On the verge of Summer Slam (one of the biggest PPV’s of the year), there are many questions that go through my mind pertaining to the world of Wrestling entertainment. The evolution of wrestling over the years has been shifted from a sport to an entertainment industry. In fact, WWE owner Vince McMahon, was the very first to acknowledge it as Sports Entertainment, not a real sport. This was like a shot heard around the world, as everyone was shocked that such a statement was made public. Consequently, this move proved to ingenious, as it put to rest some of the fear that individual wrestlers were getting physically beaten and made people aware of situational storylines where, for the most part, wrestlers were escaping the matches unscathed. This was the beginning of Vince McMahon using his brilliance to cater the business towards the kids, who, in turn would be the sole audience to keep the industry showing continued success.
The wrestling industry has gone through many changes over the years, some for the good, and some for the bad. Obviously, good or bad, it is up to public opinion, but in some cases there is just no way to decide if it is, like Vince says, “good for business.” The one avenue that bolstered and benefited was the merchandise sales. Every kid growing up wanted t-shirts, hats, figures, posters, anything that symbolized their love for their favorite wrestler. In my opinion, this is where the industry transformed into what it is today, more talking and dancing instead of good ole fashioned wrestling. I am a huge fan of the business, but still wish there were sounder, technical matches instead of segments like Miz TV and the Highlight Reel.
As the timeline of the business is acknowledged, wrestling started as a popular sport, reached its high point in the Attitude era, and now is still popular because of Vince’s reestablished PG monotone to all of the live shows. In wrestling fashion we went from Hulk Hogan & Ric Flair, to The Rock & Steve Austin, and now John Cena and CM Punk. His is not to slight the days of Bruno Sammartino, Playboy Buddy Rose or King Harley Race, just merely stating my opinion of when and how the business picked up momentum.
In Vince’s newfound glory, he seems to be trying to rekindle the old momentum by bringing back huge stars like the Rock and Brock Lesnar, who previously left due to other aspirations, on 3-6 month contracts in order to capture the audience on the suspense of when they might show up. In my opinion, this move has worked great and was necessary due to the drop in attendance and audience, merely because those attitude wrestlers were never really replaced. They never really had the influx of young talent to come over as superstars at the time when they needed it. However, they are starting to assemble some nice young stars such as Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan, using their veterans such as Chris Jericho and Rob Van Dam to put them over. Therefore, wrestling is beginning to have a premise again instead of just the same old act, night after night.
I will forever be a wrestling fan and continue to look forward to the influx of new talent from the likes of NXT and the developmental scene. At the same time, I understand there will never be another attitude era where everything goes and the FCC calls the WWE more times than the teenage boy calls his first girlfriend. The classic matches will forever hold their luster, just as the highlights of Hulk Hogan leg dropping Mach Man Randy Savage in his infamous heel turn to NOW at Bash at the Beach never get old. Even though the sport has evolved into an entertaining miniseries, it still maintains a captive audience and continues to sell out arenas all around the globe. I am a true fan of the wrestling business and am not ashamed to say it!
By: Tony Cutillo ( @Tcutillo23 )