Ever since Linda McMahon’s repeated failures to get elected to the U.S. Senate, WWE has persisted under a family friendly “PG” mandate to keep its image sparkly, pristine clean. For some fans - principally children who can’t watch anything their parents deem inappropriate - that’s been just swell. But older fans with fond memories of Stone Cold Steve Austin flipping off opponents and The Rock threatening to turn various objects sideways and forcibly insert them into opponents’ rectums, the PG era has proven to be a bit of a drag.
Anyone who sat through Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice knows all too well that “darker,” “grittier” and “more realistic” certainly doesn’t always mean “better.” So don’t get us wrong - we’re not suggesting WWE load up its programming with graphic violence and nudity simply for shock value or to satiate a minority of the audience. But the restrictions have started to interfere with the growth and modernization of the product. Plus, Linda McMahon’s political career is over and fans’ collective trauma from the Chris Benoit murder/suicide has dulled somewhat.
So here’s a collection of practical (or practical-ish) reasons to lift the PG-restrictions of WWE content...and why maaaaaybe pushing Monday Night Raw in a PG-13 direction could be the best way to go. In fairness, we’ll consider putting together a list of reasons why WWE absolutely should not switch over to an NC-17 format. To give readers a sample of that list, it'll include: 1: Simulated Murder Would Be Bad For The Business 2: Braun Strowman Should Always Wear Pants. And 3: Game of Thrones Already Did A Better Incest Story Line Than Shane and Stephanie McMahon could ever pull off.
16 There’s Already Too Much Entertainment For Children
Nowadays, the only films Hollywood feels safe spending big money on are superhero movies that, with a few obvious exceptions (Deadpool), are designed to appeal to as broad of an audience as humanly possible. Young adult novels remain all the rage in the literary world (50 Shades of Grey sold well, however it is clearly intended for readers who have no idea how sex or BDSM works). As far as mainstream entertainment for grownups goes, we’ve got cable and straight-to-streaming television options, and that’s about the extent of it (unless we include comic books. Ironically today’s best sequential reads - such as "Saga," "The Wicked and The Divine," and "Sex Criminals," aren’t for kids). A few more shows for those us who are old enough to drive and vote would be nice!
16. Attitude Era Nostalgia
To say the least, WWE isn’t pulling down the ratings numbers they did during The Attitude Era heyday. There are a bunch of reasons for that and not all of them have anything directly to do with the quality of the product. But doing away with PG could certainly bring back a few viewers who dropped off after sports entertainers weren’t allowed to say “ass” anymore. Surely, there are a few thousand former faithful WWE fans who could be brought back into the fold with a little more risque language. Which brings us to another point...
15 “Attitude Adjustment” Is A Terrible Name For A Finisher
One day, John Cena won his matches with a fireman’s carry slam called the “FU.” Suddenly, with no explanation, it was called the “Attitude Adjustment.” Granted, the name “FU” came from a feud with Brock Lesnar that had long since ended and maybe "FU" didn’t land with quite the same relevance in subsequent contests. Still, “Attitude Adjustment” sounds like a finisher invented by a 12-year-old for his online RPG wrestling league character. In addition, “STFU” is a barely clever spin on “STF” and barely clever is about as clever as wrestling ever gets, so returning Cena’s submission finisher to its former FN glory would also be advisable.
14 If It Wasn’t For PG-Restrictions, Chyna Might Already Be In The Hall Of Fame
Rumors speculated that although it's heartbreaking this didn't happen while she was alive, Chyna’s odds of finally getting her overdue Hall of Fame nod have increased following her tragic demise. WWE doesn’t have to worry about her burying the company or showing up intoxicated to her induction speech anymore. Plus, failing to induct Chyna in 2017 could inspire riots.
But thanks to PG restrictions, WWE has been credibly able to use Chyna's post-wrestling career in adult entertainment as an excuse to keep her out of the HOF. It's possible that, really, they were just worried she’d say something mean about ex-boyfriend Triple H and the woman he left her for, WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, but they wouldn't have been able to skew the truth about that with PG to hide behind.
13 Paige Wouldn’t Get In Trouble For Swearing Anymore
Let’s face it - cats have to say “meow,” a shoe salesman has to sell shoes, and Paige has to say words like “F@#$” and “Mother F@#$ers” and other phrases we’re not allowed to type here at TheSportster. It’s just the way she is and it’s unfair, not to be mention detrimental to the entire WWE product, that she be admonished every time a situation calls for her to describe it with the full range of her vocabulary. Is the squared circle really Paige’s house or is it more accurate to call it her “f@#$ing house?” We say the latter is so.
12 Competing with UFC Would Be Easier
These days, if the WWE has any real competition, it’s probably not coming from Lucha Underground or Ring of Honor, or any company putting out another wrestling show. More than probably, the biggest rival for WWE’s coveted 18- 35-year-old male demographic is UFC. It might be unrealistic for WWE to try to match UFC’s raw brutality for obvious reasons. But it could surely inject some additional grit by bringing back on-camera blood and allowing its athletes to engage in feats that at least appear more violent than what they can currently get away with.
11 Bray Wyatt Could Talk About Why He’s Better Than Jesus
It could be said that, at least in part, that Windham Rotunda bases his Bray Wyatt character around history’s most famous religious leader who didn’t like shaving or getting haircuts. However, if everything remains PG, under no circumstances can Bray Wyatt overly compare himself to Jesus Christ and solidify his status as pro wrestling’s answer to Charles Manson. You can’t actualize your apocalypse cult in the real world without offending some other religious people. It could be said that part of the reason why The Wyatt Family has stagnated from a story line perspective is they’re unable to revel in their full blasphemous potential.
10 Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor
Arguably, the PG pretext hit its logical breaking point during the main event of NXT Takeover: Dallas, on the eve of this year’s Wrestlemania weekend. During the contest's opening moments, a gash opened up above the eye of world title challenger Samoa Joe. Though the wound was tiny and accidentally inflicted, it bled like frickin’ crazy. Despite the protests of Samoa Joe and the NXT crowd, ringside attendants repeatedly interrupted the match to wipe off Joe’s crimson mask. The perception among many was that the medical staff wasn’t as concerned for Joe’s safety, as they were about visible blood on WWE programming. Here, we had a worst-case scenario of unnecessary PG censorship ruining what should’ve been a classic. Linda's reaction to chants were priceless.
9 The Writing Staff Could Use The Crutch
Many fans complain about the unimaginative booking that’s been plaguing WWE for a handful of years now. But it’s easy to forget how difficult it can be to write a story about two enemies attacking each other when neither is allowed to reference hatred or express a desire to seriously harm another human being in a way that feels natural. Is it possible that milquetoast, forgettable booking is only the natural consequences of tying too many creative individual’s hands behind their backs with excessive restrictions? It may very well be.
8 The Announcers Don’t Have To Dance Around Godfather
Charles Wright played a few different characters during his decades-long, on-again, off-again WWE career: Papa Shango, Kama, and the one for which he is best known, The Godfather. But whenever Wright drops by for a throwback Raw or a gimmick battle royal or somesuch nostalgia-oriented circumstance, the announcers aren’t allowed to identify him as a “pimp,” nor are they allowed to describe the parade of scantily clad women he brings to the ring with him as “hoes.” Granted, in these more enlightened times, even without PG-restrictions, announcers would address the erstwhile “hoes” as “self-employed contractors” and Godfather as their hired muscle, or whatever, if they wanted to keep presenting him as a babyface. Still, that would make more sense than a bunch of 20-something aspiring models following around a 50-something retired wrestler for no stated reason.
7 Opportunity to Start a New “Era”
We had The Attitude Era, and overrated or not, we can’t deny Attitude Era sounds like a badass moniker for a period of time in history. Same goes for The Ruthless Aggression Era. I mean, let’s say you went through an Attitude Era during some point in your life. Maybe you dropped out of college to become a really expensive sex worker (who would only work for really hot people), then entered a Ruthless Aggression Era where you invested your hooker money and became a Wall Street mogul. You’d be doing good with life, yes? The problem is WWE’s referring to its current historical epoch as The Reality Era, which makes WWE sound like a crummy Kardashian show knockoff. Doing away with PG would made a good excuse for coming up with a new name for a new era! May we suggest the "Sexy Money" era?
6 Dean Ambrose Could Get Away With Being A Lot Crazier
Ever notice how WWE announcers keep talking about how unstable and insane Dean Ambrose is supposed to be, yet he hardly ever says or does anything that really seems all that insane? That’s because he established himself as legitimately unhinged while under the employment of companies that allowed him to perform in such a way. You can’t truly echo Brian Pillman if you can’t, under any circumstances, wave a gun around, brainwash your arch enemy’s spouse, or commit any similarly morally ambiguous actions. For Ambrose to truly become The Lunatic Fringe, he needs a harsher terrain in which to ply his crazy sauce wares.
5 Better Potential Celebrity Guests
Can anybody remember the last time WWE had a relevant celebrity guest, with the exceptions of Stephen Amell and Ronda Rousey? The only one who pops into my head is Kevin Federline, all the way back when anyone knew who Federline was in 2007. This was, not coincidentally, a year before PG became the law of WWE’s land. For Pete's sake, they had Dr. Phil on to do a cameo skit with Charlotte and Ric Flair the other week. Dr. Phil. Nobody under 60 watches that show. Nobody’s going to switch on RAW if they hear Dr. Phil’s going to be on it. Now, if they got Emilia Clarke to be Roman Reign’s valet for one night, that would boost ratings and maybe he wouldn’t get booed so hard, but they obviously can’t be associated with a show that involves so much nudity and dragons.
4 The Dudleys Are Worthless In A PG Environment
Today, The Dudley Boys are basically the evil Bushwackers, except nowhere near as entertaining as the actual Bushwackers would've been as heels in their prime. Thus, we immediately lose sight of the fact that Bubba Ray Dudley is one of the greatest heels of his entire generation. Granted, just about anyone could’ve gotten over as a monster heel in ECW by claiming to have seduced the entire audience’s immediate family, but nonetheless, The Dudleys were masters of mass antagonism. Not unlike Ambrose, the present-day Dudleys are being held down by an inability to embrace their full potential for evil. In fact, the same probably goes for a lot of WWE characters who would work better if they had a little more room to experiment and develop without being micromanaged into the ground.
3 They Could Sell "Suplex City, Bi***!" T-shirts
How much money is WWE leaving on the table by not creating licensed t-shirts of Brock Lesnar announcing, with a triumphant smirk, "Suplex City, Bi***!" The answer is a ton of money. And why stop with Brock? WWE could add swear words and questionable language to most of their merchandise to increase sales and the pleasure of the wearer. Other possible examples include: A new Cena "Hustle, Loyalty, Respect, You Filthy Bas****!" shirt, an "I'm a Mother F#$% Hugger!" shirt to herald Bayley's inevitable arrival into the main roster, and an AJ Styles shirt that's just a picture of elephant genitalia because why not?
2 The Lessons Learned from Roman Reigns
In theory, for the last two years, Roman Reigns has been getting booed by smarky adult male fans who resent the idea that he was shoved down their throats. Also in theory, Reigns has been embraced by women and children, as was the case when a vocal faction of the audience turned on John Cena during his initial World Title push. To this day, “Cena Sucks!” chants echo the “Let’s Go Cena!” encouragement the WWE standard bearer often attracts.
But where are the “Let’s Go Roman!” chants to counterbalance all the boos? Do the women and children who cheer for John Cena no longer exist? Or is it more likely they’ve simply joined forces with the smarks, or become smarks themselves, and also don’t appreciate being told who to cheer for against their own predilections?
Point being, if the “WWE Universe” and the IWC have effectively merged into a single giant, amorphous hoard of wrestling fans, there’s no sense in writing for them like they’re not smart enough to handle edgier content anymore.
1 Even John Cena Wants More Blood
Who’s the biggest beneficiary of the PG era? Who’s the guy whose wholesome Captain America aura has made him a millionaire several times over? Out of everybody, who’s the one guy who absolutely should want WWE to stay PG forever? Well, that would be John Cena, and even he’s sick of not being able to say “crap” on TV, according to his interview with Rolling Stone. The good news is it’s possible that Cena wouldn’t be telling Rolling Stone he really feels this way, unless gears have already been set in in motion to create a new WWE, in which John Cena can say “crappy” “crap face” “craptacular” and similar phrases any ol' time he wants to.