The Professor's Journal: What Happened To The "Wrestling" In The "WWE"?
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For many years now, I have read the numerous articles from people both young, and not so young complaining vehemently about the lack of writing for this wrestler or that! Many say things like, “Where did the wrestling go?”, “Who do they think they are fooling?” “What the F*ck do the d@mned WWE Creative think they are doing with this or that wrestler’s character?”
Well after a lot of research, that has been both intensive and enlightening I have finally found the answer.
First, I need to thank people like JVCXV, Ashley Morris, Devon Givens, Matthew Hester, Iam D Real Deal yo, Joe Martelli and The Phantom for their wonderful articles which inspired this piece. I know that many others have likewise touched on this subject and as such deserve honorable mention.
That being said, the persons aforementioned were the ones whose points were the catalyst that got me to thinking long, and hard on this topic. As many already know, I have preached that research is vital to the difference between a good story and a really insightful, compelling, and thought provoking literary work.
The anagram WWE really does explain it so very well indeed. The first “W” stands for “World”, which Vincent Kennedy McMahon has achieved in his drive to become the Preeminent Promoter of this on the planet.
The second “W” is for the “Wrestling”, as the original vehicle which afforded him the route to really fulfilling his dreams. The final letter is the Great Big “E”, for “Entertainment” and that was the one that saved his world, his company, and his very existence in this war with the WCW.
VKM had begun this manifest destiny by going against the NWA, and its non interference pact with other members and territories. He started the ball rolling by invading the other wrestling jurisdictions and poaching their stars and taking over their television spots. He was ruthless and took what he wanted, when he wanted it.
His father Vince Sr., warned him about the people he was messing with! The NWA was not an organization to be trifled with. However, Vince Jr. was not very impressed, and continued in his drive to get his way!
He only ran into a problem when he, a northern interloper, took over a wrestling promotion in Georgia, and arrogantly imposed his will as he had done before, except now the public wanted nothing to do with his product.
They wanted the Georgia Championship Wrestling they had come to know and love. Not the WWF version from some northerner, who ran roughshod over their homegrown talent and promotion.
So it began, and the seeds were sown. While McMahon had the legal rights and owned the promotion, he’d alienated the audiences. These same people complained to TBS, and through persistence and stubborn determination, got their wish.
The remnants of the old promotion got together and offered an alternative to the WWF product with great success. Ted Turner gave the people what they wanted, and the time slot for the WWF rival was better and more viewed than the production VKM offered. He had suffered his first blow and defeat wasn’t an easy pill to swallow.
He was forced to sell it to JCP (Jim Crockett Promotions) to cut his losses. To compound matters, Ted Turner offered to buy him outright from the WWF and the wrestling industry. This further infuriated the Younger McMahon with this very wealthy southern gentleman.
The Civil War may have been over, but the north south division was again revived with this skirmish, as the Great Wrestling War was just getting started.
This bitterness intensified when NWA's Jim Crockett Promotions was financially bankrupt and Ted Turner became its Savior. Here was a gentleman who had deep pockets, with advertising savvy and broadcasting capabilities to boot.
Ted swooped in and bought the failing JCP (which Vince was looking at adding to his already laundry list of conquests) and decided to rename it “World Championship Wrestling” (WCW).
Turner, an avid wrestling fan himself, promised the wrestling fans a new, more athletic innovation to the Professional Wrestling scene. Rick Flair was his promotion’s premier wrestler and Turner was giving his young talented stars greater parts, in better story-lines and providing more championship opportunities.
The face of professional wrestling was going to get an extreme makeover and the gloves were off! The rules were anything goes and winner take all.
Turner recognized the television potential of pro wrestling, and saw the implications for its growth. His TBS super-station could and would allow expansion of Pro wrestling into homes across North America and Satellite Television was the Key.
This began with a weekly pro wrestling telecast called “WCW Monday Nitro”. The World Championship Wrestling’s show aired on TNT initiating the Now infamous original “Monday Night Wars”. The telecasts were from September the 4th 1995 through to March 26th 2001 and involved head to head competition between the WWF's “Monday Night Raw" and Ted Turner’s Promotion headed up by Eric Bischoff!
During the middle of the 1996 schedule WCW's Nitro experienced better ratings than that of WWF's Raw promotion. For 84 weeks it consistently out performed the ratings of Vince McMahon's WWF flagship ”Raw”.
The N.W.O. Vs WCW storyline was the reason for this phenomenal result. It was the longest winning streak a rival had ever held against the WWF/ WWE ever. This lasted until April 13th 1998.
During this time innovations such as on site broadcasts from different arenas and locations began. Ted Turner’s first “Nitro” broadcast was from the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. Nitro was also televised from the Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida.
Other firsts were the introduction of pyrotechnics and special effects started back in WCW around August of 1998 and later became the norm for the theatrics in the Wrestling PPV as seen today. The Live use of multiple camera angles and video replay along with slow motion playback are just some of the WCW innovations which are now everyday parts of the WWE programming.
WCW had the lead with the innovations like live not taped broadcasts, better productions, flashier sets & top quality state of the art gimmicks. Their in ring talent was superior as well and McMahon's former tactics of poaching from others stars were now being done back to him.
He could not win with the top wrestlers being drawn to the highest bidder. The competition WCW had the backing of Ted Turner and the emerging cable and satellite super-stations. His creative writers were losing their touch and the ratings were there to prove the worst. He needed to change the rules or be wiped out.
He needed to give the people something different with “Attitude”! Now Wrestling became a backdrop, as stories became raunchier, sexually provocative and even more adult oriented. The rules were the problem so he changed the rules and "Attitude Era" was born and Entertainment was the key. The shift was just what the public wanted and the result was devastating.
Suddenly WWF started gaining on their competition with the popularity of wrestlers like The Rock, Triple H and WCW castoffs such as Austin, Mankind, and Y2J Chris Jericho just to name a few. Vince had done it without the help of conventional and traditional means. He had change his product and with that change his WWF overtook WCW.
To be fair we shouldn’t give all the credit to Vince, as Eric Bischoff and company greatly contributed to their own demise. Poor scripts, botch storylines "the infamous Russo Hogan on air live event blowups" and the ever increasing lack of credibility as with the “Finger poke of Doom” farce.
Nevertheless, by concentrating on entertainment VKM changed what we were watching and waiting for. He changed the playing field and with it, took control for good. WCW had the wrestling stars but the WWF had the audience's attention and had us give our loyalty to the product, not the star performers. The day of the real Wrestlers was over.
Now it’s Entertainers, albeit athletic ones, are the new reality. By doing this, we had approved the WWE with our choice and that is what has us in the grip of the PG dilemma. We said "here, entertain us and we are yours".
With the threat of competition over and the decline in a need to be new and innovative. the WWE has become predictable and thus boring. The newer fans wanted their needs met and they would be the future for his products. He’d learned his lesson, so he once again changed his product to cater to the young, youth driven, superhero adoring, fan base.
The family movies were awash with super-powered or magical beings springing to life from out of the comic book pages. Following those current trends closely, with ever a watchful eye, looking for the next “big” hit. The "ultimate opportunist" is in reality Vincent Kennedy McMahon himself, not the character portrayed by Adam Copeland.
While the hip older crowd are crying "foul" and "what about us?" The paradigm now has left them behind, evolving once again into appealing to the vast “silent majority” away from the much smaller “vocal minority”.
So it matters not, how loud they scream, its the sheer numbers that tell the true story. The sales of Tickets, Products and PPV shows, tells the real success of these moves and we are left out.
Now here we are in the latest cycle with a added bonus for the WWE's enterprising promoter. Now the big sponsors are calling on him, saying just remain PG and we will pay you the big advertising dollars. And there you have it.
Where did the “Wrestling” Go? It has been replaced by The Big "E" as in “Entertainment”!
The rest as they say, is history, for to quote Vince’s character of the Boss, The Evil "Mr. McMahon" and I paraphrase it really is, "All about The M-O-N-E-Y!!
This concludes my “the Professor’s Journal” trilogy. Thanks to all who have read and enjoyed my particular style and having engaged me in lively commentary. I have tried to maintain a level of literary competence, which was designed to educate, entertain and illustrate the true power of the printed word. I really appreciate the many people, fans and friends that I’ve met and made here on the B/R and will be always grateful for the experience! I take my leave now and bid you all God Speed!
Until when next we meet, I Remain, Mike AKA the Professor
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