Personally speaking, I agree with this only in-so much that i’m definitely not one of the “IWC Smarks” like the type you speak of. None of the things that you listed that they apparently believe are what I believe. I have always loved the “entertainment” aspect of sports-entertainment more and find fondness for the Attitude Era in particular BECAUSE of everything you listed about the melodrama and the story. And this storyline is one of my favorites for every reason you pointed out everything that worked about it.
I typically don’t follow other wrestling fans or their opinions about these things, nor do I talk much or discuss much or even see much of what the larger community has to say about things, either. I just watched the WWF during this time becuase I liked it and I was massively entertained about all of these things.
Personally speaking, I never cared about those complaint as listed, as they aren’t things I have a problem with, yet I still don’t care for WWE today as much as I do for the Attitude Era and it’s for entirely different reasons.
I find the gritty intensity, the wild freedom, the do-whatever-it-takes mentality, over the top violence, and melodramatic, exaggeratedly person rivalries and the wild, comic-booky nature of the old school WWF to be what I like (almost equating it to some kind of high-octane, sports-entertainment action show full of exaggerated over the top-ness you’d find in something like Dragon Ball Z), and i’ve never been that kind of person who believes that belts and matches, need to be strictly traditional, professional, classy, technical science like a Ring Of Honor or other such promotions do.
During the end of the 90’s and the start of the 00’s, I found WWF and WCW’s style of gritty realism mixed with over the top, bloody, gang-warfare edgyness to be exactly what I wanted to see… Something even reflected in it’s production and design that also captivated me as well… Raw Is War’s heavy metal shredding music opening, the opening with explosions and war zone footage, the set design, the deep, crimson red “RAW IS WAR” logo in it’s blood red militaristic font.
It was the epitome of what a 90’s teen like me felt was the coolest of the cool, and that extended to all the characters at the time, as well as switching over to WCW Nitro and it’s longtime turf war between the WCW and the too-cool-for-school, smarmy, sarcastic, gang mentality rebels dressed in black and riding motorcycles and beating up whoever they wanted or got in their way, and characters like Sting, the dark, brooding, avenging angel of the night like The Crow.
Say what you will about how corny people view that edgy, gritty 90’sness today, but that was my jam during those years, and wrestling as a whole really spoke to me, a guy who was equally enamored with the likes of Public Enemy, Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax, KMFDM, comic books, manga and anime.
But wrestling today really just feels to me, so much more insincere, toned down, restricted, kid-friendly, cheaply packaged, mainstream, and unnervingly over-produced like a glitzy, post-modern reality tv show with no more heart length, that’s already done everything there is to do.
But moreso, my deeper problems other than that admittedly somewhat shallow reason as to why wrestling just isn’t to my tastes anymore (it just not looking and feeling like the kind of thing that holds my interest anymore), also has to do with a tone shift i’ve noticed more of where guys like Stone Cold Steve Austin used to be on top becuase the fans organically choose him as the one they love and WWF wanted to give the fans what they wanted instead of what they don’t. But today, WWE pushes their very forced version of what they shove down people’s throats, like John Cena, and Roman Reigns, and not letting anyone that the fans ARE getting behind like a Daniel Bryan (before injury) or a Cesaro, have anything but their faces smashing the glass celing, while WWE continues to cough out it’s forced, past-it’s-prime, insincerely packaged, half-hearted retreads of “You will take our stale formula that is rotten well past it’s sell-by date, and you will like it because we are WWE and we are a business juggernaught now, and you will like what we do and buy what we tell you to by becuase we’re smarter than you.” ego that WWE today reeks of, along with their forced PR moves of “Anti-bullying” campaigns and extorting money from 10 year olds who are the only audience WWE relies on now to buy whatever WWE tells them to buy, even if it’s a cornball like John Cena, or a hunk of wood with no personality like a Roman Reigns, while everyone that DOES seem over with the fans, struggle to get anywhere when the power holds them down for REAL, just the way they pretended to do for story, like Austin.
My problems with WWE, are a mix of huge disagreements with their corporate strategy, their business strategy, their production not being appealing, and seeming incredibly stale with every half-hearted attempt made to stay relevant just not working for me, because they don’t respect their fanbase or the undercard talent who bust their asses more, deserve more, work harder and get nothing, much to our chagrin.
I feel like in the 90’s and early 00’s, WWF had their fingers firmly on the pulse of what and who their own fans and audiences want to see, and these days, they could care less and constantly tell us to “deal with it, or screw you all. We have kids buying our toys for Christmas, we don’t need you, who made us what we are, anymore”
But when it comes to the typical “IWC complaints”, that you listed, I’ve never cared about any of those things, and I never thought that any of those particular issues with title vacatings, overbooked matches, spotfests, authority figures winning belts, or any of those other things you mentioned were ever a problem. (My personal favorite match of all time is Wrestlemania 17’s TLC II, one of the spottiest spotfests to ever happen).
Because I agree wholeheartedly that all the tings you listed can work then and they can work now. My real problems are a whole other can or worms. I’m not a wrestling purits, or some ROH mark, or some guy who thinks that wrestling itself is a pure sport. I’m a storyline guy who loves to be entertained, but I feel WWE today just isn’t doing that anymore, and isn’t allowing the people that work hardest IN WWE who also want to do these things, aren’t given the chances they deserve, or when they are brought up from NXT to try and shine, most of the time (with only rare exceptions), they don’t.
Maybe it’s just me, but i’ve tried multiple times to just sit back, watch wrestling again and enjoy it since dropping it multiple times since 2008, and not watching for long periods of years, giving it another chance and finding it still utterly fails to click with me again and again.
I don’t necessarily care what the IWC thinks, what their opinions are, and how real of a sport they really think it is or isn’t, but I just know what I like and to me, the only time that wrestling ever spoke to me on a level that I felt it was good was during the Monday Night Wars, the most excited i’d been to watch wrestling and care about it, which just isn’t there anymore for me.
Story is what brought me into wrestling. We were on vacation in Vermont and my Dad was watching wrestling on the TV. (I forget if we were in a cabin or motel at the time.) I saw “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Ordorff betray Hulk Hogan and join Bobby Heenan’s camp, which was often against Hogan and his friends. That’s when I realize there was more to wrestling than something similar to boxing, which I’m still not into.
And of course wrestling in the pre-Attitude 80s has plenty of strange and fun characters like Irwin R. Schister, a wrestling tax attorney, or Koko B. Ware, the “Birdman”. I soon followed to other promotions like the WCW, GWF, ICW (later merging with WCCW to form the IWCCW) and enjoyed them. Of course, this was also the decade of GLOW, which is what ladies wrestling in the WWE devolved into for a time only worse. I used to refer to it as “wrestling for drunk horny guys” and what bothers me is that some of those ladies could have been decent wrestlers in a better promotion.
However, back then the story was a draw to the wrestling. (Except in GLOW where there skits but no actual storylines that I could tell.) They worked in tandem to create great entertainment. Today however the story seems to be the most important, meaning story events and interviews that get drawn into the story are more important than the wrestling instead of working together. And some of the storylines don’t always end well or make little sense.
Every now and then I do see a good match or hints of an interesting storyline, but I’m not sure who to root for since sometimes the bad guys get cheered, especially if they’re going after a face that the IWC hates, like John Cena. I try but I just can’t get into it.