How Living In The Past Is Helping And Killing Pro Wrestling

Ryan SzAnalyst IIJuly 11, 2010

BTW: sorry for no photo, they weren't uploading right.

Pro wrestling is cyclical. That's what any wrestling insider, reporter, or person involve with the business will tell you. There are two meanings to this statement, one being that promotions will have hot periods where shows will sell out, merchandise will fly off the shelves, and wrestlers will be incredibly popular and then cold periods where the exact opposites will be true. This was most evident during the Monday Night Wars where WCW was the hot company at the start of the war and WWE couldn't win to save its life, yet only a couple years later the WWE was the biggest promotion in the world and WCW was closing it doors forever. Seeing this there has been a theory that WCW might have rebounded if it had another year or so to turn the ship around and start making good wrestling again and WWE would be in the situation it's in now with the PG era.

The other meaning to wrestling being cyclical is that ideas or gimmicks used at one point in time could be used again after that idea being put on the shelf for a few years could be seen a fresh and could be used again successfully. This is what WCW tried to do with NWO 2000 when they were on their last breath, yet this failed because the NWO has been so diluted over the years. The WWE also did this when they strayed away from traditional wrestling to more gimmick style wrestlers in the early 90s back to a combination of the two during the Attitude era with great success.

Right now the cycle seems to be coming full circle in both the WWE and TNA as both are reaching back into  history as a way to rejuvenate their business. One of the biggest stories right now in the WWE is the Nexus invasion where the NXT rookies are feuding with Raw superstars, namely John Cena. This is clearly similar to the original NWO invasion in WCW involving the Outsiders and Hulk Hogan. The only real difference between these two scenarios is the NWO was comprised of three veterans while the Nexus is eight (now seven) "rookies" trying to make a name for themselves.

TNA on the other hand is going way back by recreating the Four Horsemen, under the name Fortune, as well as an apparent ECW invasion. The Fortune angle is understandable as the Horsemen are arguably one of, if not the, greatest stable of wrestlers in the history of pro wrestling. The ECW angle is TNAs attempt at trying to do what the WWE couldn't do in their original Invasion angle from the early part of the century.

Both of the big U.S. promotions feel that going back to angles that worked years ago, even if for a while, will help give new life to a currently stale pro wrestling landscape, and they are right in some ways, but also wrong.

For the WWE, they are moving in the right direction with the Nexus angle. Remember when it started and the first attack on Cena, the next day the wrestling page on this site was covered in articles about it and how it was a breath of fresh air compared to what has been happening in the WWE. Then came the controversy surrounding Brian Danielson's release after the attack and how they could move this angle forward. Therein lies the problem with this angle, the Nexus have only been doing group attacks on WWE superstars to show their dominance, yet no single or tag matches for the separate members of the group.

To make this angle work the members of Nexus have to start having actual matches with WWE talent and they need to WIN. Any group of wrestlers can be dominate because of the number advantage, but their true potential is gained by winning matches, more so if the wins are clean.

Yet WWE painted themselves into a corner by having them first attack Cena, yes it was a huge impact with how they dismantled him along with the Raw set, but with their upcoming handicap match against Cena I can see him doing his usual superman routine and beating seven men in one match. Even if they beat him it doesn't help their cause because it was a handicap match.

The only way the WWE can keep the angle safe is having Raw superstars run in during the match leading to a no contest, harming no one's credibility then. Even if this happens the angle can't run for more than another couple of months since the group is made up of rookies and it seems the whole idea would get stale after a short period of time.

TNA on the other hand is doing good with Fortune as they have great heels as part of the group: AJ or Kaz, Desmond, and Beer Money, while being led by Ric Flair. This will work especially well for nostalgia reasons as how well loved the Horsemen were and all the wrestlers involved can put on some great matches, with the exception of Flair in his current state for the most part. And as long as there are great rivalries to be formed against this stable, this should be able to last for quite a while, which TNA definitely needs.

TNA is also trying to revive ECW in an invasion angle. There is no real way for this to succeed without Paul Heyman. An ECW angle has the nostalgia factor going for it but that's about it. None of the old ECW guys, except for RVD and Team 3D, can put on a good match anymore, mainly due to their days in the original ECW. Nostalgia can only go so fa and TNA realizes this, which is why they are hinting that Abyss is going to join ECW in the invasion, basically doing what WWE did in their Invasion by padding the Alliance with WWE guys because the Alliance without them seemed weak. If that's the case where a bunch of TNA guys are going to jump ship and fight for ECW then there is little chance of success of this anlge working.

The main reason this will fail is if the man behind ECW, Paul Heyman, doesn't join TNA, which there are no indications that he will. If he isn't there to be the mouth and leader of this group, then no one will take this group seriously as they won't have the same passion about the organization that he had. And from everything I've seen and read about Heyman, he hates Bischoff from working in WCW, he hates TNA with how its being run like WCW in its dying days, and hates the politics that run rampant behind the scenes. So it seems highly unlikely that he will join TNA and further kill this angle.

As both big promotions try to use the wayback machine to increase popularity with their product they need to realize the dangers of doing so, if they succeed the rewards will be great, but if they fail which with some of these ideas is very likely, it will be epic. Fans love to feel nostalgic about something they love, but that can only go so far, there needs to be substance along with the nostalgia for the audience to be able to enjoy what they are seeing. Though only time and actions will tell if WWE and TNA can pull these angles off successfully or if they will crash and burn. Hopefully they would have learned from past mistakes to help improve the quality of the product that they put out today. But I'm not counting on it.

American wrestling needs new ideas to help keep it fresh, the NWO worked in America because no one had seen anything like that and only a few hardcore fans knew about the similar idea that happened in the New Japan promotion. There need to be more original ideas like that to help wrestling flourish.The WWE is selling the idea the Undertaker was attacked and is now in a vegetative state, a slight retelling of the angle a few years ago where Mr. McMahon was blown up and killed. The only reason that angle was stopped was the Chris Benoit incident, so who's to say that it wouldn't have been a successful angle.

Yes, using angles from the past can make a promotion money, but what fans really want to see is new ideas, like which they've never heard of or seen before. If the top promotions can do that, then they'll have the fans coming back in droves along with whole new generations of fans to come.