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Wrestling Complain "Big Yap"

May 22, 2008
Welcome to my big yap where I complain and you read.

Today I will talk about the wwe and the rest of its conglomerate and try to figure out why it went from being a growing organization to flopping on its face. Back in the 90's it was a wow hey look at that. WWF was making hundreds of millions, wrestlers were living off of cocaine and steroids and fun was had by all. The Attitude Era was a time of great prosperity for the WWF, but it was also a time when competition flourished in the professional wrestling industry. WCW and ECW had both risen to national prominence during that time, and at one point WWF, WCW, and ECW all had national television deals. But eventually WCW collapsed under the weight of its own booking, and ECW became buried under a mountain of financial debt. Both companies were bought by Vince McMahon, and for a moment the WWF had a virtual monopoly on North American professional wrestling. WCW and ECW were gone. TNA and ROH were a year away from their creation. The WWF was able to stand back, marvel at its glorious victory, and throw one hell of a part. That party was WrestleMania X-7.

There will always be arguments among fans of professional wrestling over the greatest wrestler, greatest match, and greatest show of all time. That's part of what makes being a fan of professional wrestling so much fun. But it's hard for me to image anyone ever convincing me that WrestleMania X-7 isn't the greatest show of all time. It was an absolutely phenomenal card top-to-bottom, and we can only hope to ever see another WrestleMania with so many great matches. But there were two distinct features of WrestleMania X-7 that also lead me to believe it was the end of the Attitude Era. One of the most important aspects of the Attitude Era was the competition between WWF, WCW, and ECW that lead to such unprecedented creativity and innovation. But by WrestleMania X-7, that competition was gone. You hear it in every match; Paul Heyman, the driving force behind ECW, was doing color commentary in place of the momentary displaced Jerry Lawler. We had seen Paul Heyman and ECW on Raw in the past, but it would have been impossible to imaging Paul Heyman calling WrestleMania so long as there was a hint of life left in ECW. And then, as if Heyman's commentary wasn't enough of a reminder of Vince McMahon's victory, McMahon's purchase of WCW was played out, in fictionalized form, in a match between McMahon and his son Shane. ECW's main man was stuck on the sidelines calling the action, and WCW had become nothing more than a plot device. But the true end of the Attitude Era would come during the closing moments of the show.

In my mind, the Attitude Era is synonymous with the Austin Era. I believe that they began at the same moment, and I believe that they ended at the same moment. The Austin Era was defined by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's rebellious defiance of Vince McMahon. The underlying thread that ran throughout the Austin Era was the feud between Austin and McMahon, and it was the metaphorical battle between the people, as represented by Austin, and the authority, as represented by Vince McMahon, that resonated so deeply with the WWF fans. For three years, Steve Austin had fought Vince McMahon. For three years, Steve Austin has represented the people. For three years, Steve Austin had carried his fans' hopes and dreams with him every time he stepped into the ring. But then, at the end of WrestleMania X-7, the unthinkable happened. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin sold his soul to the Devil and aligned himself with Vince McMahon.

And just like that, the Austin Era was over, and the Attitude Era ended with it. The changes began almost instantly and continued for the next few years. The most obvious change was in Austin's character. The ass-kicking, beer-swilling, bionic redneck soon became a kinder, more loving man, no longer a persona capable of leading a promotion. Austin would walk out on the promotion a year later. The Rock departed for Hollywood soon after WrestleMania X-7. He would return in time for Summerslam, but his sabbaticals would continue to become more frequent and more prolonged as time progressed. WCW and ECW would be used as plot devices for the disastrous Invasion in which many, but certainly not all, of the former WCW and ECW stars would be brought into the company. The roster would eventually be split between Raw and Smackdown, and stars such as Triple H, Kurt Angle, and The Undertaker would lead the company. Shawn Michaels, the Prodigal Son, returned to the company for one night only to finish his career on his terms... but thankfully, "his terms" have spanned the last six years and included too many phenomenal matches to list. But WWE, as the company was now known, faced one major problem. As had occurred after the departure of Hulk Hogan, no new star had truly emerged to fill the void left by Steve Austin. Triple H, Michaels, Angle, and the Undertaker were certainly capable of carrying the company as Michaels and Bret Hart had done a decade earlier, but they were not era-defining stars. WWE would once again have to build the next generation...

The next generation of WWE stars would be brought into the company in 2002. Trained in WWE's Ohio Valley Wrestling developmental territory, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Batista, and John Cena would all debut on WWE television between March and June 2002. Those four men were seemingly destined to usher in the next great era in WWE history, but the identity of the era-defining star amongst them would not be determined for more almost three years. Brock Lesnar was the first to receive a major push and won the WWE Championship from The Rock at Summerslam 2002. Lesnar easily could have been the man to define the next era in WWE history; his given nickname, "The Next Big Thing," presumed as much. But Lesnar never seemed to fit in the business. He headlined WrestleMania XIX along with Kurt Angle, but for many that match is remembered mainly for Lesnar's botched Shooting Star Press. Lesnar would leave the company after WrestleMania XX when he and Goldberg were damn near literally booed out of Madison Square Garden. The search for WWE's next big thing would have to continue.

Randy Orton was the next member of the Class of 2002 to receive a big time title push. He defeated Chris Benoit at SummerSlam 2004 to win the World Heavyweight Championship after having spent the better part of the last year establishing himself as the Legend Killer by defeating such all-time greats as Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley. As the Legend Killer, Randy Orton might have found success as World Heavyweight Champion, but he would never be given that chance. Instead, Orton was forced to turn face the night after his title win, and Orton never seemed comfortable in the role of fan favorite. The fans could never truly rally behind a man who naturally exuded such a cocky egotism, and Orton's tenure as World Heavyweight Champion was an unmitigated failure. He lost the title to Triple H less than a month later. The Class of 2002 was now zero for two.

But all of that would change at WrestleMania 21, and it would change in a big way. There were not one, not two, but three matches at WrestleMania 21 that propelled rising stars to the top of the company and thus ushered in the current era in WWE history. One of those matches was the inaugural Money in the Bank Ladder Match in which Edge cemented himself as a singles star and began a quest that would lead him to win the WWE Championship at New Year's Revolution 2006 (and thanks to those of you who cought my initial error in saying that it was Royal Rumble 2006; I remembered it being in January 2006 and have seemingly managed to forget the days when WWE ran two pay-per-views in January). Edge had been a tag team star during the Attitude Era but had struggled to establish himself as a singles competitor in the years since. However, it was Edge's win in the first Money in the Bank Ladder Match, along with his subsequent feud with Matt Hardy, that transformed him into the Rated R Superstar who has been a fixture in the WWE and World Heavyweight title scenes ever since.

Another important match at WrestleMania 21 saw Batista defeat his former mentor Triple H to win the World Heavyweight Championship. After the demise of Brock Lesnar, it seemed as though Randy Orton and John Cena would be destined to inherit the top spots in the promotion. But Orton's career suffered a major set-back after his ill-advised face turn, and in late 2004 and early 2005 Batista became a phenomenon almost overnight. The WWE fans had seen Triple H beat down challenger after challenger after challenger for years both in the ring and behind the scenes, and those same fans seemed more than eager to embrace a man like Batista who flat out refused to take shit from anyone, Triple H included. Batista's win at WrestleMania 21 elevated the World Heavyweight Championship from Triple H's private ego belt to a second legitimate top tier title within the promotion, and Batista's career has revolved around that title as both challenger and champion for the past three years.

However with all that, that has happened with the WWE over the years, they have tried to make a few changes but had them backfire on them. Now they are trying to sit in thier cozy niche and watch TNA for signs of weakness while they stalemate great storylines and pretty much take away gimmicks from thier superstars until they feel that the threat is over. The matches are getting a bit too predictable with the same thing over and over. If you look at the titles that have changed hands there are only 2 or 3 (most cases 1) people that have really touched a title belt in the last 2 years. Vicky has remained in a wheelchair for a year. Edge still sticks out his chin and pulls his hair at every opportunity. Why shall we sit on our backsides and watch WWE this week when we can wait a month and see the same thing. Its turning into a male soap opera more than we think. Not only are we having poor acting skills (edge pulling his hair and bugging his eyes out when he loses) but no progression in storylines either, and if there is its only a slight change that draws no attention. I say we stop watching WWE altogeather till they realise safer isnt really better. This is Remorce and I am shutting my big yap.
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