Is it just me, or does it seem that being a wrestling fan is getting harder as the weeks pass?
Every week, I read frustrated fans (like myself) vent and give their opinions as to what they want to see and how things could be improved.
How do these promotions show that they value our input, you ask? Well, just tune in, watch, and the answer becomes pretty obvious.
For a while now, the WWE has be treating its fan base like they are a bunch of dumb children who have no idea of what they want.
Every week, we tune in naively hoping that our rants and wishes will accomplish something. Unfortunately, the only thing that's accomplished is the WWE's ability to eclipse its own futility.
It seems like every other article I've read has fans writing or commenting on how they miss the days of the Attitude Era. They write how they miss classic feuds with guys like Stone Cold and the Rock.
They talk about how the era gave us new storylines, like the formation of the nWo and DX's raid on WCW. They tell us how the era was the birthplace for new exciting stars like the Hardyz and E&C (just to name a few).
However, the one thing that seems to be talked about and missed the most is how the era had competition. This forced the companies involved to give fans what they wanted to see, which in turn resulted in a boom in the wrestling business as a whole.
When the war was over and one company was left standing, many fans were concerned as to how this would affect wrestling's future. However, I don't think any of us at the time understood how bad it would eventually get.
In the first years after the war, the WWE was still going along fine, thanks to the stars that had been established in the Era. As the years passed, we started to see fewer new stars, more talent getting buried, and bad stories forced down our throats.
The WWE could get away with this because of the monopoly they now had in professional wrestling. This complacency, however, has not gone unpunished, as they have seen ratings decline over the years.
The ratings declines are just a drop in the bucket, as it is a result of the WWE's biggest, most glaring problem, bad creative writing.
The WWE's current problems such as, a lack of new main-event performers, poor storylines, rehashing of old rivalries, under-utilized talent and devalued championships, can all be traced back to their poor writing.
But, as up and down as it has been the last few years, I feel it has gotten steadily worse in these last few months. In fact, it has gotten so bad, that it makes me believe the WWE has entered some kind of writing recession.
To illustrate this point, lets take a look at the current crop of WWE programming.
First we have RAW, a show that has Hornswoggle getting as much face time as the WWE champion...a WWE champion that couldn't generate heat if he set the building on fire.
Weekly rehashes of rivalries that were supposed to be finished. Finally, this is all highlighted by bad comedy segment after bad comedy segment, that only Michael Cole seems to find humor in.
Next, we have Smackdown, a show where we have the champion not getting very much face time. We then have more repeating of rivalries.
Also, the writers decided that it would be a good idea to turn heel a guy who is telling kids not to smoke, drink, or take drugs (in a time when they are trying to market to kids). Finally, what would a WWE show be without of course, more bad comedy segments?
Lastly, we have ECW, with a great champion in Christian, who, thanks to more bad writing, has no rival. We have a talk show with a guy who we have never seen wrestle. He makes up for this by giving us, you've guessed it, more bad comedy segments.
However, in this situation, none of this really matters, when you have a show that's one hour long on a network that gets about as many viewers as patrons at a library.
This has left many of us wrestling fans wondering if we will ever see another Attitude-type era again?
Enter TNA, the closest thing that WWE has to competition. Started in 2002, by Jeff Jarrett, TNA has had a mediocre rise to popularity. This rise got what many thought, was a huge boost last October when TNA announced the signing of Hulk Hogan.
Many wrestling fans viewed this as the beginning of competition that wrestling desperately needs. This was further fueled by the announcement that TNA was going to have a live Monday night broadcast to compete with RAW on Jan. 4, 2010.
This announcement gave many of us wrestling fans hope because finally, there was a company willing to challenge the WWE's monopoly.
Unfortunately, the leaders of the rebellion were the same guys who led the last rebellion, and well, I don't think I need to tell anyone how well that turned out.
Nonetheless, Hogan and company started out by saying all the right things. They said, how the WWE monopoly has given us a stale product.
They told everyone how wrestling needs to be the focus instead of bad comedy. They even told us that it was “time for a change” and, that on Jan. 4, people would be witnessing a new era.
So how did TNA usher in this new era? Well, they started off by giving us a match, that all the participants involved couldn't actually win. This was followed up by the worst introduction of a free agent signing I've ever seen.
The show also gave us some backstage segments that made no sense at all. We also got to see Hogan inadvertently turn himself heel, advertised matches that never happened and a NWO reunion that at times looked like some sort of telethon.
This was made even worse when you factor in a TNA video package that had Bubba, the love sponge, asking fans what they wanted to see.
One response that stood out to me was when a fan said they wanted to see more wrestling. TNA answered this, by giving fans less than one hour of in-ring action in a three hours show.
How, after having months to prepare and after asking fans what they want to see, could they proceed to go live with such a train wreck of a show?
The show wasn't a complete disaster, as we did get to see a great match with Styles vs. Angle. However, based on the ratings, I question how many people actually saw that match live, as TNA's ratings dropped in the second and third hours.
The fact is that as much as TNA claims that they will give the fans what they want, all they are really doing is giving the fans what they think we want. Can someone explain to me how that differs from what the WWE is doing?
TNA claims that Monday was the start of the war, but they are wrong. This war will only start once they realize that it's the fans who dictate what type of programming they want to see.
It really bothers me when the people who run the business seem to put vocal fans down and tell us that we don't know what we are talking about. They will tell us that we haven't worked in the business, so our opinions shouldn't be taken seriously.
However, to completely dismiss the ideas, suggestions and critiques of the very people you are trying to win over is the equation for your own demise.
Maybe we haven't run our own promotion or worked behind the scenes, but no smart business just dismisses their customers' opinions.
Many businesses spend a lot of money on surveys and focus groups to find out how they can improve their business or product for their customers.
These companies realize, that once you stop giving the customers what they want, you no longer have customers.
I, like many, will continue to give my opinion, in the hope, that one day, WWE and TNA will listen and use these critiques, to improve themselves and their product; because if they don't, then fans might stop caring about them.