It has been a bit of a hiatus hasn’t it? Well with all that behind us, let’s focus on the most recent changes to my weekly digestion of wrestling related content. There have been many ups and downs over the past few years with the WWE, but ultimately, thepoorassgamer decided it was about time for a break. By that I mean, a break from the WWE. This is mostly done to save my sanity, mostly done to explore other options out there, and mostly because, well, I’m just tired.
Tired is the key word here, notice how I used italics? I want to make that very clear before going into the shit pile that I’m about to drop on you. I’m tired of a lot of things, the lack of clear, concise storylines. The lack of talent being pushed in the right manor. The lack of any general focus from the WWE and those that run it. Sure, every smart mark fan is probably out there posting tweet after tweet of, “BOOO ROMAN” and “JOHN CENA SUX!!!”. But I hope to bring to you a varied approach as to why I feel the WWE doesn’t deserve my money anymore. Let’s break it down.
The Last Two Years: $240 later
Look at that number. Just think about it for a moment and think about the money you yourself could have used elsewhere. I could buy at least a few great overly priced video games for that, shoot, I could even put that away for savings and feel better about what I am NOT spending my money on. But see, that amount is just for the WWE Network subscription for the past two years. This doesn’t factor in the amount of money I have spent on merchandise, tickets to house shows, and most recently, my first WWE Pay Per View, Hell in a Cell. In my estimation, I’ve probably spent close to $500 to $600 of my own hard earned dollars on WWE in the past two years. Sure, you may just be saying, “well, over the course of two years, that’s not so bad!”. And yes, I have had some great moments at live events with my brother this year, and I do enjoy my Nakamura t-shirt, but what’s the real value here? To put it this way, I wouldn’t take back those live events at all. I thoroughly enjoyed screaming my head off and getting the opportunity to take my brother to his first live events. But when I sat down, week by week, digesting three hours of RAW, two hours of Smackdown, then monthly PPVs that seemed to stretch on FOREVER, I thought to myself, how could I better utilize my time? It sucks to say, but every PPV was always just background noise to whatever I was doing on my Sunday nights.
Now granted, classic content on the WWE Network is totally worth the cost. Simply put, the value in that content is that it likely cannot be put together anywhere else, and I sure as hell am not going back to a VHS to watch a classic wrestling moment. But that’s also the issue, I can only watch so much classic content before I am reminded of how far the current product has gotten away from it’s roots. Now, I don’t need every match to be something from the Attitude Era, I don’t need to see a grown man fall from a scaffolding (thank you Jim Cornette) but I at least need you to recognize that history in a coherent manor. To put it bluntly, the current product just isn’t worth the cost of the Network. And that’s sad.
I enjoy the atmosphere of a PPV, the anything could happen because it’s LIVE feeling. But thinking about this further gets to my next point of why I just couldn’t handle the WWE anymore: lack of any real creativity.
‘TRUST ME, it really isn’t THAT stupid’
To any smart mark-ish fan, this is always the crux of introducing a new “potential” fan to wrestling. IT REALLY IS THAT STUPID. I mean, let’s break it down: two people fake fight for the adulation of the crowd. Sometimes those matches are based on a simple beef (see: I don’t like you, you don’t like me). Some are purely friendly competition, “Let’s see who’s the best”. But most of all, we are watching a highly choreographed sequence of events. Wrestlers generally plan out their matches ahead of time and most of the content of those matches are determined in ring, with a particular “ringmaster” calling the spots. Kayfabe is dead so don’t get mad at me if I am crushing your little world view.
And this is also not dismissing that there is an inherent risk to the work that these wrestlers do. You and I couldn’t land on our necks or backs in the manner they do without proper training and years of practice.
But here is my issue: none of it makes any sense. I don’t mean in the sense of why anyone would do this to their bodies, but rather, why any of it is something WE the audience, should care about. At no point in the past two years, aside from the 2018 Royal Rumble (my last PPV) did it ever seem like those in charge ever thought to ask “should anyone care about this?”. We’ve seen a MASSIVE explosion of content and talent on the WWE Network in the past two years. With additions such as the brand split, 205 Live, NXT, special live events such as the Crusierweight Classic, the Mae Young Classic, the UK Tournament, Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Competitions, and four hour PPVs. I remember about a year and a half ago, as all this content was first coming out, I decided to see what it would be like to ingest all of the live content WWE was offering in a single week. I seriously felt like I was lobotomized by the end of it.
But let me make this clear, none of this rant is to say that the wrestlers themselves are to blame. They are not. Management is to blame for every half baked, hokey idea that’s drummed up in some sterile boardroom. My feeling is that those who call the shots, have lost all touch with what it is like to be a fan. Look, I know this sounds whinny, but hear me out. To be at your first live event, to interact with other fans, to start a chant and hear a packed stadium pick up after you. To feel LIKE ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN. Gone is the feeling that anything crazy will ever happen, and we’ve grown accustomed to watching talented athletes being given a crappy script with no option to go outside of the designated lines. I remember Kurt Angle insisting at the Hall of Fame last year for other wrestlers to take a chance with what they are given. This is all well and good, but in actual execution, it never actually happens. Why? Because no wrestler with a contract and a good job wants to piss anyone off, which inevitably will happen if they try anything without prior approval.
So all of this takes me to where I am today. Laying in bed, reading through various tweets during Elimination Chamber, resisting the urge to repurchase my subscription just to watch this one PPV. I knew the conclusions that were going to happen, I understood that some things were still inevitable, but seeing the lines before they were spoken, seeing the culminations of various storylines months in advance of their conclusions, reminded me that I am not WWE’s primary audience. It all started to feel like I was watching a really bad TV drama that can’t help to foreshadow in such a heavy handed way that it ultimately loses all of its mystique. WWE, has morphed into a bad melodrama. Sure, you can make a strong argument that it was always that way. And truthfully, that is okay. For some. But not for me.
What’s worse is that the WWE is constantly combative with its fans. They scoff at fans that think the product has gotten worse, that the WWE has lost touch, and that it won’t be making any changes any time soon. So let’s delve into this next topic.
STOP BEING SHEEP AND JUST ENJOY THE SHOW
Johnathan Coachman, aka “The Coach” recently made his re-debut with RAW, taking over the spot from the floundering Booker T. Elimination Chamber arrives, and brings with it a big moment for a lot of the high ranking male stars (and even more so for the female stars too). The PPV ends, fans are not happy with Reigns winning and The Coach decided this was his time to wade into the shit storm that is twitter.
But even with all the hyped feelings associated with this gimmick heavy PPV, the conclusion was the same, Roman Reigns is the golden boy. Screw you smart marks, no, you do not always get what you want. And truthfully I am totally okay with this because smart marks have been preparing for this moment for months. Of course they are going to do Brock versus Reigns at Wrestlemania. Of course the WWE knows better, they ARE the industry and I am but a lowly commentator. But judging from the online response after Reigns’ win, you’d be remiss in thinking that someone else was the true choice of the fans, Braun Strowman. Again, I didn’t watch the PPV, but rather, watched and read a majority of the content coming from twitter that night. What I witnessed was the same reaction to Reigns for the past several years. There really isn’t anything new here: fans find Reigns one dimensional, he lacks a general charisma other than looking good, uses the same two move combination to win all his matches, and can’t seem to stick to either being a good guy or a bad guy. And this is what get’s my craw. Keep in mind, this is in no way attacking Reigns, just the creative force surrounding him, if there even is one. The Coach is basically saying: “Don’t be a sheep and enjoy the show”. Wait, what in the blue hell are you talking about? Being a sheep would constitute watching the program and liking it because YOU said we should enjoy it. Jonathan Coachman everyone: the biggest walking contradiction. Also that’s not how you spell ‘read’.
This is what I am getting at, every time we come out and voice this opinion, we are told that you, the paying customer, doesn’t know shit. And sure, I don’t know shit about the wrestling industry, valid point, but that was never our point to begin with. I don’t know all the hard work that goes into creating a weekly wrestling program. I don’t know what it’s like to be a wrestler that is pushed with bad dialogue and bad storylines. The point is the company I am paying money to shouldn’t need to be openly hostile to an opinion. Road Dogg recently did the same combative tweeting saying that if fans don’t like it, don’t watch it. Great idea for a company hemorrhaging money.
If you want to change our minds, prove it in the ring. Roman, if you want fans to love you, work on your mic skills and add variety to your matches. THAT’S IT. Show us why you’re a bad guy, show us why you’re a good guy, tell us that story in the ring even if the setup isn’t good. Of course this is me just saying this, knowing full well Reigns has been boxed into a creative corner.
I shouldn’t even need to be saying this, I’ll put it this way: Netflix recently released a sci-fi show, Altered Carbon. I did not particularly like this show, because the dialogue as well as the story felt disjointed. I have also, voiced my opinion online, using the appropriate hashtags, not expecting any response from Netflix themselves. Do you know why that is? Because Netflix understands how bad that would make their business model look if they responded to everyone who didn’t think much of their most recent show.
What I am saying is, WWE is openly hostile for no reason. They could just remain silent, giving no credence to a fans feelings. You basically reinforced our opinion in the stupidest manner possible.
#XFL2020 (OH YEAH, I’m going there)
I’m fairly certain this is the real reason I dropped out of the WWE and truthfully, it’s a little disappointing to see how fans reacted to Vince McMahons knee jerk reaction to the NFL and all the recent manufactured controversy. A lot of people were excited simply for the nostalgia, and missed the truly awful shit staring them straight in the eyes. Are we really that out of touch with each other? No, it can’t possibly be that, maybe it’s me? Well, as it turns out it is me and probably a small minority of other individuals.
When I started hearing rumors of an XFL relaunch, it started small. Vince took a hefty stock buyout and started his own company Alpha entertainment (I can’t believe that’s the actual name). To be clear, this has been done as a reaction to various things happening in America right now. One, that if the XFL relaunch is a colossal failure, again, the WWE will have had nothing to do with it this time around. Two, I had hoped that the XFL wasn’t being relaunched as a reaction to recent protests in the NFL, but alas, here we are.
So jump to a few months ago, Vince holds a live webcast of his announcement that, hey, we’re restarting the XFL! We want your ideas! We want to make it faster, we want to change the game for the better, and really, we want your input! Let’s dismantle this shitty argument piece by piece. One, when has a McMahon ever wanted input from anyone but himself and those in the close circle around them? Answer, never. Two, how the hell do you make a dangerous game, which has already been proven to cause long term damage to the brain, faster and yet SAFER? And last but not least was Vince’s nod to his friend in the White House: anyone kneeling for the National Anthem will be fired. Yay.
And that my friends, was when I decided, you know what? These completely despicable and reprehensible individuals don’t deserve my money. Even if this money really isn’t going to fund the XFL, I just don’t want any damn part in it. I don’t want the association. By paying for the Network, I am reinforcing the same shitty behavior that management in the WWE already practices with their talent. I mean, you don’t have to look hard to find examples of when a wrestler gets injured, is sidelined, only to inevitably be released WHILE STILL INJURED!! I’ll name you Christopher Nowinski and most recently Austin Aries as examples.
This leads to a few conclusions: if any player says anything out of line, even if it is about protecting their own health, bye bye livelihood. If I take a knee, and use your platform as a way to shed light to some awful things, bye bye contract. If I get a head injury in your faster yet not safer sport, and I tell you, I don’t think I want to play because, I am having trouble remembering my name or my home address. Well okay, we’ll put you on injure reserve and then cut you two months into your contract. Nothing about this new league seems to be speaking of the most important asset: the athletes. That’s a little odd for a football organization right? And given WWE’s track record with head injuries (I can think of a trove of jobbers who’d probably perk up over this) I don’t think any of this bodes well for the future. By the way, WWE still does not have any sort of union, and no guarantees that if they get injured that the company will work within their best interests (I’m looking at you Daniel Bryant).
Your players, your wrestlers, your athletes are not just assets, they are human beings who go out to entertain thousands of people, and they enjoy doing that too. We need to be doing right by them and truthfully, I think we have a long way to go.
Whew, let’s wrap it up
OKAY. I know I went a little crazy there. Look, there are some positive things about the WWE. I’m not a complete monster. But when I feel like the programming is specifically designed to lower my IQ a few points, with each passing hour, I feel like I needed to do something else. Maybe, as it seems to be my next step, it’s time to give other promotions a fair shake. E_HUFFY has been politely telling me for months to get a NJPW subscription. Well, as of posting this article, I have officially signed up. Stay tuned for a switch in dynamics here, less WWE content and more NJPW (and some ROH).
Lastly, keep in mind that I will still watch the larger WWE PPVs through friends who still maintain the network (thank you E_HUFFY), but for once I actually feel good about this decision. However, don’t let this little write up deter you from getting the WWE Network for classic content. I can’t stress that enough, if you enjoy the glory days, this is really the only place to experience it all.
And here’s the thing, there’s no telling of what the future may hold for WWE, it’s entirely possible that another fourth wall breaking moment a la CM Punk will draw me back in like it did so many years ago. I hope, all things considered, that I’m not drawn back in by another wrestler shitting all over the company, because truthfully, we shouldn’t have to do that anymore. Draw us back in with quality matches, draw us back in with coherent storylines, tone down the goofball stupid schtick comedy and you’ll keep from alienating a vast part of the audience. In the meantime, lets see if I can make heads or tales of what’s happening in New Japan Wrestling!