What's the easy answer? No. What's the best answer? Hell stinking No!
I first wrote articles for Bleacher Report last summer, around the time that the Nexus group first showed up on the scene. When I began reading articles here, I discovered a wealth of wisdom and knowledge about wrestling about which I previously had no clue.
Articles about John Cena and the stale state of the WWE and TNA's story lines inspired a tornado of ideas and analysis in me and made me even more interested in both good AND bad wrestling programs. Even though my articles didn't shatter the IWC's view of WWE into a million pieces, I felt proud that I had an outlet for my feelings.
After all, I'm 30 (turning 31 next month), and I've been a WWE fan since the early nineties. I watched wrestling pretty religiously for a long time, and although I gave it up for a while a few years ago I still appreciate it and call myself a fan. Seeing that much wrestling for that long and realizing how bad it had gotten, I felt the same way as many other wrestling fans.
I wanted to do something about it.
Of course, in the process, I ended up forgetting why I started watching in the first place. I ended up not enjoying the programs anymore and just seeing it as something to pick apart.
In fact, with all the yammering I've read about how great the Attitude Era was, and how crummy the "PG Era" is (a term and concept which I still refuse to agree with), it made me think about the Attitude Era and one crucial flaw hidden inside all that jaw-jacking.
IWC stands for "Internet Wrestling Community." Unless I'm mistaken, it's a place where wrestling fans can sound off mainly about their problems with professional wrestling. Otherwise, it would just be a sea of fanboys crowing about their favorite wrestlers.
So what was the IWC like during the Attitude Era? Think about it.
For younger readers, back then the Internet wasn't nearly as easy to access as it is today. It was pretty much relegated to a core group of people. Basically, the rich kids at school who had Prodigy.
The point is, there really wasn't any IWC. Sure, there were wrestling mags, newsletters and things of that nature, so people who had gripes about wrestling had an outlet if they REALLY needed it. But let's be honest; the IWC is far stronger than a newsletter or most print magazines.
Is it at all possible that the IWC (or some equivalent) really didn't exist during the Attitude Era, because there wasn't anything worth complaining about?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to say that the Attitude Era is the ideal that every pro wrestling promotion should strive for. Look at TNA/Impact Wrestling. They've included blood, violence, sexualized female wrestlers and vulgarity in their programming for a long while and it hasn't gotten them anywhere.
TNA, and many of you who presume you know the Attitude Era inside and out, make the mistake of assuming that "Attitude" meant all of those little superficial things that made wrestling seem "edgier." No. The word "Attitude" in "Attitude Era" was a concept of passion.
WCW was beating WWE in the ratings and WWE did what it took to aggressively fight back until it finally won and bought its competitor.
WWE stepped up its game to compete, but much like John Cena's career highlights, after its ultimate success it sagged back and got lazy. I'm a fan of the oft-forgotten Ruthless Aggression Era, sure, but in reality it was a sad imitation of Attitude, mainly because it lacked the motivation that Attitude had to be great.
WWE just beat WCW, it's biggest hurdle! For what more did it need to strive?
The Ruthless Aggression Era had great characters like Batista and Edge, and I think that was Brock lesnar's time as well. John Cena and Randy Orton solidified themselves as characters, but they were no Rock or Austin (respectively).
Truth is, they're just as good at entertaining, but the WWE top brass, Vince McMahon and the writers decided that taking the safe road and keeping John Cena at the top was the best way to go. It was "safe," not "edgy."
But wrestling fans don't want "safe." They want unpredictable. They want a reason to watch the next episode. They want fast-paced action, tense back-and-forth matches and believable competition. It doesn't need to involve blood, guts, murder, sex or mayhem. WWE produces a dramatic product and it's the drama and unpredictability that's carried it all this time.
Enter CM Punk. Or, maybe I should say, enter CM Punk's rebirth.
Whether you believe he's truly a rebellious revolutionary or not doesn't matter. What matters is that he's saying the things that need to be said. He's calling the WWE out on a lot of their shortcomings while fans watch and think, "naw, he's not gonna say that, is he?"
Last night on Raw, Alberto Del Rio kicked off the show by bragging about his new title and how he would defend it against his rival, Rey Mysterio. Cena came out to tear Alberto down, just like he does every champion that isn't HIM, and my first thought was, "Punk's not going to just sit there and let Cena drop his name like that, is he?"
Thankfully, Punk came out and set things straight.
Like I've been saying, it's proving harder to get fans to cheer for Cena again than it is to highlight his failings and potentially turn him bad. Punk enters the arena to a lukewarm response, and before he's done talking, the place is electrified and screaming at the top of their lungs.
Admit it: since CM Punk's infamous "worked shoot promo," you've had at least one Booker T moment when you stared at the screen and said, "he didn't just say that...tell me...he didn't just say that."
And that's just it. Since before the 2011 Draft, WWE programming has steadily been getting more interesting. How? Easy. As I've said, the drama is becoming more human.
Layla fought back against Michelle McCool's bullying and turned face. Alex Riley broke away from Miz's abuse and turned face. R-Truth snapped on his old pal, Morrison, for stealing his spotlight and turned heel. Mark Henry got frustrated at not making a bigger impact and did the same.
That's just before CM Punk flipped out.
Beth and Natalya have now distanced themselves from the other pretty chicks as heels, and have taken the name "Divas of Doom," getting subtle mentions and backstage interviews during matches. This is reminiscent of the promotions from the old days of Monday Night Raw and Smackdown. With Kharma on the shelf, this idea should help get people interested in the Divas before she comes back.
Meanwhile, Sheamus has stepped up to fight Mark Henry while pretty much staying in character as a huge, tough, smashmouth Irishman and turned face in the process.
Dolph Ziggler and Vicki Guerrero are bickering over Vicki wanting a stable of clients, and Dolph may end up breaking away, while Vicki can potentially elevate lower card guys from Superstars like Drew McIntyre, Tyler Reks, maybe even Tyson Kidd.
Not to mention last night on Raw, Miz and R-Truth seemed to be forming a pairing (hopefully a stable) of their own to uncover the conspiracy being manipulated by Triple H.
Not to ignore Triple H himself, who has been on just about every episode of Raw and Smackdown as a key character since after Money in the Bank.
This is an incredible, must-see time for WWE programming. Change is imminent. It's not just "going to happen" anymore, it's happening now!
Wrestling is on its way back to the days when wrestling drama was believable, entertaining, reasonably edgy, had a cavalcade of characters and broke the barriers of mainstream media. Fans who gave up on the product before would do well to check it out now.
I hear people say that John Cena brings in money. Does he still? I can't remember the last time he walked to the ring with more than half of the crowd cheering for him. He debuted his red "Perseverance" line of merchandise back at Wrestlemania 27, meaning it's about four months old. After another three or four months he'll be due for a new line.
He's gone black and blue, black and green, orange and blue, purple and yellow, and now red and blue. In case you didn't realize, that covers every primary AND secondary color, some more than once. If we're going for alternate combinations now, I'm going to vote for either green and blue, or perhaps red and purple.
Red and purple would be perfect, as my fiancee and I are getting married next May, and those will be the colors for our ceremony. But I digress.
I don't want to complain about wrestling anymore. I like professional wrestling. I want to watch and enjoy it. Do I appreciate what the IWC has done in educating me about what's important in the wrestling business? Of course. But continuing to be cynical is not helping me. It hasn't proven healthy and it hasn't helped me enjoy the product any better.
If anything, it's forced me to enjoy it less. If you are a casual reader who seeks the truth of the professional wrestling business, do so, but be warned. Be careful with the wisdom you get there, because many of you will see the truth and become angry, bitter, cynical folks who can't return from the dark pit.
I'm happy to say that I've returned. I've seen the darkness and grown. I have entered the abyss and it has NOT turned me into a monster. I intend to be happy with where the product is going, and relieve myself of cynicism.
WWE and professional wrestling in general is an entertainment medium dependent on the fans' ability to "just go with it." I'm still shocked that Alex Riley's carrying a silver briefcase after Miz won the WWE Championship created such an uproar. Really? Are you serious? It's a briefcase!
If you're making a big deal about a briefcase, please do yourself a favor and watch UFC because - guess what? -
UFC has no briefcases. It has no unexplained story arcs or dramatic twists. Just ground-and-pound, ground-and-pound, ground-and-pound. I think I'd only watch UFC if I found out some 80 pound, untrained civilian called Jenna Jameson dirty names, and Tito Ortiz dragged the guy into the octagon. That would be good drama.
This will be my last article, at least for a while. It's been interesting to deconstruct professional wrestling, but like I said, I have nothing to complain about now. I'm weaning myself off of the Smackdown spoilers, and even my fiancee is appreciating the programming on the same level as I am.
In conclusion, I have one last thing to say...
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