Is Sports Entertainment on Life Support? (Part One)
I've been watching wrestling for a while now, nearly 10 years, and there have been many highs and lows in the world of sports entertainment.
I first discovered wrestling when I was six by checking out an old Attitude Era tape with superstars such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and Triple H.
I was amazed by the spectacle before me, and I went to the lengths of renting out the entire video store collection of old tapes so that I could watch sports entertainment at its peak.
Sure, I was exposed to a little crude language—although my big brother can be credited to my now extensive vocabulary—but I witnessed some of the greatest feuds that Vince and Co. had to offer.
After I had settled in the Emirates, I started researching other promotions such as WCW and I went through the history of the WWE: From the cartoonish, over-the-top gimmicks that had all the kids positioned in their happy places, to the edgy, no nonsense attitudes of the '90s.
That has me wondering: What era are we in now?
Are we still in the Attitude Era, or have we gone back to the stupid gimmicks of the '80s?
Wrestling promotions were losing stars to Vince McMahon as he broke all the conventional rules of wrestling.
He took the likes of Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and Shawn Michaels and made them household names.
Through the years, these cash cows have served him well, as his intent was to make money.
He created Wrestlemania, was involved in a public relations fiasco, and had some of the top stars of his promotion leave for better offers.
In a desperate effort to create new superstars, he started pushing young talent.
He would eventually let the line in the sand fade that distinguished what was decent and what was morally reprehensible.
He was losing the Monday Night Wars.
It was then that Vince's greatest moment came and he rose to the occasion to provide sports entertainment like you have never seen.
Monday Night Raw moved away from the crowd pleasing gimmicks and took a head first plunge into a whole new plethora of storylines, rivalries, and gimmicks.
Vince had once again produced cash cows to reap the benefit of all their hard work, and why not?
He had deserved to bask in the glory; he had made the WWE what it is today.
Ever since the end of the Wars, Vince has been looking in a new direction.
Vince did not care for restrictions before, but now, he was slowly evolving into this conservative and family-friendly businessman.
We're in the PG era now, dominated by babyfaces who are either out of their prime or those who have become "tweeners."
Vince went from controversial to downright pathetic.
You don't have to be an expert to see that WWE is on life support, and soon, if things take a turn for the worse, the plug is going to be pulled.
Vince McMahon will never quit, you say?
Vince McMahon will never give up, you say?
Are you the same people who were cheering "nWo for life," or do you actually believe Vince has nine lives?
Vince's latest money maker has been John Cena.
No matter what you're personal opinion is of the guy, he's a hard worker, and he deserved the top spot two or three years ago.
But that is all Vince has ever done, produce cash cows.
Let's review the medical chart, shall we?
The start of the year looked to be promising with all new storylines and perhaps a few rising stars looking to become the future of the business.
But the ball has been dropped so many times since then, you'll need at least four hands to count the exact number of times.
I'm not criticising the WWE.
It's Vince I have a bone to pick with.
Whatever you say or do, the head honcho is the one who puts the seal of approval on it, no matter who comes up to him asking him to take a look at ridiculous "mankini" catalogues, or telling him how getting kicked in the head would be great for the business.
I commend Vince for his ability to keep us hooked for all these years: You, Vince, are responsible for keeping the millions of us entertained throughout the years.
You were looked at as a mad genius when you were at the peak of popularity.
Now, you are just plain mad.
The outright stupid plot lines that you have come up with astound me.
From giving complete power of the flagship show to a 500-pound whale, to destroying the credibility of 24 divas all in one night, you have certainly gone crazy...with power, that is.
You haven't found your cash cow, so you've resorted to cheap stunts that no one appreciates.
Sure, it gives us a laugh or two, but how could you not think twice before decimating the prestige of the Intercontinental championship...and in 21 seconds, no less.
Do you have a personal vendetta against all the future Hall of Famers who held the Intercontinental championship, or did you just forget that that belt has one of the most storied histories of all titles?
All the while, you choose to ignore the simple fact that you are pushing the few popular superstars away from the spotlight.
I thought bitter rivalries with other companies would not hinder your judgment when allowing talent to shine through, but clearly, you have proven that even the smartest man can let his ego get in the way of all else.
And what about the fountain of established talent that you push aside so that Santino can show off his little Miss Wrestlemania crown and do a little dance for us?
You could have CM Punk and perhaps Shelton in the spotlight with them fighting for the MITB briefcase, but instead, we have a cross-dresser telling us how great it is to be Ms. Wrestlemann-i-a.
The facts are simple. The evidence from the last four months, or perhaps the last two years, play out before you.
Can you honestly say that we aren't missing something?
Can you honestly say that sports entertainment is healthy and whole?
Vince, you have been desperately clinging to the notion that as long as established stars like Triple H, Edge, and Cena stay in the picture, there is no need to bring improvement to the show.
I didn't mention Orton in the same breath, since he has yet to establish himself as a constant force in the main event scene.
You wanted Raw beefed up. I presumed you meant talent, but you meant actual beef, as you put the likes of Kane and Big Show on Raw.
As long as you hold on to the notion that the money will keep rolling in despite the crap you pull out of your proverbial corporate cave, you will never be part of another breakthrough.
And why won't he get the money?
We as wrestling fans have shown the fiercest loyalty of all.
We have stuck by the same old crap until something new was thrown our way.
But can the same be said about the other side of the argument? Does Vince strive to bring us quality entertainment?
At times, yes he does.
But if things don't change, and soon, this year will be known as the most humiliating year for WWE.
You can blame it on the economy all you like, but you know the truth.
It has been hit-and-miss with the Triple H/Orton feud so far, and now with Batista in the picture, this feud is headed straight for the gutters.
Wrestling in and of itself is not in jeopardy.
As far as in-ring entertainment is concerned, we are being served with a whole new platter of styles and technical maneuvers, and this is what keeps us wrestling fans alive.
The same cannot be said for sports entertainment.
The inability to surprise the fans, the inability to effectively give us what we crave more than anything else....entertainment.
Vince McMahon created the monster known as sports entertainment.
That monster is slowly dying, living as nothing more than a vegetable at a medical facility near the WWE headquarters.
Will it ever regain its strength and make a hellacious return to captivate, to enthrall, to excite us?
Only time will tell.
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