Thursday, January 26, 2012

PG Attitude: Part 2

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart on Twitter

Last blog looked at the one element from the Attitude Era that is missing in today’s wrestling product that I think needs to make a comeback. This time, I’m going to point out a few items that came to prominence during the Attitude Era that need to be done away with for the betterment of the product.

During the Attitude Era, or Monday Night War period to be more exact, due to competition the trend of putting Pay Per View caliber matches on free TV started to be the norm. Not only in the main event slot, but the entire show was filled up with matches that would have normally been saved for a paying audience. The role of the Jobber was phased out with their spot taken over by guys on the low end of the mid-card. Guys who may get the occasional win and therefore had name value, but you knew they would never hold a major title. This trend continues today and I feel it’s part of the reason for declining Pay Per View buy rates.

Ziggler vs. Punk...again (WWE)
Take the Royal Rumble for example. Scheduled for the undercard is a WWE Title match between CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler. These two have fought in four matches in the last five weeks on TV with Dolph winning three times. Why would I want to pay money to see them fight again? WWE has added Johnny Ace as the special referee and have built up speculation he’s out to screw Punk out of the title. I guess this is supposed to add intrigue, but why would I want to pay money to see a title match end in a screw job? If there is no clear-cut winner it means there will more than likely be a rematch at the next Pay Per View. More on that in a moment. After Wrestlemania 3, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant weren’t in the ring together until the first Survivor Series eight months later. Because they hadn’t fought each other, when they stepped into the ring for the first time the crowd was on the edge of their seats in anticipation of what was going to happen. Wrestling bookers/writers need to learn how to build up matches without putting guys in the ring with each other every week. I’m guessing someone will point out how television is different now with live weekly shows so the booking has to be different. I’ll address that theory in Part 3.

Henry vs. Big Show...again (WWE)
Going back to Pay Per View rematches, simply put, they need to stop happening. Just recently, Big Show and Mark Henry fought on three consecutive Pay Per Views. That’s about $130 from the paying costumer’s wallet. In addition to that rematch, including the Night of Champions Pay Per View, which happened before the first Henry/Show match, there were at least three other matches that happened more than once on the four consecutive shows. Not counting Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania because of their history and prestige, in the last year, only the Money in the Bank and Night of Champions shows had better buy rates than in 2010. Money in the Bank was helped by the intrigue of whether CM Punk would win the WWE Title and leave the company as champion. Other than those shows, less people are buying the Pay Per Views. WWE management and cynics will argue the rise in illegal streaming is to blame for the lower numbers. I tend to disagree. I think for the most part, people who watch online are people who wouldn’t normally pay for the show anyway, but if they can watch it for free and they have nothing else to do, then why not watch.

The bigger problem is having to consistently pay to see the same match or matches over and over. Not only from one Pay Per View to the next, but also the same match the fans just saw on Monday or Friday for free. Writers need to learn how to build up a match without simply putting the two guys in the ring together. A few months ago I was watching some old NWA wrestling. I can’t remember who the wrestler was; for sake of argument lets say it was Stan Hansen. Stan beat up a jobber than did an interview segment talking about an upcoming match with Dusty Rhodes. By the time Stan was done speaking, I was interested in seeing the match with Dusty. Had Stan and Dusty fought and then Stan talked about a rematch, I probably wouldn’t have been as interested. But because the match with Dusty was something I hadn’t seen, there was an aura around the match.

Thought I had more points. Oh well. The next installments will be deal more with personal reasons instead of business ones on why I don’t think the Attitude Era holds up well and shouldn’t be seen as the glory days of wrestling.

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