As being a subscriber to the WWE Network and owning a numerous amount of DVD’s that they have produced over the years, you almost become immune to reading the little warning they give prior to any of their programming. It was only recently that, after the network was frozen on my screen, I actually read the warning that appears on the network in detail for the first time. I was aghast! I couldn’t believe what I saw. It read as follows…..
Actors? Really? Wow, so I guess the slippery slope has hit rock bottom, no pun intended. They went from wrestlers, to sports entertainers to now actors. Sad isn’t it? This once sports themed spectacle has been reduced to nothing more than a program featuring actors. I hadn’t felt so low about being a wrestling fan in years.
A very good buddy of mine has always compared being a wrestling fan with being a fan of the group KISS. You never outwardly admit it in public so much. You kind of throw a name or something out there and if someone else in the room acknowledges your comment, BOOM, an instant kinship. While times have changed over the years and wrestling has gone more mainstream, it has almost become even more of an issue being a fan as now you don’t even know what you are looking at.
As discussed many times, the demise of kayfabe has hurt the industry in more ways than originally thought. In opening the iron curtain the mystery of suspense is gone. We know these are two athletes that are involved in a match that has a predetermined ending, but let me ask you this. When was the last time you were going to a WWE, ROH, TNA, etc event and said, “hey my buddies and I are going to the sports entertainment show.” I am guessing that would be a resounding never. Now that they’re not even sports entertainers anymore is WWE hoping we say, “hey my buddies and I are going to the play, opera, ballet or movies.”
Our own Mark McAllen wrote an article about how WWE is producing a movie that will feature Seth Rollins. I almost puked when I read it. Not due to Mark’s writing of course, it was because here we go again with WWE wasting it’s money and time sticking people with ZERO acting skills in movies that 90% of the time are direct to DVD anyway. This is money and time that can be given back to the in ring product. Now please don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, etc for wanting to broaden their horizons and try acting. I get it. They’ve been drinking the McMahon Kool Aide in thinking they’re the next Rock. I’d probably do it too. But let’s be honest the reason that these three, as well as everyone else on the WWE roster, fell in love with the business and why they chose the profession they did was because they wanted to wrestle, not act. Also, while the Rock has reached superstar action hero status and Dave Bautista has seen recent success on the big screen, I don’t think we’ll ever see them being confused with Daniel Day Lewis, Christian Bale or Robert DeNiro any time soon.
Back in the day, wrestlers took pride in their profession, and would defend what they did at the drop of a hat. Not that today’s wrestlers don’t feed pride, but it is almost with a tongue and cheek approach that they look into the camera in mainstream media to discuss what they do for a living. How do you think guys like Bill Watts, Randy Savage, Bruno Sammartino, Terry Funk or Jack Brisco would’ve responded to someone calling them actors. Just ask former 20/20 reporter John Stossel what happened to him when he questioned the legendary tough guy Dr. D. David Schultz about the authenticity of wrestling. It wasn’t a pretty sight. It was one of many encounters that ended up in a fight or law suit because someone dared to make fun of the business.
Now I believe that most of us understood early on in life that what we saw in a wrestling ring wasn’t 100% factual. That there was probably a predetermined winner and loser, but that it contained a mystery of suspense on who would win the match and how they would obtain the victory. It was focused strictly on the outcome of athletic event between two professionals who were settling a personal score in the ring. It was a magical time that many people feel can never return, but I beg to differ. Why? Three simple letters, N, X, T!
Yep, NXT folks. Believe it or not they are owned by WWE, although you’d never know it. The show this past Friday brought back memories of some of the great Starrcade shows of yesteryear. There was genuine excitement in the air with a HOT crowd. It was booked, not written, in a way that had the fans exhausted after almost every match. The card didn’t have a dud match all night. If the Nakamura vs. Zayn match had happened at Mania it would draw immediate comparisons to the likes of Savage vs. Steamboat or Hart vs. Austin, etc. But, what also made the night special was all of the other 4 matches were excellent as well, including the Asuka vs. Bayley match, which finished a CLOSE 2nd on the card for me. Think of it folks, this is now the third time in the past 7 months, Bayley has now given us one of the best female matches on United States soil in YEARS. The other two times being against Sasha Banks last August and October.
What also brought back memories of a time gone by was how great it was to hear the fan base angry during the stoppages in the Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor match. Joe’s pure emotion of frustration every time the ref would stop the match to address Joe’s cut added to the crowds intensity during the match. The “let them wrestle” chants were fantastic. Those chants also told WWE how to handle their main roster problems too, and that is “let them wrestle!’ Vince says he doesn’t see any money in the NXT roster, according to The Wrestling Observer. Yeah, RIGHT Vince!! Maybe you mean that you don’t see your next action hero for your crappy movie. If you really looked, you’d see headline WrestleMania talent that will make you MAJOR money at wrestling centric shows.
I think the fan base is tired of the predictable finish, the predictable TV commercial slot, the predictable movie release with “fill in the blank” wrestler making a terrible movie. The fans want wrestling, not actors. The NXT show should be the foundation for how WWE books the rest of their RAW shows moving forward. Hotly contested matches, getting the crowd emotionally involved while giving some expected and surprise finishes. I mean how many people thought Joe was going to lose that match? Not many as most felt Balor would drop the title and move up.
So PLEASE WWE, no more calling your wrestlers actors. No more shoving your agenda down our throats. No more being predictable. You don’t need to look very far for the answers to your problems. As a matter of fact, the answers are just under your nose. It’s called wrestling and you serve it already to us every Wednesday night.