DailyDDT’s Most Valuable Performer series has concluded and our contributors have thoughts on the year’s best and not-so-best and what they hope to see in 2021.
One of WWE’s leading mantras has always been “the show must go on,” for better or worse.
COVID-19’s impact on WWE resulted in relocated shows, superstars opting-out of TV tapings, and the absence of fans. WWE had not felt the pressure to survive in decades. This time, they weren’t engaged in a battle to outlast their competitors, but a battle with always-changing conditions and uncertainty. All eyes were on how WWE would adapt to these new circumstances, and our staff has thoughts on how they performed.
What are your thoughts on COVID-era WWE television?
Ernesto Solano – As someone who detests crowd-hijackings, I actually really miss the sights and sounds live audiences brought to the shows. That’s definitely the thing that most stands out to me in COVID-era WWE. I’m a big fan of all the enhanced visuals that empty arenas permit, hooray for more SCREENS and LIGHTS and PYRO.
I think the wrestlers have had a chance to grow as performers because they don’t have to be responsive to the cheers, or lack thereof, from a live crowd. We will see if this stands with the reintroduction of live crowds.
Granger Chapman – Things started out being pretty weird. It was shocking to see wrestling events with no fans, to say the least. However, as time went on and WWE began to adapt to the circumstances, things started to get better. It was a long journey from no fans to the ThunderDome that has been turning heads. It has been tough, but I believe that the WWE has done well with no fans. We have seen entertaining cinematic matches like the Firefly Funhouse and Boneyard matches at WrestleMania. While in NXT, the wrestling has continued to push them forward. Without the ThunderDome, the Capitol Wrestling Center gives NXT a gritty independent feeling the stars thrive in.
Samantha Schipman – The writing was abysmal for 99% of the year. The women’s divisions on RAW & SD are a mess. They broke up The IICONICS for no reason (only to keep putting Peyton in tag matches). They turned the two best babyfaces “heel” in NXT (Johnny & Candice, who are still babyfaces in disguise). They’re still pushing multiple men named during #SpeakingOut.
The few bright spots were Sasha, Bayley, Asuka, Roman Reigns, Jey Uso, & Kevin Owens.
Max Everett – Putting the real-world ramifications and controversies aside, I have been extremely grateful for wrestling in general over the year. I do have to say that the absence of fans has been felt and some great matches, moments, and shows have lost their shine without thunderous background noise. WrestleMania was two nights this year following the vein of NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom and that was a breath of fresh air, I even think shows like Survivor Series and Royal Rumble could do with the two-night treatment.
Thanks to the lack of fans we received more cinematic matches, which have been fantastic on the whole, and Roman Reigns’s new signature style of character work during matches as we hear him monologue and berate his opponents mid-match. Unfortunately, the issues with booking and creative direction or to be more apt misdirection have continued to rear their ugly head and they don’t look to be coming to an end any time soon.
All in all, I appreciate the effort put in by everyone involved to keep fans entertained during tough times but as a wrestling fan, I can’t help seeing the missteps and demand better from the biggest promotion.
2020 may have let us all down, but not the action inside the 20×20. There were numerous contenders for best match of the year, but which matches made the greatest impression on the DDT staff?