After seeing the majority of WWE’s 25th anniversary celebration of Monday Night Raw, I felt the need to reexamine a question I asked four years ago here on Camel Clutch Blog.
An anyone write a decent wrestling promo anymore?
The McMahons cashed in on the celebration of their flagship program with a star-studded show which fans ate up for its nostalgia and its memories. As I watched different segments (I will admit taking a page from Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross on more than one occasion) it became clear the difference between “wrestling” of the 1990s and the entertainment value of today are about as different as Ric Flair and Dale Veasey in terms of popularity.
I have this conversation many times over, only with different topics. One that continues to get some run, thanks to my friend and local sports radio talk show host Rick Ballou is where did all the great heels of professional wrestler wander off to.
Another time and another column to be written.
WWE used to have a stable of great characters, all with charisma, a solid shtick and stones as big as the Titan brand. Today, fans see a watered-down version of what amounts to Triple-A baseball. Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and Triple H. The baddest men on the planet. All could talk and perform. Before them, Ric Flair, Roddy Pier and yes even Hulk Hogan kept fans on the edge of their seats by delivering dialogue that told a story.
Try getting Roman Reigns to do that. Ask Kevin Owens to change character and focus on delivering a great monologue. The Miz is the best thing going today. Bobby Roode could be great, but he isn’t main event material yet. Paul Heyman is the best when he’s on television. Charlotte Flair could be as good as her father, Ric Flair. The only problem is the women’s division for both Raw and Smackdown is disjointed and has lost its appeal.
I hate saying this, but maybe WWE should follow the Eric Bischoff rules of telling a wrestling story. As I wrote before…
“When Eric Bischoff was part of WCW – long after the American Wrestling Alliance (AWA) where he helped as an announcer to promote stars like Greg Gagne, Scott Hall and Curt Hennig, he followed a simple philosophy about script writing – work from the end backward.
The thinking behind this was that the end result mattered more than how the plan was initiated. It was a bold move that for a time worked for writers like Vince Russo. But in time, patience became a lost art form and before you could jump off a top turnbuckle, WCW was lost in the ashes.
Bischoff’s concept was again used in TNA, where he (with the help of Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter) summarily destroyed that product as well.
To say Bischoff has been a cancer in this business would be an understatement. But Bischoff may have been one of the business’s last decent story writers – everything else aside.”
To the company’s credit, it has moved back toward longer matches and better in-ring performance. The high-flying antics are cooled a bit, while concentrating on the notion of allowing the ring to serve as the star and the wrestlers as supporting actors.
So many times, as we have discussed before, fans either like an angle or hate and angle. If they hate it, they are quick to respond to it. WWE has an issue dissecting programs into tiny pieces, leaving all of us wondering how it was thought of in the first place.
If WWE wants to improve its product, write better scripts, bring out more character in its characters and find the right mix of mystery and intrigue. Then and only then can we say the company is trying to give us everything it has. And only then can we say the company is working to be exactly how it used to be and just as successful as it knows it can be.
It seems as though this business is in the same place it was four years ago – a sad state for something that used to be brilliant by design. It also tells fans the likelihood of moving past this stagnation won’t happen anytime soon. What we saw on Monday night was how wrestling should be and the reality of what it is today.