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Michael_3165

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I am not a fan of Vince Russo. A lot of what he did in WWF/WCW was either reigned in by McMahon or atrocious. That said I watched a recent episode of Nuclear Heat and he talks about the apparent lack of characters in wrestling today and it's apparent impact on ratings. 

 

He cites the golden age of wrestling - around 1987 with WrestleMania III. Whether it was 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper or Jake The Snake Roberts he argues that every wrestler had a character with their own interests, characteristics and personalities. In this respect it is true. Roberts bought an actual snake to the ring, Hogan talked about being an American hero and taking his special vitamins and Bobby Heenan was the mastermind who took the title off of Hogan. 

 

Nowadays we have the following:

 

'The Lunatic Fringe' Ambrose - what makes him a lunatic? Going off ladders or through tables isn't crazy because every fucker has done it. 

Randy Orton - the guy that is dull as dishwater

Sheamus - the irish guy with stupid hair

Becky Lynch - the irish one

Neville - the small british one

Barrett - the bigger british one

Dolph Ziggler - the 'show off' who doesn't really show off

Rusev - the bulgarian one...

Reigns - the one that has long hair and walks in through the crowd

 

He argues that Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, Hogan, Savage, Flair all had character and that is why the WWE cannot keep fans watching because the ratings are at some of their worst ever. 

 

What are your thoughts on character? Does knowing what makes a character tick mean more than fighting over well... not a lot. 

 

http://www.wrestlinginc.com/wi/news/2016/0205/607361/vince-russo-nuclear-heat-where-are-casual-fans/

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It's a bit rose-tinted to pretend that wrestling was full of colourful, rounded on-screen personalities in older eras. It wasn't. They just weren't overexposed like today's roster, and fans were nearly thirty years less jaded at the time of WrestleMania 3 compared to now.

 

Look at SummerSlam 1988's main event. Fans at that time were no doubt wanking their little dicks off to the prospect of Hulk Hogan and Macho Man vs Ted DiBiase and Andre. You couldn't get away with that nowadays. That's John Cena and Roman Reigns vs Del Rio and Big Show. It's a Raw match, and not necessarily even one you'd bother Youtubing the highlights of the next day, let alone watching live.

 

We saw so much during the 90s and 00s that the people creating the show have never managed to get ahead of us again. Those Monday Night Wars years where we hung on every cliffhanger have ruined it for us in the long term. Prior to that stuff changing the game, Owen Hart vs Skinner was a fucking WrestleMania match. That's not because Owen Hart and Skinner were such well-drawn characters. It's because every TV match in that era was a wrestler beating a Duane Gill type, so any name wrestler vs name wrestler match was a big deal.

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You're not wrong in terms of exposure, but characters and gimmicks were a hell of a lot better conceived and executed back in the 80s than today, but that's partially because everything's probably been done to death in that respect too. Still, you used to only have to watch a Million Dollar Man or Ravishing Rick Rude come to the ring, and instantly you knew everything you needed to know about what that guy's character was all about. Who the fuck is Dolph Ziggler? Should I know what Michael Cole means when he says "he's a prize fighter" of this bloke with "KO" on his t-shirt, if I haven't watched NXT before? Hell, Seth Rollins was WWE Champion and his character seemed to be nothing more than "a bit smug bloke who's a good wrestler but thinks he's even better." And his shitty t-shirt with a big "SR" on the front.

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Look at SummerSlam 1988's main event. Fans at that time were no doubt wanking their little dicks off to the prospect of Hulk Hogan and Macho Man vs Ted DiBiase and Andre. You couldn't get away with that nowadays.

WrestleMania X8 was the one I remember. Following the big face turn, Hall and Nash vs Rock and Hogan would have been the SummerSlam match a decade earlier. It happened the next night.

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Some of the caricature eighties characters did stand out strongly, but was Nikolai Volkoff really better drawn than Rusev? We can look back on Davey Boy's character now and laugh at his low IQ, but when he was headlining the UK tours in 1991, he was just "the muscly British one."

 

The Monday Night Wars era killed the appeal of the eighties style superheroes and villains -- or rather, that style of character had become passe in the early/mid nineties, and the top three companies at the time took the piss out of it. The likes of Austin, Rock and Triple H felt very different. We haven't had that evolution since then, and the format of the show kind of means everyone's primary trait is the same. "Guy who does moves in long matches that don't really have a reason to be so long, or exist."

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WWE just aren't any good at writing wrestling shows anymore. It's incredible that a company that's so well run in almost every other avenue is lacking so clearly in the very important creative side. The volume of content they pump out is a factor, but it's also an excuse that shouldn't really be one - they agreed to do it, after all. WWE have all this supposed talent (writers, producers, wrestlers etc) yet struggle to pump out one mildly interesting angle during 5 hours of telly a week. I think it was rick that constantly says WWE almost never give the viewer a hook to tune in the next week, now couple that with characters that have no depth or are overexposed and we're in the current 2015/16 nadir of WWE.

 

There are characters, just WWE isn't very good getting the most out of almost anything in front of the camera.

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I think for me it is why don't the crowd CARE? I hazard a guess that it is because they don't buy into the characters anymore. For example, I don't see why I should hate or love Roman Reigns. I have no interest in his plight... why should I? 

 

The big draws people could relate to or were so awe inspiring that you just wanted to be them. Look at Hogan, Warrior and Savage they were huge characters that people idolised. Nowadays there is no mystique. We know that the person in the ring is playing a role and that they are generally all friends and go home to their wives. 

 

Part of the draw for so many characters gone by was that (IMO) people lived the characters and so the fans believed in their quest for the title etc. The Undertaker is a prime example of someone who was so well protected as a character that people genuinely wanted to know more about him as a person in real life but it wasn't until the attitude era (and the internet boom) that more and more information came about. Rowdy Piper appeared to be who he was on screen all the time. Whether it was an interview for a media outlet or his interactions out of the ring he was Roddy. 

 

Someone made a good point about over exposure. We now see the lives of ever wrestler on the card all the time. We have Total Diva, Ride Along, WWE 24... all very good in their own ways but it has become oversaturated.

 

I personally loved Rusev when he was feuding with Cena. He really had a wonderful character, a badass who could wrestle and moved much better than he should for such a stocky guy. Had they built the story of him/Lana and Ziggler better I would have cared more. It was bizarre in that the heel got the girl stolen by the face... surely it should be the other way round? But again just another example of poor booking IMO. Adding Summer to the mix just made the whole thing disinteresting.

 

We haven't had that evolution since then, and the format of the show kind of means everyone's primary trait is the same. "Guy who does moves in long matches that don't really have a reason to be so long, or exist." (KING PITCOS)

 

Spot on... but for a time the criticism was that the matches were short and didn't provide 'quality' wrestling. I don't mind longer matches but they have to have a reason for them.

 

 

 

I think it is very easy to cite the exception to the rule. New Day and similar are the exception but we have a huge number of nameless, faceless generic wrestlers on the card. That is why - I believe - the likes of Orton will never make that top level consistently because he is just a guy in trunks.

 

The Wyatts had a fantastic character but they haven't evolved. I want a backstory!

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And for every Hogan, Savage, Warrior, there was a Santana, Valentine and Jim Powers. Nothing really has changed in that respect. Only people seemed more special back then as they were more protected and lesser seen.

 

Also, with people playing the character all the time, kayfabe's dead. That's why it was so cringeworthy watching Roddy Piper be Roddy Piper all the time in all his media appearances in the years before his death.

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They have characters. The problem is that's all they have. They debut guys with characters you can sum up in a sentence, then fail to develop or advance them any further. They just exist for months at a time, then get repackaged. Adam Rose is a Russell Brand style party animal, Kevin Owens is a dickhead who fights for money to make a better life for his family, Tyler Breeze is self obsessed model, Dean Ambrose is a bit of a wild nutcase, Bray Wyatt is a cult leader from the swamp. These are all perfectly fine characters that could make for fun, interesting storylines, where they're taken in new, exciting directions. That never happens though. They just have matches.

 

Remember when Edge and Booker T were feuding over shampoo? And everyone was crying about how shit it was? That's exactly the type of thing I want Tyler Breeze doing. It speaks volumes for how little we get these days in terms of angles and storylines that I look back at Edge vs Booker T with fond memories. At least they were feuding over something.

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There were plenty of characters back in the day, but let's not pretend it was all wine and roses with the likes of Duke "The Dumpster" Droese the wrestling binman, Bill Irwin as The Goon, IRS the wrestling accountant and the likes. As plenty of others have already mentioned WWE has 6 hours of TV to fill a week (3 hrs of Raw, 2 hrs of Smackdown and Main Event) plus the house show loop, and that's not including the occasional guy who goes down to NXT.

 

NXT only being an hour a week means you don't see the whole roster every week, so those confrontations on the Takeover shows means something special. The even stevens booking to try and keep who's going to win on PPV in the balance doesn't help either because nobody gets to look strong. Likewise with Lucha Underground, a limited episode run and only an hour's TV time a week, plus that interesting production style and narrative structure makes the characters compelling and means you can keep the "name guys" seperate from each other.

 

You'd think TNA would be a different situation, but instead they just try and shoehorn everybody into the show so nobody's left out. We're left with guys who will wrestle each other in 4-5 minute matches on an episode of iMPACT and we're then expected to believe can go 20+ minutes at the next PPV. Why should that be?

 

Unfortunately networks are paying for the TV time and companies pay for the advert revenue and so we're stuck with the situation we're in. It'd be interesting if a new format could be found for some of these shows, but alas I think we're going to be doomed to this situation for the foreseeable.


EDIT: I'd managed to double post this whole thing. Also I await a whole torrent of negative feedback over my dissing of Droese and would love to know more about how this situation is avoided in Puro, but again I'd guess it's just fewer shows to avoid overexposure of talent.

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Road Dogg was tweeting back at fans again the other day. I know he gets a lot of stupid stuff too, but someone asked him about Owens losing matches when they're so weak on the heel side and his answer was this.

 

jB8ZIuI.jpg

 

He's an agent/producer. Would be interested in knowing how much power he has. I remember reading he had a hand in those recent terrible Rumble matches and seeing him sat next Vince with a headset on on those WWE 24 things for last year's Wrestlemania. Edit - Apparently at least until recently he was running creative for Smackdown.

 

Sums them up though really if that's the attitude. Wins and losses definitely don't matter when you're building a roster full of midcarders.

 

I know there's big injuries but this year seems to be the absolute dregs of what you can do with bringing back the "big stars" in Undertaker and Triple H. We're low on compelling opponents for Lesnar too. God help them next year.

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