WWE: Why the Company Needs Veterans to Keep Moving Ahead

Tom Clark@tomclarkbrFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2012

photo by wwe.com
photo by wwe.com

Eight times.  Eight times I have watched the playback of WWE Monday Night Raw episode 1000 on DVR over the past two weeks, and with every viewing it just keeps getting better.

What a night, right?

Legendary Superstars, men and women who were responsible for putting Raw on the map, and making it the success that it has become, all assembled under the same roof, for one night only.  The card for that evening was a who’s who of the professional wrestling business.

Triple H, Shawn Michaels, the original DX, The Rock, Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, Trish Stratus, Lita, John Cena, WWE Champion CM Punk, were all highlights of an event the likes of which we as fans have never seen before, and will likely never see again.

And, what a shame that is.

This is the part where it would be very easy to come off sounding like one of those jaded wrestling fans, those people who are stuck in the past, and do nothing but whine and cry about the current product.

It‘s okay, trust me, my intention is not to sound like Mr. Complaineypants here.  Not at all.

But (and you knew there was a but, right) I have to say that WWE does not seem to have very many of these big-time moments happening all that much anymore.  Not specifically the 1000th episode, that was a one of a kind event that we will not see again until Friday Night SmackDown reaches that number.

For me, the big time moments do not necessarily have to revolve around an historic night in the company.  It’s the vibe, the aura that was created that night, causing fans of all ages to anticipate every segment, look forward to every match, knowing that something truly special was happening from the moment Raw went live on the air.

When was the last time fans could say they really felt that level of excitement, start to finish, from Vince McMahon’s company?

The simple reason for the buzz on Raw that night was obviously the sheer volume of talent on hand, the returning Superstars who were there to celebrate WWE’s accomplishments, and give their fans some very cool moments in the process.

Be honest, wasn’t the DX reunion alone worth the price of admission?

Hunter, Shawn, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, and X-Pac, all going through their routine in the ring, laughing, having fun, and reminding many fans why they started following Raw in the first place.  For those of us who watched the Monday Night Wars several years ago, it was a bit of nostalgia.  And, for those fans too young to remember, it was a quick glimpse of what the top faction in WWE history looked, and sounded, like.

No drama.  No silly storyline, or promos that went on for too long.  Just five guys having fun, doing what they do best.  DX were more entertaining in one spot than some guys are in a month’s worth of work.

But, they should be.  They came up the hard way, earning their stripes in the No. 1 pro wrestling company in the world, working for the most successful, most demanding promoter in the history of the business.  They know how to get over, and what it means to bring it every time they step into the ring.

Perhaps it’s that veteran mentality, that old-school attitude, that is lacking somewhat from today’s WWE.  Fans know that when they tune into Raw, they will see the fresh faces, the younger Superstars who will lead the company into the future.  

It’s expected, and the fact is, all of those legends who rose to prominence during the Attitude Era, were all once young talents themselves, who had to prove they were worthy of the spotlight.  The WWE has to keep moving forward, just as it did then.

But I believe that there is room for some veteran presence in WWE, a way to give older viewers a chance to reconnect, and to perhaps bring back some of that excitement that fans felt as they watched Raw 1000.

And, it appears as though Vince McMahon may just agree with that sentiment, as there is reportedly some interest on WWE’s part in bringing Billy Gunn back in some capacity.  It makes sense, as the guy has a great attitude, he looks good, and fans warm up to him considerably well.  

Plus, there’s the fact that Road Dogg works for Vince behind the scenes, so there is always the opportunity for the New Age Outlaws to have a match or two on WWE TV.

It may not sound like much in terms of bringing back some of the old guard, but it could be a move in the right direction, one that could help improve the overall quality of the WWE product.

Don’t misunderstand me here, I am not suggesting that WWE fill their locker room with past Superstars, put them in key spots on the card, and push them above the younger talents.  We have seen a pro wrestling company do that before, and it didn’t exactly work out too well.

Right, Eric Bischoff?

But, I believe that, as well evidenced by the fan reaction, ratings, and buzz that Raw 1000 generated, that WWE would be well served to not only keep recognizing its recent past, but to feature it occasionally.  

It’s good for the younger guys who are still learning their craft, it’s good for the fans watching, and it’s good for the company as a whole.

In the meantime, if you’ll excuse me, I’m headed back the DVR.  No. 9 is about to happen.