Competition, Not A Return To An 'Attitude Era', Is The Answer To Your Wrestling Woes
Competition breeds growth. This has certainly been the case with the National Football League and Major League Baseball, as their respective sports have never been bigger. The same idea holds true with Professional Wrestling, but ever since Vinnie Mac delivered the deathblow to WCW, WWE has been essentially the only game in town. Zero disrespect is intended towards TNA, as I regularly find their programming to be superior to that of WWE’s, and much respect to Ring of Honor for becoming the de facto #3 promotion in the United States, but they’re nothing even close to competition for WWE, not in terms of dollars and cents at least. Because of this, I fully believe WWE rests on their laurels, play it safe, and while they hit plenty of singles and doubles, they rarely hit the big home run.
You never run faster than when there’s something snapping at your heels. When WCW pulled the NWO out of their hat, WWE was forced to step up all areas of their game. As we all know, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, and a host of many others, along with improved stories and production value, eventually won out against a talented, but poorly managed WCW. Then Vince took his foot off the gas, and slowly but surely, the product went back to something that was good, not great. The grizzled warrior, back from the war, slid into his favorite pair of sweatpants, grabbed a beer, and eased into his La-Z-Boy. Sure, we’ve seen plenty of good things out of WWE since those days. Many future legends have been created, including John Cena, Randy Orton and CM Punk, but there’s a reason why so many opine the days of the ‘Attitude Era’: because it was better.
The ‘Attitude Era’ was a great time to be a wrestling fan. It’s also long gone and not ever coming back, because you can’t manufacture what was born out of a perfect confluence of events. When Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Lex Luger all jumped from WWE to WCW within the span of a few weeks, it cost WWE three of their top names. This forced others to step up, new stars, bigger stars, crawled out of the wreckage and carried the product to a new level of success. This success was achieved by being aggressive, by never tapping the brakes, by flat out beating WCW into submission. The general public had also not yet been completely desensitized by reality TV and all manner of horror that can be found with just the click of a mouse. Times were different, it’s that simple.
No folks, the answer to many of your wrestling gripes is not a reincarnated ‘Attitude Era’, despite your protestations to the contrary. The answer, dear reader, is competition. Yes, it’s that simple. As long as there are no more dragons to be slayed, Vince McMahon is gonna sit up in the highest part of the castle, surveying all that is his, and play it safe. Why, because he can, that’s why. Vince still has that killer instinct, he simply doesn’t currently have anything to kill. I’ve allowed myself to daydream of the emergence of some wacky billionaire wrestling fan, hell bent on giving Vince a serious run for his money. Someone willing to buy a readymade promotion like TNA, then market the hell out of it. The roster is there, they just need more eyes watching them. Were that to happen, we’d see the real Vince again.
For a few years in our lives, if you were lucky enough to have been around during those years, professional wrestling was water cooler talk. It’d stepped into the spotlight for all the right reasons, not because of steroid talk and far too many early deaths, but because of amazing storytelling, and became must-see TV each and every week. It’s not impossible to foresee a scenario where this sort of thing happens all over again, but it’s gonna take someone goosing the hell out of Vince, Stephanie and HHH to make that happen. Until then, rather than whining about a return of an era you’ll never see again, why not do a little digging around? With some light lifting on your part, you’ll quickly find there’s still plenty of great wrestling out there. You have to wade through a bit more sewage to get to it.