For nearly 15 years, I’ve been a fan of pro-wrestling. Since then I’ve amassed a huge collection of DVDs, VHS tapes and now Blu-Rays of wrestling events and documentaries to be watched at my disposal. Where people outgrew the wrestling boom of the late 90s, early 2000s, I stuck with my interest and kept watching wrestling. Much like the music I listened to now and movies that I love, if I had an interest in something I want to learn it’s history. Throughout my teenage years I did just that with wrestling. In 1998, I was on the wrestling bandwagon like every other person in my age bracket at the time. I was obsessed with wrestling because I’d never seen anything like it. Sure, they wore tights, but so did superheroes and that was as close of a comparison to which I can draw to these men and women who in my opinion are the most highly skilled athletes in the world. Sure, the fighting is choreographed, but think of the skill level involved to not hurt someone. I’m not going to try to explain or justify wrestling, because it’s something you really have to love in order to enjoy it. You either get it or you don’t.
As a teen, I obsessed about wrestling. It was my hobby, it was my interest and it was a passion of mine. I was bit by the wrestling bug, and there is no cure for being a lifelong fan. I must have watched hundreds of hours of programming on an yearly basis. I remember my father would order me the big events yearly and record them. I never missed a WrestleMania, a Royal Rumble, a SummerSlam, a Survivor Series or King of the Ring. Then there is always someone you know who had the “black box” and could get everything for free. So on top of a ton of movies I saw off pay per view, I had every major WWE event at my disposal. It was great. When the on demand services became more relevant and the pay per view channels filled with movies and events went away, I put my hard earned money into a WWE DVD collection. It was something I wanted to do for a while, but seeing that I didn’t get my first job until I was 17 I couldn’t.
From there things only got better. I brought what I could and learned everything there was to learn about wrestling. WWE had purchased the entire video libraries of every bankrupt or out of business company. Everything including WCW, ECW, NWA, AWA and World Class Championship Wrestling. When I first saw WCW matches on a WWE DVD, it freaked me out. I remember watching that when it used to air on WCW Monday Nitro and there’s a WWE logo on the bottom screen. Weird, huh? As I said before, I had an insatiable desire to learn as much about the history of wrestling as I could. Along with various history lessons I made time for new WWE and TNA Wrestling events as I purchased all the events that came out on DVD. I have shelves of these events in chronological order. Some are good, some are so-so, and some are down right amazing.
What I’ve learned from watching these events over the years is that they can surprise you. Just because it’s WrestleMania, doesn’t mean it’s automatically the best show of the year. Sometimes the follow-up events that you never expect become classics. The one’s you anticipate the most always leave some sort of disappointment. Usually not with the whole show, but one or two matches in particular that didn’t end the way you want. Now I don’t necessarily mean having the guy you rooted for win, but having a substantially justifiable outcome that leads to closure or something bigger on the horizon.
In 2010, I put collecting events and docs on DVD on the shelf for two reasons: time and economics. I had a new group of friends that I wanted to spend a majority of time with and I couldn’t afford to shell out money for DVDs on the regular basis I was doing. I had many other things I wanted to do, but felt I could always go back to it where I left off. I decided I wasn’t going to miss the big events from WWE only (TNA Wrestling lost my interest when they brought in Hogan). Since Spring 2010 after WrestleMania XXVI, I’ve ordered only a few events as they aired live on Pay Per View: WrestleMania XXVII, Survivor Series 2011, Royal Rumble 2012, WrestleMania XXVIII and most recently SummerSlam 2012. Now I’ve seen plenty of major events like these for years, but it doesn’t feel the same way as it used to be. It’s not that they’re not exciting or fun, but I don’t get that same feeling of excitement when I watch them live.
I feel like something has changed. Maybe it’s because I’m older? Possibly, but my interest in wrestling has never changed. I still love it as much as I did as a teen. Maybe because the price differential? It could be true. I did buy every event on DVD since 2004 and have seen everyone from SummerSlam 2001 to WrestleMania XXVI in 2010. Not all of them were great, some were forgetful, but I never felt that I wasted money on any of them. Maybe because I payed $20 instead of $55 for an event didn’t have that much effect on me. Maybe now I feel like I don’t get my money’s worth? Or maybe because the current era of WWE is the most lackluster I’ve seen. The heroes I watched for years are leaving. Guys like Triple H, The Rock, Undertaker, and Chris Jericho can come and go as they please. They’ve put their time in and can work their own schedule. My favorite wrestler Shawn Michaels is retired, as is Edge. Guys who really shook up the business.
My true reason for why I feel different is because today’s WWE isn’t as prominant as it once was, even as early as four years ago. There is a crop of young talented stars that can carry the business forward. Guys like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, Cody Rhodes, Alberto Del Rio and The Miz can carry the WWE torch for years to come. Guys like John Cena, Randy Orton, Kane, Big Show, Christian and Rey Mysterio are the veterans by default. The problem isn’t the talent at all, it’s the media circus that is the programming that myself and others have the problem. The stupid sketches have replaced groundbreaking promos, social media like Twitter and Tout have been shoved down the throats of fans, and guys who people want to get behind and get a push to superstardom have to degrade themselves to boring, useless kid friendly stars. That’s the problem with WWE today: It’s become a kid’s show. My age bracket that loves WWE takes a backseat to the TV-PG environment.
The point is that I don’t get the same enjoyment out of watching some of these events as I used to. Event Pay Per View DVDs are still available in stores on month after they air live for a fraction of the price. I used to get more enjoyment watching the shows knowing the results than I do watching them when they air live because I know what to expect. Nowadays I feel like I know what to expect at these live viewings because of predictability. Shows have been more predictable than ever with weak cards and reusing finishes to matches that haven’t been used in years. Having seen a plethora of these shows, I can tell where certain finishes to matches on modern Pay Per View matches had originally come from. It’s become repetitive.
I’ll still support WWE, and would love to restart my event DVD collection at some point, but I don’t feel like it will ever be the same. Sure, people grow up and companies evolve to survive, but I clamor for a change in select programming. Last summer they almost recaptured the spirit of the old days when CM Punk went on his infamous rants on live TV. Scripted or not, it was damn good TV. Soon after, it regressed back into it’s old TV-PG habits. That’s another problem: feuds and storylines start and some end up going nowhere. Remember the Nexus storyline in 2010 and the walk out storyline last fall? No payoffs whatsoever. Just dumb, kid-friendly conformity. I wondered if the WWE really had a monkey with a typewriter on their staff at one point.
I want new finishes and new feuds. I want social media abolished and promos cut with passion again. I want kid friendly stuff gone and more aggressive, attitudinal wrestling back. I also never wanna another John Cena vs. Big Show match as long as I live. And for the love of all things holy, put Jim Ross back on commentary. The man could tell a story like no other. I wish wrestling would go back to the way things were, but sadly things only get worse before they get better. I’m not a disillusioned fan and I don’t hate WWE. If you’re reading this thinking that I am, then you are mistaken. I’m a passionate fan that doesn’t want idiocy to flourish, but for a change to take place for the better. Less show, more wrestling please with a TV-14 rating too.