On a daily basis, it serves as a depressing stain to an otherwise enjoyable page.
It is nearly impossible these days to click on the link to the wrestling community and not be overwhelmed by an unusually high amount of pessimism. The desperate complaints litter a typically stellar gathering of work.
If something occurs on World Wrestling Entertainment television that is completely unexpected, it is immediately trashed as "bound to fail" or "too far-fetched." If the more reasonable and expected action occurs, stones labeled with "predictable" are instantly launched at the evil empire of sports entertainment.
We have a perfect example of this in the current Donald Trump storyline. For months now, WWE fans have been begging for some major change, some sense of urgency to spark Monday Night Raw. When the change of pace finally came, it was attacked with more venom than a Randy Orton punt to the head.
Is the Trump storyline somewhat quirky? Sure. But name a scenario that would have truly made the world of Internet wrestling critics happy.
New General Manager: Ric Flair? Too predictable.
New owner of Raw: John "Bradshaw" Layfield? See above.
New owner of Raw: Stone Cold Steve Austin? That brings me to my next point.
The most common group of pessimists in the wrestling community are those who relentlessly dream of a return to the Attitude Era. You could just sense them clinging to their television sets, praying to the creative writing gods last week when ownership of Raw was waiting to be announced.
They surely begged for a Stone Cold-type figure to take over their once favorite show and return Monday nights to the glory days of profanity-laden promos and evening gown matches.
The Attitude Era was a tremendous time when WWE put out an edgy product. They dominated the 18-35 male demographic and gave the 5-12 demographic sneak peaks at Torrie Wilson and The Rock while their parents were not looking. However, what most do not seem to understand is that it was an era and not a permanent revolution.
By purchasing World Championship Wrestling, the WWE acquired the audience of a more family-friendly product. Without a more tame alternative, young wrestling fans have been given the options of either watching WWE or being excluded from wrestling fanhood.
It is an understatement that it would be the death of professional wrestling to ostracize the 5-12 demographic, the time when most kids initially get hooked on wrestling.
This has led to the arch-enemy of many Bleacher Report writers, the PG-Era. In my opinion, this era is a result of two things:
First, it has created more advertising dollars. The more diverse your audience, the more sponsors you will find knocking at your doors.
Secondly, a new loyal fan base must be established. The Attitude Era was only possible because the little kids that got hooked on the WWF watching Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant in the 1980s had grown up.
The WWE knows that appealing to the kids is a money pit. The 18-35 market becomes stale after a while, and if you can not appeal to younger generations, you eventually have an over-the-hill industry.
Vince McMahon can be described with many unkind adjectives but dumb is not one of them. Like the Attitude Era, this is simply an era and not a permanent change. In 10 years, when the kids that got hooked cheering on John Cena, Jeff Hardy, and Rey Mysterio are more mature, the product will likely be altered to suit them.
Speaking of Mysterio, one of the things that pushed me over my pessimism tolerance limit was a piece declaring that the upcoming match between Mysterio and Chris Jericho is a lose-lose situation.
The piece stated that the match will either prematurely end Jericho's Intercontinental title run or destroy Mysterio's career by de-masking him. The article used Mysterio's experience losing his mask in WCW as proof for the latter.
It goes without saying that the Jericho-Mysterio feud is one of the best if not the best thing going in the WWE today. Their matches are breathtaking, and the feud has been run well in all areas. I expect Jericho to retain his title and Mysterio to lose his mask at the upcoming Great American-er-The Bash.
I was at the peak of my youthful wrestling fanhood when Mysterio lost his mask in WCW, and I have a rather opposite view of how it went. Was Mysterio pleased with having to give up his mask? No, behind the scenes, he was extremely upset about being unmasked.
However, the move put him over as one of the biggest faces in WCW, especially amongst younger audiences. The crowds sympathized with Mysterio's loss, and he became more of a real-individual in the ring rather than a masked luchador.
The move will work in WWE as well, while igniting the Mysterio-Jericho feud to an insanely high and entertaining level.
Although I am critical of the constant pessimism, I am also very willing to admit that some of the criticism is deserved. I wrote a piece a couple of weeks back about how a lack of competition was hurting the WWE. I feel that the product has picked up sufficiently in the last few weeks, but there are still a few glaring problems.
Legacy has been booked terribly.
Stables are supposed to link veteran stars with younger names and, in the process, prepare those younger names to progress into individual superstars (see Orton in Evolution). That has not been the case here as Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, Jr. have seemingly digressed due to their time in Legacy. Their stock as future superstars seems to be declining each week as they tend to Orton's needs instead of chasing individual mid-card gold.
I also have a problem with most any scenario that includes either Santino/Santina or Goldust. These two just simply seem to waste Raw's precious time and feed us with filler material.
I do love that the writers allow The Miz to call out guys like Goldust and Cena on actual facts. Regardless of what people thought of the Miz/Goldust/Hornswoggle promo on Raw last week, it made kids go berserk and further elevated the recently magnificent heel run of The Miz.
Overall, I honestly feel that the WWE has been putting out a solid product lately, but it still often falters in the perspective of many. As long as people compare these shows to Attitude Era shows, they will never be happy. Last week's Raw was a great show with stellar wrestling.
It proved that it is still possible to put on a good PG show, but it is still obviously going to come off with a different vibe. The nit-picky arguments must stop as more people need to learn to accept this era for what it is.
It is unlikely that the WWE will attempt a "please-all" stunt any time soon but there are possibilities. They could maybe take one of their weekly shows and make it more adult-oriented, leaving the other two for the younger generation that they're trying to grasp.
Until then, credit should be given where it is due. Criticism is perfectly effective in moderation but it is beginning to take the fun out of a simple source of entertainment
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