Why the PG Era is Underperforming vs. The Attitude Era, Pt 2
by, 03-30-2012 at 04:28 AM (4858 Views)
In part one, I talked mainly about how I think The Rock vs. Cena match is not creating the type of buzz it should be because of them not acting like the characters that made them great. Now I want to talk about the WWE in a broader sense in another hotly debated topic on the merits of the PG Era vs. The Attitude Era.
Neither of these eras has an exact start date but we know what they are all about. The Attitude Era was in your face pushing the limits of what you could do on TV with more swearing, sexual storylines, and hardcore matches. The PG Era cleaned that stuff up with more family friendly entertainment toned down the content in the promos etc. This is another thing where we know why it happened. The limits had been pushed already there was nowhere else you could really take stories that hadn't been done and to avoid the kind of backlash that occurred from situations like Chris Benoit and steroids.
But why isn't PG working as well as the Atittude Era? Again, there's a ton of valid reasons brought forward to explain it like you're only appealing to kids and alienating all the fans who gave you record ratings or (this one bothers me so much) that kids who were wrestling fans just grew out of it. I feel a big part of PG not working is the massive reduction of characters.
For a second let's go back to the time before Attitude. I have this great card collection that I think originally belonged to my older brother of the early 90's WWF. There's Koko B Ware with his parrot on his shoulder, Brutus the Barber Beefcake with a huge pair of shears, Jake the Snake Roberts with what else but a snake, Ravishing Rick Rude, Big Bossman in his police uniform, Macho Man Randy Savage with his sunglasses and colored tassles, etc. Just from a picture on a card, you get some sense of these wrestlers characters. It was a ridiculous but entertaining pageantry.
It worked at the time but then came something new to make it almost look foolish. The Attitude Era. Some say it started at the Austin promo at King of the Ring, Degeneration X, the Montreal Screwjob, Austin beating Michaels at Wrestlemania but it was a dramatic shift but the two most important parts of the previous time remained. There were still characters and the wrestling at that point had never been better.
Just think about all the characters. Kane, Undertaker, Golddust, Mankind, Val Venis, all of DX, The Brood, Owen Hart, Lita and the Hardy Boyz, The Nation of Domination-D Lo Brown, Mark Henry, The Rock, Farooq, the rest of The Ministry, Droz, Prince Albert, The Dudleys, Kurt Angle, The Godfather, Jeff Jarrett, The Headbangers, Right to Censor, etc. Even if not all of these were well received most had a look and some defining characteristics that made them stand out just like the previous era. The only difference was that more of these characters were controversial as well as adult themed storylines.
There is some undefined period in the 2000's after the Attitude Era ended but before the PG era began maybe sometime in the Invasion angle where characters started being eliminated. It seems like an odd place to put blame but part of me blames the success of Brock Lesnar, Batista, and Goldberg in WWE (and slightly Bobby Lashley). No real character but definitely all had the look of a badass. WWE it seems started to feel you didn't need character to push guys just make the ones who were the biggest tough guys and the ones who were smaller quick speedy wrestlers. They wasted (or are wasting) plenty of talented guys by not giving them a character. Seriously, how many wrestlers just come out in a pair of trunks nowdays? What does that tell me about them at all? Absolutely nothing.
To combine with this, the PG Era eliminated the hardcore element or ANY blood from ever being on the show which whether you like those kinds of matches or not you have to admit they are a change of pace from the rest of the show and stand out.
So now you have a product where wrestlers don't have a look, don't have a character, and don't have hardcore matches. The biggest shame about this is I'd argue the pure wrestling has never been better. If you are young and if you support the PG Era you probably look back on the wrestling of the 1980s and early 1990s and go how could people enjoy that? Wrestling is so much better now! Well, I agree. The wrestling is more fast paced and exciting but the emotional investment is so often missing from the WWE these days. They don't give me reason to care about what happens in the match other than picking my personal favorite. No stakes. And that is all built on character development.
Characters are what in the end makes a good television show. The action is nice, but if you don't have characters your show is not going to be any good and that is what is missing from the WWE.