answer is obvious.
AJ Styles – The Fountain of Youth
It’s safe to say that AJ Styles has done the absolute best work of his career in the last two years, and is probably a strong contender for many Wrestler of the Year awards in 2016. He wrestled a Match of the Year contender for New Japan in January, came into WWE with much fanfare only a few weeks later, adapted to the new environment quicker than anyone in a long time, started main-eventing PPVs only three months into his tenure, and won the World Title in September. He’s entertaining, creative, and one of the best wrestlers on the planet. So, it’s really a shame that Styles is 39, much closer to the end of his career than the beginning, just when he reached a position where he can become one of the biggest stars in the world. We don’t want to take away his years of experience that turned him into the fantastic performer he is today, but with the power we’ve been given in this theoretical scenario, we’re giving AJ the physical age of a man 15 years younger, so he can have the long WWE career he deserves.
The Cruiserweight Division – Kota Ibushi
If the division must stay on Raw, they’re going to need a big splash in order to reignite the nearly extinct fan interest in the revival of WWE’s most-maligned division. Endless iterations of six-man tag matches simply isn’t going to cut the mustard, and while they’re making baby steps by featuring Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann instead of TJ Perkins, and Live 205 should increase the infusion of personalities with Gran Metallik, Akira Tozawa and Jack Gallagher, the closest thing we can think of to a surefire way to draw every eyeball is to somehow find a way to get Kota Ibushi to change his mind and actually sign a WWE contract. We don’t want to overstate things, but Ibushi as the centerpiece of the Cruiserweight division would be the closest thing we can think of to a sure thing in order to make people pay attention. He’s flashy, he’s charismatic, and he can drag a great match out of an inanimate object (and has, multiple times. We’re not even kidding). It’s going to be a long hard road to make the Cruiserweights respectable, but Ibushi would instantly give them a head start.
Kevin Owens – Confidence
What happened to you, man? When you came into NXT, you were full of piss and vinegar, brutalizing your best friend, talking about how you were the best wrestler in the world, then backing it up in the ring. You went from your first developmental match to NXT Champion to main roster debut faster than anyone ever dreamed, and in your first match in WWE proper, you cleanly beat John Cena, because you actually are a great wrestler who should be Universal Champion. Except since he won the title, Kevin Owens has been booked as a coward who couldn’t win a match without help if his life depended on it. He’s a great comedy partner for Chris Jericho, but the Kevin Owens we saw burst onto the scene didn’t need friends, because he thinks friends are just another obstacle to winning titles. And one day, Chris Jericho will find out about that, but we just can’t keep waiting. We want the Kevin Owens who won a title by nearly killing his best friend. That guy, who was massively confident for a very good reason, is the man who should be champion, and if it was in our power, we’d find a way to get him that confidence back.
Chris Jericho – An Empty Plastic Bag
In his career, the things that have gotten over thanks to Chris Jericho include, but are not limited to: a pudgy security guard named Ralphus, a list of 1,004 holds, a potted plant, an obscenely expensive video monitor, a jacket made of lightbulbs, Chyna, the phrase “filthy, dirty, disgusting, bottom feeding, trash bag ho”, a feud over spilled coffee, Fozzy, a list of his enemies and/or people who annoy him, a $750 scarf, dating Trish Stratus on a $1 bet, wearing a vest with no shirt, a tag team with the Big Show, using “stupid idiot” as an actual insult, a Doink the Clown disguise, and various other catchphrases, hairstyles, and sparkly ring attires. At this point, we just wanted to give him a challenge.
Dean Ambrose – A Happy Medium
It might be appropriate for his character, but we need to find a character for Dean Ambrose that doesn’t careen wildly between the extremes of “hardcore guy who will fight you with all the weapons” and “human version of Bugs Bunny”. It’s reached a point where you never know which version of Ambrose will show up at any given time. One week, he’s fighting people with condiments and leaping out of gift boxes, the next one, he’s swinging kendo sticks and goading Brock Lesnar into a street fight through a combination of heart and toughness. Somewhere in the middle is the perfect form of Dean Ambrose, a tough-as-nails guy with a tough childhood who can fight you straight up, but also outsmart you with clever plans. One who’s funny, but not wacky. That guy, if we can find him, is one that could be a top contender for years to come, and not someone who bounces between main event talent and sideshow act depending on the phase of the moon.
Bray Wyatt – A Winning Streak
With Wyatt being a Survivor alongside his new associate Randy Orton at Survivor Series, we’re going to try this one more time. Bray Wyatt needs to be the Undertaker for the new generation. No matter how many vague speeches Taker wants to give about being “back”, he’s the furthest thing from being a full-time performer, and Wyatt still should have a long career ahead of him. But the Undertaker didn’t get over by winning one out of every three or four matches, and that’s what has been happening to Bray for years at this point. The mystique is not enough, at a certain point, you’ve got to be a winner so that people will believe you when you make threats, and Bray simply doesn’t have that credibility, even if WWE thinks he does. Even though he’s managed to convert Orton, we’re all just waiting for the day, coming very soon, when Orton reveals it was all a ruse and makes Bray look incompetent again. This needs to stop happening, and if it’s in our power, we’re giving Bray a nice long streak of Pay Per View wins (maybe one or two DQ losses) so he can be the Face of Fear he’s supposed to be.
Sasha Banks – A Heel Turn
We love Sasha Banks. She’s a truly talented wrestler and should be a pillar of the women’s division. The problem is, by making her a cheerful hard-working face, WWE isn’t using her to her fullest potential. The Boss doesn’t kiss babies and talk about trying her best, The Boss simply is the best, and she’ll let you know about it, even if it means cutting corners to ensure victories. It was the arrogance of her NXT character that brought her to the top of the heap, but her face run in WWE has seen her struggle with being a generic good person, especially now that she has to compete with the very best form of that character in Bayley. She attributes her career to Eddie Guerrero, and The Boss at her best is just like Eddie: she can be awesome while simulaneously being just the worst person, and that character is far more compelling than a Sasha Banks who’s just happy to be here making history. Our gift to you, Sasha, is the gift of Eddie Guerrero. It’s time for you to lie, cheat, steal, and be awesome at the same time.
James Ellsworth – Longevity
We have loved following along with James Ellsworth, from his debut as the first in a long line of Braun Strowman victories, to somehow becoming a loveable underdog who really connected with the WWE fanbase. But now that the man with two hands has a Smackdown contract and will be a full-time WWE Superstar going forward, the question has to be asked: how long can he survive? As fun as his story has been up to now, at a certain point, he’s a skinny guy who barely looks like a wrestler, and once he’s done with Styles and Ambrose, where does his career go? Will he just be a loser the rest of his life? Could he conceivably become a title contender? Can he have a WrestleMania moment or two? Well, we’re all for success stories around here, and seeing as Ellsworth has earned every dollar and every day of however his newly minted contract lasts, we’d like to see him stay around for a long time So, for Christmas, we’re going to figure out a way to make sure that Ellsworth is a long-lived and productive member of the Smackdown roster, in whatever role it takes, rather than just a one-trick gimmick who could flame out literally any day.
Sami Zayn – A Smackdown Contract
Hey, if James Ellsworth can earn one, we’ve got to figure out a way to get a contract with the blue brand into Sami Zayn’s hands. There was absolutely no reason for Zayn to be on Raw when he was drafted, and in the months that have followed, Raw has done precisely nothing with one of their most organic babyfaces, repeatedly shoving him down the ladder in favor of other acts. Maybe Zayn’s time will come, although we’re not holding our breaths, but in that time, wouldn’t we rather be watching him have 4-star matches involving Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, and AJ Styles, rather than wasting away getting occasional wins over enhancement talent to set up another loss to someone moving up the ladder? Zayn came into the brand split with a huge win over Kevin Owens and the potential to take a spot as a top star on a depleted roster. Now he’s a designated job guy who can’t even challenge for a midcard title because it’s casually slung over the shoulder of the guy fighting for the Universal Title at Roadblock. Sure, he’s doing better than Neville, but we can’t help but feel like he’d be happier on the brand that might actually give him a chance to succeed.
Cesaro – A Meaningful Title Reign
We don’t care what it is, just let Cesaro win a title and hold onto it for a while, so we can get regular Cesaro matches on TV and PPV, and not feel like we’re watching the career of one of the company’s most complete wrestlers slowly circle the drain. He and Sheamus just beat New Day after they finally broke the record, so maybe let them run with the belts for a while, rather than get all fired up to have the team fall to infighting so they can break up and have another Best Of Seven, because they’re obviously caught in a Groundhog Day loop for all eternity. In the future, he could also be the guy to take the US title off Roman, and hell, we’re sure a lot of people would easily buy him beating Kevin Owens, but the important thing is that Cesaro deserves to actually be a featured part of WWE. He’s worked hard, overcome injuries and bad booking, and is still a fan favorite in a lot of eyes. Why WWE continues to waste that boggles the mind most days. Oh, and if even our gift-giving power can’t overcome the narrow perception of Vince McMahon, can we at least ensure that the end result of this whole thing with Sheamus isn’t to have them break up and start feuding with each other again? Would that be too much to ask?
Mick Foley – Real Retirement
We will continue to profess the fact that we love Mick Foley. The work he has put in over the years has been incredible, he is one of our heroes, and we feel bad that we have to tell him this, but it’s time for him to go back to his home, get away from the cameras, and let the next generation of WWE Superstars move on without his presence. It’s been heartbreaking to watch Foley miss cues, struggle with his lines, and muddle through as best he can on Raw and know, deep down, that he’s paying for all those years of diving off things and taking shots to the head for our enjoyment. We know it’s hard to step away from the spotlight, and that he’s doing a lot of this to help his children get their feet in the door of WWE, and we understand all of that. But Mick, you’ve done everything you can and more, and it’s time for you to stop, relax, and finally get around to enjoying your retirement. As part of this gift, we’ll even make sure that nobody ever forgets everything you’ve done, because you certainly deserve it.
Daniel Bryan – One More Match
The brutal truth of the matter, which probably won’t ever fully sink in, is that Daniel Bryan can never have one more match, because he’s shown that he wouldn’t be able to stop at just one, and that way lies disaster. And like many wrestlers, his last match was only recognized after the fact, so it wasn’t possible to treat it like the big deal that it should have been. Daniel Bryan didn’t get to go out at WrestleMania, or even on PPV, his career ended in a routine match on weekly television. But since it’s Christmas, if there’s one thing we absolutely have to give to someone, it’s for Daniel Bryan to have a last match worthy of remembering, consequence-free, on the biggest stage possible. He doesn’t even have to win if he doesn’t want to! He’d probably go out and put over The Miz clean as a sheet because he’s just that sort of guy. The important thing would be the fact that the fans would be able to say “I saw Daniel Bryan’s last match, and it was incredibly sad, but it was also exactly what it needed to be, and at least we got to see him wrestle one last time”. Maybe then Bryan could have the closure that he never really got.