Vince McMahon’s WWE is a company in a peril. Clinging for dear life to a John Cena shaped lifeboat and hoping to avoid drowning in the turgid sea of bad booking decisions and cringeworthy storylines which will lead to its inevitable demise, there’s little anyone -Triple H and his NXT crew included- can do to save it.
At least, not if the current general consensus among wrestling fans is anything to go by.
Scan through the message boards, plough through the tweets or browse through comments on your favourite online Raw recap, and you’ll find pretty much the same opinion: The WWE is in trouble, Vince McMahon is out of touch with his audience and, oh, did we mention how much better life would be if Cena would just turn heel already?
Thankfully, that isn’t all we have to go on.
Indeed, whilst a large portion of fans are clamoring for the WWE’s downfall, the rest of us are busy dealing with a weird sense of déjà vu.
Haven’t we heard all of this before somewhere?
Indeed, as a wrestling fan for the best part of 25 years, the news that McMahon is out of touch with modern audiences certainly doesn’t come as much of a surprise to this writer. From the cartoon days early 90s to the Pirate Paul debacle and at every point in between -yes, including the beloved Attitude Era- it’s been well documented that the man in charge doesn’t exactly have his finger on the pulse of pop culture.
Despite this, he’s remained at the helm of a company which has weaved its way to the forefront of that very same pop culture on more than one occasion.
Sure, the mainstream has always fallen back out of love with pro wrestling eventually, though rather than bring about the end of WWE as a whole, it has instead ushered in something of a transitional period for the company, a bridging of the gap between boom periods where things weren’t always rosey.
Hell, you think things are bad now? Go back 20 years to 1995, a time when attendances figures plummeted, King Mabel reigned in the main event scene, and certified legend Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart was left stumbling through the midcard, doing battle against kleptomaniac pirates and demented dentists in the process. Whilst you’re there, watch another Big Daddy Cool vs. Psycho Sid main event and tell me that things weren’t far worse then than they are today.
Bare in mind too, that this was only three of four years after Hulkamania had finished running wild, and just two short years before the likes of Steve Austin and DX began to slowly usher in the Attitude Era.
Sandwiched somewhere halfway between two of the then-WWF’s most profitable and creatively-inspired periods was a company well and truly on its ass, spewing out more fodder for RD Reynolds and his Wrestlecrap chums than it has at perhaps any other time in history and making nowhere near the kind of money it does today.
Yet somehow, the company survived, and did so without the kind of financial reserves nor the kind of global reputation they have today.
Good news for McMahon & Co. then, though perhaps not so much for those fans clamoring the company’s demise.