The Verbal Brainbuster has finally arrived and boy does that feel great to say! Welcome fans to this returning column, which will be featured weekly right here on ZWrestleTalk. A wide range of topics is covered, from recent updates and questions sent in by readers. It's been a few years since writing this, so please allow for some ring rust.
Now, to answer the question that may be stirring around your mind. Who am I?
You're reading the words of one, Daniel Barker. I am a lifelong professional wrestling fan. In addition to enjoying this highly contagious hobby, I also love writing, so pairing the two together is a dream come true. That being said, I like to shed light on subjects and offer a perspective. There's a side to me that enjoys striking up a healthy debate.
With that introduction out of the way, let us begin.
WWE losing fans? The Clue is in the titles...
This is a topic I’ve wanted to get off my chest for a very long time. I started asking myself a long time ago, about why I found the product increasingly hard not to just enjoy, but maintain an interest.
It does truly cut deep to personally acknowledge that a company that gave so many awe-inspiring moments, has become a source of entertainment that no longer tugs at my interest. It’s not what I want to happen. There are plenty of wrestling fans that feel a similar way and fell off that wagon way before I even contemplated doing so.
The creative process is really an all-encompassing answer. All roads lead to Rome, as it were. Then what really bothered me came to the surface. A simple and yet effective question, what is the point?
You may be thinking if that’s how a person feels, why bother right? If you look at what motivates a wrestler to perform way back when and compare that to today’s product, the passion has almost depleted. It’s a crushing realization because arguably, you have among ‘the’ most talented workers in the business today.
What has contributed to this, in my opinion, is treating championships openly as nothing more than props. The whole title scenery has deteriorated for years, the belt designs themselves becoming increasingly bland and unappealing. Not only is there a lack of character in some respects on screen in some of the wrestlers' personalities, thanks to awful script writing, the prizes they are fighting for look far less appealing.
I love watching a tonne of WWE talent, but over the past few years, only Brock Lesnar has stood as a champion that improved the novelty value to the title he’s held, on the main brands. He doesn’t have a forced gimmick, being a true athlete and accomplished fighter does add legitimacy to the belt. What’s more important, him holding a title served a purpose.
Once upon a time, holding the promotions top tier strap was a mark of respect. That business put their full stock on the champion. Becoming the top dog has meant the world too many credible performers over the years, reducing a large portion of those to tears when earning that spot.
If you delve into the history books, WWE has had plenty of poor representatives in the highest spot. What separates the older times to now, is that the company culture really plugged the importance of these championships constantly. For a fan to witness an undeserving champion, that sparked negative emotion, but that emotion surrounds the championship itself and can be channeled.
I’d like to give Triple H’s world heavyweight title reign that began at Armageddon 2002 and ended at Unforgiven in 2003. To give a quick analysis he represented a main event guy who gradually became overly reliant on his faction. He could defend the gold on his own merit, yet keeping it meant everything to him, and would do anything to ensure nothing changed that.
Triple H grew softer after each victory. After this reign, he’d gotten hungry and ultimately did retain. The point is around this period, it did mean the world to him, being champion.
When a new star broke through the glass ceiling and reached a similar status, it was a cause for excitement. That for the foreseeable future, this man or woman, would remain a key fixture on the show. These days, crowning a new champion comes across as WWE being experimental, and sometimes seen as a knee jerk reaction.
If you would take Jinder Mahal’s reign, how has this really benefited his career in the long run?
What logic or purpose was behind the Fiend dropping the title to Goldberg earlier this year?
Fans get heated when there’s an absence in logic. Back in the day, there were decisions made with a bigger picture waiting in the distance. Like an episodic drama, further details would later provide a reason behind why the creative minds chose that direction.
You’d be right to fire old examples, as a counter-argument. Namely Vince Russo and David Arquette held the WCW World Championships, and that I deny. There is a slight difference between then and now, more people cared back then. You could say, fans remained somewhat hopeful...though a truly testing time.
WWE has purposely degraded the importance of their own titles. As a result, the decisions taint the prestige and devalue its history. These records used to be at the forefront of people's minds. For instance, a mid-card championship would be supported by the announcers listing the future legends in the business that ran amok in that division.
To win become Intercontinental champion would put you in a category with the Rock, Macho Man Randy Savage, Mr. Perfect, Chris Jericho, and other well-respected personalities. It meant big things were ahead for the titleholder. Unfortunately, this has turned into a position that seems to be just a limitation. That this position is the best a person can hope to achieve.
Less mid-card wrestlers are developed with due care and attention. Less main eventers are promoted up the card after being established properly beforehand. Their time in these roles, as champions, are loosely fitting. This leads to WWE going back into a comfort zone. Going back with former main event stars and giving them far greater exposure.
There’s a strong argument that the reliance of John Cena actually did far more damage than good, in terms of elevating newer attractions. As a sixteen-time champion, you must understand those all happened in the exact same promotion. In his first six years as a main eventer, he held 10 of those titles, the majority for substantial periods.
This pains me to admit, especially as a huge fan of AJ Styles. Every success that man has had in the promotion didn’t stir the emotion I imagined it would. He’s phenomenal and deserves the spotlight, he absolutely does. Truth be known, this is a prime example of knowing the champion holds greater value than the gold he’s holding.
You’re never going to find another AJ Styles, just like you’ll never find another Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Undertaker and Heartbreak Kid. Those big names did have an advantage, what they chased, to become the best, that was their purpose. As it was the purpose of everyone in shared a locker-room. The moment that notion gets ignored or distorted, a wrestler’s purpose loses meaning, and all your left with is a talented guy that is continued to not be utilized properly. Because if they were utilized properly, those moments would mean a hell of a lot more.
To finish here I have a few questions, for you the reader.
What do you think?
Why don’t you tell me what you think?
Or do you have a question in mind?!
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, find my new Twitter profile @danielajbarker1 or track my Facebook page @danielajbarker.
Until we meet again next week, take care.
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Creator of ZWrestleTalk. This page I give you my thoughts on the current state of the WWE product. I look back at the history of WWE. Sometimes even predict the future. If your lucky you get comedic articles too.