Thursday, March 30, 2023

LOOK BACK: The Art of the Mini-Feud

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WWE has done some remarkable storytelling over the past few months. I’m immensely invested in Raw’s Kevin Owens/Chris Jericho feud, as well as the Wyatt Family feud currently taking place on SmackDown Live. Also, the Brock Lesnar/Goldberg feud has been much more entertaining than I initially anticipated, which is a credit to WWE’s writing team, as well as the magnificent Paul Heyman.

While WWE’s storytelling has dramatically improved, there are still some tweaks that could be made to make things even better.

Giving away matches for free on Raw or SmackDown is a huge issue right now. The pay-per-view rematch is a card WWE uses on a frequent basis, and it drives me bonkers every time.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, WWE has had matches set to be on pay-per-view take place on Raw or SmackDown BEFORE the pay-per-view, as a “preview” of some sort, which is mind-boggling, to say the least.

I understand WWE has a lot of television time they have to fill on a weekly basis, and I know these moves are made for that very reason, but I have one idea that could solve this problem completely: mini-feuds.

Some of you may not know what I mean by the term “mini-feud,” so allow me to elaborate. Many of you remember the 2002 ladder match that took place on Raw between Jeff Hardy and The Undertaker for the WWE Undisputed Championship. While that match was indeed a championship bout, and it did, in fact, place your champion in the main event, it was not the main feud for the WWE Undisputed Championship at that time.

The Undertaker was feuding with The Rock and Kurt Angle for the WWE Undisputed Championship at the time, but WWE wanted to make a new babyface star. They decided that person would be Jeff Hardy, and rubbing elbows with The Undertaker was the perfect way to get Hardy over as a single’s competitor.

It worked like a charm, as Jeff Hardy was even more over than he had been before, despite the fact that he never defeated The Undertaker during their short-lived rivalry. It also gave ‘Taker something meaningful to do on television, so when the next pay-per-view rolled around, the main event contest for the biggest prize in the business felt fresh and exciting. The Deadman was already a legitimate champion that deserved to be feared, but after defeating Jeff Hardy in a brutal ladder match, one catered towards Hardy’s strengths, The Undertaker proved he was truly a badass.

A similar feud would take place the next year when Jeff Hardy feuded with The Rock for one night only. The Rock was heading into a major beef with Goldberg, but needed something to do for the night, so WWE called on Hardy to fill the spot.

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The two had words backstage, The Rock defeated Jeff Hardy in a quick matchup, and both men went on their way.

Giving Jeff Hardy the opportunity to work with main event guys like The Rock and The Undertaker did wonders for his career, as he would eventually go on to win multiple world championships. Fans saw Hardy as the megastar that he was and, because he stood toe to toe with wrestling icons and held his own, so did WWE.

Imagine if a guy like Tyler Breeze could work with John Cena for a few weeks, even if it’s just in the background while Cena does something bigger for WrestleMania. Tyler Breeze would get the benefit of being in the ring with John Cena on television, and Cena could pick up a few wins in tough matchups to build steam for wherever he was headed.

WWE finally has the depth needed to make mini-feuds a thing again, and John Cena is not going to be around forever. I’m not saying Tyler Breeze is a future world champion or the next Jeff Hardy, but he has what it takes to be a major player in the WWE. All he needs is a little push in the right direction.

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Evan Cole
Rumble Ramble guy. I write things.

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