Professional wrestling is kind of dumb by its very nature. No matter how much you love wrestling, you have to admit that there is something silly about the idea itself. Regardless of how stupid things can get from time to time, it still takes a lot of intelligent people to make a professional wrestling show happen. At its best, wrestling is an incredibly clever form of entertainment that combines compelling characters, long-term storylines, and exciting in-ring action. Those that watch wrestling regularly are willing to accept some of the stupidity because they know that the new clever moment will be worth it.
You wouldn’t know, however, that’s the case based on how WWE regularly treats their fans. While the company gets a little better every day at distancing themselves from the very lowest points of their own brand of stupidity, there are certain lingering aspects of the show that continue to insult our intelligence on a regular basis. While a little bit of stupid makes the professional wrestling world work, we won’t rest easy until something is done about the top 15 ways that WWE continue to insult our intelligence.
15. Their Merchandise Design
A few weeks ago, the internet exploded when they found out that the Nia Jax men’s shirt said “I’m Not Like Most Girls” on it in big, bold letters. Some people wondered how WWE could ever be so stupid. Most people, however, just tossed the shirt onto the growing pile of bad merchandise ideas that the WWE has created. For some reason, someone in WWE’s merchandise got it in their head that every single shirt, hat, and wearable piece of merch must come with the most obnoxious piece of branding possible. From incredibly specific wrestling catch phrases to obnoxious graphical designs, it seems like WWE will not release a shirt unless there is a good chance it might make someone look like the biggest mark in the world when they wear it. It’s time they realize people want clever and subtle designs.
14. Match Stipulations That Will Never Happen
Let’s say John Cena is going to face AJ Styles at Survivor Series. Good match, right? However, let’s also say that WWE doesn’t think that this match is good enough to sell itself so they decide to say that whoever loses the match must retire. That or throw themselves into a tank of sharks. Honestly, both are just as likely to actually happen. WWE isn’t quite as bad about dumb stipulations as they were during the Attitude Era (“By Gawd, Kane will set himself on fire!”), but they still occasionally pull out an incredibly unlikely stipulation in order to add drama to the match. The problem is that nobody ever buys into these stipulations because there have been few times in the history of wrestling when they’ve ever been enforced.
13. Awkward Pop Culture References
There have been plenty of times where former wrestlers have stated that Vince McMahon has no idea what’s going on in the world of popular entertainment. Despite the fact that the man owns a company with the word entertainment right in the name, McMahon is supposedly at least 10 years behind when it comes to what people care about. Combine this with WWE’s desperate desire to be a mainstream relevant brand, and you’ve got a product that is loaded with incredibly bad pop culture references. From the obscure Jagger Eaton getting a backstage segment at a WWE Pay-Per-View to the company’s constant attempts to keep Flo Rida relevant, WWE can’t resist throwing as many pop culture references at the wall in the hopes that one of them will stick. Why has nobody told them the average professional wrestling fans tune into the show to watch professional wrestling?
12. Announcers Constantly Repeating Themselves
Announcers are a crucial component to putting on a good wrestling show. Well, at least they used to be. In times past, it was the announcer’s job to not only help sell whatever is happening in the ring but to also keep the audience informed as to what is going on backstage. These days, WWE is able to replace some of the announcers’ previous duties with new production methods. The problem is that WWE still requires the announcers to do as much, if not more, talking. This has led to them relying on the same series of phrases nearly every week. We don’t always need to know what’s it like to be in the arena during a Bray Wyatt entrance. We don’t need to be reminded of John Cena’s record title count whenever he stands next to a championship. We don’t need announcers to constantly repeat themselves.
11. Always Changing Wrestling History
It’s understandable why WWE would ignore certain parts of their history like the Chris Benoit incident. You might not agree with their decisions in those instances, but you can appreciate why they are made. The same can’t be said of all the company’s historical alterations, however. WWE ignore the strangest parts of wrestling history sometimes. Whether it’s claiming that no Hell in a Cell match has ever stopped on the top of the cage, the announcers stating that a certain finisher hasn’t been kicked out of (to the best of their memory) or attendance figures for their biggest shows, there are many instances of the company making the past what they need it to be in order to justify their current story. It’s almost as if they don’t believe any of their fans pay attention.
10. Inconsistent Power Of Weapons
Some people debate the merits of hardcore matches in wrestling given how aware we are of the concussion dangers involved. Few, however, deny that the occasional use of weapons is still useful in today’s wrestling product. That’s where we run into a problem. Even for a form of entertainment that requires you to not take everything you see literally, it’s almost impossible to take modern weapon use in wrestling seriously. Why is it that when someone gets hit with a chair they down for the count while someone getting hit with “200-pound” steel steps and isn’t phased? After a while, being asked to believe weapons are just as strong as the story requires them to be is an intelligence insulting excuse for WWE to be lazy.
9. Banning Wrestling-Related Phrases and Words
Once upon a time, wrestlers fought over championship belts in front of the fans. These days, you’re more likely to see two Superstars have a match for the title before the WWE Universe. For a new viewer, the difference might be arbitrary. What does it matter what words are used to describe the situation? Well, it matters because WWE officials will only allow their announce team and backstage crew to use the latter phrasing. WWE have slowly been cutting out certain words over the years. Most of these words have been cut in order to help the company distance themselves from their professional wrestling roots now that they are a sports entertainment company. It’s almost like they believe that they can convince long-time fans that these words never existed if they simply don’t use them.
8. Every Wrestler Must Be A Product
If you really think about it, wrestlers have always had nicknames. “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan, “The Game” Triple H; even “Stone Cold” Steve Austin had about five of them. The thing about those nicknames, though, is that they were usually used as a secondary reference. Wrestlers weren’t their nicknames. You’d have a hard time distinguishing the two today. It seems that every wrestler has to have either a nickname, a chant, or preferably both. It doesn’t matter if the nickname is good (“The Dude?” “The Guy?”) or if the chant is meaningful, they need to be there so that every wrestler can become a brand. It makes it so you start to feel like an idiot for liking certain wrestlers because you feel like you’re rooting for a product.
7. Forcing Crowds to Chant
Speaking of chants, WWE loves them. It’s not hard to see why. Having an entire arena speak a wrestler’s catchphrase in unison really is a great way to build a live atmosphere and help sell just how big of a deal a wrestler really is. When chants come on organically (such as Daniel Bryan’s “Yes”), they’re fantastic. The problem is that more and more performers have taken to addressing the crowd directly in order to get fans to chant whatever they want them to say. The laziness is bad enough, but this is particularly painful for the audience. If you’re watching, you have to somehow pretend like you’re impressed a wrestler got the crowd to say something. It’s even worse if you’re in the live crowd as you just start to feel like a real tool.
6. Pretending Something Big Might Happen On Television
During the Monday Night War, television mattered. You tuned into every episode of Raw and Nitro because you never knew what was going to happen. Sometimes WCW took this concept too far by valuing ratings over Pay-Per-View buys, but the point is that you could never be sure how a wrestling show would end. Times have changed since then, but WWE still tries to insist that Raw and SmackDown are places where anything can happen. They’ll act like the main event of the upcoming PPV could change or that someone may be crowned the new champion by the end of the night. They act like this, but the fact that they fail to pull the trigger 90% of the time leaves us rolling our eyes whenever we’re promised something surprising.
5. Everything With Women Must Be A Revolution
WWE should have made some serious changes to their Women’s Division years ago. It was bad enough to see how WWE cheaply exploited female performers during the Attitude Era, but it was almost worse to watch as women wrestlers spent years doing absolutely nothing but participating in cheap angles and fighting for a butterfly belt. It’s great that’s no longer the case, but WWE need to stop selling everyone on the idea that they have created a “Women’s Revolution.” Most viewers know the WWE creative team had very little to do with the current batch of incredible female performers, yet we are asked every week to believe that we are witnessing some kind of never-before-imagined world in which women are credible performers for the first time ever.
4. Dropping and Adding Storylines Without Explanation
Imagine you’re watching a show like The Walking Dead and the episode ends with some incredible new storyline that gets everyone talking. Then, at the start of next week’s episode when everyone is watching, the storyline is just dropped. Worse than dropped, it’s almost like the writers are going out of their way to ignore that the story ever existed. Such is life being a WWE fan. The problem seems to be that the writers are perfectly willing to introduce new storyline ideas, but have no idea where they are going to end up. Even when a story is cut short due to something like injury or suspension, WWE has gotten into a bad habit of just introducing storylines and dropping them without caring what the audience thinks. In recent memory, the WWE promoted a Darren Young and Bob Backlund pairing for weeks, only for it to be dropped after a couple of television appearances.
3. Constant Camera Cuts
Over the last several years, movies have begun to adopt a kind of quick-cut shooting style. The theory is that filmmakers are worried that audiences have a short attention span and that the only way to make sure they are staying interested is to constantly change the shot. WWE have adopted this particular style of cinematography over recent years. It started off as a slow change that many people felt they would drop once they realized how often it causes viewers to miss the action. That didn’t happen. Instead, they have continued to rely on the technique more and more. There’s no good reason why this is the case. It either means WWE have no faith in their in-ring action to be interesting, or they have no faith in their audience to pay attention. Maybe both.
2. Everything Must Be Explained In Promos
Some of the greatest all-time professional wrestling moments are promos. Matches are great, of course, but there’s nothing quite like a well-delivered piece of microphone work that really gets a character over and sells a story. Even promos have their limits, however. Someone needs to remind WWE of that because somewhere along the way, they got it into their head that it takes a live promo in front of the crowd for every piece of storytelling. What ever happened to wrestlers telling a story based on their in-ring actions and mannerisms? What seems to have happened is that WWE lost faith in their audience to understand anything that isn’t being told to them directly. That’s why we get a lot more 20-minute promos and a lot fewer instances of wrestlers being unique storytellers.
1. Wins and Losses Are Irrelevant
In the late ‘90s, a man by the name of Bill Goldberg made a name for himself by starting his career off undefeated. It wasn’t the first time a wrestler had done this, but it was the first time an organization made such a big deal out of it. Even before he started wrestling for championships, it mattered whether Bill Goldberg won or loss. Now, you could have a WWE wrestler win their first 50 matches, and it wouldn’t even really matter in the grand scheme of things. WWE books their wrestlers like the matches fans saw them win and lose barely count. Take a look at Bray Wyatt, for example; while he doesn’t win half of the matches he’s in, the creative team continues to talk about him as he’s some unstoppable force. We’re just supposed to believe that whoever they say is a contender is one because they say they are.
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