Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!
The PG Era is here to stay—well, at least for a while.
Time and time again, Vince McMahon has maintained his commitment to the WWE’s PG rating while his successor-in-training, Triple H, has echoed those thoughts and made it just as clear that the WWE won’t go back to a TV-14 rating anytime soon.
But no matter how committed McMahon and Triple H are to WWE PG, it’s not going to last forever.
Especially in a world like pro wrestling that’s always evolving, the WWE will adapt with the times, and some day, the “PG Era” will be over and done with.
We just don’t know what will come afterward.
Might we see another Attitude Era-like period? What about something that echoes the Ruthless Aggression Era? Maybe something along the lines of what we watched in the 1980s and early 1990s?
No one can be sure what will happen in the next two, three, five or 10 years that could turn the WWE upside down and make the PG Era go bye-bye.
Perhaps there is even an off chance that nothing changes and the PG Era is still going strong in 2030.
But let’s just be honest: That’s pretty doubtful, and odds are that something will replace the PG Era in the not-so-distant future.
Though the start date of the Attitude Era is debatable, many say that it started at King of the Ring in 1996 with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s famous “Austin 3:16 speech” and ended in 2001, when the then-WWF purchased WCW.
That, of course, means that the Attitude Era lasted roughly five years.
What came next was the Ruthless Aggression Era, which also has debatable start and finish dates, but more or less began in 2002 with the debuts of guys like Brock Lesnar and John Cena and then ended (whether officially or unofficially) in 2008 when the WWE went PG.
So, in essence, the last two major wrestling “eras” lasted roughly five to six years, which could be a sign that we’re actually not that far away from whatever the WWE’s next era is.
But just what is it going to be?
If I had to guess, I’d say that the WWE’s next era won’t feature as risqué programming as we saw during the Attitude Era, nor will it be as watered down as the PG Era has been at times.
I think it will fall somewhere in between, with the PG rating still intact.
Fans tend to blame the PG rating for most of the WWE’s current problems, and while it may be a contributing factor at times, the bottom line is that everything stems from the creative team.
Regardless of what rating WWE programs will have, the product can be entertaining if the writing is good. After all, some of the most successful TV shows of all time were able to thrive with a PG rating.
Shows like Friends and Seinfeld had a PG rating. Yet, many consider them to be two of the greatest sitcoms ever made,
Why? Because the writing was good, and the shows were able to be edgy without crossing the line.
If you’re a Friends fan, you know that the show is absolutely hilarious, but that it doesn’t rely on over-the-top storylines, cursing or things of that nature to succeed.
Sure, those types of things happen. But generally speaking, Friends was actually a pretty family friendly show that only occasionally teetered on the borderline of inappropriateness.
I think that’s what the WWE’s next era will try to do.
In fact, we’ve already seen small samples of this during the PG Era, when WWE superstars do things that most people don’t exactly associate with a PG rating.
Guys like The Rock and CM Punk, especially, have cursed up a storm, Cena and Lesnar have drawn blood during their matches, and even people such as Teddy Long have dropped a number of sexual innuendos on TV.
That’s fully what I expect the WWE to strive for whenever the “PG Era” is over, but at the same time, the WWE will be able to keep its PG rating.
You limit the poop jokes and corny humor, but you bring out as much edginess as possible without crossing over into the type of programming that we only see on TV-14-rated shows.
We don’t need to see Trish Stratus stripping in front of the live crowd or Sable wearing a painted bikini to move into a different era.
We just need the WWE to shy away from the Teletubbies-like humor it tends to have at times, and instead, book a product that is risqué but appropriate enough to be watched by viewers of all ages.
Trust me, it’s possible. It’s just up to the creative team, McMahon and Triple H.
If they put their heads together and decide that the PG rating doesn’t severely limit what the company can do, then a PG-rated WWE can still have an edge and appeal to the masses.
And most importantly, it can still be entertaining.