5 Reasons Pro-Wrestling Isn’t Cool Anymore… But Has Never Been Better

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Professional Wrestling has lived through several golden eras up until now. The Rock N’ Wrestling era of the 1980’s saw the birth of Hulkamania, the rise of the Ultimate Warrior, and implosion of the Mega Powers. Soon Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, The Million Dollar Man, and Junkyard Dog became household names – if only in the mouths of young boys and their cantankerous fathers who watched with the same amount of love for the sports entertainment brainchild of Vince McMahon.

In the late 90’s the Attitude Era found a product that took those same boys who loved the previous era (but fell away from it as most did) and delivered the sex, drugs, and violence the sport had not seen previously. The rise of Ted Turner’s money-turned-ratings-grabbing WCW brand fought tooth-and-nail with McMahon’s WWF. Arenas choked to the gills with rabid fans of the NWO, Degeneration X, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Goldberg, and the Rock. It was a glorious time to be(come) a fan (again).

But as with so many things, trends rise and fall with the tides. When the Attitude Era faded away, what was left was an awkward return to form. WCW was sold to Vince McMahon. The WWF rebranded as the WWE, and became TV-PG. With it, John Cena would arise to be face that runs the place for the next decade – a feat that lasted longer than Hulkamania and the Attitude Era combined. Sadly, the zeitgeist no longer followed suit. The WWE is no longer en vogue with the world as it once was (in spite of what they might say otherwise).

Simply put: Pro-Wrestling isn’t cool anymore… but it’s never been better than it is right now. Here’s 5 reasons why.

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In January of 2018, Chris Jericho – WWE Superstar – faced New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Kenny Omega at their Wrestle Kingdom 12 pay-per-view. While many believe Jericho must have been given Vince McMahon’s blessing to take part in the bout… other internet snarks (me included) believe this may very well be Jericho’s take on the old adage “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than beg for permission.” The match was an instant classic for NJPW, and it would seem afterwards, Jericho has signed on for at least one more bout. Smaller promotions across the globe are now (thanks to the power of the still-free-Internet) seeing the rabid Internet Wrestling Community flock to their smaller shows. New Japan, Ring of Honor, Lucha Underground, Billy Corgan’s newly-acquired NWA, and others are all making waves that the WWE can’t ignore much longer. 

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In tandem with the previous point, the WWE has never been better when their backs have been up against the wall. Simply put, the Attitude Era was as amazing as it was due squarely to the fact that WCW beat the WWF in the ratings. With former WWE Superstar Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks looking to sell out a 10,000 seat arena for an independent show in 2018, Vince McMahon will once again be forced to see that there are products outside his own. This in turn, will mean stronger attention will be paid to the fans of the WWE product, and pro-wrestling writ large will only get better because of it.

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Women’s wrestling in the pro-wrestling ring has always been relegated to a novelty act. In the Attitude Era,  the ladies on the roster were branded divas, and were forced to balance legitimate in-ring work with worthless T n’ A to appease an immature fanbase. Those days are over. Now, the WWE has over two dozen in-ring performers of the finer sex. In addition, in 2017 they launched the inaugural May Young Classic, which saw a field of 32 women compete separately from WWE’s normal programming. The days of novelty are over. Women compete in 5 star barn-burners that deliver a different in-ring product than the men, without ever having to rely on anything short of legitimate athletic prowess to get over.

[/vc_carousel_son][vc_carousel_son img_radius=”12px” titlesize=”44px” fontweight=”bold” image_id=”4727″ img_width=”600″ img_height=”300″ title=”4. There is no single standout talent; there are dozens.”]

When the Rock N’ Wrestling era died, the New Generation arose on the backs of Shawn “The Heartbreak Kid” Michaels and Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Between the two of them, the fans that remained loyal in their love of professional wrestling were given the gift of two of the best workers at the height of their prowess battling (both on screen and off). While neither Michaels nor Hart ever rose to the mass popularity of Stone Cold Steve Austin or Hulk Hogan, any fan worth their salt know that their body of work in the ring leave the Hulkster and the Rattlesnake in the dust.

Today, there simply has never been the amount of top-tier talent to put on classic matches available all at the same time. When the writing behind the scenes is able to catch up to the abilities of the talent in the ring? The end-product will be able to find the balance between the family-friendly competitive sprit of the 80’s with the fire and passion of the 90’s. And the top of the card can be a grab bag of literally anyone including Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, Finn Balor, Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, Adam Cole, Drew McIntyre, and so on and so forth.

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As soon as it becomes passé to like something, the rise of hipterism occurs. Just as we fans of the New Generation up-turned our noses to Atomic Leg Drops and eating our vitamins in lieu of legit Iron Man Matches and the devastating Sharpshooter… so too will fans of this era soon laugh at the back-patting of OVW Class of 2002 (Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Randy Orton, and Dave Bautista). And we all know… once something gains hipster status, the next step will be the reevaluation of mainstream culture.

The cycle will continue, and in the mean time? Pro-Wrestling has never been better. If you smell what the Fish is cookin’. What?

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