The end of days is nigh friends. The dark clouds have formed over the wrestling world and... okay I'll stop myself right there. Contrary to what some may have you believe, the wrestling industry is not at death's door. The WWE is still a multi-million dollar company, independent promotions are doing okay and there hasn't been a huge fan revolt in about oh... let's say eight months. So at the moment things look fine. However, that doesn't mean there aren't any crippling problems that are holding back the industry.
Pro wrestling has always had a fickle place in the cultural landscape. It goes through periods of drought where nobody really cares about it and then experiences surges of absolute feast where everywhere you look you see muscled up men and women ripping each other's heads off. As a result of this, the business always appears to be on the verge of collapsing or rising to the heavens in the minds of some. In reality, wrestling always bounces back and it most likely will continue to do so.
But where's the fun in that statement? Nowhere, it's a hell of a lot more fun to pick out problems which are hounding the pro wrestling business like monkeys on its back. Many of these problems can be fixed quite easily if the overlords of this universe were to do something about them. Unfortunately there are a few problems which are out of the hands of anybody. With that somber note, here are the top fifteen things killing professional wrestling.
One of the few entries which you can't really blame anyone for, injuries are bound to occur when your career involves being thrown onto a wooden plank covered with a little bit of foam. And they're a problem not just the health of the talent, but also for the health of the industry.
14 Finishers Mean NOTHING!
The Sharpshooter, the Tombstone Piledriver, the Jackknife Powerbomb and so on... back in the day, those moves meant the absolute end to a match. They were absolutely devastating moves that no wrestler, no matter how tenacious or skilled, were able to completely recover from. Nowadays? They don't amount to a hill of beans, as wrestlers shrug off each other's finishers like a headlock takeover.
13 Negative Publicity
Any press is good press, that's the classic saying. The wrestling world would have to wholeheartedly disagree with that expression though.
12 Trying To Appeal To Too Many Demographics
Back in the day (my oh my I'm sounding old for a 20-year-old in this article), the WWE knew exactly which demographic it was going after. The 18-34 male demographic allowed the company to focus its efforts on one market and promote their product as such.
11 "Cool" Heels
The three man New World Order is one of the most influential groups in wrestling history. Their cool demeanor and awesome presentation made people question whether or not they should boo them or cheer them. In effect, they created the idea of the "cool" heel. That idea has evolved into a problem for modern wrestling.
10 Pushing The Wrong Talent
WWE has a problem of premature ejaculation and I fail to see why they keep making that mistake. For whatever reason the company continually pushes talent who, talented or not, are simply not ready for a big time push.
Just from the start of this year alone, we have seen the company do their damnest to push Roman Reigns as the next big thing to an audience who clearly wasn't ready to christen him as their new hero, especially with a returning Daniel Bryan at the Royal Rumble. Despite their audience telling them "NO", WWE shoved Reigns down their throats and completely destroyed fan morale for the WrestleMania 31 main event. A main event which would have been much more anticipated if Daniel Bryan squared off against Brock Lesnar.
9 Over Reliance on Part Timers
Everybody loves legends and the WWE knows this so as a result they will trot them out as often as they can to spark a buzz. In the short term this is a good thing. In the long term, not so much.
8 Lack of Characters
Let me make this clear right of the bat; the Attitude Era had some absolutely terrible gimmicks. Who the hell remembers D.O.A, The Oddities or Naked Mideon (probably for the best on that one)? However, at least they were trying to DO something with those guys and every once in a while you would get a great gimmick like Godfather, Val Venis or freaking KANE.
7 Scripted Promos
Turn on any WWE show nowadays and tell me that you think 100% of the promos feel organic and natural. Wait you actually think they do? Well, you're not really perceptive are you?
Really though, the majority of promos delivered by WWE talent is written by a creative team who, while they may have good intentions, simply don't understand the wrestlers as much as the actual performers do. For most of wrestling's history, the wrestlers were given a couple of points they had to hit in a promo and then figure out the rest. This led to organic, gripping and breath-taking promos. Nowadays, we get "sufferin-succotash".
If you disagree, try disagreeing with this:
"I disagree with (scripting). I think the nature of a promo has to come from your heart and your guts and you have to mean everything that you're saying. Now is the perfect time to go back to that formula..."
"You learn to sink of swim. And guys and gals will start to learn to swim again. That's what's going to make the product feel more organic, more spontaneous and more real."
6 Over Saturation of Product
How much wrestling is too much wrestling? I don't know the exact amount, but I know that there is too damn much of it now.
5 No Selling
Anybody who has watched a fight scene in a movie, TV show or anime can tell you that a crucial part in those scenes involves the fighters reacting to each other's blows, struggling to get the upper hand and ultimately one winning, but coming out horribly battered. What happened to that?
4 Three Hour Raws
Seriously, does anybody in the wrestling fan-base like this? This entry could be seen as an extension to the number six slide, but I feel this is a big enough problem to get its own slot.
Back in 2012, the USA Network made to decision to turn Monday Night Raw from a two hour show to a three hour show. Financially it made sense for WWE as the network would pay them more for a three hour broadcast and both parties get more time to run ads. The only people who don't benefit from this though is the audience.
3 The Fanbase
If we want to cut to the core of what a big problem with the wrestling industry is, we have to point the finger at us. Yes, a big problem killing the wrestling business is the fanbase.
Obviously, I don't mean every single fan in the IWC is a neanderthal but anybody who's scrolled through the comments of a wrestling news story will surely have ran into a few lifeforms lacking proper brain function. We've seen fans chanting for Chris Benoit, advocating a push for someone and then trashing the talent once pushed, reading spoilers and then calling the show predictable, saying the Attitude Era is the greatest thing since sliced bread and so on...
2 No Viable Competition
Coca Cola and Pepsi. Sony and Microsoft. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Rivalries are absolutely critical to bring out the best in competitors as they force each other to elevate their game. Enter the Monday Night War between WCW and WWE.
With the backing power of millionaires Ted Turner and Vince McMahon respectively, WCW and WWE commanded prime-time television slots, loaded rosters and cutting edge pro wrestling that fans had never seen before. Just when Turner looked to have McMahon lined up for the kill shot, McMahon dodged the bullet and decimated WCW to the point where he bought his competition for a couple million dollars.
1 The Industry Peaked Years Ago
Growing up in the Attitude Era and Ruthless Aggression Era is hard to explain to somebody who just knows wrestling from the modern era. Wrestling wasn't just a little niche thing that a couple of guys in your friend circle might like. No no, it was THE cool thing to like. Everybody knew the stars, everybody talked about RAW and you better be in the loop or you would be left in the cold.
In the current cultural landscape, wrestling just doesn't pack the punch it used to. Ratings which used to hover in the 6.0s now have fallen to the 3s and mentioning that you like wrestling to people often provokes snickers. Obviously, they're missing out on a lot of great things but perception is everything. The best wrestlers of all time were from an era long past, and the wrestlers of today aren't up to snuff. The business went supernova and while it's still alive and kicking, it will never be what it once was. What do you think the odds are that we'll get another Stone Cold and/or another Rock... at the same time?! It's just really hard to see happening.
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