Does Pro-Wrestling Mirror Our Life?

ChinmaySenior Analyst IIJune 30, 2010

GREEN BAY, WI - JUNE 22:  Fans attend a press conference about the WWE at the Austin Straubel International Airport on June 22, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Mark A. Wallenfang/Getty Images)
Mark A. Wallenfang/Getty Images


Hello fellow bleachers, how is it going? Here in this article I want to dwell upon something that has got me thinking for a while.

Note - This ‘our’ stands not for IWC, but for community in general. 


I have already written an article about if there is any co-relation between individual nature and pro-wrestling. And we all know there is one. Psychology or shall we say emotion plays very important role in pro-wrestling. In fact, it is a soul of storytelling. There have been amazing performers who put on a match that told us a saga.

I would say that psychology defines the way wrestlers perform, the way they sell the story. But society or community defines the storyline. (I will refer to WWE here on, because it is the only big promotion that has stood the test of time. It is the only company where we can compare Eras).

Every era had its own flavor and so did the storylines. Late 80’s and early 90s were high on amusement factor. They touched the fairy tales as much as they could. WWE vaguely resembled to a circus at that time. It had its share of entertainment but wrestling was a focal point. The product was constantly evolving and so it kept changing its hallmarks.

Pre-attitude era had drama. It was the age of HBK and Bret Hart. This period signified conflict of egos and dreams much more than any era has ever done. This era was of ambition, of a poised journey and of course of a broken shackle. Why of a broken shackle? It was the era when finally the code of morality, an unspoken decree was abolished. The target audience was identified. Stories had become edgier and regret became a word of a coward. To be very precise, this era was everything that the character of HBK portrayed.

Then here we come to beloved Attitude Era, CONTROVERSY, one word says it all. It was in your face and it told you that everyday someone should be sucking something. This era tried to sell us that everything is legit if you want to conquer the pinnacle. Anti-hero defined what exactly attitude era stood for (if there was anything in the first place). 

Somewhere around mid 2002 a new era begun i.e. Ruthless Aggression. It was vengeance; it was to tell you that attack before someone else takes you out. It was about survival and victory. Interestingly this era had no face. It is strange because all other four eras have a star who underlined every moment of it.  

Now we have PG era, stale storylines and feel good factor. Three words ‘Hustle, loyalty and respect’ can remind us of this era. This era is full of toys and merchandise. Today we have stars who at the height of their frustration scream in muffled voice ‘you suck’. We see super-stars entering in the ring in a super friendly manner (Rey mesterio)

We can see that we have completed a full circle. Today’s WWE resembles to 80’s in more than one way. At that time, there was a feel good factor as it is present today. Even then, parents brought their kids to show a superman called Hulk Hogan as they do the same today for Superman Cena.

I want to highlight some similarities between the social life in 1980’s and 2010. Trust me there are some.  I will just list them in points,


1980s, early 90s & PG Era

·         1980s was economically turbulent decade for USA as it was for rest of the world. Oil crises, subsequent short-term economic crises had set the world in stagnant mode. PG era has collided with one of the worst economic crises ever.

·         A general mood at that time was gloomy. People needed hope and smile. They needed to have someone who can defy mighty odds. Today we are upbeat but every uncertainty makes us equally weary of odds

·         Lastly, that time was the beginning of demise of the moral codes, and today it is renaissance. The level at which those values stand is similar.


Now let us have a look at remaining three eras.


·         Pre-Attitude Era

It began on the heels of gulf wars and new age oil imperialism. It was period of resurgent arrogance. Every bottom in social life is followed by inevitable revival. It was a time when people were recovering.They had begun to earn much more than they ever did.Cowboy hat went out completely from the main gimmicks and posh blazers paved their way in. The whole show concentrated as much on glamour as it did on substance. Story lines became flashier and gimmicks became glitzier. That exactly reflected what people wanted in their life.


·         Attitude Era

It is certainly not a coincidence that attitude era was very closely preceded by the impeachment of Bill Clinton. WWE changed as the people around it had. Controversy and scandals have been hallmark of the similar period.

Secondly, it was a time when USA was sole superpower in the world. No country could dream of challenging US. We can safely say the second half of 90’s decade was pinnacle of USA’s supremacy.  Moreover, see it was also a pinnacle of dynamic WWE’s success. Not a coincidence at all.


·         Ruthless Aggression

It started soon after USA’s war on terror began. It had the righteousness to show, however nobody can deny that this aggression was a fruit of attitude shown before. People did not really want anti-heroes now. They wanted to be protected. Ruthless aggression was a reflection of battle to prove a point. It was a strange period when America was left with tattered identity of a waning superpower and coincidentally it was an Era when WWE had no face to signify it.

(Note - John Cena has been a face of company during last years of ruthless aggression but he is not the identity of this era.)


So, just to sum up, it has been truly amazing to see how WWE adjusted with every shifting paradigm of society and held its own all the while.