Wednesday, January 25, 2012

PG Attitude: Part 1

Attitude vs. PG (from Baltimore Sun)
By Chad Smart
@chadsmart on Twitter


The Question of the Day on our Facebook page today asked what fans miss about the Attitude Era that makes them feel the current WWE product is worse now than during that time. I asked this because it seems on a daily basis between the Facebook page and other wrestling blogs or message boards someone is bemoaning the current state of WWE and wishing they’d lose the PG mentality and develop an Attitude. Personally, as I look back, I am not a fan of the Attitude Era and at first thought this was going to be a blog about how bad the Attitude Era was and how the current product, while not great, isn’t THAT bad. But the more I started thinking about it and formulating the different points I wanted to make, I realized there were several elements of the Attitude Era missing in today’s shows that would help make the shows better.

One of the biggest elements I attribute to fans missing the Attitude Era is the lack of star power. Currently there is no larger than life persona like The Rock or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. John Cena has been the face of the company for almost seven years. While he is the biggest star within the wrestling bubble, his popularity hasn’t really transcended to mainstream appeal.  The lack of a mega star isn’t something that can be blamed solely on WWE. After Hulk Hogan’s drawing power diminished and he left for WCW, it took five years for “Stone Cold” and Rocky Miavia to step in and fill the boots he left behind. One also has to remember that both guys had to take charge and create their personas otherwise they may not have become the stars they are today if they’d waited on the WWF creative team to give them a star making scenario.

Austin 3:16 is born
If I’m not mistaken, Austin’s usage of the phrase, “Austin 3:16” was an adlibbed moment during his King of the Ring coronation after beating Jake Roberts who at the time was being presented as a born again Christian. “Austin 3:16” wasn’t developed by a marketing team or a writer. It just happened. Not to mention the fact that if the Kliq hadn’t staged the “curtain call” event at Madison Square Garden for Kevin Nash and Scott Hall’s last appearance, Triple H would have won King of the Ring instead of Austin. Had that happened who knows if “Stone Cold” would have gotten the chance to become the beer drinking hell raiser fans loved.

While finding the next big Superstar isn’t a simple task, I do feel WWE currently hinders wrestlers by scripting promos. Wrestlers should have the freedom to get the points across in their own manner instead of trying to memorize lines written by someone else. This assumes that everything I’ve read about WWE scripting promos is true. If you look at some of the best promo men from the past, Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, Austin, Rock, Hulk Hogan, all of them got over by being themselves. WWE needs to have the wrestlers display some individuality so fans can relate to the person.

Funkasaurus (from WWE.com)
Speaking of personality, something that has been missing but looks to be on the comeback is the lack of characters.  For the past several years it seems most of the wrestlers WWE has tried to make into stars all fit a particular type. Short hair, six-pack abs, bland personalities were the norm for body types. Personalities were either sarcastic, chicken heels or cheesy pandering faces. Everybody was interchangeable. I know several fans have spoken out against Brodus Clay’s new character, but in my opinion, the Funkasaurus helps separate him from just another big guy. The gimmick may be detrimental to Brodus ever achieving main event status, but I think that all depends on how he is used.  A few years ago, fans were claiming Dolph Ziggler was a stupid name and gimmick and he would never get over. Now he’s fighting for the WWE title. There needs to be more unique character traits besides, Big Pale Ginger, Big Englishman, Lanky Tattooed Guy Who Hears Voices and Lanky Tattooed Guy Who Makes Shoot Comments.

The fans love CM Punk (WWE)
Along with personalities, catch phrases are missing from today’s product. The lack of sing-a-long chants for the crowd results in them having to chant, “What” during every promo so they can feel they’re part of the show. I don’t know if that’s actually true, but I can think of no other reason why fans still chant the most obnoxious chant of all time. Seriously though, fans want to be a part of the show and they do that by chanting.  Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any current standard catchphrases besides The Miz’s, “I’m Awesome.”  Well, I guess there’s, “You can’t see me,” but how often does Cena use that in a promo? WWE needs to but the fun back into wrestling.

After thinking about it, the only thing missing from the Attitude Era that I’d like to see brought back is more individuality and wrestlers who don’t appear to be going through the motions or trying to remember a script. In the next installment, I’ll discuss the traits of the Attitude Era I don’t miss or wish weren’t still part of the wrestling landscape.

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