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COMMENT





Killing the biz
Stale \'rassling stories force fans to turn televisions off


It\'s been one of those rare quiet weeks in the world of pro-wrestling. There weren\'t any backstage scuffles or drug-related dismissals. None of the shows or pay-per-views were particularly noteworthy. I haven\'t heard anything about upcoming storyline twists or big swerves.

There hasn\'t been any breaking news I could twist into a lead story, so I decided to pen a simple editorial taking a look at the general state of the business.

Business is plummeting faster than Stephanie McMahon\'s credibility so right, from the outset, this is going to be a pretty negative article.

The first approach I wanted to take was to look at the declining ratings (Raw dropped back down to a 3.6 this week) but the ratings angle has been done to death. I don\'t think trudging through the numbers for the millionth time would make for particularly interesting reading.

I thought I could do a piece focusing on the reasons viewers are tuning out in droves but that would be a waste of space. The ratings are down because the product sucks.

As I scrolled through the rest of the potential topics for my rant, I realized it\'s all old news. Triple H is still killing the business by promoting his own interests above the future of the industry. Stephanie still hasn\'t delivered as head writer and should step down so Paul Heyman can take over. Viewers still aren\'t interested in Brian Gewertz\'s brand of juvenile vomit jokes and corny comedy sketches. There is still virtually no new talent being elevated to the top tier.

Does any of this sound vaguely familiar? It should. Not just because they\'re the same problems that have plagued the company for the past two years but because we\'re re-living the dying days of WCW -- mistake by agonising mistake. The politics, the nepotism, the misguided booking, the poor talent development. I would usually mention those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it but I think I already wrote that article, too.

The scary part is it\'s not just insider opinion anymore. The casual fanbase doesn\'t need Dave Meltzer or Wade Keller or even TJ Madigan to tell them WWE isn\'t what it used to be. They figured that out all on their own and they\'re voicing their opinion by clicking their remote controls. Been there, done that.

The live audience at Judgment Day -- the supposed marks who traditionally don\'t know any better --booed the world championship match at the pay-per-view. It shouldn\'t take a rocket scientist to figure out something is horribly wrong when that happens, yet Kevin Nash and Triple H are slated to go at it again in the feature match of next month\'s Bad Blood pay-per-view. The yawn-inducing main events will continue month after month until one thing happens: Vince McMahon has to finally admit he\'s wrong.

It\'s not as unthinkable as it sounds. McMahon admitted he was wrong once before -- back in 1997 when the product was just as stale as it is today. He confessed he was out of touch with what wrestling fans wanted and decided to completely change the dynamic of the business by easing up on kayfabe, dropping the cartoon characters and adopting the crash TV format that would revolutionize the industry. That day signalled the start of the Attitude era, ushering in Stone Cold, DX and the biggest boom period in wrestling history.

Could it happen again? Of course it can. The next Hulkamania, the next Attitude, the next Rock? They\'re out there somewhere, just waiting for the right platform to blast off from. Sadly, that platform can\'t exist until the McMahons (and one Helmsley) stop making excuses and take responsibility for the empire they\'re slowly destroying.

I just hope the wake-up call comes sooner than it came for WCW. I\'m sure it would make great copy but the demise of the world\'s last westling powerhouse is one editorial I don\'t ever want to have to write.