Remember when the WWF (yes, the WWF!) was actually cool? Remember when you could wear a Stone Cold T-Shirt and it was not just fine, but it was a pretty awesome thing to have?
Welcome to the 14th Truth Chamber.
The attitude era was like no other. I think those of us who grew up during the attitude era will agree. Yet, we should also understand the past is the past and we must move forward with life AND business.
I sit here now, at 25 years of age, reminiscing about the glory days of wrestling, I can’t help it sometimes. Hulkamania, the transition (Hart, HBK), the new beginnings (Hogan to WCW), the Monday night wars, the attitude era, and hell, even the ruthless aggression era were just fascinating times.
It’s funny, after about 2005 or so I simply stopped watching the product and coincidentally a character by the name of John Cena began to ascend to the top of the ranks and the company. It was just a strange time as we saw legends like Austin (retired), The Rock (Hollywood), Hogan (fired and aged), Brock Lesnar (NFL), etc. all just disappear.
By that time only few legitimate greats remained (Undertaker, HHH, HBK, Angle). As the years went by, Super Thug was born at a rate of being forced down our throats to the point we all thought we could also spit out raps (corny ones) of our own. What happened? I mean seriously, how did this ever occur? The PG era just came out nowhere.
As the legends all slowly but surely walked off into the sunset or at most became part-timers, we were actually stuck with Super Thug as the only legitimate top guy in the entire WWE. There was actually a point in time where no one was a threat. There was no Rock, no Lesnar, no Ultimate Warrior and no Macho Man to stand in his way (HBK and HHH slowly became torch passers). This was a disgraceful period that thankfully I missed almost entirely. When I did take a peek, I usually gagged at the sight of his awful wrestling skills and character.
When the WWE went public in 1999, it opened at a price of over $24 a share. After about a year, the price was at about $22. The ruthless aggression era saw a lot of volatility in price, as did the next years until we reach today. The reality is that no matter how any one has it, Super Thug is still top dog and the stock price is at about $8 a share (According to YAHOO! Finance). Irrelevant? Perhaps. But indeed interesting.
I recently read a breakdown of the differences between WWE’s boom period to the recent Super Thug years and it concluded that “the WWE is keeping their head above water on the PPV front on a per-PPV basis—but they've had to increase PPV prices by 33 percent since 2001 to do that. They're not even close to making as much money over-all on the PPV front as they were in the boom period, once you factor in increased costs.” It also said merchandise sales are way up but that’s because of the Internet and ability to sell on more fronts than they did in the past, it also does not take into account the adjustment for inflation.
Other strong points are basically that the WWE is doing more to stay alive now. I understand that live attendance is only slightly better in the boom period than in the Super Thug era (which is impressive considering WCW was around) yet there are many more live shows in the past few years than there were back then (up about 40 percent), hence the increase in revenue on that front.
This isn’t to applaud the guys from today either for making more money, it’s actually messed up because the wrestlers are working a lot more these days than before when this business gives you enough of a beating as it is (Lesnar being a prime example).
PPV buy rates? Way down in the Super Thug peak era (2009) compared to the boom period. PPV revenue? Down, and that is even when considering the PPVs are way more expensive the past few years than they were before. Conclusion was that combined televised and live event profit was down by several millions of dollars during the Super Thug peak era compared to the boom period.
Need more evidence? Fear not! It’s right in front of you ladies and gentlemen. Why bring back guys like The Rock and Brock Lesnar? Desperation of course. If you didn’t need them, you wouldn’t pay them the ridiculous amounts of money (total change in cash equivalents have been negative since 2010) to be part timers would you? Especially two guys who left for greener pastures and both at one point stated would never return. Mutual interest is obvious now that they have something to gain again.
The Rock is a B-List actor (Yes, because if he is an A-Lister then what is Tom Cruise?) who wants to become an A-List actor and uses the WWE as exposure for his films. Vince needs buy rates and ratings so he puts the title on an over the hill part timer (For the record I am a Rock fan) and pays Lesnar millions for a handful of appearances per year: easy money.
So here we are, trapped in truth, an ugly truth. An ugly era that is now seeing the most predictable outcomes come true. The trick should be to make the actual product that matters, because that is when the WWE was at its best and most popular.
You can’t have the top guy of the company getting booed out of the building when he is being pushed as the biggest babyface since Hulk Hogan. The top guy in your company can’t suck at wrestling. He can’t suck at entertaining you consistently in the ring. He can’t be idiotic and lame on the mic. Your top guy can’t debut an ugly spinner title and 'remix' the People's Elbow with a five-knuckle shuffle. Simply put, the top guy in your company can not have all of these bad qualities.
CM Punk, a man who was shedding new light to the company, a new perspective, has now been pushed aside so we can see “twice in a lifetime.” The believability of the entire package of story lines over the past few months have just been tremendously stupid. Yes, wrestling is fake, it’s a show, and yes it’s bit nerdy for an adult (guilty). But that doesn’t mean it has to be ridiculously predictable and defy logic. So many questions have risen in my head recently and I also believe similar questions have risen for many others as to why things are the way they are.
How does a 40 year old part-timer become champion and beat a prime CM Punk twice (Punk can actually wrestle while Super Thug can’t so it’s more believable if he loses)? How do we get to a "been there done that" with Super Thug winning another rumble? How do we get the same WM main event two years in a row?
How does that happen when the first match was actually poor? Why do I know that Super Thug will win and it will be sold as the passing of the torch when he has already had it for years? Why does Super Thug need to go over on everyone that was ever anyone? How is a match between Punk and Super Thug entertaining when you know the result?
I don’t have all the answers for you but I am sure that many wrestlers and managers in the back ponder about the same things though, constantly wondering about their future and the future of the WWE.
So when Super Thug defeats The Rock in another poor match at this year’s WrestleMania, we will be back at square one of the dark ages of wrestling. Little children will rejoice but since Vince McMahon lost “It” a long time ago, he won’t care to notice that it's only little children. He is old and obviously way passed his genius days.
The Rock will leave, Lesnar will go into hiding, and HHH will head back to corporate. We will be stuck in another Super Thug era. The boos will return as strong as ever. As if we haven’t had enough of those already. Do you honestly think Rock, Austin, or HHH as babyfaces or even heels would ever get the amount of boos and hate chants Cena gets? The WWE has tried so very hard to push this guy, he has defeated multiple legends (Disgraceful as it is), including supposedly selfish legends (HHH, HBK, Lesnar) who some “IWC” guys think only care about themselves. Yet the love is still limited to say the least.
Great in ring performers such as Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes are either being pushed down or being glorified jobbers. A legend like Kane has been consistently kept away from the WWE title for several years. Sting won't get near the company because he knows it would use him incorrectly. The 'World Title' is clearly second class and an insult to the WCW greats who held it. Remember when it was just one World Championship and everyone was after it? That is when the title had true value. Now the vast majority of guys won't even get near a shot at the WWE championship. If you are in that locker room, how do you get excited about your future?
Management can tell you whatever they want, but creative is what matters. They know when they are losing and when they are winning. The golden years and attitude era of wrestling saw several top guys at once, now there are only two full time top guys and one of them is a ghetto super man that wears jean shorts as his in-ring attire.
Take a look at Monday Night Raw. It's a three-hour show with mostly filler replays to kill time. The vast majority of matches are squash matches. Great matches are not even saved for a PPV or the main event (Y2J vs. Bryan/Ryback vs. Ziggler).
There are like 17 different WWE brand shows per week, how pathetic can you be? Monday Night Raw used to be enough. It used to be a show you had to tune into every week because it was all going down that night. They added SmackDown later on which is fine, but it appropriately became a B-Show as time passed on, sort of what Thunder was to Nitro. These days, you have so much WWE during the week, that it actually gets annoying. I don't know any of the other shows and I have never watched them, but trust me, I never will watch them.
If we know what is going to happen, why watch? I think it’s foolish at this point. I tried to give it a go, but I was simply reminded why I stopped watching in the first place. Legendary matches happened while I didn’t watch, but they were from old school legends, and rarely ever from the new school. New school guys either were not allowed to shine or Super Thug was headlining all of the events. It's certainly time to make stand people.
Don’t go out and buy WrestleMania, with only one match probably worth watching on the whole card (Part timers HHH and Lesnar). Taker will beat Punk when they fight at WM, book it, which will result in four major losses in a row for a guy who was WWE champion for 400-plus days. Yes, that makes a lot of sense WWE (sarcasm).
Stream WrestleMania free online, and if it costs them so what? What do you care? They don’t, that is for sure. The day it is worth it (if it ever comes) to purchase a PPV event again, you should buy it. But if you are foolish enough to purchase a repeat of the WM main event of last year (which has never happened) then this article and this truth isn’t for you.
Some can argue Super Thug is a draw and the he is all the WWE has, but that is through their own fault since they never pushed anyone else. Certainly it isn't because Super Thug is special, he isn't. Some say the WWE will never die. Where is there proof that professional wrestling companies can't die? Just because he had a handful of good matches (Mostly carried by great opponents such as HBK and HHH) does not excuse nearly a decade of mostly mediocrity. Classic interviews? None. Classic moments? None. All he has done is bury new talent and make legends tap out. Where are the future stars? There aren't any, because the part timers are the draws. The WWF didn't need part timers from the past, they built from within and had major success. Now it's just borderline embarrassment.
When is it all enough? I admire CM Punk, he’s no Stone Cold (never will be), he is not the savior even if these "IWC" guys want him to be, but he’s a team player and a heck of a wrestler/character. If I were CM Punk last Monday, I would have grabbed the mic and told the entire crowd what was going to happen all the way through WrestleMania.
I would have stayed down and let Super Thug pin me without a match. I'm obviously being over dramatic though. Why? Because I would be irate at the idea of Super Thug having another awful run. We have been there, and it has been an utter failure. It is utter stubbornness. Cena nation fan boys can bounce, it's lame.
Enough will be enough if and when the company dies; these companies are simply not immortal. WCW’s demise is clear evidence of that, and yes the WWE is heading towards a similar path.