Wrestling with the Image: Is the WWE Still a Sought-After Career?

Cec Van GaliniAnalyst IIIAugust 8, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 16: Vince McMahon attends a press conference to announce that WWE Wrestlemania 29 will be held at MetLife Stadium in 2013 at MetLife Stadium on February 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images)
Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images

It is easy to assume that the modern era is the worst for celebrity. The concept of bright lights blinding the mass public is, however, nothing new; after all, the Ancient Romans had bread and circuses. But what is interesting is the nature of today's celebrity culture and the role this has played in the wrestling world.

Like the WWE, Hollywood, has always sought to maximize any potential fan trends, even if there is no apparent talent behind the phenomenon. If someone is popular, they are a star. And if they are a star, money is to be made.

The WWE, since its revolution under Vince McMahon Jr., has always espoused a form of Rock and Wrestling culture. The wrestling eras since the 1980s have always been built upon a superstar of such magnitude that they almost single-handedly market the wrestling world. First, we had Hogan, then Austin, then The Rock, now Cena.

These superstars have made wrestling what it is today, whether that is good or bad.

However, the age of celebrity has also created a new phenomenon for wrestling. Whether it's the long and grueling schedules, perhaps, the appeal of greener pastures elsewhere or the boyhood dreams of performing on stage, it seems that wrestlers, once they make it big, make for the door.

In contrast to the likes of Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan who always made wrestling their first love, the likes of Steve Austin, Chris Jericho and The Rock have abandoned the squared circle for the bright lights of other arenas.

They have the absolute right to do so.

No one has to be a wrestler for life.

However, has wrestling's murky past combined with poor and unimaginative storylines created a culture for wrestlers that makes the WWE simply a launching pad for someone to make it big in Hollywood?

The authority in this matter is The Rock. His recent appearances have electrified the wrestling world, and yet, they have also been mere teasers. We will duly await his next appearance which may very well be the Royal Rumble. However, as we do, are we not distracted from that budding superstar looking to make a name for themselves?

An ability to use his larger than life personality means that The Rock gets the best of both worlds. He is able to make huge amounts of money and have fun into the bargain. There are no house shows, no excessive traveling or real worry of injury or burnout.

The professional full-time wrestler may, therefore, be a thing of the past.

And so, the question I ask is whether or not people are proud to be a wrestler anymore? Has wrestling become an obsolete pseudo-sport cartoon, or is there enough prestige left in the likes of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan to remain a noble and celebrated art form?

It remains to be seen exactly how wrestling will progress in the next 10 years, now that the golden eras of the 1980s and 1990s have gone. Some are trying to hold up the mantle, but in my opinion, pressures of PG together with Linda McMahon's continual election campaign, wrestling is struggling to remain relevant.

If Vince McMahon can no longer make a star, how long has wrestling got before the people seek their bread and circuses elsewhere?