The Slow Death of the WWE Continues
In little more than two weeks, John Cena will be trying to recapture the WWE title from the hands of Randy Orton at the inaugural Bragging Rights PPV show.
For casual wrestling fans, this must seem like a great matchup, two young superstars going at it in a 60 minute IronMan match, with the winner getting the honor of holding up the most prestigious belt in professional wrestling.
However, if you a more passionate fan of pro grappling, this main event might be just another case of ho-hum. You see dear readers, John Cena and Randy Orton are facing off in the showcase match for the fifth time in a row.
For that fact, the aforementioned two wrestlers along with HHH, have participated in the last 39 pay-per-view WWE title matches, of which close 18 featured only them.
What's Wrong With This Picture?
With the Raw ratings crashing to the very low 3s, Smackdown being relegated to the obscure MyNetwork, and ECW as a glorified version of Heat, Vince McMahon has seen his baby fall to such a low level of mainstream popularity, that it makes this writer reminisce of the New Generation era where the then-WWF almost went bankrupt.
Pro Wrestling has always gone through phases of popularity followed by dips into obscurity since the early 80s, from the Rock 'N" Roll days with Hulk Hogan at the top, to the lows of the New Generation with Diesel as champion, and back to the top with the Attitude Era lead by Steve Austin and the Rock.
But since the purchase of WCW in 2001, wrestling has seen its prominence in the mainstream media slowly and steadily decline, while other companies like the UFC take over the much sought after 18-to-24 male demographic.
How Did This Happen?
From 1979 to 1989, five men had the pleasure of reigning as WWF champions, with Hulk Hogan as the number one guy accounting for over 75 percent of those years.
From 1990 to 1998, the title changed hands 30 times.
Since 1999, the premiere championship in wrestling has been flipped around an astonishing 51 times, with an average reign lasting 63 days, and since 2006, being in the hands of Orton, HHH, or Cena for a total of 91% of that time.
Now many would blame this on the fact that we know have 13-15 pay-per-view shows a year compared to the handful in the 80s and early 90s, necessitating title matches during every main event, increasing the chances of title changes.
Alright, Now Why Isn't this Working
During it's heyday in the mid to late 90s, the WWF had a plethora of superstars on whom to bestow the title, from Bret Hart to Shawn Michaels, passing through The Stone Colds to the Undertakers, even men like Mankind and Psycho Sid having there crack at the No. 1 slot.
While today the brunt of the Main Event scene is monopolised by three men. John Cena, the man who WWE brass continues to shove down our face as THE babyface of our era even though he is routinely booed, Randy Orton, a heel with the charisma of a lamp and one the the sloppiest workers out there, and of course HHH, Vince's son-in-law.
Vince McMahon always prided himself on being able to create the next big thing, but he has been pushing the same three guys at the fans for the past three years, all the while seeing his product lose considerable value.
There has been complains recently that the reason for the fall of the WWE is caused by the decision to go PG a few years back, that there is no valid young guys with enough talent to carry the company, or hell why not blame it on Ted Turner again for good ole times sake.
The fact of the matter is that the product is stale with a bunch of guys going at it at the top nobody wants to see, at least not every month.
Hogan might have been the champ at one point for 5 years in a row, but he was not forced to face off against Randy Savage at every major show.
Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart had a great feud in 1997, but that finally gave way to Steve Austin when he became the man.
We all know that pro wrestling is the world of the young teen male, driving the sales of the promoters and making stars along the way. In the past though, Vince and his staff saw that his fans needed to be continually stimulated to keep interest.
Does he really think in this day and age of the internet and 500-channel cable companies, that he cannot take a risk to move his product along for fear that they walk away?
As a life-long fan, I will always keep my eye on the world of pro wrestling, for maybe the next Bret Hart is middling around in the lower end of cards, but i fear that the Golden Age of wrestling will never return, and that the younger viewers will be stuck watching incompetent wrestlers like John Cena and Randy Orton fighting over a belt in the same match year after year.
For that matter, I cant help but think, the end of the line is near...
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