JC’s Top Rope Report: On An Important Day In Its History, The WWE Reminds Us How Far They’ve Fallen
Yes, this is another column looking at the downfalls of the WWE recently. It may seem like this is all I do nowadays. But if you think the WWE product right now is good, then I have some bad news for you. There is no doubt that the WWE has a plethora of talent on its roster. You could argue it has the most talent out of any promotion in the world right now. I’d argue New Japan has better talent, but I would listen to arguments about the WWE.
Anyways, Sunday was an important day in the history of the WWE. On that day 23 years ago, Steve Austin gave a promo that would help launch him into super stardom.
First off, that was twenty three years ago. Holy hell does that make me feel old. I’m sure a lot of others feel old just reading that too.
Second, this just reminds you how far the WWE has fallen when it comes to making superstars. This promo but Austin on the map. It didn’t immediately push Austin to the main event. But it helped put him on the map. It allowed him to grow a following. The audience started to get behind Austin more and more as the year went on. By the end of the year, he was feuding with Bret Hart. And at Wrestlemania 13 the next year, Austin officially arrived in his match with Bret Hart.
Now of course there were circumstances that allowed this to happen. Originally, Triple H was going to win the King of the Ring tournament that year. But he took part in the infamous Curtain Call angle and those plans were scrapped. Even if that doesn’t happen, I still think Austin would have become a star. He had that quality. It might have taken a bit longer but Austin would have got to the top at some point.
But to me, something like this is what is missing from the current WWE product. Austin had just won the King of the Ring (something that should come back by the way), and the WWE wouldn’t have let him win if they didn’t have plans for him. Not only that, but this promo was for the most part unscripted. Austin heard Jake Roberts cut a religious based promo on him before the match. So that inspired Austin to come up with the “Austin 3:16” line that he famously delivered during the promo. This promo also allowed Austin to show off his personality that the WWE fans had not seen since he stepped foot in the company. Think about that, a WWE wrestler actually allowing someone to show personality in one of their promos.
In today’s WWE, everything is scripted to the letter. Don’t let anyone fool you. You hear enough catchphrases and buzzwords in promos that you know it was scripted down to the letter. Vince McMahon talks about the lack of stars in the WWE nowadays. What he doesn’t realize is that he is the one holding back all of the talent. There are so many restrictions on talent in today’s WWE that this promo would be near impossible to do today.
When was the last time there was a promo that came even close to this one? I can’t even tell you. Hell, I can barely remember the last time I heard a good promo in the WWE. There for sure hasn’t been a promo that made someone a star recently. And even if there was, their push would probably be gone in two weeks after Vince McMahon gets bored with them.
The WWE’s problem today is that they employ writers that worked in TV. And as much as it pains Vince McMahon to admit, pro wrestling is much different from the world of TV. He can beg for an Emmy all he wants. While I consider it a TV show, it is a SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT TV show. It is different from your Brooklyn Nine Nine’s, Walking Dead’s and Game of Thrones. It is a completely different subset of TV. So you can’t just hire a writer from a soap opera and expect them to be able to write for the world of pro wrestling. You can’t just walk into the world of pro wrestling and expect to know what the audience wants. And trust me, in today’s WWE, not even Vince McMahon knows what the audience wants. So you expect a newly hired soap opera writer to understand that?
With AEW coming down the pipeline, the WWE better start loosening up these restrictions they are putting on their talent. We keep saying it all the time, but the WWE can’t be complacent in their ways. AEW is showing that their is an audience for pro wrestling out there. They want a good pro wrestling product, and that is something the WWE isn’t putting out right now.
I know a lot can change for a company in 23 years. But remember, the WWE wasn’t in the Attitude Era yet when this promo took place. So while this helped lead to the Attitude Era, it wasn’t a result of it. Promos like this are quite capable in today’s WWE. They always have been. But the WWE needs to let their talent go out there and trust them to do it. And if they fail? You move on. But as I said at the start of this column, there is plenty of talent on this roster. You give them the chance and I bet they will succeed.
We all watched Stomping Grounds yesterday, and the show was nothing special. They couldn’t sell tickets for half of the arena. That’s what happens when your show is built mostly on rematches. And you don’t have any truly huge stars that the audience wants to see.
Is there a Stone Cold level star on today’s WWE roster? My guess is no. But the problem is that no one on the main roster will ever get the chance to prove me wrong. In today’s overly scripted WWE world, we will never get the chance to see another breakout star like Steve Austin. Rusev was quickly squashed down, as was Zack Ryder years ago. They tried with Daniel Bryan and never trusted him in the end.
But sooner or later Vince is going to have to start trusting his wrestlers again. Doing that helped him win the Monday Night War. And if AEW comes on just like WCW did, Vince will have to go back that route again. But the question is, does Vince have the grapefruits to do it?
Until Next Time,
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