Thursday, 30 October 2014

WWE Analysed: My fears for the future

Professional wrestling is one of those real guilty pleasures.  Here is a show that puts real athletes into a pure pantomime drama mixed with chair shots, elbow drops and power bombs.  It's all scripted but the danger is real for the people who put themselves in the ring each and every week.  I started watching WWF on Sky television back in the late 1980's when I was four or five years old.  The first match I ever saw was the Bushwackers fighting some fat guy jobber and biting his ass.  For a little kid this was fucking hilarious and the show only got better.  These huge guys come out, beat the shit out of each other and act like comic characters is what really made wrestling cool for me back then.  I was ahead of the curve in my school knowing about wrestling when every other kid was running around pretending to be a mutant ninja turtle, I was throwing big boots like Hulk Hogan and putting imaginary foes into the sharpshooter like Bret Hart.

Jump ahead to the late 90's and wrestling became the shit.  Everyone was watching it with the highlight being Stone Cold Steve Austin and his feud with the owner of WWF, Vince McMahon.  To put it bluntly the Attitude era was the best period of professional wrestling not because of the wrestling which at times was poor but because the product gave every viewer out there something they could enjoy.  If you liked the wrestling you had wrestlers who could deliver like Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart.  If you wanted some eye candy you had the valet's like Deborah, Sable, Sunny and more.  Comedy was there with the antics of D-generation X.  Hardcore wrestling was there with the likes of Terry Funk, Mick Foley and the New Age Outlaws.  Crazy storylines that had memorable moments such as Austin's attack on McMahon in the hospital or the famous beer bath.  The Attitude era had it all and is still fondly remembered to this day by fans.

A major help to draw all of this momentum was the fact that WWF was in a life or death struggle for ratings with it's competition WCW who were also producing a really hot product that was packed with talent of all ages and skill levels.  It was a great time to be a wrestling fan because the two companies locked into this death struggle created a blinding few years of amazing wrestling television that drew incredible ratings and millions upon millions of dollars in revenue for both companies.  Of course every war has to have a winner and the WWE ended up on top after looking like it was going to lose earlier on.  The victory was completely flubbed by WWF now WWE with gross mishandling of former WCW talent and things stayed good for a few years at least.

However skip forward to the mid 2000's and things begin to stagnate and now in 2014 it's even worse.  Pay per views that run matches that we have seen on Raw previously, angles that never mean shit or don't have a solid pay off, tired old characters such as Kane, Orton and Cena running the main event card every single night on Raw for months.  It all looks a million miles away from what we had back in the late 90's.  Now stagnation is brought on by a lack of competition since you don't have to try if you don't have to compete.  Indie companies like PWG, ROH and more just don't have the financial clout to compete and no single investor wants to compete with the corporation that is WWE.  You could argue that TNA is something of a competitor but then you only have to see that show to know it's not even close to NXT standards for WWE to even acknowledge their existence.

My fears though for the future of WWE where confirmed when they opened the performance centre.  A place where hopeful amateur pro-wrestlers could tryout and maybe get a shot at being a future WWE star.  It's nice and everything but it sends out clear signals that the future of all WWE programming will be filled with drones who only know how to wrestle one type of match, only one type of promo, only one type of character.  WWE style is very specific and it's noted time and again by wrestling websites that any wrestler brought in from outside of the system has to adapt to their style of Pro-wrestling.  This performance centre only spells the impending doom of creativity and unique personalities that once made the business stand out.  The future will hold many Cena and Orton clones with the odd Brodus Clay or Adam Rose sprinkled in for variety.

Seriously don't expect to see the likes of Cesaro or Daniel Bryan or CM Punk to every grace the screen again once this centre is churning out robots for the next decade or two.  It wouldn't surprise me if they make it so all new entrants to the centre have to have '$9.99' tattooed to their foreheads to help with branding soon.  WWE are already hurting financially anyway with them making a $20 million dollar cutback to stay profitable this year alone because subscriptions to the network didn't even come close to what they projected and this continued slide into mediocrity isn't going to help much either. 

I have only the smallest hope that younger and more entertaining wrestlers such as Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Damien Sandow, Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler and more can finally be given the ball and run with it instead of being held back for the likes of Cena because McMahon fears that if he leaves or isn't top then no one will watch any more.  It's the wrong way to look at a business that is generally in flux every year as fans take to different wrestlers on even the tiniest things such as a comment during a promo or that one amazing match.  You only need to look at what Cesaro can do on a throw away Raw with Daniel Bryan to see the potential there in one person alone and how quickly the fans took to him when he started using the giant swing.  WWE hates that kind of dynamic and quickly moved to squash his popularity by banning him from using the move and have him lose constantly.  No WWE want their chosen wrestlers to be cheered and fuck all of you who have an opinion.

When the financial situation gets worse I feel sorry for the wrestlers and workers who lose their jobs over the sheer incompetence and fucking ignorance that is shown by the top brass of WWE.  They ignore what we the fans want and then scratch their heads in confusion when they lose money or in Hunter's case, bitch at the fans live on Raw like that's going to make things better.  These fuckwits even criticise their own paying fans who buy the pay per views for whatever price outside the network as if telling them they are stupid is going to guarantee subscriptions.  Fuck you WWE, and your pathetic tit for tat with your own fans.  It almost makes you want to see them fall just to watch the chaos that would ensue.  


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