What came first, the boom or the A+?


Hi Scott. Forgive the rambling nature of this question but it needs a bit of explaining.


The "Who is A+ in history?" conversation has got me thinking. The only two unanimous choices were Hogan and Austin, with everyone from Rock, to Flair, to Sammartino to Cena argued down by plenty of people. The closest anyone got to being a third A+ player was Savage. Now, that's interesting.

I love Savage, and he had plenty of great matches, promos, title runs etc to justify the choice. Having said that, he normally comes below the likes of Flair, HBK and Bret when you're talking about the best ever. So why are we so quick to say he was one of those icons that is so far above everyone else?

My opinion on that is we think to be "A+" you have to transcend the business, and be one of those guys that every man in the street knows. You say 'pro wrestling' to someone who doesn't watch it, and they could talk about guys like Hogan, Austin, Savage, Undertaker and so on. But to me, that's just because these were the top guys during wrestling's boom periods (Rock 'n' Wrestling, and Attitude). So that got me thinking more.

Here's my point: We always give Hogan credit for the first mega-mainstream boom in the mid-80s, and Austin similar props for carrying the company to the same stature (and even more profit) in the late-90s. Sure, those two personalities were a big catalyst in that, and no-one's arguing their ability/success. But what if it was more to do with the fact that they happened to be the #1 guy when the company as a whole was getting it right?

Rock 'n' Wrestling and Attitude were the only two eras I can remember when WWF/WWE landed in terms of connecting with pop culture. In the times when their perception of what the people wanted was wrong (the family-friendly stuff in the post-Hogan period, the same-old pro-wrestling formula in the mid-to-late-2000s), it didn't matter which guys were at the top of the card, they were never going to sell more t-shirts than Hulk or Stone Cold. Sadly, the nearest they've come to getting their finger on the pulse of modern culture since Attitude finished is probably the Total Divas stuff now.

So, my hypothesis: People like Rock and Cena had all the tools to be just as A+ – if not more so – than Hogan and Austin, but were never going to get there while the product was what it was (I'm qualifying Rock in that statement by saying his peak should have come a few years after Austin's, when he went the movie route). And until wrestling can get to that place again where it is culturally relevant and even somewhere on the 'cool' scale, we'll not get another A+ guy.

Apologies for the length and depth of that. I will enjoy being shouted down in the comments section.


pbreathing

In what universe is Rock not an A+ guy?!?  I don't even get the argument against it!

Boom, Period

Scott, After reading the comment section, I figured this would draw a good full blown discussion. Do you think, looking back, that WWE had an opportunity to create a new boom period after that initial move back to USA back in late 2005? I thought Raw was more interesting than it had been in YEARS up to that point, not to mention the fact that they were drawing big ratings, getting 4.0s on a weekly basis, and people at my school were actually buzzing about WWE for the first time in I could remember. But then of course, around June ’06, they basically squandered their growing success and the ratings fell back in their 3.0 limbo, which amuses me. They say now that an edgy product was hurting ratings, yet when they had an edgy product with Edge (no pun intended) at the helm, they were doing their best ratings since 2001 before they decided to push Cena as the Hogan-like superhero.

It’s true, I was actually enticed into buying Royal Rumble that year to see the Cena-Edge rematch, which sadly proved horribly disappointing and just restored the status quo again.  That Wrestlemania proved to be one of the first ones I ever intentionally skipped, though, because I had no interest in seeing Cena v. HHH as a main event and Edge v. Foley didn’t do anything for me as a “star-making” performance for Edge.  But yeah, the stuff with Rey Mysterio getting the World title for the first time and Randy Orton exploring his evil side and Edge’s run with Lita, all leading up to Cena v. RVD at One Night Stand?  All good stuff.  I think that trying to spin off ECW was a major mis-step, for one thing.  Had they just called it something else, it might have been less of a disaster, but there was a lot of expectations for what an “ECW” brand would entail, and they disappointed on pretty much every count.  Plus it stretched the already struggling writing staff far too thin at a time when they should have been focusing on RAW and Smackdown exclusively. I wouldn’t say it was going to create a new boom period, though.

Boom, Period

Scott, After reading the comment section, I figured this would draw a good full blown discussion. Do you think, looking back, that WWE had an opportunity to create a new boom period after that initial move back to USA back in late 2005? I thought Raw was more interesting than it had been in YEARS up to that point, not to mention the fact that they were drawing big ratings, getting 4.0s on a weekly basis, and people at my school were actually buzzing about WWE for the first time in I could remember. But then of course, around June ’06, they basically squandered their growing success and the ratings fell back in their 3.0 limbo, which amuses me. They say now that an edgy product was hurting ratings, yet when they had an edgy product with Edge (no pun intended) at the helm, they were doing their best ratings since 2001 before they decided to push Cena as the Hogan-like superhero.

It’s true, I was actually enticed into buying Royal Rumble that year to see the Cena-Edge rematch, which sadly proved horribly disappointing and just restored the status quo again.  That Wrestlemania proved to be one of the first ones I ever intentionally skipped, though, because I had no interest in seeing Cena v. HHH as a main event and Edge v. Foley didn’t do anything for me as a “star-making” performance for Edge.  But yeah, the stuff with Rey Mysterio getting the World title for the first time and Randy Orton exploring his evil side and Edge’s run with Lita, all leading up to Cena v. RVD at One Night Stand?  All good stuff.  I think that trying to spin off ECW was a major mis-step, for one thing.  Had they just called it something else, it might have been less of a disaster, but there was a lot of expectations for what an “ECW” brand would entail, and they disappointed on pretty much every count.  Plus it stretched the already struggling writing staff far too thin at a time when they should have been focusing on RAW and Smackdown exclusively. I wouldn’t say it was going to create a new boom period, though.

Boom, Period

Scott, After reading the comment section, I figured this would draw a good full blown discussion. Do you think, looking back, that WWE had an opportunity to create a new boom period after that initial move back to USA back in late 2005? I thought Raw was more interesting than it had been in YEARS up to that point, not to mention the fact that they were drawing big ratings, getting 4.0s on a weekly basis, and people at my school were actually buzzing about WWE for the first time in I could remember. But then of course, around June ’06, they basically squandered their growing success and the ratings fell back in their 3.0 limbo, which amuses me. They say now that an edgy product was hurting ratings, yet when they had an edgy product with Edge (no pun intended) at the helm, they were doing their best ratings since 2001 before they decided to push Cena as the Hogan-like superhero.

It’s true, I was actually enticed into buying Royal Rumble that year to see the Cena-Edge rematch, which sadly proved horribly disappointing and just restored the status quo again.  That Wrestlemania proved to be one of the first ones I ever intentionally skipped, though, because I had no interest in seeing Cena v. HHH as a main event and Edge v. Foley didn’t do anything for me as a “star-making” performance for Edge.  But yeah, the stuff with Rey Mysterio getting the World title for the first time and Randy Orton exploring his evil side and Edge’s run with Lita, all leading up to Cena v. RVD at One Night Stand?  All good stuff.  I think that trying to spin off ECW was a major mis-step, for one thing.  Had they just called it something else, it might have been less of a disaster, but there was a lot of expectations for what an “ECW” brand would entail, and they disappointed on pretty much every count.  Plus it stretched the already struggling writing staff far too thin at a time when they should have been focusing on RAW and Smackdown exclusively. I wouldn’t say it was going to create a new boom period, though.

Boom, Period

Scott, After reading the comment section, I figured this would draw a good full blown discussion. Do you think, looking back, that WWE had an opportunity to create a new boom period after that initial move back to USA back in late 2005? I thought Raw was more interesting than it had been in YEARS up to that point, not to mention the fact that they were drawing big ratings, getting 4.0s on a weekly basis, and people at my school were actually buzzing about WWE for the first time in I could remember. But then of course, around June ’06, they basically squandered their growing success and the ratings fell back in their 3.0 limbo, which amuses me. They say now that an edgy product was hurting ratings, yet when they had an edgy product with Edge (no pun intended) at the helm, they were doing their best ratings since 2001 before they decided to push Cena as the Hogan-like superhero.

It’s true, I was actually enticed into buying Royal Rumble that year to see the Cena-Edge rematch, which sadly proved horribly disappointing and just restored the status quo again.  That Wrestlemania proved to be one of the first ones I ever intentionally skipped, though, because I had no interest in seeing Cena v. HHH as a main event and Edge v. Foley didn’t do anything for me as a “star-making” performance for Edge.  But yeah, the stuff with Rey Mysterio getting the World title for the first time and Randy Orton exploring his evil side and Edge’s run with Lita, all leading up to Cena v. RVD at One Night Stand?  All good stuff.  I think that trying to spin off ECW was a major mis-step, for one thing.  Had they just called it something else, it might have been less of a disaster, but there was a lot of expectations for what an “ECW” brand would entail, and they disappointed on pretty much every count.  Plus it stretched the already struggling writing staff far too thin at a time when they should have been focusing on RAW and Smackdown exclusively. I wouldn’t say it was going to create a new boom period, though.