With all the changes in the WWE, I thought it was necessary to write a blog post about wrestling. WWE’s developmental brand NXT has helped to spark a new generation of innovative, young, hungry, and talented in ring performers. Some wrestling fans think NXT is even better than WWE’s main shows Raw & SmackDown. I actually had the opportunity to go to a NXT live event and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The WWE just brought back their draft that splits talent between the two main shows and wrestling fans are pleased. NXT talent were eligible for the first time in drafts history. I knew immediately that wrestling had a chance to become relevant again.
NXT star Finn Balor is one of the many stars to come out of the WWE NXT brand and is known around the world for his wrestling. I predict that with the current roster and the new NXT additions, wrestling will be watched more again. With that said I think it is important to talk about why wrestling fell off in the first place.
1. The Attitude Era Ending
If you are a 90’s kid chances are you know what the Attitude Era of wrestling is and watched wrestling back at its peak. This was when The Rock, Stone Cold, Triple H, The Undertaker, Mick Foley, and Shawn Michaels were household names and mainstream icons. Blood, hardcore matches, stunts, TLC matches, and less censorship was the norm. I believe people gravitated towards wrestling because it seemed real, creative, edgy, and the gimmicks weren’t as corny. WCW was also huge at this time (before WWE bought the company) and had the same style. We were spoiled by this type of wrestling and thought it would never end.
In 2008 WWE’s rating went from TV-14 to PG because Linda McMahon announced her political campaign for US Senate. In order to make her public image look good, her husband Vince McMahon thought it was a good idea to turn WWE into a more family friendly show, which no longer appealed to fans that grew up in the Attitude Era. 2008 was the death of that amazing run of wrestling
2. Deaths, Steroids & Drug Abuse
It has always seemed that wrestlers have untimely deaths… usually due to steroids or drug abuse. Pro wrestling has been plagued with reports of wrestlers dying because of drug abuse, roid rage, and terrible scandals. Chris Benoit’s death really brought attention to the hard lifestyle wrestlers live. Some wrestlers choose to use steroids to stay muscular and deal with the pain of wrestling; others use drugs to numb the pain and cope with being on the road so much. Chris Benoit went as far as killing his whole family as a result of his roid rage in 2007. He killed himself shortly after realizing the terrible thing he did. This was just two years after his friend and fellow wrestler Eddie Guerrero died. Guerrero died from acute heart failure, which is believed to be a result of his steroid use. Wrestling was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons at this time and it affected how the media portrayed the sport.
3. WWE’s Creative Team
I want to focus on WWE’s Creative Team because they’re the best in the business. The storylines in wrestling are one of the biggest reasons people watch. Besides all the action that happens in the ring, fans want a good story with twists and turns that they can follow. I always considered pro wrestling soap opera for men. At the moment, WWE’s creative team consists of old white males and retired wrestlers who have lost touch with the youth and don’t know what is relevant to current fans. They continue to regurgitate tired story-lines that worked 20 years ago refusing to realize that it’s a new day. Once they get some young creative writers that know how to write stories that resonant with today’s audiences, the WWE will be on the right track.
4. We Found Out It Was Fake
I have no problem with wrestling being fake because of the athleticism, entertainment, and the business of it. I’m the type of guy that uses wrestling terms like kayfabe, sell, shoot, work, baby face, heel, put- over etc. That’s just how into it I am. I appreciate the art of it but many people were done with wrestling once they found out it was scripted and the match results were planned. People didn’t take it seriously anymore. When I first found out it was fake I was shocked. Eventually, I got over it and started to appreciate wrestling for what it is. There is no denying that these athletes have talent and risk injuries every night. In order for wrestling to make a full comeback we have to accept that the results are fake but the talent and risk is real.