For the past few years, wrestling fans worldwide have endured some of the harshest criticism in years. Wrestling is no longer “main stream”; quality has gone down hill; steroids have now taken complete control, etc. I recently ran into an old friend of mine who, up until last year was a big fan of wrestling. Now, he says, he no longer watches, nor has the desire to watch again. After hearing his reasoning, I decided that this was a topic I wanted to address to all my readers out there. So, step into The Dog Pound because today we’re discussing what’s next for the world of professional wrestling.
Looking back, we can thank Vince McMahon Jr. for making it possible for professional wrestling to become the main stream product it has. Getting a spot during prime time television, selling merchandise, and creating the epic that is known as Wrestlemanis; these are all reasons wrestling was able to really take off. Thus, it put an end to the territory system and really made the “sport” a household event. Add to that, the “Attitude Era” and of course wrestling as a whole was at a boom. There were other pieces involved however at the same time, other players in the game.
Along with WWE, fans had the option to watch WCW, and for a time, the underground sensation ECW as well. This I believe was a big reason wrestling as a whole was able to stand out, there was competition. Having the ability to choose which product you want to watch, gives you a sense of freedom and accomplishment. Not to mention that during these days, some of the biggest names in the business were in their prime. Guys like The Rock, Stone Cold, the nWo, Goldberg, Scott Stiener, DX, Ric Flair, and even Bret Hart were around to make the business what it was.
Flash foward to now, there is an entirely different dynamic. Guys like Rock, Austin, Bret Hart, Flair, and (hopefully) Hogan, have all left the business. With them, a sense of attitude and maybe even a bit of pride followed. But, has the business really changed in the sense that the quality has dipped? Or, have we as fans become so in touch with the inner workings of the business that everything seems to come up short?
The best example I can think of, was the return of Chris Jericho. When Jericho left, he never intended to stay for long. Upon his return (something I was pumped about) people complained that his promo and overall return, fell flat in comparison to his original debut. Why is this? It could have been that jericho himself wasn’t as “pumped” or as “outgoing” as he orignally was; I however attribute it to the fact that fans have become almost too smart for their own good. What I mean is, after the very first viral promo, there were already fans out there disecting and analyzing every piece of evidence as to who it could be. Within a week people knew it was Jericho.
Perhaps his comeback fell somewhat flat, not becuase he didn’t give his all, but becuase the surprise for the fans was already out. Its tough for people to get excited about something when they already know what that something is. Fans have become to reliant on having the world wide web at their finger tips, that every piece of insider information can be found out instantly. Thus, all the surprises are ruined. So, has the quality really dropped, or has all the unpredicatble surprises of the business died out thanks to the internet?
In the same sense, the wrestling industry is like everything else, it goes through stages. It can ride a high main stream wave for years, than dip for a period of time, much like our very own economy. We have times and eras where we as a nation are very strong economically; everyone has a job and inflation causes our production to rise, thus our value rises. Other times, our economy is weak, and while not dead and out, we have to scratch and claw to find a way to stay afloat and survive another day. A time like the “Attitude Era” was our inflation; and a time like now, is exactly like we as a nation currently stand.
I liken the wrestling business as a whole, like one big sports team. Your team can win back to back championships and be the most dominant team for an entire decade. Then, there comes time where all your big name guys retire, and you’re forced to rebuild. In the WWE’s case their big name guys like Rock, Austin, etc have since retired and now, they are forced to rebuild. These are the times when you can see who is really a true fan of a team, and who is just ridng the bandwagon.
The WWE has done a great job in rebuilding for the next generation. Guys like Cena, Orton, Rhodes, Dibiase, Bourne, Kingston, Birchill, Kendrick, MVP, Benjamin, R-Truth, Jake Swagger, Ryan Braddock, Scotty Goldman, etc. There is indeed a lot of young talent that is being pushed right now, and just like a team starting more rookies than veterans, they need the time to develop. Mark my words, in about six years, professional wrestling will regain that main stream momentum it once had.
I for one am very excited about the future of professional wrestling. Yes right now there are times when creatively things sem to be struggling. Those fans that can stick with it and ride it out are the true fans and those are the fans that will benefit most from what is yet to come. Just like our economy is going to need time to adjust under a new President, professioanl wrestling needs to adapt to the new generation of its fans!