If you are like me, you yearn for the days of the Attitude Era, when the Rock and Chris Jericho were giving it to Stephanie McMahon for sleeping with all of the boys in the back (Macho Man please stand up), Stone Cold was giving people the finger, DX was telling people to suck it, Sable and Debra were showing their puppies, amongst a million other examples.
But was that really good for business?
Most of you are obviously saying yes because that was the height of wrestling's mainstream popularity. But what many people fail to consider is that wrestling is more than television ratings. The total business model includes in addition to television contracts, ticket sales, merchandise sales (T-shirts, wrestling figures, video games, DVDs, hats, arm bands, etc.), public appearances and others. How many people 20 and older are going to spend substantial money on all of these things?
While I recently bought my tickets to go WrestleMania 27 in Atlanta, am I going to go to WWE house shows? No. Am I going to buy seven John Cena t-shirts? No. Am I going to buy all of the wrestling figures that I used to when I was 12 years old? No.
The fact of the matter is that the WWE has (correctly) targeted marketing to children, and making their events more family oriented because the fact of the matter is that kids have an enormous impact on the decisions of their parents. Think of how many times when you were younger that you whined, bitched and complained until your mom or dad bought you what you wanted. It's that exact reason why McDonald's began adding toys to their Happy Meals (and look how successful they are). Add a toy that costs 14 cents to make and suddenly every kid wants to go to McDonald's for that reason. The WWE is no different.
I will never forget being 10 years old, and coming home from school every day complaining to my mom that I wanted to go to the King of the Ring in Pittsburgh. I kept saying, "...but Stone Cold is facing Kane, and the Undertaker is facing Mankind."
I complained incessantly to the point where my mom agreed to take me. I am eternally grateful that my mom sucked it up and took me to this event because it made me the fan I am today (I will never forget seeing Mick Foley thrown off the cage in person), but how many parents had the adverse reaction and said that this is way to dangerous for my son/daughter to be watching?
Fast forward to today, where you have John Cena cutting ridiculous promos about doctor's visits, Alex Riley making possibly the corniest/worst toilet joke of all time, Santino Marella hugely popular for acting ridiculous (Cobra), and you may say, "What the f*** happened to the WWE?"
I'm asking myself the same question, but the WWE is not in the wrestling business anymore; it is in the entertainment business (even though it arguably always was). The WWE doesn't necessarily compete with only TNA, etc. It competes with movie theaters, video games and other forms of entertainment.
Why spend your hard earned 50 bucks on a PPV that lasts 3 hours, when you could go see five movies, or buy a new video game that costs the same amount, or take your girlfriend out to dinner? That is exactly why the WWE targets kids because it's not their money they are spending and parents will spend any amount to shut their kids up (as bad as that sounds).
While I partially attribute me becoming the man I am today from the witty phrases of The Rock, Jericho, and Stone Cold and the fateful moments like in 1998 when I saw Sable with just hand prints on her chest at Fully Loaded 1998, those days are long gone.
It's not what we as fans "in the know" want to hear, but the fact of the matter is that we aren't shelling out the money to keep the machine that is the WWE going. That is until we reach the point of having a family and then we will pay whatever it takes to shut our kids up.