It seems that no matter how much time goes by, the subject of this new era of PG wrestling in WWE will always be talked about, and it is almost impossible to hear someone say something good about it. There certainly have been a lot of changes since the switch took place and of course they had to happen given the very non-PG nature of the company before that. But who has suffered the most from these changes?
There are some people, despite the lack of weapon usage, who don't seem to have been affected. Undertaker is still destroying people and taking their souls (well, when he's not in a vegetative state); Jericho's loving life being a smug heel; Batista, before he left, was still the same boring wrestler with limited mic skills; and Big Show is still the Big Show.
Even the "Rated-R Superstar," Edge, has been affected very little by the new PG format. Sure he went from awesome divas wrestler, yet still somewhat unattractive Lita, to holy-crap-turn-off-the-TV Vickie Guerrero, but he's still up to his same old tricks.
The major exception is Randy Orton. If anything, Orton has actually gained popularity since WWE switched to PG. I touched on this in my latest article, but Orton's "Viper" gimmick has propelled him to a completely higher level of superstar. If Cena is the Stone Cold in terms of company status, then there is a strong arguement for saying that Randy is the new Rock. Orton may be the only performer who was not only unaffected by the PG era, but actually came out better than before.
Of course not everyone is as lucky as Orton. While Triple H and Shawn Michael's singles careers weren't drastically altered, the team of Degeneration X lost a lot of what made it popular in the first place. When the duo first reunited in 2006, it was obviously a more watered down version of the team from the 90's due to HBK's rediscovered faith, but they were still doing much of the same antics. Midgets, hot women, genital jokes, "Big Dick Johnson," and all that good stuff.
Fast-forward to 2009 and you won't find any of that. The only thing you get are a bunch of Christmas ads for WWE merchandise and a bunch of skits with Hornswoggle.
The WWE superstar who has probably been hurt the most is John Cena. Pre-PG, Cena would cut raps with swear words mixed in, call the other wrestlers homosexuals, make endless STD jokes at Lita's expense, and was a much more intense wrestler. Cena used to FU people through tables, attack them in their hotel rooms, throw them into rivers, and actually spend a good portion of the match winning.
Unfortunately, since he is the face of the company, Cena has to embody PG. The FU has become the Attitude Adjustment, the STFU just the STF, no more cussing, no STD jokes (hard to do without Lita too), and for most of his feuds he just gets dominated the entire time without retaliating. Cena was definately a tweener up to the point of his pectoral injury in 07, but when he returned at Royal Rumble the following year he was a full fledged face with practically no edge to him at all.
The only ones that have suffered more than Cena are the fans. Since the WWE switched to PG, chairshots to the head have been banned; specialty matches like Hell in the Cell and Money in the Bank have become pay-per-views and consequently been greatly diminished in significance; the divas are no longer scantily clothed (its not like we can watch them wrestle); and then of course there is the blood. Not only are the performers no longer allowed to blade, but they actually stop the matches if they accidentally start to bleed.
This is completely ridiculous and ruins the entire flow of the match. Then there are the storylines that completely lack substance and anything that makes the viewers want to tune in next week to see what happens.
Because of these changes, many fans have become sick of WWE's rather lackluster product. Things may be improving, as shown by the NXT angle, but a lot of people are still not satisfied. I highly doubt that the WWE will go back to PG-13 any time soon, but hopefully they improve on what they can while still keeping their kid friendly gameplan.
And can someone get rid of Michael Cole and bring back good ol' JR?
I would also like to throw out an honorable mention to Bryan Danielson, who was released because of PG.
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