I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve been watching pro wrestling for almost 30 years now. That’s a lot of wrestling and I’ve been witness to the evolution of wrestling. From Saturday mornings to Monday nights, I’ve seen a lot change and it’s about to change again because the WWE will start airing 3-hours of Monday night wrestling this month. Don’t get me wrong, I love pro wrestling but even I have my limits.
Wrestling has suffered some serious saturation over the past decade ever since us fans were left with only one major company in the WWE. The Monday Night Wars was a high point for wrestling but since then it’s gone downhill a lot…and that’s not just because I was 10 years younger. A lack of decent characters and just poor writing have really hurt things of recent. Okay, I know wrestling was never “good” writing but that should just tell you how weak it has become. Throw on top of that the fact that you can turn on the TV just about any night of the week and see some wrestling, it just wears thin, even for life-long fans like myself. You can never have too much of a good thing, but wrestling isn’t good anymore.
Monday night wrestling used to be an event. It used to come with some excitement, and it wasn’t just because I was a teenager with nothing better to do. Now I can’t even sit through an entire 2-hour show on Monday night, it’s just not as engaging as it once was. The only thing that really keeps me watching are the industry blogs and reports. Pro wrestling is a TV show just like any other with actors, writers, storylines…even injuries and off-the-field drama…and it’s all that stuff that keeps me watching now. Learning about which wrestlers got suspended due to drugs, which ones have died and which guys are coming and going…that’s what keeps things interesting just because I want to see how they handle the change. Unfortunately, as of recent it hasn’t been that interesting at all one way or the other. I like reading and learning about the business of wrestling but it’s too bad that is what has to drive their on-air product.
Pro wrestling isn’t in a great state right now despite what the internet might add to it, so what does the WWE decide to do? Add another hour to their Monday night show. Three hours of wrestling. That’s a lot of wrestling, even for the fans, especially when the product is suffering from the start. If anything, wrestling needs to contract to improve, not expand.
At three hours, Monday Night Raw will now be on as long as just about every pay-per-view event they put on, which is about one a month. So what does that mean for PPVs? One of the things that made PPVs special was you got more wrestling. Pay-per-views also held promises of blood, swearing and other over-the-top spectacle, however since the WWE has gone “PG”, the PPVs have even suffered when it comes to content. The only thing a PPV now offers is the changing of a title belt, but since there are seemingly no less than 12 belts in wrestling these days, they really don’t mean anything anymore. What used to be sacred and valuable (both to wrestlers and the fans) has been rendered pointless.
If I can get all that a PPV has to offer every Monday and save myself $50, why would I buy a PPV? This move to a 3-hour Monday show effectively makes PPVs even more uninteresting than before. But there’s an easy fix for the PPV problem…have less of them. Instead of having sometimes two PPVs a month, have one PPV per quarter. Put some exclusivity back into a PPV and fans like might might bite again. But wait second…I’m getting slightly off topic here. Lets get back to the real problem…Raw.
Monday night wrestling is hard to watch for two hours as it is. Increasing it to three hours is just stupid and will only make things worse. There aren’t enough good characters and not enough interesting stories to tell to fill a three hour time slot. Peter Jackson is able to tell an entire chapter of The Lord of the Rings in three hours, but the WWE isn’t able to cobble together one decent storyline in the same amount of time.
There’s a saying that goes something along the lines that you’ll always fill the time that you’re given. This is why wrestling needs to scale back big time and focus on once again making an entertaining, macho cartoon/soap opera. Keep Raw at two hours but get rid of Smackdown. Return wrestling to the once-weekly show it used to be and it might be able to get back some of the excitement it once had.
I won’t ever give up on wrestling but I’m investing less and less into the product. Yes, I’m over 30 now with a child and a lot of better things to do than watch wrestling (as this article proves) but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to have fun and enjoy some wrestling every now and then…but I’m not sure that’s even possible. It’s easy to say that wrestling isn’t what it used to be. It’s not. It shouldn’t be, but that doesn’t mean I want to see it suck week after week. It seems like the WWE thinks the answer to their problems is more product, more technology and more eye candy, but the real solution is simple, just focus on what made wrestling entertaining in the first place: over-the-top characters, mildly entertaining storylines and a little bit of fancy fighting.