SMH – Can the WWE Change For the Better?
So, I watched Raw almost religiously for a few months now. I haven’t done that since, well, probably about 2002. Wrestling just stopped being interesting after a while. I wasn’t sure if it was me growing out of it or that the product was maybe starting to suffer. Or both.
It was the product suffering, actually. The PG era is not suited for men my age, and John Cena is not a champion for men my age. I grew up with the Attitude Era, the true golden age of professional wrestling, and now we’re seeing the WWE slowly move towards that age again. Though, despite my casual disgust for the current product, this may not exactly be a good thing.
Part of what makes TNA so awful is the fact that it is run like WCW: it highlights the old war horses rather than its younger talent. WWE is on a bit of a youth binge now, but with such a heavy focus still remaining on Triple H and Kevin Nash, the product seems to be in a state of trying to redefine itself. Yes, the Attitude Era was great, but there’s no need to bring back the stars of yesteryear to remind us of it. Moreover, any real move towards the era won’t exactly feel right anyway: these days wrestlers can’t blade, no more headshots with weapons (after that whole incident with Benoit), and while this is understandable it does take the excitement out of Hell in a Cell matches and street fights. So, if the WWE is using the era as a template on how to move forward, this will only seem like a bad cover to a good song.
However, wrestlers are starting to use salty language again, and guys like Christian and CM Punk are finally getting the attention they deserve (FYI: the CM stands for Chaos Mechanica). Promos don’t seem as bland and cowardly as before, but this is all just one big precarious balancing act. Sure, Punk is awesome, but you can’t tune into a two hour long show every week just to see one person. What I’m trying to say is that John Cena is still the face of the company, but he’s a bland babyface. Whatever rough edges to the character have been mostly whittled for the safety of the children, he never loses clean, and he and the Rock are getting all of the Wrestlemania attention. It’s going to be hard to get these other guys over when you’re entire platform is John Cena and an old timer.
You’re probably wondering why I still watch a product I find so much fault with. The thing is, and I think that scumbag Vince McMahon put it perfectly so many years ago: Wrestling is a soap opera for men. We’re getting archetypal good guys and bad guys battling for supremacy. They take familiar roles: the blue collar redneck, the rich boy, the rocker, the wigger, the cornball, the badass, the scary one, the douche—all things we’d know from our own life experiences, and they add a kind of flamboyant energy that is sometimes infectious. It’s the closest thing to superheroes that the real world has to offer. It’s big, it’s loud, it’s candy-coated fun.
Here are some ideas to help the product:
1- Add a reality TV show that isn’t Tough Enough. Let’s follow Matt Hardy during his stint in rehab with Chavo Guerrero as his sponsor. We’ll call it Chavo and the Fat Man.
2- Create a storyline where Sin Cara’s visa is rejected. JBL is appointed by ICE to drag him back across the border.
3- Sheamus gets a spray-tan.
4- Chris Jericho randomly appears to punch women in the face.
5- R-Truth teams with Omar from The Wire.
Some actual suggestions: Bring back blading and headshots, but offer a bonus to wrestlers who agree to do it, and don’t do it too often—less is always more; start moving Cena and Orton into positions where they could start putting the new guys over; rely less on cameos from the stars of yesterday; if you want us to respect and care about women wrestlers, make sure they can actually wrestle—and stop calling them divas, they’re not Whitney Houston for Christ’s sake.