WWE chairman Vince McMahon has seen a major change in the gimmicks and representations of his superstars during the PG Era. His wrestling promotion began with kid-friendly, comic book superhero-like gimmicks that ranged from Hulk Hogan to 'Macho Man' Randy Savage, plus others.
Then the Attitude Era came along, where rule-breakers and rebellious stars like 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H and Shawn Michaels carried the company. But since WWE transitioned towards a more family-friendly style era, the characters aren't the only things that have changed.
WWE Hall of Famer Kevin Nash recently appeared on The Ross Report podcast, and detailed an encounter he had with Vince, who believes the Superstars don't have the drive to be the best, as much as wrestlers did 20 years ago:
"I remember one time I was talking to Vince – it wasn't the last WrestleMania, I think it was the one before – and I just asked him how things were. And he goes, 'The thing that's changed more than anything, [is] back when you broke in here in the fed, it was a shark tank. Like, everybody went after that top prize, and it was a battle. Now, [wrestlers] wait for him to come around with a sword and anoint them.' It's just not the same anymore."
Things have definitely changed in regards to wrestlers and their work ethics/drives. Triple H is a prime example of pushing himself to be the best. He constantly changed up his gimmick until he found one that worked, and wound up marrying Stephanie McMahon - even though there was a rule where wrestlers were to stay away from the boss's daughter.
But as we see with other superstars like Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and Jinder Mahal, it's more about who Vince himself likes best. Fan favorites like Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura and Finn Balor haven't received main event pushes, though it seems they tend to do as Vince says, more so than push themselves.
Other wrestlers like Alberto Del Rio and Ryback can also be examples of what happens when you do try to push yourself. If Vince doesn't oblige, the superstar(s) will leave for another promotion.
Perhaps most superstars just choose to be "anointed with a sword," instead of going for "the top prize," because they're more scared of getting on Vince's bad side.
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