WWE: Legitimacy Explained, Putting the Sport Back in Sports Entertainment

Clint BuckwoodCorrespondent IIApril 26, 2012

Photo Credit wrestlingvalley.org
Photo Credit wrestlingvalley.org

I would like to take this time to explain a few things I mentioned in my last article, by answering some of the comments that were posted, and also further elaborate on legitimacy in WWE.

When I asked, "where's the legitimacy?" I think some people misunderstood what I meant by that. I have absolutely no problem with WWE being predetermined entertainment. None at all. That actually works to their advantage quite a bit, because they can map out exactly where they want to go with matches and storylines.

I am not hoping for them to go into a shoot fighting, MMA style. Not at all. I just want WWE to evolve with the times, and present a more realistic television product.

The WWE, for many years now, has tried to condition their fans to accept "comedy" and poorly acted skits as part of their program. As a fan of pro wrestling for nearly 30 years now, I do not watch WWE for their "comedy" or skits.

More often than not, I change the channel when something like that comes on my screen, because it is painful and uncomfortable to watch. If I want to watch comedy or soap operas, I know where to find them.

When I watch WWE programs, or when I used to watch other companies like WCW and ECW, I am not looking for comedy. I am looking for professional wrestlers performing what they were trained to do, and that's wrestle.

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For too many years now, watching WWE has been similar to sifting for gold. Fans constantly have to sift through garbage and dirt, such as, weddings, dance contests, food fights, fake flatulence, guest hosts, horrible acting, among other garbage, in order to finally find gold, like John Cena vs. CM Punk at Money in the Bank, or The Rock vs. John Cena at WrestleMania. Matches like that, is why I am a fan. Matches like that, is what people pay to see.

Do you know how embarrassing it was to say I am a fan of this company, when Natayla had the flatulence angle given to her? Or when they had the Elimination Chamber event in Wisconsin (a state known for its cheese) and they had Hornswoggle backstage with Natayla, and they were going through "cut the cheese" jokes, while Natayla pretended to pass gas.

WWE has tried this goofy, lowbrow, "comedy" for many years now. You know what? Ratings have steadily been going down for many years now. Pay per view buy rates have been falling for many years now.

The Smackdown tapings on Tuesday night had about 4,000 thousand people in an 11,000-seat arena, which much of the building taped off. Fans are sending a message. We're tired of it. Stop insulting the audience with this garbage, and try something new.

WWE apparently doesn't like change very much. They love patterns. But I'm hoping their declining business, will one day soon force them to do something they haven't done in MANY years now, and that's revolutionize their company.

The last time this happened was 1996, when Vince Russo tapped Vince McMahon and told him his product was dated and out of touch. The Attitude Era was born, and the rest is history.

I am not looking for another Attitude Era. I didn't even enjoy much of the WWF sleaze during that time, I was busy watching and enjoying WCW, which presented a more traditional style of wrestling at the time, at least until Russo showed up.

I don't care if WWE remains PG; being rated PG is not the entire problem, its only a small part of it. Just because a show is rated PG, doesn't mean it has to be filled with goofiness and poor acting.

I don't buy the defense that some use, when they say, "it's geared towards kids." I was a kid once too, and I always chose the more realistic wrestling over the circus mentality.

For instance, when the WWF had the Bushwhackers out there, eating sardines, and licking the heads of fans at ringside, I changed the channel to the more sophisticated and more intense, WCW, to watch a great match like The Rock n Roll Express vs. The Midnight Express.

A wrestling match is fun to watch for people of all ages, all the entertainment you need is right there in the match. I think it's a great time to present a new product to the fans. It might be the only way to get viewership back up.

For newer fans, this version of WWE might be all you know, and that's what they have conditioned this generation of fans to expect. But there were eras when WWE and NWA/WCW used to focus more on the sport than on the entertainment.

You can look at any era of wrestling from any company and someone will always be able to point out something that is goofy, campy, or over-the-top; that's fine. Unfortunately, I know that there will always be something like that, but all I ask is that its kept to a very bare minimum if it must be done at all.

The easiest way WWE can at least try to "legitimize" their product is to try a whole new approach. Something that Vince McMahon probably would never want to do, because apparently he loves cheesy comedy, but what I think would be great, is if WWE focused on the Sport, in Sports Entertainment.

They have been focusing on the entertainment for far too long now and that seems to have run its course, so why not try the next logical step?

Focus on what people pay to see, the actual wrestling. Invest some time into who these wrestlers areย  by giving us video packages similar to the one produced for Brock Lesnar recently.

Let the Divas wrestle more physical matches, that go longer then 2 minutes.

Take a look at the "Once in a Lifetime" TV special produced for The Rock vs. John Cena match. It was great, it was real, it wasn't goofy or cheesy, it was a in depth look at the real life of two of the best wrestlers of all time.

We don't need a entire TV special devoted to a feud, but a 10 minute video package on RAW focusing on a match like CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho, would be a welcome change to some fans, instead of a lame sobriety test, or footage of Punk leaving a pub.

Interview both guys, show their past accomplishments, things like that, its a very simple formula. Don't try to dumb the audience down by feeding them garbage. It's 2012; evolve with the times and retire your 1999 style of writing.

A lot of the WWE wrestlers have legit athletic backgrounds and are fully capable of delivering the goods inside the ring. I don't want to see Jack Swagger arguing with the Muppets, how about instead, you do a background video on Jack Swagger and let the audience know that he was a two-sport athlete for the University of Oklahoma, and one the best amateur wrestlers the school has ever had.

Jim Ross would be a great person to host these promotional videos on the WWE Superstars.

Let the announcers call the action. We're not toddlers, we don't need to storytellers to tell us stories.

Tap into tradition. Let's see a competitive two-out-of-three falls match once in while.

I've seen enough backstage shenanigans that I ever care to see, and enough to last a lifetime. Let the action speak for itself, and let the wrestlers explain themselves in promos and interviews.

Treat wrestling as more of a sport. Fans get more invested in the show when their intelligence is not being insulted.

Finally, I'd like to address a few comments that were left on my last article. Because I want to be clear. I do love WWE. I know they are capable or producing much better television then they have been.

I am certainly not being negative for the sake of being negative, I am writing out my opinion, as to what I think is wrong with they produce their television.

Judging by the ratings and recent financial release, apparently I am certainly not the only one who is tired of the way are serving us.

Jerod wrote:

ย "Isn't pro-wrestling by it's very nature a little goofy? I mean, it is elaborate stage fighting, right? Totally a sport, totally they're athletes, but they determine the finish beforehand, right? I'm not saying I like how goofy so much of it or the inherent soap opera silliness in so much of the story telling, but story telling is important to pro wrestling. And some of the best stories are those that stretch the bounds of believably, like a David and Goliath story of Eddie Guerrero beating a Brock Lesnar, or a Daniel Bryan beating a Mark Henry.

And bringing legitimacy to pro wrestling? THAT is a goofy concept to me. I mean, I don't tune into Monday Night RAW to see an MMA fight. And what place does an arm bar, drop toe holds or an Irish Whip have in an MMA fight? It doesn't. And I like drop toe holds, especially onto steel chairs.

Again, I'm not a fan of the overly cartoon-y silliness, but I'm also not interested in seeing Brock and Cena fight in a shoot fight."

My response:

Sure, pro wrestling can be considered goofy, but that doesn't mean there has to be to skits and segments that take it beyond goofy, and just make it flat out embarrassing to be caught watching. Most fans I know, including myself, watch the shows to see professional wrestlers, wrestle.

That's not to say there is anything wrong with a great promo, or a well-thought-out storyline. That is perfectly fine with me, and certainly a part of what makes professional wrestling an art form. Where it gets lost on me, is the really cheesy attempts at comedy, and horrific acting.

As far as David and Goliath. I agree to a point. Rey Mysterio, is a master of his craft. Hornswoggle is not. I am perfectly fine with watching someone like Rey Mysterio go up against someone like Mark Henry, because Rey has proven time and time again, that he is a very accomplished wrestler, capable of amazing things inside the ring.

I can buy into Rey upsetting Mark Henry. I can not buy into Hornswoggle getting the better of Dolph Ziggler.

I'm not asking or expecting WWE to turn into MMA, nor do I want it become that. I don't even really like MMA. I would just like to see more focus on in-ring pro wrestling and less focus on stupidity and bad acting.

To me, the art form of pro wrestling and that includes the interviews, promos, matches, promotional packages, etc, is the greatest form of entertainment there is.....when its done right.

Simple as that.

Eduardo wrote:

ย "Oh, well another rant about how campy is wrestling.

Three words: Suspension of disbelief. That's all. We are watching a product that never had the logic as one of its features.

I am not saying that be a zombie, but you will have a better experience if you try a little to enjoy the product instead searching for all incoherence's."

My response:

I suspend disbelief whenever I watch a pro wrestling match, by knowing that the outcome has already been predetermined, and I have no problem doing so. I love the art form of pro wrestling.

Watching a match like John Cena vs. CM Punk at last year's Money in the Bank, was absolutely tremendous. It had story, it had realism, it had a very intense crowd and atmosphere, it had everything I enjoy about pro wrestling.

Fans shouldn't be forced to dumb themselves down to WWE's level, because the owner likes weird comedy.

WWE has tried the "campy comedy" routine for many years now. Ratings, attendance, and buy rates all point to fans being tired of it now. It's time to try something new.

Intense rivalries, and the potential to see great wrestling matches is what sells and makes the company money. Natalya pretending she is passing gas or Hornswoggle dancing does not sell tickets.

Nathan wrote:

"If you don't like what they are doing then get a job with WWE and change it."

My response:

I would love to, Nathan, but unfortunately, I don't have experience as a soap opera or sitcom writer. I'm just a fan of pro wrestling who understands what works and what doesn't.

Shawn wrote:

you do know wrestling is fake right? and should not be taken seriously? but with that said WWE is as legit as they come.

My response:


Thank you all for reading. As always, I welcome your comments and look forward to hearing from you.

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