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No More Attitude Era

Hi Scott,

In a recent interview, Wade Barrett talked about how when the Attitude Era was going on in WWF it lost fans and the "product now is much better in that way because everyone from the kids to the adults to their grandfathers and grandmothers can watch the show".  He also went on to say that WWE won't go back to the Attitude Era again, I'm assuming because having Lana come out in pasties would alienate anyone under the age of 11. Reading this left me kind of irked, so here are my questions to you:

1. Has WWE forgotten how much money they made during that time? I'm assuming this is just Soviet Revisionism at its finest here.

2. Do you see WWE going to a more "attitude" phase at all? Like when they start losing the current audience (ie revenue) they have?

3. Is it wrong that the statements made feel like an insult on the time when I enjoyed this company? I started in 2000 and loved WWF, it got me back into wrestling. I feel like the current regime is telling me that I was wrong for liking that period.

Sorry for going on a bit. Thanks for reading!

Here's the interview in question: http://www.dnaindia.com/sport/interview-exclusive-interview-wwe-superstar-bad-news-barrett-speaks-about-the-nexus-john-cena-wwe-2k15-attitude-era-and-more-2019904

Wes

​1. They made a lot of money, but ultimately lost a LOT of sponsors.  Like once the PTC bullshit came down there were a ton of mainstream advertisers that would no longer touch them with a ten-foot pole.  Switching to PG was an act of self-preservation as much as anything.

2.  Doubtful.  The toothpaste is out of that tube for good and now they have to micromanage that kind of thing for the investors.  I just can't see them throwing away all their kid-friendly sponsorships for some boobs and blood.  

3.  That period was great because there were well-written characters with clear motivations and storylines that made sense.  I honestly couldn't care less if I ever saw another broken table or bladejob in WWE again.  People vastly overrate the impact of TV-14, as Russo proved when he went to TNA and shockingly didn't turn around the product by having thumbtacks on every episode.  ​

Comments

  1. Stranger in the AlpsOctober 16, 2014 at 7:12 PM

    For $9.99, you can watch the Attitude Era (or at least some portions of it) all over again. Relive it, rewind it, relive it again.


    PG forever, baby.

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  2. Scott hit the nail on the head. TV PG is not the problem. The problem is storylines that are pointless and illogical and the same matches over and over again for no reason. With the right booking you can have excellent PG programming that still appeals to adults.


    TV 14 might make crappy wrestling shows a little more tolerable, but they won't make them good.

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  3. NXT should prove compelling wrestling doesn't require an adult rating.

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  4. Doesn't Pixar prove that "WWE sucks because it's PG" is bullshit? Like scott said, it's about good, compelling stories. WWE is actually in the same boat of stupidity where PG = midgets and contrived "fun"

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  5. Bladejobs have their place every so often. Austin's blood loss was a necessary part of the story at WrestleMania XIII.

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  6. Wrestling needs kids, so PG is a must. What isn't a must is dumb kiddie crap.

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  7. It's honestly refreshing to come here after spending time in the drudgery of other wrestling discussion forums. So many idiots believe that blood and boobs would make the product better. It won't. As Scott said, that's not what made the product so entertaining and compelling. One could argue some of the best moments from the Attitude Era could easily have been done in a PG setting, too. Austin/Foley's match with Vince changing the rules, for example.


    Either way, I'm glad that you guys get it. It's part of why I keep coming back here.

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  8. It's funny that WWE can't get top tier sponsors when they have violent or sexual content yet I'm watching Freak Show which is insanely violent and disturbing but gets all kinds of top sponsors cause prestige?

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  9. Is 2000 even part of the Attitude Era? Russo was gone by that point, and their product, while still violent, bloody, and somewhat pushing the envelope, seemed more tone down, with- as Scott said, a clearer focus on characters and storylines.

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  10. Freak Show doesn't air on prime time. Or arguably caters to kids.

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  11. Also, to add to the original answer, the money they made was because of lightning-in-a-bottle stars that would have generated just as much money today (assuming the overall booking stayed the same) because where the WWE made money during the Attitude Era was the main event. The stuff people think of when they think of the AE (boobs and blood) was more or less completely divorced from the main event scene (with a few exceptions, and those weren't massive revenue generators).

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  12. WRASSLIN' has a stigma.

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  13. An adult product need not be filled with expletives, blood, and boobs. But it sure would be nice for viewership to be TREATED like adults once in awhile.

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  14. I consider the Attitude Era to have ended with the Austin heel turn at WM X-7. Sort of like how the Turf-and-Steal Era of baseball ended with Joe Carter's knock in '93.

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  15. We are pretty awesome.

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  16. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomeryOctober 16, 2014 at 7:57 PM

    Also, the AE and wrestling in general was the right product at the right time. It perfectly tapped into the late-90s zeitgeist of rebellion and anti-authority the way The Matrix, South Park, Office Space, and a bunch of other things in culture really tapped into that generation. But by the time we got to 2003-2006 and they were still doing things like Katie Vick or HHH and Candice getting oral sex under a picnic table, it was embarrassing how passe the old "edgy" thing still was, it was worse than the "cool-dad" thing they do now.


    Also, Scott's absolutely right about the sponsors. The WWE was absolute toxic as a company from 2006-2007 between the double whammy of the SI steroid investigation that outed a lot of prominent names and of course the Benoit murder-suicide of his family. The mass media had a field day painting the company as a crass, misogynistic carny show and had about 10 years worth of AE footage to drive it home, and they were really hard up for mainstream sponsors at a time where they were already on the way to bleeding money. We can rail about what the PG direction does to the product, but the fact they can get mainstream names to be involved with the company, either through charity or on the show, and have it be a positive thing in the public eye, on top of having family-friendly sponsors again to drive merch and revenue, has definitely restored the reputation of the WWE among the masses, and that's important.


    And honestly, the T&A and blading and whatnot isn't needed to make the product good; book guys like stars people would pay to see and focus back on the in-ring product instead of endless corporate shilling and you can pack the house again. But honestly, I'm glad we're past the AE stuff; it was a good time, but that time has passed.

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  17. Yes on prestige and being trendy. Remember that rumor that AMC was going to buy out the WWE? I'd bet if that happened, several other major networks would be looking at wrestling in a different light (potentially translating into better TV deals for TNA and GFW even).

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  18. Not sure what demographic Wade wants to put me in. I've tried but I simply can not watch the show

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  19. Like a lot of things in life, I think in moderation (or even in very limited amounts) blood is still a very useful storytelling device for the most heated/shocking situations. I've said it before, I wouldn't even care if they brought back the FAKE BLOOD CAPSULE OF DEATH. It seems like we went from one extreme to the other and it doesn't have to be that way. I don't care as much about boobs because you can go a million other places to find that, but I actually do miss blood in appropriate moments (cage matches/HITC/EC, head hitting ring post, etc)

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  20. Want proof TV PG can work? The nWo was TV PG. At WCW's absolute peak of popularity, they didn't rely heavily on blood and boobs in order to sell their product. They relied heavily on a fantastic (at first) story that got people's attention without cursing or people flipping others off. They also had some spectacular wrestling to boot. When WCW *did* go down the trashy route, nobody cared.

    Also, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock made The Attitude Era work, not Val Venis and The Godfather.

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  21. For me the Attitude Era runs from roughly Survivor Series 96 to Wrestlemania X-7.

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  22. Exactly. The WWF midcard wasn't exactly awe-inspiring until Jericho, Angle, and the Radicalz showed up. Road Dogg IC champ at Wrestlemania XV, anyone?

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  23. The Attitude Era was so overrated. People ignore the fact that it had a LOT of crap buried in with the good. The main reason it was successful is because you just happened to have two of the biggest stars in wrestling history come up at the same time and more importantly people could get behind their favorite guy week to week. No one ever got inexplicably buried. Guys gradually moved up the ranks as their popularity increased. Why would anyone watch today's product week to week when guys like Dolph Ziggler are main eventers today and job guys tomorrow? There's no logical progression here. Would you read a comic where Batman beats Bane then in the next issue loses to a knife wielding thug? No. Because its stupid.

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  24. "That period was great because there were well-written characters with clear motivations and storylines that made sense. "

    Why was it that way then and not know?

    I've put some thought into this and can't figure it out. Unless Russo lost his mind, it wasn't him. Cornette? Bruce Prichard? Jim Ross? What is the difference between then and now? Is it really just the lack of competition?

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  25. I don't think there was quite the writing staff like now it was more old school booking.

    And Chris Kreski

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  26. More importantly, the brand is now truly global. The U.S. may still be WWE's biggest market, but they need to be able to air in markets that would never tolerate HLA.

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  27. It's not the rating, it's the content. Austin and Bret's late 96 rivalry was done under a PG rating, but was some of the best television I have ever seen.

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  28. I wouldn't call the Attitude Era overrated, it was more that the good stuff was REALLY good, and that tended to drown out the bad stuff overall. And to me, the early Attitude era (late 96 through Wrestlemania 14), the shows on average felt grittier and chaotic, like you would REALLY miss stuff if you missed an episode, plus the main event scene was top notch. 2000-2001 Attitude Era was more about great workrate with great stars and they seemed more polished and produced.


    For me today, maybe because I'm jaded, maybe because I've watched wrestling too long, but more I think because the shows are just SO overproduced, it's hard to generate that organic excitement from show to show.

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  29. Oh yeah.
    Whereas in 1998, you'd get "GOOD GOD KING THATS SHAWN MICHAELS! We haven't see him in months!"

    Today you'd get, "WAIT A MINUTE, that's KEVIN NASH, 7 foot, 300 pounds, who as 'Diesel' had one of the longest title reigns on the longest running, weekly episodic show."

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  30. Very true, but I think about it this way, we all know their WM 13 classic, a match like that would not take place in today's WWE and I find that extremely sad. Do I want blood on the show every week? Nope, but for certain/special situations as a storytelling device, blood is a very useful tool.

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  31. Be fair. We'd really just get randy Orton, Kane and if they feel edgy - maybe the big show too...

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  32. That's the one example where it made a big difference. But generally good booking can easily overcome it. If done right, and let's say they used time lists effectively, couldn't they have maybe pulled off a similar impact with him in the ss and refusing to give up until time expired or the he just fainted? Worked with the hennig bockwickle match and when hart/hbk lifted that finish for their match a wm.

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  33. I’m strongly reminded of how comic books took the wrong lesson from the success of Watchmen, Arkham Asylum and The Dark Knight Returns / Year One in the mid to late 80s. Instead of saying “Wow! Our readers are loving thoughtful, adult consideration of themes that have been
    present in superhero comics!”, they said “Wow! Adult stuff rocks! Let’s put more rape / death / blood / dismemberment into our books!”
    And thus was bought the grim n' gritty era.
    It is similiar to how DC / Warner Bros are assuming the Batman aesthetic can be carried on to every other superhero (Man of Steel, anyone?) rather than considering each movie separately. Look at Marvel, Captain America and Iron Man have completely different characters and motivations. Looking forward to how 'Civil War' gets treated.

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  34. Then, now, forever

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  35. There was a ton of garbage but the Attitude era was awesome because it made SENSE. Austin vs. McMahon was compelling because McMahon KNEW Austin was a money machine, but wasn't the traditional #1 guy he usually had and tried to change him, but Austin wouldn't never change what made him successful. Rock vs. HHH was compelling because both guys had risen through the ranks at the same time and were two sides of the same coin who both wanted to be #1.

    The worst thing about Cena is he makes no sense. How can he portray himself as the ultimate company man but at the same be anti-Authority? Why does the Authority hate Cena anyway if he says time and time again he'll do anything for the company? Why is Lesnar the perfect champion if he takes months off and on kayfabe record saying doesn't give a shit about wrestling unless he's getting paid?

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  36. That's possible, but sometimes you just need the visceral reaction of seeing blood putting a wrestler in a heap of trouble. You might have been able to pull off that feat w/o the blood, but having the blood there made it even more dramatic and really helped to sell the situation.

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  37. On the surface it's oversimplification, but dig a bit and the answer is simple: "Professional Wrestling"became "Sports Entertainment."

    Professional Wrestling was a sport. A wrestler went into the ring to compete against another. The one who won the match got paid more. The best wrestler was named champion and got paid the most. Against that backdrop you had personalities clashing, people cheating to win, colorful personas used to draw attention, good guys who loved to compete, and bad guys who were sociopaths who liked to hurt people. Mat based or aerial, technical or hardcore, it all operated within a framework of logic as to why the wrestlers were there. People connected to this. They picked their favorites. They believed.

    Sports Entertainment is a show. A variety show. Comedy. Action. Bad acting. Social commentary. Social media. Parody. Actors playing roles, doing stunts, in what they occasionally refer to as matches. Who wins or loses never matters because each match is just part of a larger story. The framework of logic is warped. People are there because they were written to be there. People rarely connect with it, they merely observe, sometimes entertained, sometimes not. Favorites are picked, but quickly tired of due to overexposure. People no longer believe.

    Professional Wrestling is violence. Sports Entertainment is action present by a corporate entity in a corporate environment in which violence is frowned upon.

    The Attitude Era is looked upon with nostalgia, just as the Hulkamania Era is, or the peak of the NWA and southern wrestling, or the birth of hardcore & ECW, and any other time or place in which wrestling had a distinct look & feel. The WWF grabbed the brass ring of family entertainment, watered itself down, fully morphed into Sports Entertainment, and has remained this stale, unchanging thing for more than a decade that delights children, yet mostly frustrates everyone else who yearns for something more interesting (or remembers such a time when it used to be).

    People just want to believe. Time and again WWE gives them no reason to.

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  38. The Attitude Era was 15 years ago.

    It's time to just let it go.

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  39. Well said.


    I don't need the "Ho Train" or HLA or Bikini Contests, or Choppy Choppy My Pee, I just want to see believable/relatable characters with storylines that makes sense that sometimes 2 guys hate each other so much, they might go "overboard" to get their revenge. I don't think it's that hard to do that, but apparently it is these days.

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  40. True, I don't need the over the top raunchyness of the Attitude Era, what I WOULD like back atmosphere of those shows, that would be a hell of a lot more interesting than what we have today.

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  41. Fuck you the attitude era made sense. Did we ever figure out who raised the briefcase at KotR? It why Vince would crucify his own daughter, except because it was a swerve? Or Chyna turning twice in one WM? The Attitude Era means Russo, which means no it did not make sense most of the time.

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  42. Wow, best post in awhile

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  43. Well they're still trotting out Kane, big show and mark Henry so they're giving us something from an era that peaked 15 yrs ago

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  44. The more I look back on '97, the more I think Cornette and the old-school wrestling guys did a great job of keeping Russo's wackier ideas in check. Granted, Jimbo likes to take credit for a lot of things, but it was he (and presumably Ross and others) who kept Undertaker and Kane apart for months and months, when Russo wanted them to attack each other every week. That turned what could have been Wrestlecrap material into a storyline that engrossed people and ended up creating a winning gimmick.

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  45. Bossman raised the briefcase at KOTR. '99.

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  46. '97 WWF was basically TV-PG, too. But both companies treated their FANS like actual adults. And while it was PG-rated, there was intensity about things, an element of danger and potential chaos, of unpredictability that's sorely lacking in the product today. There were actually a lot of southern wrasslin' elements to both companies, but ramped up to 11.

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  47. That image of Austin with the blood running right down his face is iconic for a reason. I don't think him simply passing out would've done it justice. Maybe in another time, such as the current era. But back when everything was trending to more hardcore and lots of blood, no way.

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  48. It was awesome but they could improve the prodcut dramatically without doing a single thing that would make the program "edgier"

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  49. Not entirely fair, because Dogg was HUGELY over. The Attitude Era is now what Derek Jeter was in 2006 - the saturation of opinions that he was overrated made him underrated. People like Val, Godfather, Dogg, even Steve Blackmon, got pops that would be out of the ordinary in 2014.

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  50. Really? That's kind of a let down...

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  51. WWE going public, answer to stakeholders & generally turning into WCW (1999, post bischoff) is what makes it bland and boring.

    IDK what's so hard about giving midcarders storylines.

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  52. If blood and vulgarity was really the answer to WWE's supposed woes, then why hasn't CZW gotten a TV deal by now?

    The fact of the matter is, they just need to have compelling characters and good matches.

    The monkeys at the writing team and production truck (Reference courtesy of Chris Jericho's 3rd book, available now) think that writing wrestling is the hardest thing in the world to do but Scott D'Amore's successful run booking TNA proved that it's actually insanely easy: Just book good workers with strong characters against each other and the people will follow. It's as simple as that.

    You don't need blood or boobs or foul language or social media or bathroom jokes or reality show rejects to accomplish that.

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  53. The attitude era really doesn't hold up all that well for me. The rise of Austin and the tail end with Angle and Benoit are still great but DX, early Rock, Sexual Chocolate, Taker vs Kane, and the 24/7 hardcore title are things I don't need to ever live through again. Now 87-88 and 92 are different but to each their own.

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  54. At least Vince doing that to Steph was followed up on with her turning on him and marrying Triple H. But yeah the why he did that was never really explained.

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  55. Hopefully the lesson is learned from Avengers and Flash that people want fun just as much.

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  56. He did it to get the title back from Austin. He needed undertAkers help

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  57. I've said this before but it's amazing watching Attitude Era shows on the Network and compare them to current Raws...and it has little to do with blood or bra & panties matches.

    EVERYONE is over. The crowd seems into everything that everyone does. They pan the crowd and EVERYONE has signs and far fewer obvious plants among those signs. Until Austin sold them on the "What!" chant (or, perhaps, Angle's "You Suck" chants)...the crowd isn't as interested in putting themselves over the product...they just seem to want to play along with what their favorite wrestlers are doing.

    EVERYONE has music that is instantly recognizable. EVERYONE has a catch phrase or a routine that everyone in the audience knows and loves chanting along with...

    EVERYONE seems so strong on the mic...and the promos, especially those with antagonists interacting with each other, really seem to matter.

    EVERYONE is a threat! Monsters, cool heels, high flyers, comedy goofs, women...they all seem capable of delivering violence and executing winning moves in the ring. Nobody seems to be getting buried or jobbed out too frequently...and yet, you can tell when someone is being built up, too--there's no 50/50 booking. (Not sure how they managed this.)

    ...and the announcers are calling the action as it happens in the ring...and bringing up important points to sell larger storylines. And other than Lawler's puppies fetish, the announcers aren't putting themselves over constantly...nor are they shilling for things that aren't vital to what's happening on the show.

    Can any of this be replicated? Well...you'd need the luck of having capable ring performers who are also insanely charismatic and strong on the mic. You'd need the ability to craft characters that feel distinct and real to the performers. You'd need the trust to let the announcers do the job of being announcers--get out of their ears! You'd need to trust the talent to deliver promos in their characters without forcing them to pretend to be actors who have memorized lines.

    And audiences have to be compelled into caring about the wrestlers and the storylines...more than being living trolls willing to ruin good things just to be contrary. (And I think that's as much on WWE Creative not giving them things worth buying into as much as it is the current culture that is all about promoting one's own whims over anything else. AND GET OFF MY LAWN YOU CRAZY KIDS WITH YOUR DUNGAREE AND YOUR DEVIL ROCK AND ROLL!)

    I keep saying...I don't think it's as hard as the WWE is making it seem like it is.

    The first thing I would do...would be to force every single wrestler on the roster to do a simple, black and white, stare at the camera, three minute promo...where they tell the fans who they are, what they do, what they want, how they're going to get it and what they'll do to people who stand in their way.

    And if they can't do that, in character, with any sense of style or drama...then they're not fit to be on the main roster.

    And then, you run those...in random order...constantly...on the Network. As filler between shows...as ads during shows...

    And then, you get creative to give those wrestlers opportunities to prove everything they just claimed in those promos. To give them the tools necessary to get themselves over...from music, entrances, props, costumes...partners...managers/valets... And give them stories to tell, based on their characters...and their characters' desires... Stories that make sense...stories that make us want to see what happens.

    Do that...and I'll watch your shows, I'll buy your DVDs, I'll wear your shirts...I'll patronize your advertisers...

    Fail to do that...and I'll just keep watching NXT until you ruin that, too.

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  58. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomeryOctober 17, 2014 at 1:24 AM

    That's the thing, WWE doesn't really "book" anymore, it's a clusterfuck of hack sitcom writers trying to cobble a show together, cohesion be damned.

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  59. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomeryOctober 17, 2014 at 1:25 AM

    They only want to focus on guys who can draw, except that they only focus on making Cena look strong, thus, he's the only draw at the moment with Bryan and Punk in abeyance.

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  60. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomeryOctober 17, 2014 at 1:26 AM

    GOTG out-grossing Man of Steel is a big fucking hint for execs to take.

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  61. "...because of lightning-in-a-bottle stars that would have generated just as much money today..."

    But they've proven that they can't (or won't) take a chance on a guy who is getting over on his own (with the Bryan exception). The pop that Cesaro got after throwing out Big Show like a rag doll at WM, along with his OUTSTANDING match leading up to WM against Cena, should have signalled the dawn of a new super-over power face. Instead, because that wasnt who they wanted to push, he was forgotten about.

    Nowadays, they would take SCSA and turn him into heel ice dagger because getting him over "wasn't in the original plans."

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  62. A lot like Hulk Hogan in WCW when he went back to the red & yellow

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  63. Excellent post. The ridiculously hot crowds during the epoch were far more integral to my enjoyment of the product than unprotected chairshots or titillation. It really made characters at every level of the roster matter, whether they were main eventing or not. That so many people cared about wrestler a or b made you care about them; they made matches seem 10x more exciting than they actually were, and a match's result seem meaningful irrespective of who was involved and what the outcome was. If you watch Rock/Trips at Backlash, one of the things that makes that bout so fucking rewatchable is how much the crowd are invested in a Rock victory. There is not a single person in that crowd that doesn't want HHH's rear end kicked comprehensively. When he actually pins him, people are hugging each other and going absolutely wild - like an actual sporting event.


    I mean yeah, there were some absolutely dreadful storylines, angles, characters and booking decisions...but there was a lot to like.

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  64. Here's one reason why the PG Era makes no sense in this day and age: Ever since The Sopranos, the finer television shows have only gotten more intense, violent and realistic. They're considered entertainment and so is WWE, but one set of the example is for adults and makes a lot of money, and another set of the example is primarily for children and isn't making as much money as they used to (domestically, anyway).

    As much as Vince tries to keep the product relevant... he sure does do the opposite sometimes.

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  65. And don't forget: a tv show from 9 to 11 pm isn't aimed for kids in the first place. And clearly not a show where guys (pretend) to beat the hell out of each other. Or would you rate UFC PG? But why wrestling?

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  66. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomeryOctober 17, 2014 at 3:15 AM

    It wouldn't get respect even if it got more violent and adult. The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, et al are perceived as legitimate drama, backed by outstanding writing and performances, and WWE will always carry the stigma of being a fake sport that will never carry legitimate weight as entertainment, and no one will ever confuse a WWE Superstar with Bryan Cranston and James Gandolfini. WWE was also still very much a TV-14 product on the RAW end through 2007, and they pretty much lost all their mainstream appeal and show quality with the adult content anyway

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  67. I'm not saying it can't be a poorly written show if it's adult, but when the company distances itself even further away from the current crop of good television and UFC, they completely lose me on the reasons why.


    You're right, it comes down to the actual quality, but the PG shit is definitely another barricade from getting back to it. Again with The Sopranos, but let's say that was on regular television and the network turned the gangster angle into a winkwinknudgenudge kind of a joke, where Tony would tell Carmella "hey, don't make me whack you!" and would take a Modern Family-esque glance at the camera; I don't care how well the show's written, but that show is doomed to fail and Gandolfini ain't winning any Emmy Awards.


    It's gotta be presented... I don't know how to put it because "legitimately" definitely isn't the word... maybe "seriously"... but it's gotta be done that way. In the last ten years fucking comic book movies have been gigantic and it's because they've (some of them) actually been written well and have great casts. Even when the Attitude Era had preposterous angles between two guys feuding, it was presented like "well that's what's happening, and that's that" and you didn't have this air of "well we're kinda paying attention to what's happening, but we're rambling on about something else" that the commentary team puts out. And then there's ad breaks in the middle of ten minute matches. They're not taking it very seriously.

    Also, when you go PG... well you're pretending that the guys are actually trying to beat the snot out of each other, so that kind of defeats the purpose. At the very least, wrestlers can compete with martial artists and boxers because they can demonstrate their athleticism and physical dexterity through telling a story, but the point of that is sullied when it's portrayed as a parade in the hopes of selling t-shirts to children... and children and teens were buying shirts when the product was edgy anyway.

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  68. Half of the audience were gone already in 2002, but it will not help gaining new fans, if the shows are aimed at kids which aren't old enough to stay up until 11pm on mondays...

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  69. I didn't think it mattered. Vince ran the company (I think, at that time, there were so many ownership angles) so he just got *someone* to do it. I know WCW fans at the time compared it to the Hummer angle, but WWE never made it a storyline issue.

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  70. The finer television shows, on the whole, do tend to be aimed at a very specifically adult audience, though. This is why they can be darker and more intense.

    If you're letting your 5 year old kid watch The Sopranos or Game of Thrones, then you're doing parenting wrong ;)

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  71. Perhaps letting the writers write the shows without having everything overruled at the last second would improve the product. They could then start doing some slow-build stuff, making people relevant, etc, without the overarching fear that all their good work will be undone in a moment when Vince glances at the script and says "I don't like that guy, he's weird looking. Put him in a clown suit and have him make fart noises."

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  72. Just mentioning Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Nickelodeon makes me sick.

    Yeah, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad isn't aimed at kids. Okay, so why does stupid Raw end at 11:00 PM or some shit? Some adults can't even stay up that late!

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  73. Russo didn't ALWAYS use thumb tacks. Don't forget the handcuffs. He used handcuffs almost exclusively (who was that Knockout that wrestled a match with both hands cuffed behind her back? And they used that as a start to the hour opposing RAW?)

    There was one episode of Impact where it seemed like every other wrestler was using cuffs or chains or that other foolishness. That more than anything gave Russo away (aside from the "Yeah, I'm working for TNA, sshh, don't tell anyone" email from the Unibrowed Wonder).

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  74. Trust me - the TMNT show is great. The best televised one yet, imo. The S2 finale was dark as all hell and absolutely brilliant.

    I agree with you on the scheduling times for the shows - as someone who lives in the UK, it's even worse for me - it's on from 1am til 4am! I also hate the Sunday Night PPV scheduling, when a Saturday night would mean I could actually watch it live without having to take a day off work the next day. :p

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  75. It's interesting that you mention comic book movies, as one of the biggest and best of the lot was the decidedly PG-in-feel GotG, and the one everyone half-expected to flop like hell.

    It shows that, with a bit of smarts, being kiddie-friendly doesn't have to mean dumbed-down or stupid.

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  76. One thing to add - the commentary was so much better back then it's not even funny.

    The commentators would - shock horror - actually call the match in front of them. They'd put even the most jobbery of midcarders over in commentary, even if they were getting their ass kicked week-in, week-out.

    Nowadays - why are we supposed to care about, for example, Heath Slater if the commentary team barely talk about him during his match and act like he's a joke figure in the few instances they do?

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  77. I loved the 24/7 HC Title rule. It resulted in some of the best comedy the fed's ever done (like when some random passer-by would spot their chance and grab a ref, despite not even being a "wrestler" per se) and was a great way to fill time when they needed to without it feeling like complete filler.

    It also gave any guy on the roster who wasn't doing anything the chance to stay in the public eye, even if just by being involved in one of the segments.



    It was a lot of fun. Sheer lunacy at its best and entertaining sillyness at worst.

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  78. The stip was no one from the Corporation could interefere in the ladder match. On Raw before KOTR, Boss Man was fired from the Corporation, but rehired on the following episode of Raw.

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  79. Maybe we could stop calling it the Attitude Era and start calling it the Stronger Characters and Passably Reasonable Reasons For Motivation Era. Then when the discussion, as it does on a regular occasion, turns to how things are so different now, we can talk about the best part of that era.

    I honestly started writing this to be ironic or a tad funny, but I think I convinced myself. Weird.

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  80. You did good.

    *holds shoulder*

    ...You did good.

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  81. Heh. I done good?

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  82. That Guardians thing... I didn't watch it and I don't know anybody personally who did, but the fanbase seems to be comprised of a) comic book people b) the kidz~! and c) regular moviegoers who will watch anything with some heat. I think that sounds about right, right?

    I'm sure the movie is good. In general, I'm anti-that sort of thing, so I avoid it like the plague. That genre certainly isn't anti-wrestling though, and vice versa, that's for sure, but when you whittle wrestling down to what it is, it's a portrayed form of violence. That's just what it is. Even the good guys can't avoid inherently violent acts. So when the commentary team babbles on to the viewing audience and ignores what is supposed to be Glorious, Exciting Violent Action - all in the name of maintaining PG status and making the show "entertainment, not wrestling"-oriented, it's like cutting off the nose to spite the face.

    Ultimately, if the show truly lived up to being family friendly - which wrestling never truly was even if it masqueraded as such - then there'd be only talking and no fighting.

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  83. If they are this commited to being PG, cage matches, especially HIAC needs to be done awat with.

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  84. Yeah, because it's true. Instead of a mere roster of wrestlers whose character traits are interchangeable depending on the current situation, you had guys who had their own characters - set, defined characters that could transcend a "gimmick that could get this guy over" - and if there was a conflict between two guys, regardless of who was at midcard or main event level, they could feasibly get intertwined into a big storyline by means of a simple arc.


    They're doing this sort of thing with Ambrose and Rollins now, which I like... but what the show is missing is like, a dozen other guys that get the same treatment at the same time, which is entirely possible with a three hour show.

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  85. Another thing too is they're so afraid that someone will get so over that they'll transcend the product and therefore not gonna need the WWE as much as much as the WWE needs them (i.e. Austin and Rock).

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  86. "We're trying to steer away from glorifying violence and bloodshed through our product...

    ...However, we will still promote Hell in a Cell, TLC and Elimination Chamber PPVs whose gimmicks are predicated on violence and bloodshed."

    Basically what they're saying is, we're trying to condition the audience to adhere to the idea that wrestling can be just as effective without blood and ultraviolence... but we will certainly promote the most violent aspects to get more buys.

    God, the hypocrisy.

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  87. I get what you're saying here. And definitely it's hard to do anything as visceral as HiaC 1 without blood. But, I'd like to counter that with Hogan/Bossman in the old, totally kid friendly, blue cage. I love that match and the biggest high spot is basically a superplex. Of course, I totally get that we're into two different things in wrestling, so you may not like that match at all. But, I do think you can have blow off, special attraction matches, that will interest people, without gore. Sometimes, if a promotion is willing to get behind the character enough, make the title mean something, the gaga within the match isn't as necessary.

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  88. WWE wants to have its cake and eat it too with the Attitude era. They'll have their current guys talk up how family entertainment is better than the Attitude era SMUT but at the same time use their nostalgia angles/specials and Network/DVD content to show how great of a time it was because the current product sucks.

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  89. Indeed. Whoever captured that shot should've been offered his own island upon retirement

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  90. Mitch, The GodfatherOctober 17, 2014 at 6:41 AM

    The main thing I liked about the Attitude Era was that no matter how stupid the storyline was, at least it seemed like everyone had something to do. I believe the talent as a whole now is better than it was back then but creative has absolutely nothing for the midcard. I know they can come up with something compelling but they're not pulling the trigger whether it be due to Vince or other factors and it's a shame. Take the Miz for example. I recently became a fan of his due to his new gimmick. What was the point of having him win the title at Night of Champions and lose it back the next night? Let him have a long reign with the title, have them turn Sandow face down and the road and let them fight for the title. It's not that hard but the WWE fails to do something of the sort. It gets frustrating when you know they can do a whole lot better, but refuse to do so.

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  91. These days is more like "Then...Now...6 months until my subscription ends"

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  92. It's like the NFL running programs and segments like "NFL's Bone crunching Hits" and "JACKED UP!" and then claiming ignorance in the concussion lawsuits.

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  93. The Love-Matic Grampa!October 17, 2014 at 7:12 AM

    I think they're developing a "LOL what were we thinking?!?" about the Attitude Era, much in the same way they now depict the 1980s and 1990s (which is equally frustrating for those of us who became fans during THAT era). But I will say that in terms of "putting the toothpaste back in the tube", we said the same thing about all the violence, swearing and whatnot way back when. In order words, if WWE thinks they can make more money by bringing back Attitude, they'll find a way.

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  94. The Love-Matic Grampa!October 17, 2014 at 7:17 AM

    Yeah, I think most (not all) of the people who seem to be clamoring for a return of Attitude aren't necessarily talking about blood, swearing and breasts, but for this.

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  95. The Love-Matic Grampa!October 17, 2014 at 7:21 AM

    Vince glances at the script and says "I don't like that guy, he's weird
    looking. Put him in a clown suit and have him make fart noises."


    Rarely does a sentence make me laugh so hard and yet feel terribly sad at the same time.

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  96. The Love-Matic Grampa!October 17, 2014 at 7:32 AM

    The monkeys at the writing team and production truck (reference courtesy
    of Chris Jericho's 3rd book, available now) think that writing
    wrestling is the hardest thing in the world to do but Scott D'Amore's
    successful run booking TNA proved that it's actually insanely easy: Just
    put good workers with strong characters against each other and the
    people will follow. It really is that simple.


    I guess we're supposed to believe that all the other previous successful professional wrestling bookers and promoters were Mensa candidates. I think history will show they were not. The job is "hard" because WWE makes it that way, and unnecessarily so.

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  97. The most overlooked thing, it seems from the discussions we always have about the Attitude Era is the simplest thing: talent. Just like in sports, while coaching (for sports, of course)/booking is super important, it really boils down to talent more often than not. Today's roster could definitely be used better, and the writing could definitely be better. Not a question about that.
    The sex and violence and sophomoric stuff was just window dressing. It was an era that had two of the four biggest wrestling stars ever at their peak in Austin and Rock, with all-timers like Taker, HHH, Foley, Angle, Jericho, Benoit, Edge, Eddie Guerrero, etc. in supporting roles.
    Look at that list again: at various points in the following decade (or, if you're HHH, for most of it), all of those guys would at one point or another be more or less on top of the company. Some of those guys were never more than midcarders until 2003 or later, because by 2000 the Attitude Era probably had the best midcard any company has ever had.

    But did those guys get way better? Were they all of a sudden draws on the level of Rock and Austin? Not really at all. there just wasn't anyone else left or anyone else near that level.
    There's some validity to the argument that with better booking and better talent management/star creation, there are current performers who could reach that level. But even if it's overly reductive, I think the cream tends to rise to the top. If there was someone who could draw like Rock or Austin and be the impetus for another boom period, there probably would have been by now.

    The WWF/WWE/WWWF has seen three boom periods, essentially: Bruno's time, Hogan's time, and Austin/Rock's time. The modern climate is much closer to the norm throughout history than it is a slump.

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  98. I don't know. Rocky Maivia in 96 wasn't a big draw. He should have been a face, but the fans hated him. But they listened to the fans and turnd him heel and then he went over, so over, that he was face but then they turned him heel again and after that he was an even bigger face when he turned really face in 99. What if they stayed with the smiling Rocky Maivia face character, despite the hatred from the fans?

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  99. I think if you look back at the timeline of things, the Attitude Era really stood out because of how boring, silly and cartoonish wrestling had been just a few years earlier. WWF had Doink, Sparky Plugg, T.L. Hopper... WCW had P.N. News, Van Hammer & Johnny B. Badd.

    In hindsight I think Hall & Nash invading WCW felt like such a big deal because it not only tapped into that interpromotional dream match ideal, but it was also two guys shedding their cartoon gimmicks. Then the NWO was this badass group that was a real threat to the status quo.

    WWF responded with blood, swearing, tits, and the most satisfying fantasy booking in history with Austin vs. McMahon.

    Combined it all not only drew back the bored and jaded fans from the 80's who had lost interest, but hooked new younger ones who were seeing seeing something exciting, dangerous--perhaps a bit taboo even.

    Of course once the formulas for success were established (and let's not forget ECW and their contribution of hyper-violence), everything was then repeated over and over, run into the ground, until the thrill wore off. WCW had no end game to the NWO invasion. Vince McMahon spawned a never-ending string of Evil Authority Figure storylines. The spotlight of success forced the blood, swearing & tits to be toned down (killing off ECW as a national promotion in the process). Everything was overexposed, the excitement wore off, and suddenly we were left with one company that couldn't remember how to do the basic things that made wrestling appealing for a century.

    How long has WWE been locked into the illogical framework of the Evil Authority Figure driving storylines? SIXTEEN YEARS. Think about that a moment. For sixteen years everything in WWE has revolved around babyfaces being bedeviled by evil, nasty & corrupt owners, commissioners, and general managers. The heroes rarely win, and if they do another villain instantly takes over. Often the good guys are pawns in battles between authority figures fighting to control the company.

    Simpler than all that, the problem with wrestling is this: Storyline. Everything is overshadowed & dominated by storyline. There's never any logic to what is happening. Why do certain wrestlers appear on TV every week? It's as if they all live together in a fleet of buses and travel from city to city (or in the case of TNA they all live in the bowels of the building they perform in). What would have happened to John Cena & Dean Ambrose this week had they not come out, confronted each other, then the Authority scheduled them in 2 matches? Why were they even there? Were they supposed to wrestle other guys? Would the Authority have been mad if the two of them said "fuck it, they hate us so we quit"...? The framework by which the universe of wrestling exists got twisted and warped back during the Attitude Era, and even though the Era ended, they've never rebuilt the framework. Its that underlying lack of logic that undercuts motivation, and whether fans know it or merely sense it subconsciously, it's what causes them to no longer connect with the wrestlers like they once did. Like I said in another post, it's all about believing. The very underlying framework of modern wrestling makes it impossible to believe.

    Sorry for the long post. Go back to your morning coffee, and have a nice day.

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  100. A lot of that is from the death of the territories. Wrestlers could get seasoning before taking the national stage, and there was a place for them to go back to when their welcome had worn out. Now all the wrestlers are trained in the WWE style. Even when they sign talent with experience, they are run through the WWE machine to conform.

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  101. I think this is overblown to some degree. A lot of their top guys, as you said, came from renowned indie backgrounds and haven't/weren't homogenized to death. Punk, Bryan, Ambrose and Rollins are four of the only new main eventers they've created in the last five years and I don't see any of them as having their unique traits WWE-whitewashed out of them.

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  102. Exactly. A Cell match especially with no blood and nothing bed chairshots to the back is nooo good. Just retire the damn gimmick and do a normal match

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  103. That makes my point about the seasoning. These guys came in with experience, and because they haven't conformed they've stood out and the fans have embraced them. It's ironic that the real rebels in wrestling aren't the ones who oppose the Authority on TV, it's the guys who haven't let the WWE machine wear off their rough edges. The craziest thing is Vince McMahon knows this, and has had huge success with guys established elsewhere (Hogan & Austin just two examples). But then he has his homegrown successes in the Rock & Cena. So after all this time the audience keeps telling him who they want, often an outsider like Punk, Bryan or Ambrose, but Vince's default is to go to the homegrown talent (Reigns).

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  104. Absolutely, which I acknowledged that "booking is super important." The Rock turned heel out of necessity because yes, his original character bombed, but it was at that point that arguably the most charisma a wrestler has ever had shone through.
    Yes, the Ringmaster sucked, but Austin had already shown the talent in the ring in WCW and on the mic in ECW. The pieces were all there. Even when he got the Stone Cold character, not much changed for some time. He did the work.

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  105. None of which has kept the "outside" talent that WWE keeps signing from getting to the top.

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  106. Time is a flat circle - there'll be another 'Attitude' era again.

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  107. The Love-Matic Grampa!October 17, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    Don't apologize. Some of the best stuff I've read here in awhile.

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  108. Staying PG is obviously the safer option, but they could make just as much/more money catering to older audiences. Under 12s are actually their smallest fan base and that's what they've been trying to change... they're just too scared/have no real reason as far as competition to try the alternative

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  109. True, but not for lack of trying on WWE's part to grind their corners off and fit them in. They've all resisted to a degree, held onto their individualities. None of them were brought in straight to the main roster. They all served time in NXT or FCW. And in the case of Bryan it literally took the fanbase hijacking the product to get him pushed to the top.

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  110. That's the key. It's gotta be there inside them, and they have to do the work of bringing it out. That's why the Reigns push has been so rocky. The company has been trying, but Reigns himself hasn't been able to project, to establish his inner personality. Meanwhile Dean Ambrose is more over just by feeling genuine and being spontaneous on the mic. Remains to be seen if WWE is pushing him because they really see that, or if they're just trying to placate the fans and kill time til Reigns & Bryan cone back from injuries.

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  111. the weird and ironic thing about this is that the "attitude era" seems to have been the time period when that concept of "wins don't matter" initially took off: more and more matches were presented as "throwaways" instead of the focus and the main goal of the shows' characters.

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  112. although one could argue that this is the kind of match that wouldn't work the same way today. the Undertaker seems to be one of the few "bulletproof" workers regarding a face reaction - and even he got the duelling chants against CM Punk at WrestleMania.

    I think it's very like that today a strong heel like Triple H would easily get 30% of all the cheers in the audience.

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  113. also: even movies with lesser known characters can "deliver" (from finanical standpoint) if they are great.

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  114. Yeah, I totally see that. My point was more that the reactions to everything were off the charts, though. Almost everyone on the roster induced a passionate reaction of some kind. Even motherfucking Rikishi could make crowds explode when he was a comedy midcarder.

    I used the HHH/Rock example because it was a demonstration of people giving such a fuck about a match that it could upgrade a solid bout to mythical status. Crowds seem to have gotten noticeably hotter of late, but from 09 until mid-11 it seemed like the vast majority in the bleachers didn't give a shit about what was going on.

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  115. the thing I usually post regarding this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1HyaS0Pr5I
    (from 20:50 ff.)

    "here's an interesting character. here's another interesting character. what would happen if these two guys actually had a match. wow, I'm intrigued, I'd like to watch that."

    how wrestling successfully works in a nutshell.

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  116. the "live" aspect of wrestling seems to always result in the shows being judged by other standards than other tv shows.

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  117. but isn't that kind of what happened with Austin and The Rock, too?

    Austin was never "intended" to be a big star either. and Rock was, but got rejected by the fans until he found something that clicked (which is one of those parallels between his career and the one of John Cena).

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  118. if the news about Batista getting the Bond villain role are true, Dave would be the next worker becoming bigger than he ever was in WWE (if he isn't already by just being a part of "Guardians").

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  119. just wanted to add: another huge appeal of the attitude era was the "firsts". of course people got totally excited over weekly tv shows without any jobber squashes back then. because afaik there hadn't been anything like that before.

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  120. Yes, soap opera storyline overtook match results in importance. And that was fine... for a while. The problem is soap operas 1) employ glacially slow story development, and 2) soap operas aren't meant to entice you to spend money on a live event or PPV. WWE was at least smart enough to keep pushing the PPVs as important, and usually delivered good matches. WCW didn't, and once the soap opera got stale, the midcarders jumped ship to the WWF, and the cruiserweights were killed off...

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  121. Yeah, yet WWE just sees two guys that they "made". Austin was able to convince them to let him try something, ditched the Ringmaster gimmick, and busted his ass to get over. A million "Austin 3:16" signs later and the WWF was like "hmm, might be on to something here." Similar with the Rock. But in both cases WWE will say it was just the company getting it right after some fine tuning. The lessons they took from that was John Cena: A wrestler the WWF might just as well have created from scratch in a lab. And they keep trying to build the next John Cena, all the while continuing to sign and find success with guys who cut their teeth outside the system.

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  122. In principle, I get what Wade is saying about "everyone" from grandma to the family dog can watch the PG-style Raw. The part he seems to overlook is that not many of that broad demographic DOES end up watching. The ratings are in the fucking mid-2's, Wade. Just because you try to make a product have "broad appeal" doesn't mean it's appealing to them all

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  123. Agreed. Miz would be the perfect Honky Tonk Man style chickenshit champion.

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  124. I wonder if they ever considered trying two different "levels" of TV rating for the brand split. Keeping one brand (Raw?) the "adult" brand that still does some Attitude Era type stuff and keep SmackDown completely kid-friendly, PG-rated stuff that is all about marketing to the kiddos.

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  125. and even John Cena didn't really get over with his initial "blue chipper" character (one of the many parallels to The Rock).

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  126. To be honest once the blood was gone, so was I. Suspension of disbelief was gone and the matches just didn't have that intensity anymore.

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  127. The wild brawl has a place in wrestling, but they have to be smart about it. Which honestly, is a lot better than Snow and Holly fighting into the Mississippi Rive and all that crap.

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