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Acknowledgement of wrestling history


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I was saying to Bix online that one thing that seems to be not quite grasped by some newer fans is how remarkable it is that pro wrestling acknowledges its own history as much as it does these days.

 

There was a time when guys like the Road Warriors, national stars for several years, jumped to the WWF and were pushed as "newcomers". Of course, downplaying accomplishments in other places still happens today, but then, it even happened within the same promotion. I remember Demolition holding the tag titles for most of 1988-1989, and actually having the longest reign ever, but the announcers never mentioning that on the air.

 

Those things were really frustrating for fans at the time, especially those who read PWI, where complaining about that sort of thing was kind of a standard talking point.

 

But I look at how wrestling is presented today, and it makes sense to a degree. Most wrestling promotions for the past decade have pushed the idea hard that the stars of yesteryear were better than the stars of today. For the most part, that's sad but true, but it's shocking that a promotion would actually acknowledge this and even play it up to a certain degree.

 

Legends come back for special appearances where they sometimes get the better of current stars. Then, you have companies like TNA grabbing a major headliner like Jeff Hardy and I seriously wonder if Hogan, Bischoff and Russo even understood his star power when they signed him because they think of their own peak years as the glory years, right or wrong.

 

But I would argue that sometimes WWE emphasizes history to their detriment. The whole opening collage is full of wrestlers almost all from years past, and at some point in the past decade, probably after the WCW sale, WWE really became more about promoting their past accomplishments and seemed awfully content to just stay complacent and not be as willing to take risks. Yes, they've given half-hearted pushes to some guys, and made genuine stars out of others, but more than that, picking a direction and sticking to it.

 

I'm sure young fans will look back on it a little differently than I will as a 30-year old whose interest in wrestling probably peaked years ago, but I have a hard time describing the current era. I guess you could call it the Cena era since they've built around him for the last five years, but look at all the things they've tried and killed halfway during that time. They'll remember Orton, Batista, HHH, Michaels, Undertaker, Jericho, and Edge as the top stars, but aside from Orton and Batista, all are stars from a previous generation.

 

Look at the scratch logo at the bottom of the screen. 1993-1994 saw a gold-plated logo, which changed again from 1995-1997, and changed again in 1998. Wrestling went through more changes in those five years than it has in the last 12, and having the same look, feel and format to a TV show for that long is just reflective of that.

 

Most of what I'm saying isn't new I realize, but it's just interesting to me how if you compare previous eras, the biggest difference in wrestling of the past decade and wrestling of the previous decade is the lack of movement, change, and the same stars working on top for so, so long.

 

I don't know if I'm nostalgic for staples of wrestling's past, like squash matches, ringside post-match interviews, slower paced television, well-promoted televised specials every few months and the like, but I do miss wrestling that has ups and downs, changes in look and feel and genuine attempts to take a new direction that sometimes worked well and sometimes failed miserably.

 

For whatever it's worth, there was never a time when following WCW was actually boring. Frustrating and annoying, yes, but never really boring. I can't say the same now.

 

I'll stop rambling, as there is actually a unified point to all of this, but I'm not sure I'm articulating it.

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For whatever it's worth, there was never a time when following WCW was actually boring. Frustrating and annoying, yes, but never really boring. I can't say the same now.

Not to derail from the subject at hand about WWE needing constant change to not grow stale but a couple friends and I were just talking about how even when WCW was bad it was worth watching just about three or four days ago.

 

Admittedly, I have lost a lot of interest in WWE lately, especially RAW. However even when WCW was dying, I was still entertained by a lot of the show. With RAW, as an example, there's maybe one segment on the entire show that I want to see. I dislike a lot of the roster and everyone, like you said, seems like they have been there for ever. Edge is a 9-time world champion, 5-time IC title holder and 14-time tag team champion. He debuted in 1998. That's only twelve years but when a wrestler has done everything, I get tired of seeing them, I guess. He's just one example. Jericho is another or the list of people you named.

 

I also realize that I'm a huge fan of nostalgia and having no commentators I care about or managers to talk, it's hard to get behind so many people that can't talk that are trying to remember lines that someone else wrote for them. It doesn't feel natural.

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I've often felt the same way. The general look of Monday Night Raw has not changed at all since 1997. Giant screen, ramp, ring, all decorated with some combination of red and black. Sure, at one point the screen was shaped like a trapezoid, and other minor aesthetic adjustments, but the overall look and feel of WWE TV has barely changed over the past 13 years. I know that the lack of actual competition has made WWE terribly complacent over the past decade, but you'd still think that somebody in production would want to justify their job somehow by suggesting a new look and feel to WWE TV.

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The lack of evolution in WWE's product presentation is amazing. Think about how different things went from 84 to 97.

The thing is about wrestling history, is that wrestling has become post-modern during the last decade. It's become totally self referencial. The funny and odd thing about it, is the more MacMahon is acknowledging wrestling history on one hand (and rewriting it), the more he's trying to distance himself from anything that evoques "pro-wrestling" at the same time. It's totally schyzophrenic.

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It's difficult to put into words like Loss said but I would say that current WWE is more *stale* than necessarily bad

 

I think the product is much better now than it was from 2002-2005 (02 and 03 were dreadful, especially 03)

 

I will say that there does seem to be a genuine attempt to create new stars now. But with how WWE has booked for the last 25+ years Vince just isn't going to let his top guys be thrown around and do a bunch of jobs. That's just not how WWE (save for a few instances I guess) has ever booked. WWE TV has at least seemed somewhat fresh this year with all the influx of new talent but the general presentation is sorely needing a reboot

 

TNA, well just look at Bischoff's recent commentaries to see why they are in this rut

 

and Vince always claimed that the reason why the WWF never acknowledged history was because they wanted you to believe the current stars and the next shows were the best or were going to be the best. Every WM was going to be the "best one" For whatever reason they've stopped doing that. Probably because Vince just can't get the attitude era out of his mind because it brought him so much wealth and glory

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WWE has not really changed at all since cable television came out. The number of PPV has increased and the number of television hours has as well. The model is still the same though and I can't imagine it will ever change because it is successful. It does seem weird when reading wrestling fans talking about how stuff shouldn't be given away on free TV. It felt even more awkward though hearing Dixie Carter make fun of people for suggesting that they pay for stuff that TNA gives away for free.

 

Even after Vince is gone, I don't really expect the WWE mold to change all too much. It is going to always be a show with bad comedy and poor writing trying to sell a monthly PPV show. That's what you're buying too, a WWE show. The days of paying for individuals is gone and I think it has done more bad than good, honestly. That's what happens when there's really only one game in town though.

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What I think should be noted about the last "boom" period for wrestling is that was a time in which it wasn't just more wrestling fans watching. Both WCW and WWF drew in new fans thanks to the product being presented and the angles and stars being pushed. WCW gained notoriety with the nWo, Sting's new character and Goldberg, all of whom were able to bring in fans who had never watched WCW before. WWF did the same thing with its Attitude era and the pushes of Steve Austin and The Rock.

 

It's been a while since WWE really had an angle that truly pulled in new fans to the product. These days it seems like most of the people who are watching it are either longtime wrestling fans or those who grew up in the Monday Night Wars era and now feel fine watching wrestling with their kids.

 

TNA, on the other hand, is trying to grab that Attitude era fanbase, but most of that fanbase includes either those who, as mentioned previously, watch WWE with their kids, or otherwise have moved on. That leaves TNA with its band of loyalists that amounts to a very limited audience, likely those who just watch because they don't like WWE and figure anything has to be better.

 

ROH has done well enough, but its audience is also limited and it just doesn't have the resources to reach a larger fanbase.

 

As far as younger people go, most of them are more attracted to things such as MMA and reality TV and thus have little reason to care about pro wrestling. The only younger folks watching pro wrestling are those, as I mentioned earlier, of parents who grew up during the Monday Night Wars and still watch wrestling today.

 

I don't think there's much incentive for WWE to try anything innovative, not just because nobody in pro wrestling is in position to seriously push WWE, but because WWE seems to think of itself as its own little universe in which there isn't any other entertainment product that it views as its competition.

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One thing I believe WWE could do much better that would instantly build more interest in matches is simply acknowledge the history of rivalries between wrestlers and use fact-based stats. I'm not talking about just the past few months, but past years.

 

It would be as simple as posting a graphic on the screen showing, for example, "John Cena's all-time record vs. Randy Orton" or even "Cena's record as challenger in championship matches." I might not care at all why Kane put Undertaker in a coma, but if Kane is defending the gold but has a terrible win-loss ratio to the Undertaker, I would be intrigued to see if he could pull off a win in their next bout and stay champ.

 

It's simply applying actual fact-based sports data to WWE's world of make believe. UFC does a great job of acknowledges these facts and clearly fans respond to having such information at hand.

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I think Vince comes from a school of mentioning that a match occurred many times previously takes away from the specialness of a match especially when it comes to PPV main events. Anyway going by WWE booking the babyface would have the better record so what is the point in pointing that out as it would lessen the amount of peril fans would feel about the threat the heel poses?

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Guest Cerebus The Aardvark

It would be as simple as posting a graphic on the screen showing, for example, "John Cena's all-time record vs. Randy Orton" or even "Cena's record as challenger in championship matches." I might not care at all why Kane put Undertaker in a coma, but if Kane is defending the gold but has a terrible win-loss ratio to the Undertaker, I would be intrigued to see if he could pull off a win in their next bout and stay champ.

Or "Chris Jericho has never beaten John Cena in any match, ever".

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  • 2 months later...

For the first time in ages, I had a look at RAW. That was so odd. I know absolutely nobody in the current roster except the usual suspects. And quite frankly, what I see doens't give me the urge to watch. The old set reminded me how much better it was when it was not overproduced and sanitized. I ff through most of it, because I have zero interest in the product. And the only sequence that made me stop was the final one. Roddy cuts a better promo that any of their current star. But as much as I think WWE is crap, there's one thing that is obvious to me, is that Cena deserves everything he's got. He's so much better than anyone else in the character and charisma departement. I mean, I don't wacht WWE, and this guy almost made me care about that angle. That Wade Barrett guy seems like a pretty good heel too, at least from what I've seen, he's a hundred time better than Orton, who, after all these years, is still a black hole. Anyway, Cena does that to me everytime I dare to watch a WWE show (which is about once or twice a year). It's so obvious why he should be this generation's Man, above everyone else.

When did Michael Cole got so freaking horrible ? I mean, he's god awful. Howard Finkel put all their ring anouncers they had since the early 00's to shame. Gene Okerlund is still as great as he was before. Yeah, I sound like an old jeezer, which I probably am, but still. Some segments involving the legends were just awful and stupid though.

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Last night's RAW could have been attrocious, but I think it turned out pretty good. The old ring, music, set, logos, etc. really made the show feel fresh. My only complaint was that they didn't run the show at MSG and use the ring mic that hangs from the ceiling.

Hershey was a pretty damn good choice, though. I guess the Poughkepsie Civic Center and Allentown fairgrounds were booked. :lol:
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Guest Slickster

There was a time when guys like the Road Warriors, national stars for several years, jumped to the WWF and were pushed as "newcomers".

To be fair, they were referred to as "newcomers to the World Wrestling Federation," not as newcomers to pro wrestling itself.

And besides, to talk about their years of experience could have provided free advertising to JCP/NWA, their main rival.

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There was a time when guys like the Road Warriors, national stars for several years, jumped to the WWF and were pushed as "newcomers".

To be fair, they were referred to as "newcomers to the World Wrestling Federation," not as newcomers to pro wrestling itself.

And besides, to talk about their years of experience could have provided free advertising to JCP/NWA, their main rival.

 

It's funny how french announer Eddie Carpentier flew off the radar, because when they debuted, he put them over as one of the greatest tag team in the world, former world champions and even told they used to be called the Road Warriors. Of course I had zero notion of what he was talking about at the time since for me, wrestling = WWF. He also refered to Rick Martel as a former world champion, put over Flair as a *true* wrestling god (and Carpentier was a face announcer) that was the real world champion while Hogan was only the WWF champion. If at that time I knew what he was refering too I would have probably marked out big time.

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I was watching a house show from '87 where Adonis was wrestling and Gorilla mentioned that he was a former WWF Tag Team Champion with Jesse Ventura. Thats is acknowledging some kind of history, even though its a weird twist.

And wasn't true because they never won those titles.

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