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Are We Watching WWE or WCW? by Hank McAllen

It has been well documented by WWE in print, interviews, DVD’s and network specials the many reasons why WWE feels WCW failed. We’ve seen the sob stories from people about how the WWE took the ultimate demise of WCW as such an emotional victory, especially the members of the McMahon family. But with every passing month, especially over the last several years, it seems like the product we are watching interestingly resembles more of the old Turner based company.

We have heard on numerous occasions that WWE took a younger approach back in the Monday Night Wars and how using older wrestlers came back to bite WCW and lead to their downfall. Remember the old “Hukster” and “Nacho Man” vignettes that used to run on RAW during the attitude era? I remember hearing that WCW was the place for wrestling careers to die and yet make a ton of money in doing so. Now, while some of that may be true, can someone from WWE explain to me how Sting amazingly vaulted into becoming the number one contender for the WWE title? By the way, whatever happened to the rankings format?

While I love Sting, and always thought he was a top flight performer, do we really think he is legitimately the number one challenger for Seth Rollins’ belt? Of course he’s not. It’s just another ploy by WWE to help draw interest for a PPV. On that same note, see who the new number one contenders for the Tag Team titles are? Yep those new kids on the block, the Dudley Boyz! How sad is it that guys in their 40’s walk into the company and automatically are the best team in the company, because WWE can’t seem to get people to emotionally invest themselves into the current tag team division. Heck it’s been a generation since anyone has cared about developing tag teams. The approach has been; don’t know what to do with this guy, and don’t know what to do with this guy, I know let’s make them a tag team! It seemed like Justin Gabriel and Kofi Kingston had 25 partners between them in the last couple of years.

What worked so well for WWE during the Monday Night Wars was their focus on building new stars and elevating them to a level where they can carry pay per views. While WCW was throwing out the likes of Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Nash, Flair, etc. to headline their top shows, WWE was creating stars like the Rock, Stone Cold, Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, and the Hardy’s. Sadly, for some odd reason, WWE has taken the old WCW approach and over the recent years continue to bring back the Rock, Jericho, Undertaker, Triple H and now Sting to sell tickets to PPV’s. WWE needs to take the same live or die approach with Cesaro, Ziggler, Reigns, Ambrose, Owens, etc. as they did 15-20 years ago. It will breathe new life into their product, while forcing these young guns to step up and reach for the brass ring. The best major show that WWE has put on this year was NXT Take Over. Why? Because these aspiring stars put it all on the line, because they knew they had to, and what we got was an awesome show.

It has also been mocked by several ranking WWE employees that WCW would dip into the entertainment world and have the likes of a Jay Leno or David Arquette enter the squared circle. I find these attacks on WCW’s direction back in the day interesting, as ironically ever since WrestleMania 1 we have seen WWF/E bring in star after star from the non wrestling genre to try and bring public awareness to the event. I don’t know about you, but I became a wrestling fan at the age of 8. I don’t think that many wrestling fans become fans of the business when they are 30 or older because Mickey Rourke was going to be on hand at Mania or that Maria Menounos was going to get in the squared circle. No, by the time you are in your mid to late teens (if not earlier) you are either a fan or not. Stop thinking any differently Vince!

Stardust

Last month we saw the WWE’s latest attempt to bring public awareness to their product when they brought in the legendary wrestler Stephen Amell. That’s right, The Arrow! Great show, good actor, seems like a nice guy BUT HE’S NOT A WRESTLER!!!!!!! Then you put him over in the match as a legitimate threat. Guy was in good shape, and looked athletic, but by no means did he look like a wrestler. Oddly enough this is the same company that hates to put over legitimate wrestlers who are on the smaller size. Bringing non-wrestlers into the ring harms the legitimacy of the business just as the bringing in of Jay Leno and David Arquette did to WCW. Remember, back during the heart of the Monday Night Wars, the only celebrity Vince brought in at Mania was Mike Tyson. Tyson was the baddest dude on the planet at the time and when he entered the ring you knew he could legitimately beat the crap out of any wrestler on the card. I don’t think Cody Rhodes was up all night fearing Stephen Amell. What are you telling your fans? That there are guys on the roster who are worse than Stephen Amell in the ring? What are you telling the non-wrestling world? That any guy with a decent physique can come in and successfully take on any guy on your roster? Back in the day Bill Watts, while running his territory, had a rule that if any of his wrestlers got in a fight in a bar, they better win or they’d be fired. Why? Because if you got beaten up by some local tough guy, you are hurting the business and the perception of wrestlers as a whole.

During the Monday Night Wars, these tactics would be seen as desperate attempts by WCW to resurrect sagging ratings. Now the standards have apparently changed. This is because WWE ratings are in fact sagging and need a jolt, but instead of developing new talent, they are heading down the route once travelled by WCW. As we enter the final third of the year, can WWE make an early New Year’s Resolution and make 2016 the dawning of a new age? Can they go in a direction where we no longer see Undertaker, Triple H, Kane, Jericho, heck anyone born in the 70’s or earlier in the ring? Can WWE make Ronda Rousey the only non-WWE performer in the ring or seen at WrestleMania because she is the female version of Brock Lesnar, the toughest cat on the planet! Her impact would equal that of Tyson’s from years ago. Can WWE creative (man I HATE that term) begin the gradual permanent removal of Cena and Orton from the main title pictures and begin to phase them out permanently? I guarantee you, you’re ratings will improve, your wrestlers will get better, RAW will be more entertaining and fresh and WrestleMania will be in good hands for years to come!