WWE Hall of Famer Steve Austin spoke out about the troubles facing younger WWE wrestlers today in a column for U.K. wrestling publication Fighting Spirit Magazine this month (via WrestlingInc).
Writing for the magazine, guest columnist Austin mainly complained about newly called up wrestlers lacking any real prerogative in the ring and relying too much on instructions:
Today's guys are very impressionable, and don't really call it in the ring anymore. Some of the guys don't know whether to s--t or wind their watch; when they get in the ring, they have some basics, but they've always been told exactly what to do before they go out there. Back in the day, we were calling it all in the ring; we didn't have anything to be nervous about, because we didn't have to remember anything. All I had to do was listen to a hellacious worker like Billy Joe Travis or Jimmy Jack Funk, trusting them to help lead me through it.
Austin also criticized WWE for bringing up newcomers to the main roster before they were ready:
The guys today are on a big stage, and none bigger than WWE. It's up to the promotion to bring these cats in light, establish them, and help them get over. You can't just bring in someone new and expect them to work a WrestleMania calibre match right away.
Some thoughts on Austin's remarks.
The star is right to note that many younger wrestlers today do only know what WWE's rigid training system has taught them.
Considering the lukewarm state of the wrestling business and the company being the only real game in town (the perpetually struggling TNA cannot be seen as true competition), something like this was probably inevitable.
This isn't the '90s anymore. Wrestlers don't have a chance to hone their craft in places like ECW or WCW. No wonder we're generally seeing only one in-ring style and guys too hesitant to try anything new.
However, it's worth noting that WWE has made the effort in the past couple of years to sign more indie guys—like Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins—both of whom had wrestled all over the world prior to signing their WWE deals.
Hopefully, with the company's new approach to talent signings, the problem Austin is talking about will soon be rectified.
But certainly, the star is correct to point out that the company does have a bad habit of calling up inexperienced developmental workers long before they should.
Indeed, in the last couple of years fans have seen numerous FCW names placed on the main roster, only for them to disappear without a trace soon after (Mason Ryan, anyone?).