Off Topic: What's The Deal With WWE These Days?

Once upon a time I was a massive fan of professional wrestling. Massive. To the point where I did a Masters thesis on the work/shoot and how wrestling borrows from what's 'real' to make what's 'fake' more believable.

But now? I just don't watch wrestling any more.

Why? I'm not really certain. It could be that I don't recognise the new breed of wrestlers. Could be that watching UFC has plugged the gap that wrestling used to satiate. Could be.

Or wrestling could just be, I don't know, be far less compelling than it used to be.

Nowadays when I do catch it, it certainly feels more sterile. Who knows? Wrestling as a business has always been described as cyclical. It has incredible peaks and troughs. But there are some who now believe that wrestling, as a business, may be in its death throes. I highly doubt that, but perhaps the lack of competition is the issue? Without a WCW to inspire the WWE to greater heights, is the WWE slacking off? Or, more likely, playing it extremely safe to the point where there's no real feeling of surprise? If anything it seems like wrestling has lost a sense of immediacy, or urgency. In my view, at least, it has lost its ability to be truly compelling.

I know we have a large number of wrestling fans on the site. I'd love to hear your views. Is wrestling really that bad right now? Can it get better? If so, how?


    On the main roster, WWE is a show of no consequences. Beat someone at a pay per view and lose to them the next night on Raw. Interesting characters get no time to show their character while the same bland authority figures keep spouting the same nonsense over and over.

    Status quo is god. John Cena is 15 time world heavyweight champion. John Cena is the underdog, the man that must fight the odds. Characters don't change to reflect things that have happened to them. There's no growth, no improvement, no continuity. No consequences.

    The stuff going on down in NXT is rad. A bunch of interesting characters given time to work themselves out. Baron Corbin was a retired NFL player that thought he didn't have to pay his dues. Now he's a lone wolf that doesn't respect where others came from because he thinks he's as good as them. It's developmental but that means you get to see character development as well as people learning to not suck at wrestling.

    In the non-WWE world, Lucha Underground just started its second season and it's a show that fully embraces the nonsense of wrestling. If WWE is a travelling circus then Lucha Underground is Passions.

    Last edited 09/02/16 11:28 am

      "Wins and losses don't count" - a recent quote from Smackdown's head writer. Spot on about no consequences,

      Also, said head writer is Road Dogg, aka the dipshit nobody cared about until his tag-team were pushed to the moon by rarely losing.

      Definitely agree on Lucha Underground, it's the kind of product that can alter the perception of what a wrestling show can be.

      As for the WWE itself, there's a major issue right now with injuries. Most of the top wrestlers, Cena included, are out at the moment. It does bring into question the safety of the company, but I think it's more to do with these guys pushing themselves above and beyond to try and please a crowd that's constantly asking for bigger, better, more out there.

      It doesn't help that most of the fan base now grew up with the Attitude era, bringing their kids into shows, are expecting the same kind of magic they used to experience. The PG-era doesn't have the same ring to it.

      Side note, really sad to hear Daniel Bryan's retirement today.

        It's easy to blame injuries but all of the problems they face existed before everyone got hurt. WWE has countless hours of programming each week. Yet somehow, there's only room for the top of the card. Midcarders are wheeled out for matches that exist for the top dogs to duck into catering for a sandwich.

        They've got a huge roster. They've got all the time in the world to do whatever they want with them. They do nothing.

        That genuinely annoys me.

          Agreed. They really don't know how to use their time wisely, outside of NXT maybe. I was more pointing out the fact that injuries are less an excuse and more a recurring issue, hence the Bryan retirement.

        Injuries have always been a problem... but back in the day, WWE actually bothered making new stars to be able to fill the gaps.

        Now, we've got Triple H as champ yet again yet again, because they've done such a dismal job of establishing anyone.

          That's a point, am I the only one who thinks AJ Styles should have been put in the title picture straight away?

            For sure - they didn't save him for the usual post-Mania arrival, so they should have done something with him.

            Instead, they're giving focus to ... Broom Shitname, or whatever made-up crap they call the latest dopey 6-foot 8 guy with no experience who's with Wyatt now.

            They're putting him up against Miz in house shows right now. I'm okay with that. I'd love to see him against Stardust and Owens before moving on to the top spot. Give him some real momentum within the company, not just show up and start winning.

              Yeah they've got him in a rivalry with Jericho, so at least the matches will be worth watching. I've heard rumblings that Samoa Joe might be going up to Raw after WrestleMania, I'd love to see the two of them square off again like old times.

      You hit on a very good point on how Cena is handled. The issue with Cena is not that he's never been heel since his first face turn or that he's boring. He won't ever be heel and it's horrible business to make him a heel. WWE seem to have accepted the fact that the fanbase has changed from the old make up of 80% "marks" and 20% "Smarts" and that's why Cena gets booed but they don't accept it when it comes to other decisions like not giving pushes to wrestlers they want to see. For example when Daniel Bryan had to be shoehorned into the main event of WM a few years back or even last WM when Rollins had to get involved to save people from boredom. They didn't think at first Rollins/Bryan could carry a main event because they are still in their "big men sell tickets" mindset.

      They don't develop his storylines enough. If you give him some quality stuff he will make intriguing matches and sell stories. But it's always the same against the odds angle. They never made that transition with him. Triple H started off cheating and being slippery but his character developed into a legendary mastermind. The Rock went from a goofy smart arse to an entertainment icon. Stone Cold went from a trouble maker to the ultimate badass. Cena has always been "against all odds".

      The best feud he ever had was with CM Punk and a lot of credit has to go to John Cena and not just CM Punk. Basically they got it right from the start. They didn't turn it into a Cena is against the odds match. They quietly killed off the New Nexus that Punk lead when they could've had that be the "out" for Cena in the match that CM Punk won. They just had it as a dangerous rebelous guy with nothing to lose in his home town vs Cena "the face" of WWE.

      Ever since then everything is overbooked and storylines are oversold. Remember the Bryan vs Wyatt match at some royal rumble a few year back. That match sold the feud but now any feud with Wyatt is just about how will his cronies interfere.

      There is no structure to the card. There is no mid card just main eventers and non main eventers. IC and US title mean nothing when it can be a brilliant tool for testing out midcarders. The Rock and Triple H were feuding for the ic title before the world title for example.

      There is light at the end of the tunnel. They are making good talent acquisitions and NXT has become a brilliant farming territory. NXT itself is booked by Triple H so if they can bring elements of that to WWE they'd be in good stead.

      Last edited 09/02/16 8:08 pm

      Watch Lucha Underground and pretend it never existed.

    As a 'franchise', WWE seems pretty ahead of the curve in a lot of ways. They're covering all their bases and have especially got their media savvy down pat. There's a tendency across a lot of entertainment nowadays to massage the core userbase. Superhero movie overload, sequels to only the most lucrative games, it's a real feed the chooks mentality.

    Could we please get these sort of articles but with other sports? I know the typical thing is to treat them like 'ooh errr sportsball' but I'd especially like to see some more appreciation of sports on the site what with it being an Olympic year and everything.

      Interesting call!

        I'm all over an NBA article.

          I am down with that. Hell if Allure wanted i would write it up i need something for a uni portfolio and that would be pretty sweet.

      I don't mind the odd article, but would rather Gawker have a sports page than have it increase on Kotaku.

    Mark, watch NXT. Particularly the Takeover events. Please!

    WCW and WWF made each other work HARD for their viewers and it certainly brought out the best of wrestling EVER.

    I've pretty much echoed your sentiments for the past 10 or so years, very sterile. I legitimately can't even see what people get hyped up about anymore, it's all so drab. I think it's a mixture of these things that make it not as entertaining as it used to be:

    - Not wanting to injure wreslters means they're coming out and banging out the hits, all the matches seem the same with little or no variation in moves besides signatures (yawn)

    - Story lines/Story line pace. It moves SO SO SO slow, there must be a reason behind this but I can't think why. It should be SO easy to write a bunch of feuds but they think they're doing some huge payoff angle which ends up taking 9-12 months, and is very lackluster in the end, it's so boring to watch it unfold.

    - Generic Wrestlers - Most of the wrestlers are just "dudes". Wheres the rakishi, the rock, stone cold, undertaker, doink, kane, randy savage, ultimate warrior, rey mysterio, golddust, vader, hulk hogan, big poppa pump, mick foleys etc etc etc. I know it can take 10-15 years to forge a career but all of these dudes are so forgettable (i.e. I like the miz, but I can take him or leave him for someone with a bit of unique personality).

    - They have a 1-2 hour show and have about 3ish 10-15 minute matches and a whole bunch of filler.... and then multiply that over 3+ shows a week, so much wasted airtime. Watch some old WCW stuff, some of those matches were done and dusted in a couple of minutes. I know wrestling is fake but I believe that if the match length somewhat follows a "normal" fight/brawl time then its more "believable". It also makes the epic 45 minute matches seem monumental.

    - Writing quality, what a joke... these guys have been there for 20+ years and its stale as all hell. Don't hire wrestling story writers, hire some story writers... very boring and too incestuous in my eyes.

    - UFC - UFC has taken a huge chunk out of boxing/wrestling because it's basically what kids got out of wrestling. Kids watch wrestling because they're allowed to, but as we get older we choose to watch wrestling but can get our fix from something legit. In a world where wrestling is so stale and boring, of course I want to watch a mcgregor fight over some bland Roman Reigns match.... When the UFC guys can create hype as a byproduct of their match BETTER than people that are in the business of creating hype, it's a sad state of affairs.

    There's heaps more to it but that scratches the surface.

    TNA started out really good but they made a bunch of stupid mistakes and wouldn't bother watching it now. Had so much promise and I wanted it to do well, very disappoint.

    TLDR; Wrestling is currently (past 10 years) stale.

      I might be in the minority, but the main reason I watched WWF/WW/WWE was actually the storylines. Again I was an attitude era child and even back then you had long running sotries that went for months on end (and years). but there was something about that era which probably bought the stories into the matches and combined the stories over other matches so every single match felt that it was intertwined into a bigger picture).
      I still like wrestling now and would still watch it if I could (had to cancel subscription due to money issues), but to me I still love the stories, its just that the stories are just singe direction stories and they don't intertwine as much throughout the wrestlers.
      UFC is too lifelike (given that's its point) for my taste, I like the safety pillow feeling that what I am watching is more or less a choreographed routine so I can just watch the match for the ebbs and flows and twists and turns and 2 and a half counts without the nagging feeling that the entertainers are going out there to intentionally harm another (Brock Lesnar not withstanding, I don't think he gets how wrestling works and is still in UFC such I cringe when I see him wrestle and don't like matches with him in it as I am afraid he will hurt someone).
      most of the management in WWE is very very entrenched, so finidng new sources for writing storylines would be a wondrous revelation. It is just a tightrope of do what works vs experiment and potentially face huge negative consequences...that problem might come from WWE being a listed company.

    I WAS a similar, loved watching RAW and Smackdown, but as of late yeah the same stories happen, just different characters, he teams up with them, they feud right before a PPV then he wins/lose.

    Yeah, it follows a formula that very rarely changes and when it does you can see it coming a mile away. The only times it's good is when occasionally a new character is introduced unexpectedly but even then once they're introduced they follow the same formula everyone else does. Debuts from NXT rarely work well because they water down their character and don't give them a chance to grow. No wonder the talent like NXT so much as they have way more freedom!

    I think the Attitude era was the height of WWE. There really needs to be a non-WW competitor like WCW again; TNA wasn't very attractive :/

    I religiously watched WCW & WWF every week and they were constantly trying to 1-UP each other, then the 'invasion' happened and it was chaotic and awesome.

    Last edited 09/02/16 12:16 pm

    In short.
    Its very transparent and predictable these days, WWE doesnt listen to their fans.
    So what we get, we see a mile away and well...its NOT what the fans want.

    That night when they wheeled out Eric Bishoff as the new GM of Raw, man that was epic. The whole Bishoff era was great. After he left I felt like the whole thing fell apart.

    They need to turn Cena back into a Heel again, I always thought he was better as a heel. It could be just as awesome as the Hulk Hogan nWo angle.

    Yep I generally skip through most RAW matches, but NXT is a very entertaining show to watch. You probably get as much wrestling in a 60-minute NXT show as you do in a 3 hour RAW.

    I'd definitely agree that the last while has been real stale, I tried watching it a couple weeks ago and I just couldn't get into it, pretty well thanks to what people have already mentioned.

    However I don't think this era has been all bad, for instance this 'a message from cm punk' is the peak display of that, at least I reckon.

    ^I keep going back to it every now and then, I love it, haha. But yeah it hasn't been the same for quite some time, bit of a bummer.

    Legit question: How many post-attitude era wrestlers can cut a better promotional spot than Conor McGregor?

    I’ve shared the path of Mark and many other fans I’d imagine in going from lapsing WWF/E fan in the mid-2000’s straight into being a UFC nut.

    I still like wrestling for all its glorious stupidity, but I haven’t watched an episode of RAW/ Smackdown in well over a decade and when I have watched Wrestlemania (which I do most years) it comes across as though they’re clinging to the last remnants of that mid-90’s era.
    Most of the stars are either guys who were around when I stopped (Cena/ Orton), new guys who seem sh*t or the aging stars like HHH, Rock, Undertaker ect.

    It won’t die anytime soon, but it wouldn’t surprised if the WWE has to make major changes to its TV scheduling over the next few years. It can’t be cheap to run all those shows!

      This is the reason there is so much filler and only a couple of matches per show, its the same with most reality shows, 1 minute of "coming up", then an advert, then 1 minute of "previously" (in the same show), then about 5mins of actual content and then more "coming up" & "previously" so for every 5minutes of content you get 2 minutes of preview/reviews and thats how they can afford to keep producing so many shows per week/month/year

    I think the main issues with WWE is that they are stubborn and don't want to embrace change. They stubbornly force guys like Roman Reins down the throats of fans and expect them to just accept that. This mightve been the norm in the 80s with guys like Hulk and Warrior, but nowadays things have changed, fans interests have changed. We don't want a generic muscle man that wears bright colours and fights for all that is good. Who constantly crushes every evil stereotype in his way. We want someone like Dean Ambrose who may not be a muscled giant but he knows how to put on interesting matches and interact with the fans and make them interested in what he is doing. This logic also works for someone like Bray Wyatt but add in the fact that his bayou cult leader personality sets him apart from generic angry man #1.

    I followed a similar path and switched to UFC to get my combat sport fix and dropped the WWE entirely, despite being a HUGE and lifelong fan. Unfortunately, the UFC became a series of massive build ups with zero pay-off, time after time. This eventually led me back to wrestling mid way through 2014 and I'm very glad I'm back as the talent that is currently out there is outstanding.

    Yes, there is a big problem with the WWE, but there is plenty of good product out there.

    NXT is simply sensational, while ROH and NJPW, while not as accessible, are amazingly compelling products.

    While the WWE, for me, still delivers highs unlike any other promotion, Seth Rollins' cash in, Sting's Survivor Series return, for example, the current fact is that they're a publicly owned company now which tends to play a major part in their very safe booking style.

    I feel like there won't be a significant change until Vince finally gives it up, although, right now is a very interesting time to be a wrestling fan as there genuinely appears to be significant panic from creative due to their insistence on pushing Reigns to the moon. For fans 'in the know' this in itself does provide a lot of entertainment.

    I'm gunna be the one commenter that is spun out that anyone even watches that shit. All it is is Days of our lives starring near naked men pretending to slap eachother.

      Just like half the action movies out there. All entertainment is fake - get over it.

    It also doesn't help that the E do not know how to push a dominant heel worth shit (bar Lesnar).

    If you go back to 2000 though the storylines and everything else are pretty much the same as they are today.

    Take Sin Cara dropping the belt that was done a years ago halfway through a Raw and it was for the WWE title. Attitude era worked because the WWE didn't worry about Wrestlers writing their own promo's or anything like that this day and age it is so scripted.

    I grew up in the attitude era. It was brilliant. I stopped watching around '05 and went back to it mid 2014 after hearing all the Daniel Bryan hype. I couldn't even make it to the next Wrestlemania before I stopped. The 2015 Royal Rumble was the last straw for me as the writing and characters were terrible. Corporate Kane and Big Show were stinkin up the joint every week.

    NXT was great and was the only thing worth watching. The stories were well written and the characters were believable because the wrestlers had some time and freedom to develop. Until Vince lets go and the main shows become more like NXT it's not worth watching. Even the PPV's were terrible. The only thing I regret is missing CM Punk.

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