I made the comment on Sunday that while I did not watch the fight and could care less about the outcome, it was good to see for the first time in decades, and people really have a love for boxing again since the days of Roy Jones Jr and Mike Tyson.
It’s the biggest elephant ever stuffed in a room with fans crying for a rivalry that comes close to a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.
The biggest one of them all never really got off the ground with Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan. Flair moved on to the WWF while fighting with WCW and then returning to the promotion for another run at glory. Hogan moved over to WCW, took over the promotion, fought with Flair but soon turned his attention to the New World Order. We as fans never saw the two greatest wrestlers of our generation get into a ring at WrestleMania.
When you look at the landscape of the business when it compares to boxing and MMA and the UFC, wrestling may be in last place in terms of popularity – which means the fan base is dwindling. Ronda Rousey in a WWE ring made fans swoon. But that may have been a one-time deal for a fighter who essentially is the Mayweather of her division and is begging for some stiffer competition.
What do boxing and MMA have in common? They both are promoting their “business” better than Vince McMahon and his minions. Mayweather makes boxing popular. Rousey and others make MMA popular. Professional wrestling may have new faces, but the response from the masses is pretty much the same – they have seen it before.
Where is the Mayweather-Pacquiao of professional wrestling for this generation? Where is our Flair/Hogan or Rock/Austin or better yet, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart rivalry that anytime you utter their names, fans get emotional with glee? Was CM Punk and John Cena the last of a dying breed? Now that he is injured and there are concerns about his health, will we get to see Daniel Bryan in the ring killing it with Dolph Ziggler – which in my mind would be the best rivalry the WWE can offer its fans?
Randy Orton and Cena have been around long enough that fans tolerate their perch on top of the WWE mountain. There aren’t enough young superstars who can captivate an arena and keep them hooked (maybe Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins). Neville is an amazing competitor, but he has no rival yet and the WWE will at some point waste his talents.
Professional wrestling is lagging behind. The ship has sailed. No matter how good the start of the year has been with pay-per-view events and the best heel to come along as champion in some time (Rollins), there aren’t two wrestlers who set the tone for the company. Until that happens, the arc and connection between the business and its fans will be forever lost.