WWE: The Cry for Another Golden Era—Let's Play Devil's Advocate
"Can't the heels just be heels and faces be freaking faces?" - Unsatisfied wrestling fans on twitter
"What's the deal with wrestlers getting twitter handles these days?" - Pro Wrestling Community of b/r
"Can't the women wrestlers be respected for their talent?" - Women Wrestling Enthusiasts
"Did the WWE just kill the Conspiracy Angle with the walkout?" - Wrestling Fans All Over The Internet
'TNA TNA TNA" - WHAT???
Barring the last statement (which totally gave the writer a surprise, by the way), the first four statements made are just a few of those that make their way into various wrestling forums.
While the Internet jointly clamors for the WWE to return to a level which they all could appreciate and enjoy, the fans also continue to hope for those times, those golden times, to return.
However, I am no stranger to this faction of people, for I myself am one of those who clamors for such a time/era to return. However, if we stop allowing our emotions to sway our thoughts and think about this with an open mind, one might wonder if such things are actually feasible in the present-day world.
This article is pretty much an analysis on pro wrestling, while looking into the dark side.
WWE and the Era of Social Media
Recently, the WWE has taken to social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for developing storylines, implementing feuds and heating rivalries between wrestlers.
One might wonder as to why the WWE is hell-bent on doing this on Twitter, and not on television. The answer is pretty simple, it's because of the reach that these social networking websites have.
One needs to realize that, in the present day world, the Internet is used more than it ever was. Whether people are busy at work, engaged in doing their chores at home, they are always connected on the Internet.
Not only this, but when Raw airs live, there is a good chance that it may lose many viewers to various other networks. This would break the link established by the viewers, but anything done on the Internet is bound to be noticed. Hence, the WWE is able to ensure continuity in its programming.
This also "sort of" helps fight the problem of airing events after they have been taped. The Internet is notorious for leaking match results. With the help of sites like Twitter, the interactions that take place between various wrestlers, in between the shows, helps add fuel to the fire and could be a reason for fans to tune in and watch the following week.
This explains the reason for the sudden Twitter push in the past couple of months or so.
However, with all that said, the Internet and social networking websites are not going to fully combat the problem of viewership ratings. This is because...
Wrestling Might Never Peak Again
Yes, wrestling might never peak again.
You see, the WWE making use of mass media to further feuds and storylines is by no means a solution to the problem; it is a mere remedy. It does more good than bad, and hence it's used as a marketing tool.
This year, CM Punk changed the landscape of the WWE with just a six-minute speech that had many heads turning. The next week, everyone expected for ratings to reach new heights and establish new records.
However, that wasn't the case.
While CM Punk became the first person to surpass John Cena in terms of merchandise sales in five years, the WWE ratings did not see any significant increase.
This raised an important question: what could be the reason for no rise in ratings in spite of what transpired just a few months ago?
My only conclusion is that, ever since the WWE became more humane and shed the extreme from its arsenal, it has become destined never to be the company that it was earlier perceived to be.
This points us to our next question: why can't the WWE ever be perceived the same way as it was back in the good old days?
We Are Living in the Year 2011
If we have gathered anything from wrestling's most successful period, then it is the fact that a high degree of violence, sex, blood, edginess and extremity SELLS more than anything.
Another thing which we gathered is that, back in the day, the drug abuses were at an all-time high and things like the wellness policies were non-existent.
This not only allowed the WWE to reach new heights in the field of extreme, but the liberal policy also allowed for performers to take various foreign substances to cope with the pain they went through.
Now the times have changed.
Due to the WWE surviving on the basis of its joint ventures/sponsors, which they got due to a better market standing and a cleaner image, they can't risk being that extreme and violent again.
Back in the day, the WWE had enough ratings to fall back on and hence could experiment. Plus with WCW beating them in the ratings for quite some time, they had nothing to lose and could push the boundaries.
This has gradually left the WWE in a web of its own. They can't repeat the tactics which gave them the most success (commercially), as they will risk losing their financial backing.
Furthermore, as time has changed, the interest of people has changed as well. No longer can the tactics work now.
CM Punk sure made wrestling cool, and deserves full credit for it. But he only raised the stakes for the wrestling fans.
CM Punk's Pipe Bomb: A Corollary
CM Punk's "pipe bomb" speech surely raised the stakes in pro wrestling. But one might wonder, why did it not draw new fans, and only brought back old ones?
In my opinion, the speech was based on what was happening backstage, hence only a long time fan, who had been following the WWE long enough to know what Punk was talking about, would have understood what he said.
For a new fan, watching it for the first time, he won't have understood a thing. Only a highly extreme or edgy moment could have caught his eye, and not Punk's speech—for he would have understood none of it.
So you see, with all that has been said and done, wrestling might never peak again. Trying to make that happen will involve serious risks and knowing Vince McMahon, who freaks out at the fact that Zack Ryder's T-shirts have the words "spike" written on them in a totally different way, one can't believe that he will take such a business decision.
The Heel-Face Distinction
One thing which shot into prominence about two/three months ago, was the no longer visible distinction of heels and faces.
This was brought into light once John Cena tweeted one of his followers that, in the present day, people boo and cheer for whom they want to and it is not based on a superstar's persona.
While debating on the forums started, all I thought was; can we help it?
The answer to this question is the present day "Reality Era". Websites like Twitter and Facebook have bridged the gap which existed between the wrestlers and the fans.This has busted any myth which surrounded these wrestlers, and has brought out their personalities in real life.
The wrestlers share their views on a variety of things in life on these social networking websites. And, dare I say it, their opinions on certain things has made us see them as human beings like us, and gradually lead to us judging them for what they are.
Gradually, our views on them, are now based on bias.
What if some heel were to tweet something which you very much believed in, or what if he were to tweet something highly nationalistic, wouldn't you (if you agree with him, that is) start to like him?
Or what if you believed in a certain theory and a wrestler who is playing a face were to dismiss it and burn that theory to the ground. Could it be possible that you no longer looked at him the same way?
Whether you accept it or not, once wrestlers drop their gimmicks on Twitter, and start showing their true personality via what they say, our inborn tendency to judge starts showing its own true colors.
So whether we like it or not, the distinction between heels and faces will become tougher as time progresses, because we know more about the wrestlers. The more we know about them, the more we unknowingly judge them, the more our views on them will be biased, eventually blurring the line between reality and kayfabe.
Women of Wrestling: Where Are They Headed?
Before starting this slide, I would like to congratulate those members of our community who are responsible for implementing the "women's appreciation week". This encompasses a series of articles highlighting the talent possessed by the women wrestlers of the past and the present.
The project has already kicked off and I would request all of you to read the articles they publish, as they are worth reading.
Now, one thing which has been always talked about ever since the IWC was born, is the role which the divas play in the world of wrestling.
Are they supposed to just be valets/eye candy, or are they supposed to be serious wrestlers?
While, much like the minority on the Internet which actually respects the women of wrestling, I would love for the divas to get prominence as performers, I highly doubt that will happen.
In my opinion, with the current crop of wrestling fans, the women will never be fully appreciated for their in-ring talent.
I believe that the way the WWE is marketing their current batch of talent, the people are perceiving them the wrong way.
Now, the perception has gotten to a point where it is tough to sell them as wrestlers, rather than to sell them as models.
Vengeance was a totally different event where Eve and Beth Phoenix put on a great match, but it will be interesting to see how the WWE follows it up.
Right now, the WWE has to change the way they market the divas, and just one good match is not good enough for me to think that they have a bright future ahead of them.
WWE are responsible for the way the divas are perceived these days, and now that the fans have gotten accustomed to them in some form or fashion, the WWE has to take big steps to change it.
Here's wishing the best of luck to the Divas of Doom!
From this article, which I formulated and composed step by step and without prejudging before I began to write, I have arrived at a conclusion of my own.
I believe that, right now, the WWE landscape is far better than what it was a few months ago. However, I also believe that wrestling won't ever have the same commercial success again. Wrestling needs fans to survive, and, at the present rate where it is losing hardcore fans who cry for another golden era, things don't look bright.
Maybe, JUST MAYBE, as a new era begins, us fans could adjust with the current product and learn to live with it. But to ensure the support of the die-hard fans, the WWE has to put out a product which we all enjoy.
The WWE has to be DYNAMIC and adjust with the environment, and rightfully so. They are making changes, but these are mere remedies which the fans have to adjust to, that's part of life, which needs to be implemented here as well.