I like a good bit of wrestling. As a man, nothing tests the boundaries of one’s heterosexuality quite like watching athletic men holding each other for extended amounts of time, all whilst getting sweaty and breathing heavily. Then there’s the actual violence; sometimes it would be lovely to chokeslam certain people through a table just to make a point. That’s not always possible however, and therefore one’s frustrations must be exorcised vicariously through the scantily clad and oddly dressed men in the squared circle.
Aside from the near nudity and homoerotic overtones, there are the story lines. Some of those I encountered as a thirteen year old were, and still are, incredible. Steve Austin’s feuds with the authority remain as intense as they were comedic, and everything The Rock was involved with still makes me smile and clench my fists in celebration or frustration, depending on the outcome. And when these two monoliths of the sport collided, it was poetry in motion. I haven’t even mentioned everything DX did, nor the thousands of feet that the Hardy Boys travelled through the air, or even the epic nature of Kane in his early days. These, too, all held me in my seat and propped my jaw open.
The trouble is, for me, that these elements of televised wrestling don’t exist any more. Sure, there are superstars that can capture an audience, and there are plenty that can wrestle, but none of them can perform both of these jobs in equal measure. Take Bray Wyatt for instance – he’s a perfect audience worker that made a great first impression, but he has long since become repetitive. His schtick is predictable. He can perform in the ring, sure; he has style, flair and power, but his move set is limited and the matches in which he performs always take the same shape. The same can be said for countless other wrestlers.
Let’s examine Sheamus – he is a bright star amongst some boring wrestlers, but they have never given him a great story, or the room to run wild. He is a massive man, with an inspiring set of abilities, but he isn’t given room to be physically superior (as has been over done with Rusev) or egotistically engaging (as was done with CM Punk).
It wouldn’t be hard. You could sell this scenario quite easily; it wouldn’t be the first time a foreign wrestler held a title or presented a god-level status. There’s also the unspoken problem with how black wrestlers are used; Titus O’Neil (right) could be HUGE, but he’s now stuck with Heath Slater, a wrestler so undervalued and misrepresented it is painful to watch. Kofi Kingston is the African reincarnation of every great high-flier, but, alas, he is wasted on a losing streak that promotes wrestlers not worthy of Kofi himself.
I could present you with an extensive list of problems with the entire roster. I won’t however, as the main thing that would reoccur in my ramblings would be the insistence that something is missing. That thing is unpredictability: weeks before a PPV we see the same matches, or the same four wrestlers fighting it out, right up until we see the actual PPV match they are touting. The only difference fans are given at said PPV is that the matches are ten or fifteen minutes longer and maybe include a bit of in-crowd brawling, or maybe a cage (seriously WWE, Mankind set the bar with ‘Taker for cage matches. Step it up or stop using them!). It speaks volumes that the most exciting match in the past year was the one-sided beat-down of John Cena at the hands of Brock Lesnar. There wasn’t much wrestling, but it shamed Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, Big show, Mark Henry, and everyone else. It exposed them, as far as I’m concerned, for the lacklustre performers that they are.
I want wrestling to once again become a fire you have to watch for fear of it spreading. I want the superstars to threaten to pull out ladders and tables at every turn, as did the Hardy Boys and The Dudley Boyz. I want to look upon Stephanie McMahon and Triple H and know they’re going to be embarrassed by at least one member of the roster each night, just for being in charge. I want wrestlers to bring bags of weapons to the ring as did Steve Blackman. I want fire, and gods, and blood, and pain. I want to see daring and stupidity mix with bravery and rage. I want to believe in those I cheer for. I want heroes and I want villains.
Most of all, I want them all to fight for something…
Instead, I am stuck with wrestling dwarves in onesies, and pathetic “three-man tags team action”, that only exists, if we’re honest with ourselves, to give screen time to as many touted PPV billed wrestlers at once as is possible. It’s not good enough. Being from the UK, I haven’t paid my $9.99 for the network, as it hasn’t been available to me, and to be honest I’m glad. I’m trying to remain faithful to a brand that has become cheap and cheerful, abandoning every principle it drew me in with.
It’s like watching a friend go away to college or university, only to meet new people and change for the worse.
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Thanks for reading!