Today’s Question: In the history of your fandom, what is the loudest pop you’ve ever heard/seen (on TV or in person) during a wrestling event?
Yesterday’s Question: In this month’s 35th anniversary issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, they ask several people what’s the best and worst thing about the business today as compared to 1979. Assuming everyone here wasnt a fan in 1979, we’ll say 1989 and ask the same question:
a) How is the business better than 25 years ago?
b) What is the worst thing about the wrestling business compared to 25 years ago?
Better: By and large, wrestling is more respected then back then. Once they finally admitted that it was “fake” people began to actually be more impressed and show more appreciation for wrestling once we were over arguing whether its fake or not……
Worse: Championships, they are nearly meaningless. In 1989 it meant something when Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude feuded for the Intercontinental Title……Now? Titles are traded like nothing, and worst of all, champions are constantly losing meaningless TV matches to set up heatless feuds that mean nothing.
I think a typical conversation with my dad accentuates whats wrong with the product…..usually, it starts with one of the 2 phrases “man you still witch that fake sh*t” – usually me chuckling because of Chris B’s first point…the other being “So HE’s the champ?…..oh when did he beat The Hulk?” That’s the thing. The hardcore fan still needs to appreciate it whether its “fake” (I always hate that word) or not, and the casual fan needs to have a reason to care…..I think Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair would reach more casual fans that The Miz or Eric Young (though Brock Lesnar as their champion works…in terms of legitimacy). Being “The Champ” meant something in 89. It doesn’t as much today.
Better in 1989: the rosters. The WWF’s roster, in October 1989, had Hulk Hogan, Andre, Bret Hart, Savage, Jake the Snake, Demolition, Rick Rude, Ted Dibiase, The Rockers, the Brainbusters, Piper & Hennig. The NWA had Ric Flair, the Midnights, Lex Lugar, Sting, the Steiners, and Pillman.
Worse in 89: the drugs (steroids), the drugs (coke), and the drugs (booze).
Hard to top the overall talent level, and remember there were still territories like AWA & World Class as well.
Better: no jobber matches (but some guys who are stars are actually jobbers) also better production values, and of course the #1 reason is the network (only $9.99).
Worse: wwe monopoly, no tv shows to look forward to in their old time slots, no real reason for feuds, too many title changes, lack of good tag team wrestling, all my old favorites are retired (or dead).
I think the lack of jobber matches – contrary to what a lot of bloggers believe – has hurt the business. How can a guy like Ryback stay over if he doesnt squash anybody every now and then? He hasnt won a match in months. Not every match, but a few here and there (and keep the matches short)
Hold that 10 for Johnny B. Bad
Favorite: Today’s product is can’t miss television. Great matches, interviews, and angles happen on a near week to week basis. In 1989, you could miss 3 months of non-Mania build tv, and not have nearly as much fun stuff to catch up on.
What I like the least is the treatment of the mid-card singles champion. In 1989, the mid-card champ sat on top of the mid-card division. These days, it seems like a mid-card champ is instead positioned at the bottom of the world title division.
Agree 100%. The I-C and US titles used to be great tools in preparation for world title runs. Now they just serve as props to go with action figures
Best: In general, there are more and better talented workers all around the world.
Worst: The WWE having a virtual monopoly means there are nowhere near as many main-event spots to go around as in the territory or Monday Night Wars eras, and thus it’s much easier for someone supremely talented to spend their career in midcard hell.
Better than 25 years ago:
Production values- obviously with the advent of HD, wrestling has never been clearer, sharper or brighter, especially with the insane lighting rigs of the WWE. But to me, all that lighting makes the product look more commercial and generic. I always liked the darkened arena looks of the territories and early WWF because it made things look more authentic. But most people aren’t me. (Among other things…..)
Worse Than 25 Years Ago:
Overexposure- While the WWF of 1989 had a similar amount of television time per week, it seems that today’s product seems to be way overexposed in comparison.
Booking Style- The 50/50 booking of today’s WWE midcard is all that needs to be said here.
Value of Championships- Speaking of champions, I was a huge fan of the secondary titles back in the day because they gave lower level talent a chance to shine and created more space at the top of the card. And they were contested hotly and treated with respect. Think of all the great matches and feuds over the Intercontinental and WCW/NWA U.S Titles. And now they’re almost all treated like props except the World Title.
Say what you want about the WWE….their production values are second to none. The problem is that they are homogenized. Every show has the same look, same feel, etc. every week. Seen one you’ve seen them all
WWE workrate is light years better now. It is also nice that they don’t treat us like we are stupid… meaning they admit a lot of it is scripted.
In 1989 there were alternatives and JCP had some of the best matches in history… wish we had something like that today. Also storylines progressed more logically and over a longer period of time.
We don’t get Flair and Steamboat in their primes very often though….but you are absolutely correct
Adam “Colorado” Curry
A: better production, or really better technology in general. Less shitty matches.
B: the booking is total shit and everyone wrestles the same cookie cutter style. Shitty scriped pomos. Trying to be entertainment instead of wrestling.
50/50 booking….kryptonite to a true wrestling fan.
thebraziliankid Adam “Colorado” Curry
I forgot about the banning the Piledriver and some other moves, let them use, teach the guy when to do these moves.
I long for the days where the piledriver in Memphis meant “Instant hospitilization” in the words of Jim Cornette
A) No more “enhancement matches”. I really disliked those. “His opponent, already in the ring, from somewhere, weighing in at something: John Jobber!”
B) Titles mean nothing. Tag Team wrestling doesn’t even exist. The commentary is horrendous. Security confiscates signs in the crowd that Kevin Dunn doesn’t like. Everybody’s promos are scripted except for HHH, Cena, and Heyman.
Yeah but outside of those reigns you’ve mentioned, you are forgetting in the last 4 years there have been:
WWE Champions: 19
World Champions (WHC Retired): 15
US Champions: 10
IC Champions: 17
Divas Champions: 12
Tag Team Champions: 13
and in TNA there have been:
TNA Champions: 17
X-Division Champions: 18
Knockouts Champions: 17
Tag Team Champions: 15
Just look at all those numbers. Back in the late 1980’s and early to mid 1990’s, we were lucky to see maybe 3-4 TOTAL title changes (all belts changes combined) per year.
Great point – usually followed by a huge celebration. I can still remember Nikita Koloff beating Tully Blanchard for the TV title setting off a locker-room emptying celebration – it was a big deal (The TV title…seriously). I couldnt imagine such a scene today..
By the way, thanks for the numbers….drives the point home. I remember 1999 being particularly ridiculous with the title reigns as well
Pro wrestling has lost its balls
Has anyone checked Stephanie’s purse? They could be in there…
If I had to guess, those belong to Triple H
Better: WrestleMania. The interactivity with fellow fans. Having so much available to watch with the click of a mouse. Better overall athletes….
Worse: Compelling mid-card story lines or lack thereof. Merchandise; there’s far more crap on WWE Shop than stuff you wanna buy. Authority figure story lines, they are way overdone now and I think most can agree a guy like President Jack Tunney making appearances only when necessary would be a great way to go about today’s WWE. The announcing, ugh.
Kayfabe is basically dead (there’s still bullshitting, but nobody’s trying to pass it off as real, which was unacceptable even 25 years ago. Anyone who wasn’t an idiot had figured it out by then). The women are hotter. TV shows aren’t just 90% Jobber Matches. People brawl to a count-out in big matches less often. More people know how to do promos. Guys don’t just come in to feud with the Champ and then get eaten alive as badly. The overall match quality has never been better in North America. Fewer restholds and headlocks.
Too much 50/50 booking and non-sustained pushes. A more homogenized style and visual appearance for wrestlers. Too many “Big matches” on TV, and the same old guys in the main event, making it boring and “seen it before” when they try to pull off Orton/Cena AGAIN. The top guys really don’t carry themselves like STARS as much anymore. Way too few Big Fat Heels. Royal Rumbles where there are 25 “big stars” getting pushes, so everyone clogs up the ring for 20 minutes each. A shittier tag division.
Extant1979 – Ghetto Superstar
Better: The internet. I have a place like this to hang out with wrestling fans and discuss the product.
Worse: The internet. That same great place is full of judgmental assholes who are never EVER happy with anything.
True…but we wouldn’t have this blog otherwise! The internet has taken away the element of surprise, and the possibility of a true loser leaves town match, but there are some good things too
“Women wrestlers are actually hot now. That’s a big plus.”
To further illustrate this point, stop and google Candi Devine, or Leilani Kai (2 of the best women wrestlers of the 80s)…..now google/compare with any combination of The Bellas, AJ Lee, Angelina Love, Velvet Sky, Lisa Varon, Alicia Fox, or Madison Rayne…..I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. Yikes. Fabulous Moolah would be laughed out of Vince’s office today!
Truthfully, I think the golden age in terms of being a fan was about 1984-86 as the territories were still going pretty strong, and there were more options. 1989 was close enough to those years, but I think the downturn had already started a bit with the demise of the territories. 20 years from now, when the WWF is the only game in town, and all of the wrestlers, and all of the matches look the same, I have to wonder if we will look at the current era the same as we look back at the 80s today.