In 2012, Professional Wrestling is seen as somewhat of a joke in the sporting industry, but it wasn't always that way. Professional Wrestling was once the must-see programme on a Saturday morning, with professional wrestling companies being on every street corner around the world. In previous years the industry has faltered, and in this article I underline the top three that's holding the industry (specifically WWE) back.
Professional Wrestling - A Crumbling Industry
Some of the key problems with Professional Wrestling today, along with some potential solutions.
Professional Wrestling at a Standstill?
Surveying the landscape of Professional Wrestling in 2012
On Monday, March 26th 2001, a simulcast was broadcast the world around with thunderous repercussions: Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation (WWF) had bought out Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling (WCW) for a mere $3,000,000.
This marked the end of what has since been dubbed "The Monday Night Wars", which had begun in 1995 with WCW airing its new flagship-show, Monday Nitro, in a head-to-head timeslot against it's WWF counterpart, Monday Night Raw. So astonishing was this news, many of the active talent on the WCW roster had no idea that things had gotten so bad, so fast.
Over the next number of months an invasion angle began in which WCW and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW - the third largest Pro Wrestling brand in the world, know for its ground-breaking extreme style of wrestling - which had been bought earlier that year by the WWF) wrestlers began to invade the WWF airwaves, seeking control of the WWF.
This sparked a several month "invasion" which, despite its many memorable moments, ultimately rang the death knell for WCW and ECW, with the WWF emerging firmly dominant, and showcasing the monopoly of Professional Wrestling as now being squarely in the hands of Vince McMahon.
Fast forward 10 years, skipping through the brand extension (a second WWF show to be the competition the WWF had destroyed in WCW and ECW), a change of name to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and a legion of storylines, the business saw a sharp downturn both in terms of popularity and arguably excitement.
As it were, the very final episode of Monday Nitro drew a 3.0 TV rating in terms of viewership, at the time considered horrific. Nowadays, Raw is lucky to maintain a 3.0 rating continually, whilst Smackdown could never dream of a rating so high.
The intention of this article is to outline some of the key flaws in today's industry, along with a few small pointers that could go a long way in making Wrestling matter again.
Which of the two "giants" did you prefer to watch?
"The Main Event" of Issues
The first aspect in need of reform is the Main Event scene.
This is a point that has been battered to death so often, it may not even be worth suggesting a change anymore.
The scene here is not an uncommon one, in fact, so common is it that in the past several months the WWE have actively begun recognising on screen, through storylines, that Mr. Cena always wins. He always overcomes adversity. He always emerges with his hand raised at the end of the night. The problem here is, the WWE are lacking in star-power, and have found themselves unable to move younger talent into the main event permanently.
One only needs to take a look at the case of Alberto Del Rio to see that it doesn't matter how hard you push them, if you don't make them credible, it simply will not stick. In the past number of months the WWE seem to have found a number of stars who are more than capable of filling this role, in the form of Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett.
Sheamus has held the WWE title twice before and he now seems to be on the way to capturing his first World Heavyweight Title at this forthcoming Wrestlemania, on April 1st, refreshed with his new good-guy persona. As for the other men, the WWE need to recognise their potential and fast - Dolph Ziggler has battled for a world title at the past two Royal Rumbles, for crying out loud!
Solution: Give the aforementioned talent lengthy feuds. Give them the time on the microphone that all wrestling shows seem unable of starting without. Give them meaning behind their character and persona. Most importantly however, give them wins. Legitimate wins, with no dirty tactics, no outside interference, and make these wins against legitimate stars - where they count.
A potential main-event star?
On the first episode of Raw of 2012 - Dolph Ziggler proves he's more than capable of holding his own.
Long Term Planning - Long Term Payoff
Storylines. Stop making it up as you go along!
April 4th, 2011. John Cena and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson agree to something never before tried in WWE history. They agree to wrestle each other at Wrestlemania - almost a full year away, on April 1st, 2012. Never before had a match been announced a year in advance - many heads were turned in anticipation of how the build would be handled, with a full year to promote and hype the match.
Fast forward to Friday, 22nd July 2011. Daniel Bryan announces he will cash in his Money in the Bank contract at Wrestlemania, planting the seeds of another match almost 9 months early. Things seemed to be headed in the right direction. However, coming up to Wrestlemania, Daniel Bryan has cashed in his contract on Mark Henry, has become the world heavyweight champion and at the moment will face Sheamus for his title at Wrestlemania, with Mark Henry being demoted to the 12 man tag-team match.
There's no long term planning any more - this was meant to be the biggest Wrestlemania of all time (and still may be!), but the WWE seem incapable of making a decision and sticking to it, turning Daniel Bryan from the heroic lionheart into the cowardly sucker.
Men's Only Club
Utilise women where they will work best.
At this point, the Diva's division is well known for being the time in which you take a toilet break. The division has been left in the lurch for years, losing hundreds of thousands of viewers each week. The longest match in a long time on non Pay-Per-View has been around 4 minutes long (including entrances and exits)
Things came to a head in 2011 when Gail Kim, fed up at her mistreatment eliminated herself from a match, and subsequently found herself sitting at home, being unused until her contract expired. Things seemed to be on the up and up earlier in the year with the introduction of Kharma, formerly Awesome Kong. However, due to her pregnancy, she disappeared from the airwaves and is not expected to return to action anytime soon.
Now, for the second year in a row, the divas are going to feature only lightly at Wrestlemania (last year they had exactly 4 minutes, and that was with two semi-main event men in the match) with another Z-list celebrity in the match, taking a spot away from the women they already have.
My proposal is to scrap the division entirely. It's too far gone to garner genuine interest now. However, when you have some of the most beautiful women in the world - put them back into managerial roles! Vickie Guerrero has already proved this works wonders!
This is by no means the end...
If you're interested in reading any more of my suggestions, I am writing lengthier articles, focusing in on one key issue in each. You can browse these at your leisure by clicking links below.