Hi all Bleachers.
A year ago we get the Rock coming back to WWE. Speculation abounded and still does on how much the Rock will be investing in a renaissance career in WWE. One could have speculated that this was an isolated incident, a wrestler who still had his physical skills intact returning to something he loved. Stranger things have happened, heck even Hacksaw Jim Duggan came back to the WWE briefly a few years back, and Ric Flair has been around since Moses was a ring boy.
In addition to the question of how long and how much, comes why? The Rock represented a very different era, the Era of Attitude. It was a darker time, a time of the Nation of Domination, DX and crotch chops. A time when anything went if it could bring in ratings, and what brought in ratings was the violent and outrageous.
Another alum of this Era would be Brock Lesnar. Short on years but long on influence and attitude, he was positively scary (and he seems to have lost none of that scary intensity if his wordless return to Raw is any indication. This guy gave me the creeps!) and indeed one of the most dominating heels of his time if not the last decade.
Two stars. Different time coming back to a WWE very different from the one they left.
The current incarnation of the WWE is known as the PG era. Family friendly TV designed to bring in mom, dad and the kids.
Now, one can debate when exactly Vince went from "Suck it!" to "You can't see me," but in doing some research, both Brock and The Rock took their leave of the WWE at roughly the same time, 2004.
At around this same time, this guy named John Cena came around this general time of the early 2000s. Much like the times in which he came up, Cena's character would not have been terribly recognizable to the Cena fan of today. He was a doctor of Thuganomics and very much acted like a thug. In fact, I can remember Brock Lesnar and John Cena having a feud and John's famous FU (now monickered 'Attitude Adjustment') was an almost identical copy of Brock Lesnar's F5.
But with Brock and the Rock moving to greener pastures or at least, other pastures, WWE creative took the good doctor and ran with him giving the US and then Heavy Weight strap. Gone was the thug mannerisms and rapping and in their stead a family friendly super hero was born and an Era, the Era of PG found itself the de facto law of the land.
But what, you ask dear reader, does all this have to do with anything, today or tomorrow?
Well I am only speculating here, but in doing a little bit of research, I did find some interesting bits of information, summarized as follows:
1. Rock and Lesnar wrestle and Raw ratings go from the high 3.0's to into the 5.0's.
2. Rock and Lesnar leave, Cena rises in 2004 or so, Raw ratings hover in the mid 3.0's to the 4.0's
3. Since 2008, Raw's ratings have been bottoming out to the high 2.0's and Low 3.0's, and this trend has not stopped.
This is not a Pile on Cena article nor will he be brought up much. In fact, just for the sake of honesty, I am a big John Cena fan.
But one thing which one can speculate upon is the fact that while the PG era has opened up wrestling to young fans (this was always wrestling's preferred demographic it was just not openly said), it has not done much for the viewership. I am not here to debate the merits of the PG era, but I think it is a fair speculation that going from the Attitude era to the PG era has not sat well with many fans based on the ratings. A deeply troubled network, long a goal of the McMahons has to have Vince reminiscing on happier times.
These happier times were during the Attitude Era and Brock and Rock fit this era and in many ways defined it.
The whys of the return are speculative. Perhaps the Rock wanted to return to something that has always been a passion for him, and he wants to try to juggle two very demanding careers.
Perhaps Brock Lesnar wanted a soft landing after a brief but impactful career in MMA.
What I think is easier to see is that WWE is trying to go back to a time that many disaffected fans, both watching and not watching can relate more to, a time when WWE had bigger ratings and created more buzz.
This is the reason, I think, that John Cena was defeated by the Rock. Instead of passing the torch forward, WWE Passed the Torch back
John Cena is a catalyst for the Civil War going on in the audience of WWE shows, an audience in the PG Era but many of whom are wishing they were back in the in the Days of Attitude and Aggression. Half of the audience is too young to remember anything else and the other half is old enough to have seen both sides of the bridge and are lustily casting their vote as to their favorite when they scream "Cena Sucks!"
Vince is not stupid. Vince is trying to re-create, I think, a moment in time when the WWE was far more middle finger than five knuckle.
So expect things to get darker, more violent, more nihilistic. John Cena, the face of the PG era, will have to adjust or die, as all wrestlers at some point must.
Regardless of my point of view on any of the wrestlers above, I have to wonder about this move. Neither wrestler is closer to 20 that 40 and the whole thing just seems so derivative to me especially when there is so much talent already here, new and fresh. Some of it under or not at all utilized. Here are these two wrestlers, important as they were to the PAST being counted on to carry a company into the FUTURE. Two wrestlers of questionable number of years and ability to commit.
I think WWE is trying to re-create the past. This is a shame. Let them change if change is needed, but go with who brought you to the dance not yesterday's date.
WWE used to be about what was next. Now it seems it is just about what was.
I welcome your comments