WWE has pulled all the stops and delivered a show for ages at “WWE Money in the Bank 2011” and then has followed it up with historic Raw last night. If outcomes of MITB were surprising and exciting, then the ending of Raw was flabbergasting and curious.
There are many questions still left unanswered. There are many loose ends. However, one thing is certain that for once the much debated PG era has turned its tide and the new era is here. Let us remember that future lies in questions, not the answers. It is the journey of seeking answers, which determine and define the presence. With new question marks, WWE has ushered itself in a new era and that is beyond doubt.
It might be too early to name it. But the nature of the new era is a topic worth discussing. It therefore is the right time and right moment to dwell upon some fantastic dimensions of this interesting saga.
Let us see, what are going to be our focal points of the discussion here.
- Tracing the Backdrop
- Transfusion of Times
- How the foundation was set.
- A Synthesis of Eras
- What would be its USP 1?
- What would be its USP 2?
- Vince McMahon - Age of an emperor ends
Now as we have set our panorama in sight, let us begin our ride.
Disclaimer: This article contains neither any spoiler nor any cry for a doomsday. Read at your risk.
It is not an outlandish task to trace the change. There always are some signs and there always are few reasons. Our case in hand is no different.
There were a lot of signs that WWE is contemplating the change. The appointment of Triple H on a key creative post was the most imminent one. After Shane’s departure, Triple H’s ascension to the helm was imminent. Just recently, WWE made two more key changes in the creative team.
Secondly, the direction of the programming had few interesting bits over the last year. The introduction of “NXT” and reintroduction of “Tough Enough”, key overseas signing and Nexus, they pointed towards impending wave of new generation.
These were just some of the signs, but the reasons were much more significant.
The drop in ratings was steady and consistent. The monotonous programming has resulted in a drop out of viewers. Moreover, the key audience of the WWE was growing up. The children whom WWE has been catering since last three or four years, were all growing up. They needed something new to keep the audience in nets in their hands.
And therefore, the change was needed and WWE had to oblige.
We ought to travel back in the time to understand this change better.
As we all know, almost until mid-'90s WWE catered to Kids predominantly. By 1997, the staple audience of WWE had grown up. They had seen all Hogan, HBK, Hart and Taker. That was precisely the time, WWE’s ratings fail drastically.
They needed something new. They needed to change the guard and start afresh. That is what they did. The Attitude was born and WWE reached to its zenith during the same time.
It is worth noting that it took many years for WWE to attain this change. The journey of Attitude Era was no different than a classical music track. It started of subtly and silently. Gradually, it picked up the pace and then reached a crescendo in 1999-2000. After that, the magic started to wane. It was toned out a little bit and eventually with the departure of Stone Cold and Rock, it was done forever.
It took some time for WWE to get itself out of the Attitude Era and the features of that programming. In total, the process lasted for no less than seven or eight years.
And it was then we entered the PG era. The whole new set of customers was brought in and well nourished. And, the circle reached to the point of 1995-1997 again. Just in a matter of few years, change became imminent once again.
Today on this date, we cannot say that this era is the second coming of Attitude Era. No, it is too early and it won’t happen anyway. But there are similarities. To be very precise, it is a synthesis of Attitude and PG eras.
The way WWE has prepared us to face this change is one hell of an aspect. Let us have a look at that first, before truly engaging ourselves with the synthesis of eras.
WWE must have contemplated this change for some time. There were many steps that today explain themselves.
We have to understand that times have changed a lot in last two decades. It was impossible to replicate the same magic of Attitude Era, and current social equations would have rendered it pointless. WWE had to take measure steps and explore some options.
Nexus story, 2/21/11 promo and Raw GM are the three stories that in a way set the tone. They all failed in own right, but they aroused the curiosity of older fans for sure. They turned heads and that was enough. It was just the first step.
Secondly, with the pushes of Wade Barrett, Sheamus, Miz and most importantly Randy Orton, WWE tried new equations. The audience accepted few of these guys and rejected the rest. So, now the field was narrowed down.
Return of the Rock and appearances of Stone cold has served as the ultimate foundation. Their constant presence either on screen or via social networking kept the older fans around. But the true purpose was again different. What these two guys with others achieved was to acquaint the new audience of WWE with the ATTITUDE. They precisely did that.
The whole process was not perfect, it sure had flaws. Yet, it wove a web and successfully so. The stage was now set for the most important stage, and that is pulling the trigger.
CM Punk’s shoot promo and the subsequent weeks marked the arrival of change. And finally, at “Money in the Bank” and Raw the change finally arrived.
What we are going to see now is how the synthesis of Attitude Era and PG era is coming upon us.
One common felony of perceptions is that Attitude Era was good because of all the vulgarity, cussing and blood’. Well, that is wrong. I don’t think that extensive use of blood or profanity and “Bra and Panty” matches made attitude era better. We all are better off without them.
Attitude Era was great because of edgy characters. The clever twists and people that tread the face and heel line effortless made it a time to remember. Attitude Era was great because of the intensity and passion it exuded. This is precisely where the new turn of events is leading us.
Then, Attitude Era was a clever blend of reality and controversy. What we have seen in the Punk saga is essentially the same element. It is no more about the bad guy and good guy anymore. It is simply about dreams and the glory.
Where it remains PG are the areas such as wellness policy and following social norms in Keyfabe. WWE cannot risk its image with obscene content, and therefore they will keep treading a line of PG rated Attitude.
And if all the signs are correct, then this era might be better than the Attitude Era. Let us have a look at two of the biggest USPs of the next era, which are currently standing out.
The most amazing factor that amused me during the build up to the “Money in the Bank” was constant references to the word “wrestling” and “pro wrestling”. CM Punk, John Cena and Vince McMahon kept repeating the word over and over again. Heck, in fact Vince mistakenly uttered the word “WWF Championship” last night. Good times, I must say.
The outcomes of MITB suggest that this word not only a part of promo anymore, it is the new direction. Alberto Del Rio and Daniel Bryan won the briefcases. Christian and Punk won the championships. These four are the best ring workers in the company and it is not coincidence that they all are triumphant.
If we look at it then we will realize one very important thing that with its PR propaganda, WWE is making itself more relevant by calling themselves an “entertainment” company.
That works well for making headlines; however there are many more avenues that offer the same product of “entertainment”. Then what is the USP of WWE, which will make it stand out?
Well, it is “Wrestling”.
This is something more interesting.
In CM Punk, Randy Orton and John Cena, they have three superstars who cater to the all audience. These three stars cover all age-groups and both genders. Sheamus and Wade Barrett are just waiting in the wings and both have the potential to become equally big.
Then there is a guy like Miz, who can survive on the entertainment quotient alone with no emphasis on wrestling. In Christian, Del Rio, Daniel Bryan they have stars who deliver in the ring and please the purists. People like John Morrison, Evan Bourne, and Justin Gabriel excite audiences and make them hold their breaths.
And lastly, there are stars to woo the international audiences from India, Mexico and Europe.
This attribute will serve as the ultimate USP of this Era in the long run. Such a pool of talent is hardly utilized, but chances are this time it will be.
WWE Raw last night threw one of the biggest surprises as Triple H subdued announced that Vince is relieved from his duties and the Game will take over the day to day operations. It seems that Vince has taken a legit on-screen retirement and he has actually pulled himself out of the daily operations.
By all accounts it is a great and timely decision. Vince is almost 67 now; he has already been around for ages. Vince would be regarded as the greatest legend of pro wrestling, and that is beyond a doubt. He put his all in the line to succeed. From showing his a** to tasting Big Show’s, he did every good and bad things. Without him, there would be absolutely nothing. I would not even be writing here if not for him.
The Game has biggest possible shoes to fill in and let us all hope he succeeds. I don’t want to be over analytical even before he makes his second appearance as the supremo. However, judging from his sparse television appearances, one thing is certain that Vince has been grooming him for a long time.
Let us just take this moment to say something rare, “Thank you Vince”.
Yesterday seems too far, as it was surely end of an era. Many things have happened out of the blue, and we sure have loved it.
Please share your thoughts on the subject in the comment thread; it is your yard now. Voice your opinions and let me know if you agree or disagree.
Thank you very much for reading and cheers.