WWE: Why Do Wrestling Fans Love Their Returning Heroes?
Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, Booker T, Undertaker, Trish Stratus, Triple H, Christopher Daniels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Sting, and of course The Rock have finally come back to a wrestling ring near you. Each one was heralded as a momentous occasion and their fans met the news with rapturous applause.
And yet, looking at this list, I cannot help but notice that barring Stratus and Daniels (by 20-days), each one is over the age of 40, and by no means in peak condition. Some on the list will not even wrestle again.
The case of Kevin Nash is perhaps most interesting. For the final months of his TNA contract, Nash slumped around the ring with no direction or creative spark. His tag title win with Hall and Waltman was slammed by the wrestling community as the worst case of favouritism. And yet his arrival at this year's Royal Rumble was met with a huge ovation.
It's hard to say really, but maybe as fans we like to see the superstars back in the ring one more time. Maybe we like to be reminded of our wrestling past, and maybe just maybe we still think they can offer something in the ring.
Irrespective of their value, the very sight of them reminds us of their past glories and this gives rise to an important question.
Are legends returning to the ring a good thing?
Is the excitement level we have for the old guard, an indication of the weakness in today's generation?
After all who in the Rumble got a bigger ovation than Diesel? Cena, Orton and Punk certainly didn't. Who has the wrestling world been talking about this past month, The Rock and Steve Austin. They haven't been talking about Kofi Kingston, Joe Hennig, Ted DiBiase or Cody Rhodes.
Is wrestling guilty of holding on to the old guard too much, to the extent that the current generation has never been able to make their own impact? Is living in the shadows of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair et al, a bad thing for wrestling?
Is it possible to suggest that when the golden era of the 1980s and 1990s are retired, that wrestling as we know might end?
Maybe it's because wrestling is like a soap opera at times. We like to see people coming back, we take interest in their leaving and enjoy their moments on screen. The Hall and Nash invasion of 1996 in WCW was one of the biggest stories in wrestling because people were so shocked to see them.
In a wrestling world devoid of creative inspiration, bringing someone back generates interest and free advertisement. Most times it comes at the expense of the established stars of the current generation but one more appearance, one more match, one more promo gives fans a nice nostalgic reminder.
Frank Sinatra, Michael Jordan and Elvis Presley are the three kings of comebacks, so why should wrestling be any different.
But are the wrestling comebacks more a failure of today's generation? Wrestling has been unable to let go of Hulk Hogan. And because of it, wrestling legends can always be assured of a match be it in the WWE, TNA or the indie leagues.
Legends. We love to see them but what do they bring to the ring? Is it positive or negative? Does it help wrestling or hinder it?
Ultimately, is the future of wrestling safe, when these legends finally retire?
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