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Thread: DBC 2 - Boombox: Lessons from History

  1. #1
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    DBC 2 - Boombox: Lessons from History



    Big Show is main eventing WWE's Survivor Series pay-per-view with Randy Orton because there's a renewed effort within WWE to put larger or bigger wrestlers in the spotlight. This is the reason for Show being pushed and why we've seen more of Luke Harper and The Great Khali lately.

    There's a feeling that Daniel Bryan was on top for a few months and WWE's pay-per-view buyrates have been down during that period. The feeling among upper management is that Bryan isn't a larger than life wrestler and that's what fans want. They feel a guy like Bryan should be on the mid-card having great matches.



    Originally reported a few days ago, this news was met with an almost unanimous groan from the IWC. We all want to see guys like Bryan and Punk tear the house down with fast paced, technical wrestling, but is technical wrestling from smaller guys ever going to draw huge numbers? Iím not so sure, so for wisdom I turn to people far more intelligent than myself.


    Only a good-for-nothing is not interested in his past. Ė Sigmund Freud


    We all know that the WWE has experienced two boom periods, the Rock and Wrestling era of the late 80ís and early 90ís, and the Attitude Era of the late 90ís and early 2000ís. Letís take a look at the guys leading the company during those times of prosperity, beginning naturally with the 1980ís.

    I first started watching wrestling around this time, aged 7 in 1989, and was immediately drawn in by these huge muscle stacked warriors. We had the ďroided upĒ main eventers such as Hogan and Warrior; we had the giants like Andre, Big John Stud and Earthquake, huge muscle bound tag teams like the British Bulldogs and the ever imposing Demolition. I didnít watch to see wrestling clinics from Kurt Henning and Randy Savage, no; I watched to see these unbelievable specimens fight the good fight.

    Getting back to the subject of the report, it claims management want smaller guys like Bryan having great matches lower down the card, while the behemoths battle it out in the main event. Sound familiar? People can get romantic about the past, thinking of Savage vs. Steamboat or Perfect vs. Hart and deriding the poor main event matchups. The bottom line is, without those hulking superstars drawing in the crowd for those main events, we probably would never have seen the classics earlier in the card. WWE learned this the hard way.


    We should always be aware that what now lies in the past once lay in the future. Ė F. W. Maitland


    Following steroid scandals, the failings of the Ultimate Warrior, and a traumatic bust up between Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan, the WWE decided to go in a different direction. Instead of jacked up superheroes, the WWE had guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels lead the way in the main event. There were still huge guys, Diesel and Psycho Sid spring to mind, but the locker room was being led by smaller workers who were infinitely more talented than their predecessors. Guess what happened?

    Business dropped off a cliff. It would be naÔve to claim the reason for the drop would be entirely down to smaller guys leading the company, there were many contributing factors. Weekly television shows, generation attitudes shifting and the black cloud of steroid abuse hanging over head are all contributing factors. But that doesnít explain why thousands of viewers changed the channel, to watch the aging muscle freaks that had brought so much success in the WWE a few years earlier, smash it up in another company.

    If Iím honest, I stopped watching when Bret Hart won the WWE title. When he won his first WWE championship, I was ten. To me, he was always the smaller guy having great matches lower down the card. Sound familiar? Maybe I was getting too old for wrestling, but I couldnít suspend my disbelief with Bret Hart. I didnít believe he would beat Warrior, I didnít believe he would beat Yokozuna and I certainly didnít believe he would beat Hogan. I drifted away, as did many others.


    To be ignorant of the past is to remain a child. Ė Cicero


    While I donít want to linger on the point, I think itís important that I give an opinion on the Attitude Era. Personally, I think Vince got lucky. Many have labelled the man a genius, but Iím of the belief that if you throw enough shit against a wall some of it will eventually stick. That said, he listened to his audience and gave them exactly what they wanted, Stone Cold Steve Austin.

    The Attitude era is the most successful period in sports entertainment, so letís take a look at the main event scene of the time. Steve Austin, The Rock, Undertaker, Mankind, Kane and Triple H are all guys over 250 lbs. Iím not suggesting they achieved success because of their body shape, in the case of Mick Foley he managed in spite of it, but in the most part they were still muscle bound giants.

    In an echo of previous successful times, smaller guys were really starting to steal the show on a regular basis. Edge, Christian, the Hardyís and even X-Pac, when sober, tore the house down with fast paced, daredevil wrestling that at times bordered on the reckless. The main events tended to be brawls and very little else. If you look at the main event cast, none are considered technical geniuses. Sure, Kurt angle or Benoit would appear now and again just to freshen things up a bit, but mostly we were treated to nothing more than a fight between two huge sweaty men.


    The victor will never be asked if he told the truth. Ė Adolf Hitler


    History didnít repeat itself just yet. In 2002, Austin and The Rock were finishing up with pro wrestling, the class of OVW were called up to the main roster and finally some of the WCW talent was getting a run at things. The main event was as varied as it had ever been, with smaller guys like Benoit and Guerrero mixing it up with Taker, Kane and Lesnar. However, the source of the quote was deliberate. The overbearing nature of Triple H turned many away, including myself.

    I returned in 2008, much had changed but the size of the main event landscape hadnít. John Cena, Undertaker, Big Show, Triple H and Batista seemed to rule the roost now. Again smaller guys like Edge and Mysterio freshened things up when required, but the giants tended to lead the pack. The WWE had seemed to have reached a plateau, with the ratings holding steady at an acceptable level and PPV buy rates predictable. Everybody relaxed into monotony.


    The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice. Ė Mark Twain


    In recent years, we have seen a shift toward smaller more technical wrestlers. Not wanting to beat a dead horse but does this sound familiar? The undeniable skill and popularity of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, combined with the rise of Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler and The Shield have made watching the in ring product of the WWE a pleasure. These guys have managed to create great matches with lumbering lugs like Ryback and Big Show, half dead geriatrics like Taker and soul-less machines like John Cena. I canít remember a time when the standard in the ring has been as high.

    But

    The buy rates are dropping, the ratings are falling and attendances are beginning to suffer. I hate to say this, but history is repeating itself, and management knows it. Maybe they are right. What if we have gone from the voiceless to the loud minority? Are we, as purist wrestling lovers, poisoning the ability to suspend disbelief for the new generation? My son, while watching the Summerslam main event featuring Daniel Bryan and John Cena, didnít believe for a second that Bryan would come out on top. I tried explaining that Bryan was a technical master, a submission specialist who could beat any man despite his smaller physique. He didnít believe me, claiming that John Cenaís muscles were far too big. When Bryan won, instead of being amazed by this incredible achievement, merely shook his head and lost interest.


    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Ė Santayana


    Wrestling is cyclical and whether or not we want to believe it, John Cena is the modern generationís version of Stone Cold and Hulk Hogan. Would Punk or Bryan take a legacy similar to HBK or Bret Hart, remembered as a workhorse but not quite on the level of the aforementioned megastars? Absolutely. Personally, as long as they are on the card, having great matches, Iím happy. The main event will, as history has shown us, be forgotten.

    The workers will stay with us forever.

  2. #2
    Team Doc Kleckamania's Avatar
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    Danno-

    You threw the curve ball now. I figured you might save it until round two. That's a testament to how good everyone is in this tournament.

    I'd like to say that you suck for being right here. I'd like to believe otherwise, but fans (target audience...not us) like the big guys. 2 nephews and a niece all 8 or younger and their average favorites are; John Cena, Sheamus, Orton, Taker. They can't be bothered with CM Punk or Daniel Bryan, which essentially makes me the heel Uncle. Those favorites aren't isolated picks among kids either. Big guys are larger than life to kids. They see guys as big as Punk and Bryan everywhere. We are not the target audience. I think you did well with this column. I'd be kind of stunned if you don't see round two.

  3. #3
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    Kurt Henning? Super offended at you right now...

    This was a departure from your more recent stuff, but I remember a time something like this was a semi-regular part of your repertoire. Interesting to see you go the straingt route so completely, but you certainly make an interesting point. I can only imagine the havoc this piece would wreak on the MP, seeing as it goes right into the face of what most fans want to believe. I suppose the counterpoint would be that we've seen generally declining ratings and buyrates ever since the Attitude Era ended, and from my admittedly limited knowledge I didn't think the decline had ramped up with the smaller wrestlers on top. The quotes were really well done, but perhaps a bit of factual info to back that up would have strengthened the point? Very thought provoking nevertheless. Maybe the Survivor Series buyrate will give us a clue to what direction they need to go. If you look at the big picture I'm inclined to point my finger in a number of other directions rather than size, but it's interesting to consider.

    Good shit man, nice to see something outside your usual. Best of luck!

  4. #4
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    Danno! You've been pampering us all lately with your incredible and untouchable creativity; this was definitely a curveball. While well crafted overall, I think the grammar issues stand out a little more in a piece like this than they do when we're all being blinded with laughter by your creative columns. It's a small thing to nitpick, especially given the thoughtful and debate-sparking content you've argued nicely, but given that it's in a competition, I think it's fair to say that this doesn't have quite the level of polish that some of your competitors are consistently nailing.

    You do make a great argument, though. It's easy for dedicated fans like ourselves to get wrapped up in what appeals to us and to forget what can draw in the casual fans or new fans. Additionally, I've seen a few overreact to the fact that Daniel Bryan is out of the WWE title picture for the first time in months - jeepers, the workers are still on the card! They're not getting Tyson Kidd'd, at least. Plus...pretty sure Bryan and Punk closed out RAW and SmackDown last week.

  5. #5
    Senior Member JacobWrestledGod's Avatar
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    I have a friend who watch wrestling without much involvment in the wrestling forums (AKA the casual fan.) He was extremely excited for the return of John Cena, because CM Punk and Daniel are "oh so small and boring". His favourite feud now is Big Show vs Randy Orton. ("Cos Big show is good and he is big.")

    I guess there are people who loves big explosions + larger than life action heroes.

  6. #6
    Maker of Rain Sidgwick's Avatar
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    It's almost bizzare to read a straight-laced Danno column, but good on you for showcasing your versatility.

    My first thought reading this was something my mother-in-law said to me during the house show in toon this time last year. Even though Cena, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan were all on the card, she was most impressed with Antonio Cesaro vs. Zack Ryder because they "looked proper", i.e, tall and muscled, and it was easier for her to suspend her disbelief as the most casual of casual fans because they measured up almost equally. She found it difficult to accept a lot of the other matches because of the discrepancy between weights and heights. Unfortunately, there probably is a relationship between those who look the part and casual audience interest.

    Having said that, an ex-fan mate of mine said the reason he tuned out after the Attitude era was because the man tasked with leading the new generation, Brock Lesnar, bored him senseless as a character, so there's a lot to be said for the personality aspect too. Then again, he bemoaned the fact that many modern wrestlers wear "shinpads" so he's not particularly an astute observer.

    My wife's cousins have kids and they all love Sheamus and Cena, and never mention Punk or Bryan. Little marks.

  7. #7
    The Doctor's Orders
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    Very nice. Good topic and well executed. I really like the tidbits you tend to throw in about your kids and their wrestling opinions. That worked very well, here. The subtle reminder that your son is more likely the WWE target market than two Hulkamania era start-ups like us would not be lost on similarly-aged readers.
    LOP Writer since 2004. Former Smackdown, ECW, Raw, and WWE PPV Reviewer. Current LOP Columnist since 2010.

    The Doc's first book: "The Wrestlemania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment" on sale for LOP readers. Click here

  8. #8
    The Devil's Advocate Shinobi's Avatar
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    You have got to tighten up on your proofreading if you're going to win this. I've said the same to Chris, and the fact you two are leading this thing means it's likely going to come down to the guy who sorts his presentation and proofreading out first. There were way too many typos, missed capital letters, iffy punctuation and other minor errors that, on their own, make little impact, but when there are twenty of them in what is a pretty short column, it becomes jarring for the reader. If no-one else will pick up on it, then I will, because now is the time to sort it out. There's loads of good material on the internet about sentence structure and when to use commas, semi-colons, etc. Do yourself a favour and read some of it; it's amazing what 15-20 minutes research can do for your writing (I speak from experience).

    The Kurt Henning thing highlights my point. Check your spellings if you aren't sure. That will upset all kinds of people in the intelligence vacuum that is the main page these days. Don't give them a reason to feel superior to you...

    I really liked the format, and you did something I like to do; get in, make your point, and get out. You tackled a contentious point and made a good, compelling argument for what is being done, and this is exactly the kind of thing I'd like to see on the main page. I like that you left the humour to one side for this one, too. We all know you can do it, so it was a smart move to demonstrate your versatility at this point. Good idea, well executed, but it isn't polished in the way I would want to see in the main page.

  9. #9
    Let's Rock!
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    The Kurt Henning thing was a flub? I honestly thought that was a joke.

    I think what I liked about this the most is that I flat out disagreed with all of it. It really made me want to discuss your points and had me engaged the whole way. Ten years ago, maybe even five years ago I'd have said you have a point, but not now. Ratings have been down regardless of whoever is headlining the show (including Cena, who hasn't exactly moved the needle much at all in the ratings since returning); the only time WWE really draws that well regarding PPV's or TV is during Wrestlemania season and post PPV. There's just not any interest anymore, and that's the key. Sure the 80's were mostly made up of larger than life stars, but that wouldn't have mattered if there weren't good stories to help build them (let's not also forget that the NWA/JCP did quite well using smaller stars as their headliners). Ditto for the 90's; no one would've cared about Stone Cold, the nWo and co. being bigger guys if they had been boring. That's the problem wrestling needs to solve; they need to create something that's actually interesting and actually stick with it. We've seen interesting storylines start over the past few years, but the WWE never finished them off successfully.

    Good read man.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Oliver's Avatar
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    I really, really enjoyed this, Danno - yes, there were errors in there which have been pointed out by others, but I think the main message is not only one that you've supported really well with facts whilst looking at your own wrestling history, but also one that people would react to. There are those amongst us who would crave for a return to 2002-2004, or the 'New Generation' and such (I would probably consider myself one of them) and would love to argue to toss with you on this in the comments section. It's perhaps no surprise that Roman Reigns is being tagged as the breakout star of The Shield given his look, while Rollins and Ambrose will tear it up in the midcard. Not that I think Reigns is bad, in fact I think he's the one who has developed the most since this time last year. Loved that last line in here, by the way.

  11. #11
    Main Pager Maverick's Avatar
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    Like Mizzie, I remember when you used to write straight columns pretty often, and honestly, I always enjoyed them. This was no exception. The quotations were a nice structural touch and your argument was consistent. Like Oli, I'm more a Smackdown Six/New Gen type of guy, in that i like my "workers" and I was like that even as a kid (my faves were Rude, Snake, DiBiase, The Rockers and The Hart Foundation) Worth saying too that even Rock and Austin during Attitude were excellent workers as well as huge personalities. Nevertheless, a lot of kids like their Cena, there's no denying that. Sheamus needs a heel turn in my view, he's awful as a face. I have high hopes for Big E and Roman Reigns. I like their work, because they're not just big guys, they can really go in the ring and their mic work's decent too. I was always a bit of a closet Batista mark, so I don't mind a big guy on top so long as they work hard to have good matches.

    Good stuff here Dan.

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