"It's a bad, bad time to be a fan in a lot of ways."
That was your quote from the blog today and it ties into something I've been kicking around in my head for awhile now – it's not going to change. I feel like we (and by "we" I mean the "in our late 20's or early to mid 30's; formerly hardcore, lapsed to semi-lapsed, got smart to the business in the late 80's or early 90's" fans) are waiting around for something that's just never going to happen again. Allow me to elaborate.
It seems that every boom period in wrestling is triggered by the emergence of a break-out main eventer or angle. I grew up a WWF guy, so my example from the 80's is obviously Hogan, but I guess Flair would be his counterpart on the other side of the fence. In the 90's it was Stone Cold for the WWF (followed very quickly by Rocky); and the nWo and Goldberg for WCW. I think this ebb and flow leads to the myth (or self-fulfilling prophecy maybe) that the wrestling business is cyclical, and that drastic "up" periods will always be followed by drastic "down" periods. (I never believed that, incidentally. It seems to me that wrestling was cyclical because a wrestler would get hot and then the company would do nothing but the same formula that worked so well initially over and over until it got boring, while the top guys did their best to keep their spots and hold down anyone who had the potential to get over and business would cool off. And then the company would fumble around blindly for awhile until the next big thing caught on).
I think that's what we are all waiting for – the next wrestler, or angle, to come along and catapult our little guilty pleasure back into the mainstream so that we can all express our geek indignation and say"we were fans when it wasn't cool, while secretly enjoying the acceptance and validation that comes from seeing regular people walking around in an Austin 3:16 shirt. Only, I get the feeling its never going to happen again, because nothing/no one is ever going to be allowed to get over to that extent.
I was watching the Stone Cold DVD set this weekend, and reliving his emergence from floundering midcarder to bonafide main event star. I remember being amazed at how it all happened back then, and still am now, particularly at how quickly he caught fire and how the company just ran with it. How Steve seemed to tap into the spirit of the time; the frustration of fans at the cartoonishness that was the norm in the early 90's; or even just the fact that he kicked so much ass and took no crap from anyone. But I realized it was more than that. It was the fact that he was ALLOWED to kick so much ass and take no crap from anyone. Its like someone in the back actually went "holy crap they like this guy, lets give them more!" But if King of the Ring '96 happened today, and Austin 3:16signs started popping up everywhere, Steve would be jobbed out to Kane for 3 months straight until the audience stopped caring. Its almost like they're trying to prevent another boom period from ever happening.
Maybe I'm stating the obvious, but I think the goal of the past few years has been to make the company, the WWE brand, bigger than any one wrestler. It's like Vince was so burned by Brock (and I guess Lashley) bailing on him that he's been determined NOT to create another true transcends-the-business, main event star ever again. Its like the company is content with giving us various iterations of the same 8 – 10 main eventers they already have on the top of the card, and doing "even-steven, no one gets over" booking from the midcard on down. So what that ratings will never be in the 7's (or 6's, or 5's, or 4's) ever again? So what that PPV numbers are in the toilet? At least if a wrestler leaves the company, it won't be someone they actually spent time pushing right? At least Vince will never suffer another broken heart… you'd think the company that spent so much time during the Monday NightWars telling us how they made all the stars and WCW stole them could just suck it up and make more.
Anyway, the reason I'm writing this is it seems like the industry is just so ripe for a change again. The frustration in the air whenever Cena is in the ring is absolutely palpable… At least it seems that way in my living room, and it reminds me of hating the product back when I was supposed to buy Freddie Joe Floyd, The Goon, Salvatore Sincere and TL Hopper as the new generation of stars. Watching Cena this past Monday come out and cut a kayfabe promo on Laurenitis and Big Show just seemed… I don't know, wrong to me. It was aggravating to watch. Cena's pure babyface schtick, especially in the past few weeks, has seemed so over the top that I feel like it HAS to be tongue-in-cheek. I kept waiting for Cena to start firing off pseudo-shoot comments about what a turd Show has been every time they give him a main event push. But instead all we got was "why Show, why?" I feel like a change has to be coming… Why is Cena even going along with this garbage at all? From all indications, he's a fan like we are. He can't possibly like the crap they have him doing. Right? Or am I just kidding myself?
Sorry I just wrote you a novel. The answer probably is that I'm old, the business has passed me by, and I should stick to getting my nostalgia fix off the DVD's but whatever; I'm an internet geek, and as long as they're putting out a product I'm going to use my freedom of expression to complain about it, dag nabbit! Just like good Ol' JR used to tell us we could. Oh wait, they don't let us do that anymore either…