The WWE: A New Writer's Views
by, 05-26-2012 at 07:18 AM (1245 Views)
Where does WWE sit? With old fans? New fans? Outsiders who do not watch? That is what I hope to discuss in this and many more essays or “blogs”. I am more of a pen and paper guy. I have never submitted a blog to any website. I rarely even comment on blogs or other people’s comments for that matter. But lately, after reading blogs from this and many other websites, I have felt compelled to write about professional wrestling. The “sport” I loved as a child and the “soap opera” I loved as a teenager.
Recently, as an adult, I have gotten very interested at where the company is and where the company is going.With two primetime cable slots, a slew of syndication and internet shows, and enough merchandise to make Tim Tebow nervous, the WWE definitely has the pocketbook of America. Remember Hulk Hogan’s entrance to Wrestlemania 3? He walked on the flat surface of the stadium floor. He entered through an actual entrance to the stadium. Remember the pyro for Shawn Michaels that followed his defeat of Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 12?
Compare that with the rockets that fire during his entrance alone. Things have changed. We are talking big money here, ladies and gentleman. I feel this is very important. The WWE has become a full-fledged corporate machine. You can see it in their actions and you can see it in their product. There are pros and cons to this, of course. As for the positive, I would say (as a wrestling fan) that professional wrestling isn’t going anywhere. It is here to stay. Just like the NFL will still be here in fifty years. Just like the Oscars are held every year, we will have Wrestlemania.
With that in mind, the WWE isn’t looking for the quick pop. They seek longevity. They don’t just want…they demand that profits go up. This will be done by whatever means most necessary to make the giant even more colossal. In the 1980’s, it was by introducing to the MTV generation. In the 1990’s, it was by making Monday Night Raw the most dramatic programming it possibly could. Now, eleven years after Steve Austin and The Rock fought at Wrestlemania 17, the WWE has surpassed its goals by more than anyone thought possible.
On the other hand, something feels a little missing. With so many changes, it is hard to point the blame on just one thing. It isn’t the PG-style. Although, rather than just saying that a guy “sucks”, it would be refreshing if a terrible and very real insult was thrown around. Or not liking a guy because he says he is the “best” isn’t nearly as deserving as hating your brother because, as a child, he set fire to your house killing your mother and father. But I can live with the semi-family friendly atmosphere. You have to remember that these are grown adults in a very physical and competitive environment.
This is not the cast of Glee. Occasionally, grown-up sensibility is going to peek through the fence.It isn’t the wrestling quality. With a few exceptions, the WWE roster is stacked. Every style imaginable is on display on a regular basis. Martial artists and high flyers, tall giants and monsters, brawlers and technicians. The WWE is a video game developer’s dream come true. Although, like most video games, some end very quickly. How long was the time limit on a Mortal Kombat fight? 99 seconds?
That’s about how long a Ryback match lasts. Almost everybody has a fatality as well. While Sub-Zero chooses to rip your spine out of your body by your neck, Kane elects to just pick you up real high and throw you back down. One could only imagine Johnny Cage pulling a school-boy on Scorpion and putting his feet on the ropes for good measure. Is it the writers? Could it possibly be so hard to come up with storylines compelling on a consistent basis? Most of it writes itself, right? While this may seem easy for the average internet blogger to complain about, it is most certainly not.
Imagine having to write a script. A dramatic and entertaining story of two men who hate each other. Hate each other enough to fight one on one in front of tens of thousands of people. But the story must be told in tiny little pieces that are revealed to the readers every two or three days. The story’s climax is revealed on one Sunday every month. The story either must end with a physical encounter or, based on its popularity, continue on the next day.
If that doesn’t sound hard enough, another stipulation is added. The script must be performed and televised to millions of people all over the world every two or three days. The actors will be a wide array of talent, with varying skill levels, busy schedules, and a penchant for getting injured unexpectedly. That about sums up the task at hand for these men who are paid a lot of money to not completely screw up.
And there have been some screw-ups. And there have been a lot of reputations destroyed because of one bad idea. But when it’s good…it’s really good. You cannot think of Randy Savage without instantly remembering Elizabeth. We all can feel how the WCW Invasion changed the business. Twenty years ago, would anybody have ever thought Vince McMahon would wrestle? Even if the Miz faced off against Shane-O-Mac, I’d put money on Shane as long as it was no disqualification. The guy is crazy!!
So while many stories are generic and pointless, we must remember that, as history goes, for every ten bad ideas there is usually one really good one. And personally, I think in many ways, the bad is vastly better than what merited bad in past decades. Robocop hasn’t showed up to save John Cena. Nobody has dragged Big Show’s father’s casket around for a long time. And we very rarely see anybody kiss Vince McMahon’s ass (literally, mind you).
So what is it that has changed? I believe the simple answer is us. Regardless of what changes the WWE has made, the very fact that its fan-base grows and evolves has made it appear far more fragile and personal. As an adult, you see the smoke and mirrors and understand how it all works. As an adult, you no longer anticipate talking to your friends at school the next day about what happened on wrestling. It becomes much more of a personal love that fans begin to hold within them. Last time I walked outside, I’m pretty certain that being a 27-year old wrestling fan was not common.
When Christmas shoppers stand in line on Black Friday, the chit-chat between consumers doesn’t typically involve Survivor Series.As fans, we critique what we love so much because we want it to get better. Because as it gets better, we get better. Any good wrestling fan learned a lot about morals from men like Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart. Any good wrestling fan learned confidence from men like Randy Savage and Steve Austin. Any good wrestling fan developed a little attitude and personality from men like Roddy Piper and The Rock.
But, if we dig a little deeper, we can learn lessons from not just the characters, but the men who portray them. We all know what Shawn Michaels meant when he said he “lost his smile”. Everybody has their Owen Hart…a tragic story of a good man who skills were of the highest quality giving his life for his profession. And, regrettably, we must watch our performers age and periodically lose the skills necessary to perform at a high level.
Even worse, some stay active well past their welcome and cause the stunning careers of their younger days to morph into re-told and outdated lackluster performances that almost make a mockery of their craft. While we must accept that each great era must eventually end, we can always use the knowledge from those times to find the greatness in our present. Sometimes it is right in front of our eyes. Sometimes it is a bit obscured.
I hope to transcribe this greatness to anybody who reads. But, as I say to people who consider loving professional wrestling, and the WWE in particular, as being anything less than a pleasure…”Well, what do you like?”