“The PG era sucks.”
Gosh, if I got even a tenth of a penny every time I’ve heard or read that, I’d probably be owning some serious stock in the WWE right now.
That’s been the battle cry of the anti-PG wrestling fans since 2008, who have been fed up with the WWE’s switch to a PG rating and everything that’s come along with it.
Basically as soon as what is now labeled as the “PG Era” started, fans have been asking if and when it’s going to end.
The pessimist says that the WWE will stick with its new PG rating for the rest of its existence.
The optimist says that the WWE, just like anything else, will eventually change.
Well, I guess I’m an optimist today.
I’m not taking this “PG era of doom” approach that so many people seem to be taking. Obviously, there are things I would change about the WWE’s current programming, but I do see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Why? Because nothing lasts forever.
The notion that the WWE will always cater toward a younger demographic as it currently does is one that can be disproved simply by looking at history.
Just like the NBA, NFL and MLB, pro wrestling has changed as the times have changed.
New rules are made, new collective bargaining agreements are signed, and so on and so forth.
The game of pro football is drastically different today than it was in the 1960s or 1970s for a plethora of reasons.
The same is true for the WWE.
Just as concussion research has changed the way NFL players are allowed to play, changes in society have changed professional wrestling.
The pro wrestling boom of the 1980s catered to a much different audience than the boom of the 1990s did.
The product changed, the faces changed, the stories changed—everything changed. Companies adapted and altered their product in order to give it a bigger or different appeal.
Some of the outlandish things that happened in the late 1990s during the Attitude Era never would have happened when Hulk Hogan was rising to fame in the 1980s. Similarly, storylines that we saw during the Ruthless Aggression Era in the early-to-mid 1990s would have no place in today’s WWE.
In other words, pro wrestling is cyclical.
There are times when a big chunk of wrestling fans are into a violent style of wrestling, which gives rise to companies like ECW.
There are times when risqué storylines are what appeal most to fans, which is why the Attitude Era was so successful.
There are times when a company wants to appeal more to the masses, which is why the WWE switched to the PG rating in 2008.
Just like with anything else you’ll experience in life, things change.
Will WWE ever return to more mature content?
Realistically speaking, there shouldn’t be a wrestling fan walking the face of the Earth who legitimately thinks that the PG era will never end and that the WWE as we know it today will always be the same.
That’s insane. Almost comical, in fact.
Although there may not currently be a call for a switch to more mature content, the pro wrestling business is one that’s ever-evolving.
What works today will not work five years from now, just like something that happened five years ago wouldn’t necessarily work today.
It is Vince McMahon’s current stance that the PG rating is, as Triple H might say, “best for business” because it brings in better sponsors, appeals to a wider audience, etc.
But even if that’s true as I write this, who’s to say that will be true in 2013? Who’s to say that won’t change tomorrow?
While the WWE’s current PG direction may last another 10 or 20 years, human history—forget wrestling history—has showed us that people want different things at different times.
Right now, Vince and the WWE want a product that caters to kids and doesn’t have the shock value that it once did. But he may wake up three weeks from now and decide that a switch to more mature content is better for the company.
Regardless of where you think the WWE is today or will go in the not-so-distant future, though, you can’t possibly think that it will be in the same place for the rest of eternity.