In a seemingly contradictory statement, WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon claimed during WWE's annual investor meeting that WWE is always looking to make new stars. Then, just a few days later, McMahon booked Mustafa Ali, a rising star with a ton of potential who had only made his television return a week earlier, to lose in a squash match against Bobby Lashley on Raw.
"Sure, I mean, you want to continue to build stars no matter what time," McMahon said on the investor call, which was transcribed by Wrestlenomics. "It is so, as [Triple H] just mentioned about NXT talent. He has done an extraordinary job of creating new stars, and as they continue to evolve, they'll continue to come up to Raw and Smackdown. So there's this influence of new superstars coming into both Raw and Smackdown, and in addition to that, the ways that we now promote talent in a more effective way, [with] digital and social media, as opposed to the normal way."
"We do not have a live audience, and of course that to us is paramount," the WWE boss continued. "They're like the third performer in the ring, in terms of our interaction with our audience. So nonetheless, it is a good time to continue with the digital and social imprint, and this land grab that we have, which is substantial. We continue that. And again, new stars coming up."
But as anyone who has watched WWE programming for the last twenty years or so knows, WWE has a big problem with making new stars. A lot of that comes down to booking that ensures no individual wrestler stands out from the rest, with the exception of older stars like The Undertaker or Brock Lesnar. As an example, take Mustafa Ali, who returned to Raw last week and won a big match, only to lose cleanly in a squash where he barely got in any offense against Bobby Lashley on Raw last night.
It didn't escape the notice of WWE Hall-of-Famer Mick Foley, who wrote on Twitter, "Not crazy about that outcome. @AliWWE brings SO MUCH to the @WWE table – class act, outstanding wrestler, HUGE potential for international attention. Why make him seem like just another guy? #RAW" It's a good question, but if someone in WWE had the answer, they probably would have solved this problem years ago.