"Momentum is Money": The Rise and Fall of a Wrestling Superstar
"There has always been a theory that the wrestling business is cyclical. A superstar or an act takes off and gets incredibly hot for a period of time; then things cool off, and eventually things get really hot again. It seems that no one ever has bothered to stop and ask why; it was just accepted. Today, the explanation is fairly obvious to anyone outside the wrestling industry." - Page 118 of The Death of WCW, written by R.D. Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez.
Quoted from the tremendous and thought-provoking book written by the two popular professional wrestling critic wordsmiths, this is an obvious truthful statement about pro wrestling throughout its extraordinary history.
Throughout wrestling, we have bear witness to the famous Monday Night Wars, “bait-and-switch” tactics, stubborn backstage politicians, the Rise of Hulkamania, the New World Order storyline, and myriads of provocative attire, cursing, and vulgarities, (which all defined the Attitude Era). Wrestling have always changed and evolved, just like life itself. Thus meaning the term, cyclical.
The “boom period” has come and gone several times (as I‘ve stated before), but that doesn’t mean professional wrestling doesn’t have a chance to reinvent itself again. Meaning by reinventing itself, that term truly lies in the talent pool, morale, stable management, and the smug creative genius coming into play.
Is professional wrestling dead? No, not quite. They’re a little ill, but I wouldn’t say they’re on life support. To some, (thanks to the surge of popularity of the UFC), this statement might just be equivalent to applying a small band-aid on a cancerous brain tumor, but I digress.
If wrestling is in a desperate need to reinvent itself, one cannot attempt to do so by relying on talent clearly past their prime, outdated concepts and ideas, and most of all, piss-poor booking. Basically saying, if wrestling promoter(s) never negated the fact that those three continuously float around in our television screens every week, they might be able to escape most of the controversy and criticism thrown at them, despite being overshadowed by mixed martial arts.
But professional wrestling always fell into the trap of being “in the right place, at the right time”. And that usually happens when a company wants to center themselves around one person, or a multitude of talent (Nexus). A perfect example of this would be John Cena, an obvious candidate of choice.
For five long years, this guy has carried WWE on his back, becoming a top merchandise selling phenomenon, a multiple World Champion, and a big draw among the targeted “PG” demographic. Say what you will about the guy, but you cannot deny that he is the very embodiment of WWE today.
Nevertheless, this guy still share a fair share of criticism among most of the IWC, due to the fact that his matches always either end in a repetitive manner, or the character has become bland and uninspired due to lack of creative control (or most likely an inability to come up with anything creative) of his own character it may seem.
But when business is booming, (although not the same as ten years ago, much to everyone‘s overall opinion), a wrestling promoter often chuckles at the fact that the company that they are centering around one particular person or group, will start to decline, when the poster boy is clearly incredibly hot. But just as the old saying goes, nothing lasts forever.
Not saying that WWE will try to continue to book Cena the same way they will five years into the future, but if things start to change, panic and fear would soon engulf the horizon.
What everyone should know, is that in the near future, even the brightest star will start to cool, which no one can avoid. The person might still be popular, and if they’re still as big enough as they were before, they may or may not reach that iconic status.
Needless to say, if John Cena happened to still be around sometime in 2018, he wouldn’t have the same drawing power as he did before if he’s booked against the same foes he’s fought over a hundred times. This is clearly the worst-case scenario for ANY professional wrestling promoter, so it’s really important to take notice of this statement:
“If he’s pushed too hard for too long, the fans may actually turn against him, making him more of a liability than anything else.” - Page 119, The Death of WCW.
Unfortunately for Cena haters, they will likely misconstrue this statement, and will continue to misinform the masses to support an already flawed argument to which in their minds deserve a merit.
If anything, Cena is anything but a liability. While he’s still drawing, keep in mind that the targeted “PG” demographic most likely have short attention spans, and probably wouldn’t really remember the Cena/Orton feud that took place three years ago by heart.
But he can be a liability if he’s booked the same way for the next five or ten years. Eventually somewhere along the line, he will be in desperate need for revitalization to rejuvenate his wrestling career.
But the dilemma here in this scenario, is that a company would usually plan to use a star that is still hot star to create another huge superstar, which usually becomes a successor of sorts. But the bad thing unfortunately here is, if that he is booked correctly, what happened to the former, will happen to the latter. It almost seems like this is a never ending paradox in professional wrestling.
In many cases, promoters have too much willpower themselves to try and replace their poster boy before it’s way too late. Since they still have strong drawing power, and can’t risk tinkering with the formula. The problem here has been revealed, this is the wrestling promoters Achilles heel: they are short-sighted.
While they’re too busy living for the moment, their long term vision is often blinded. Its almost like they have similar traits to “puppy love”. The decline in fame and fortune happens because they have placed the poster boy on a pedestal, (in other words, they are a victim of their own success).
Most of the time, when the poster boy loses drawing power and they continue to not tinker with the formula, they get to the panic stage, and start to hotshot booking, further speeding up the company’s decline, getting to the point that no matter what happens in the company, good or bad, it would become nearly impossible to rise to the top again.
What had became hot in the past, later turned cold in the present. The big mistake in wrestling is that if a formula proves to be successful, promoters are usually too stubborn (even with the slightest provocation) to try and change it.
Conventional wisdom believes that we are simply supporting the theory that the wrestling business really is cyclical, but the real answer lies here in three words, because “nothing lasts forever“. I believe that professional wrestling has the chance to reinvent itself and become “hot“ again.
Suffice to say, we may never know when wrestling (which is caught in a never-ending cycle) can ever reach that status again.
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