Four Reasons Why the General Public No Longer Cares About Pro Wrestling

I’ve been thinking alot about changing the subtitle of my blog. It reads: Professional Wrestling News, Politics, Life, Inspiration, and everything else under the sun.” As of late, it seems as if I’ve been covering everything else under the sun except for professional wrestling. Well, there is a reason for this. It’s because professional wrestling, particularly WWE, sucks today. Plain and simple.

For the past few weeks, I’ve voluntarily decided to not watch Monday Night Raw, the flagship show of the company. I’ve consistently watched Raw every Monday night since the show premiered in January of 1993. Unless there was a family emergency or another major event, you could bet your last dollar that you could find me sitting in front of a television set every Monday night watching the superstars of WWE.

Today, I could really care less about the show. The only way I keep up with the latest happenings is through visiting wrestling news websites.

On the other hand, I’m a huge fan of Friday Night Smackdown. Sometimes I wonder to myself when did it exactly become a chore to watch Raw. How did I suddenly lose my passion for a show I faithfully watched, without skipping a beat, for nearly 18 years? In actuality, it wasn’t a sudden decision. It was a gradual decline of interest, which has really plagued WWE on a grand scale for years with the general public. Wrestling is not cool, nor is it the hip thing to be a fan of like it was a little over a decade ago. I’m going to explain a few reasons as to why WWE is throwing itself off the proverbial cliff. There are enough reasons to write a book, but I will focus on four main ones.

Too Few Stars Are Being Made

To the general public that watches WWE, the only true stars are John Cena, HHH (who wrestles sparingly and does more backstage work), Undertaker (basically retired) and Randy Orton. I would define a star as someone who is consistently put in a  position to headline television shows and pay-per-view events. The scary part is that Cena and Orton have been established main event level stars for several years.

Others such as Edge, Batista, Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho have either retired or left the company on their own accord. Guys like CM Punk, Mark Henry and Alberto Del Rio have greatly risen in stardom over the last year, but the jury is still out as to whether they will remain long-term stars on the level of Cena and Orton. Guys such as Miz, Rey Mysterio,  Jack Swagger, Christian, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, Kofi Kingston and John Morrison are super talented, yet aren’t pushed by the company at a level which is commensurate with their skill. Therefore the same guys remain on top forever, thus making the product appear stale and boring to the average fan.

Titles are Absolutely Worthless

This is a problem that has become especially apparent over the last couple of years. Back in the old days, it was possible to make a star by simply putting a belt on them. Titles were treated as something special and it was a big deal whenever a new champion was crowned. Today the belts change so frequently that it’s hard to remember who is champion in a given week.

From 1963 to 1984, the WWE title changed hands on ten occasions. From May through October of this year, the WWE title changed hands seven times. There is something seriously wrong with this picture.

From what I’ve heard, the writers (people who script the matches) switch the belts so frequently because they believe the shock of a title change  will lead to an increased rating for the following night’s episode of Raw (titles usually change on pay-per-view events held on Sunday). Yes, the company is prostituting its most prestigious championship for the sake of ratings. Ratings rarely rise above the 3.0 level, yet they still insist on switching the belts just about every month. That is a textbook definition of insanity.

Pay-Per-View Events Mean Nothing

When I was a teenager it seemed like every pay-per-view was special. Of course, the big four of Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summerslam and Survivor Series were always promoted in a way that seemed bigger than the others, and Mania has always been the biggest show of the year.

Today, watching a pay-per-view is like watching an extended edition of Raw or Smackdown. You may see a slightly higher caliber of in-ring action and the matches last longer, yet nothing of significance happens. In the 90s and early part of the last decade, watching a PPV was like riding a roller coaster. There were plenty of great thrills and action with a killer cliffhanger ending that left you hungry for the the next month’s show.

WWE’s pay-per-view business has declined greatly over the last few years because the majority of them mean absolutely nothing. There are also way too many. WWE runs 14 shows a year, which is entirely too much for a single company. To show how far business has fallen, this year’s Summerslam did the lowest number of domestic buys in company history; at a mere 127,000. For a comparison, the highest domestic buyrate for a Summerslam event was 800,000 for the 1998 show headlined by Steve Austin vs. Undertaker.

What a difference 13 years can make!

Nothing Makes Sense Anymore

There used to be a time when you could just sit back and watch an entertaining and intelligent wrestling show. Keyword being intelligent. The matches were good and the storylines were relatively straightforward. Plus every moment always built up to something in the bigger scheme of things. There were so many awesome feuds from my childhood through early adult years which will forever remain ingrained in my memory.

A few of the standouts were Rock vs. Austin, HHH vs. Rock, Mick Foley vs. HHH, WCW vs. NWO, Sting vs. Hulk Hogan, Diamond Dallas Page vs. Randy Savage, HHH vs. Batista and Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho. With the exception of the latter two, all of these feuds transpired during the late 90s- early 2001. And three of them are from WCW, a promotion which no longer exists.

Watching an episode of Raw these days is like sitting in on an organic chemistry lecture. Very little of it makes sense and unless you have an excellent teacher, or in this case a friend watching with you who understands every single detail, it can be downright confusing to understand exactly what is going on. Feuds start and stop without warning; the announcing is totally devoid of the ability to project the product to the masses watching on television; and there is little to no storyline continuity. Something that happened one week between two wrestlers is totally forgotten about, with no explanation, by the time you watch the next week’s show. Wins and losses mean nothing and nearly everyone is kept at the same level. Historically, beating, or even looking competitive against, a bonafide star was the gateway to being the top guy in  a promotion. Look at what wrestling Bret Hart did for the career of Austin. And remember how HHH was established as a star for life after beating Foley in 2000? These days, a guy could pin the world champion and still be portrayed as a geek on television the following week. Barely anyone but the very top stars are given any sustained momentum, thus creating an environment where nothing matters. When a promotion doesn’t care about its product then the audience watching at home will eventually reach the same conclusion. I don’t believe that wrestling is no longer popular because guys like Rock and Austin are no longer around on a regular basis. However, I believe wrestling’s lack of mainstream popularity is due to the fact that promoters have neglected the basic rules that kept the wrestling industry strong for decades in North America. I’ve always been a firm believer in applying the KISS principle to pro wrestling. KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID!

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9 thoughts on “Four Reasons Why the General Public No Longer Cares About Pro Wrestling

  1. My top 4 would be:

    – MMA is the cool thing now just like Nascar was cool, just like wrestling was cool… It amazes me UFC front row tickets can get $1,500 per seat… Wrestlemania this year now charges $1,500 per seat
    – Nothing makes sense and wow it doesn’t make sense. I swear the people that put on wrestling are trying to kill it.
    – No one is willing to pay for anything and why should they?
    – RAW = SNL. There’s still high wrestling content on RAW, but it really feels like a skit show.

    A lot of people watch out of habbit and its moreso their DVRs watch out of habbit. I haven’t seen Smackdown since it was on UPN… just because I’m too lazy to set my DVR to record it.

  2. I agree with you 100%. Raw is more like a rehearsed variety show rather than an actual wrestling show these days. The only reason why Smackdown is better is because that show focuses more on wrestling instead of silly “SNL-like” skits and poor attempts at humor. The Muppets were all over last week’s Raw. Could you seriously imagine that ever taking place back in the 90s? Could you imagine Austin or Rock actually talking to Muppet characters? And WWE wonders why no one takes their product seriously.

    MMA has really taken over wrestling’s popularity in this country. I find it ironic that a former WWE star (Brock Lesnar) is one of the key reasons for the UFC’s explosion in popularity over the last couple of years.

    • I do think the Muppets show was great as a once a decade sort of thing. But in the 90s Austin would have just torn the sock puppet off the hand. Actually I’d hope no main eventer would ever be seen with a Muppet. Kind of like I’d hope no main eventer would suddenly have a Hillbilly gimmick or a baseball player gimmick. Gimmicks will get you over when you’re unknown and hold you down until you break out.

      Brock wasn’t part of the UFC’s success. Spike TV was. Brock isn’t even the highest draw. But Brock is a connection, just like Ken Shamrock was. Both their win loss records have something to be desired. I’m also a little surprised Brock is in the WWE 12 video game and is so highly bandied around. But that has more to do with THQ than the WWE. Just like Macho Man in all of the WWE All Stars commercials.

  3. Oh and yes titles are worthless… WWE title changed hands 6x in 8 weeks. TNA title changed hands 8x this year. Smackdown title flopped too this summer. Mark Henry means a lot for that belt right now which is an absolute shock. ADR has lost a lot of matches lately… so has Dolph and Cody. Cody does still hold the IC belt right? I had an idea that the contenders for the belt should get X amount of victories in a row before they get a title shot. 4 for the top tier titles, 3 for the middle tier, 2 for special titles. That way it gives them momentum where people wonder how can they lose they have all the momentum? Then they can have a month to build to a title match with your traditional tag matches, angles, promos and so on…. but don’t hurt the champ’s momentium or the contender’s momentum. Then whoever loses the championship match can get a #1 contender match against the new person who is coming up with that winning streak.

  4. And about wrestling making no sense… I can see Roode & Storm making sense, but the Cena / Rock vs Miz & Truth making sense… the only logic that I can deduce is the WWE specifically wants to test that the Rock wrestling is the draw to Survivor Series…. Not that the Rock will have a great program…. not that he and John Cena will have some tiff… Not that Miz & Truth are some unstoppable tag team… But just that the Rock will wrestle. WWE is trying to prove it which is extremely dumb because they’re making a gamble… do they get 100,000 buys or 500,000 buys at $40 a pop. Dumbasses…. no thanks we don’t need your money.

  5. You make some great points. I like the way you think when it comes to wrestling. I’ve thought about getting back into TNA, but I’ve been unable to due to all the damage they did for most of last year and this year. I hate to watch a company where the most pushed talent are guys past the age of 50. The Roode/Storm angle has been pretty well recieved, but it’s like the company ran through six months of potential storylines in about a three week period.

    Personally, I find the title situation to be the most infuriating. The belts used to mean something back in the day. Remember all the classic IC title programs (Rock vs. HHH, Bret vs. Bulldog, HBK vs. Razor, etc)? Today, the secondary and tag belts mean squat. The only time this year that the WWE title meant something was during the buildup for the Cena-Punk match in July. Then it was back to being useless one week later. Last year, if someone would’ve told me that Henry would be the best champion in WWE at this time in 2011, I never would’ve believed them. Henry has worked hard and has been booked very smartly. It just baffeles me to think that Vince McMahon has allowed his belts to become so utterly useless.

    • Damn this is a novel 🙂

      WWE used to think… giving a contender a non title victory against a champ in a singles or tag match means the champ will get the title victory. But I also kind of think that halfs your champ for some chump. The chumps can get their heat going over chumps and the champs can get their heat stopping the contenders.

      I’d be very happy if top tier belts changed hands once a year, Mid tier belts can change hands once every 6 months (not once per year like they are now), lower tier belts can change every 3 months.

      What boggles my mind about the titles is they really need to freeze their titles from Summerslam to Mania. That way the champions defeat will be a big deal. I would say since Dolph held the US belt for a year it would be a big deal when he loses it… but he loses so often he’s worthless. Just like Del Rio. Del Rio never should have held his belt. He’s got a lot of gimmicks working for him, but he’s nothing. He’s very one dimensional… If anything strip his gimmicks and just make him a killer. He can pull that off. Why have a suit, when he’s the best? He breaks arms!!!! Like Mark Henry kills people. Ruins their careers.

      TNA is a disaster and probably will always be a disaster. They’ve done one thing right this entire year and they seem to have even botched that (even if I understand their logic behind it). I think I could save TNA that’s why on Facebook I post things and talk to talent.

      TNA once had its champ… and then new champ lose to Gunner (Sting & Kennedy) 2 weeks in a row. Kind of like their build up to a PPV was to have their champ lose. WWE is very guilty of this as well. Kind of like it heats up the feud to get a loss thanks to your feud’s interference. I think it would heat things up more to have a time limit draw between an A vs C level guy… because an A level feud interfered. or just get the C guy DQed. Since they’re a C guy it doesn’t hurt… or my idea would just be chop C guy’s head off, because he’s not A. But then people start talking about a glass ceiling and Supermanism.

      I can see why some companies would push the over 50… but to be honest you’ve gotta mix your 25-35s WITH those 50 year olds. Tag matches, mentors, singles conquests. Like AJ over Sting (after Sting goes over AJ) and Sting disappears 6 months or a year. The disappearing means a lot more…. Or Hogan in a tag match throws punches, heels bump, then James Storm gets the victory and the celebration with Hogan pointing to Roode raising his hand. Or mentors for inspiration like Jesse Sauronson gets down on his luck. Girlfriend left him, dog died, football got popped… Ric Flair comes into the locker room slaps him and says wrestling is the only thing he has control over now get out there and bring me Kid Kash’s head. Rawrrrrrr!!!! Or 5 years down the road, Jesse Neal is stale… needs a fresh look. He goes to Ric Flair. What can I do? Teach me, mold me. Talk for me.

      I’m sure young fans are LOLing look its a zombie in a ring! And old fans are thinking man Sting you still got it. And middle of the roaders say push guys my own age who are fresh.

      Sting, Hogan and Flair SHOULD all have their own money enough to start a legends promotion (but don’t). Sting on top of the card, Coco B-Ware opening the card. Like a 40+ league of guys.

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