Hello everyone! Don’t adjust your computer sets, it is indeed, another edition of X-Marks the Spot, the second this month! We’re a couple of weeks out from the Royal Rumble, and fresh off the heels of WrestleKingdom 12, and the excitement of watching something new and fresh made the little bit of WrestleKingdom that I saw easily one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve watched in quite some time.
However, it made me wonder, is the excitement, the fanfare, the overall spectacle something WWE can still attain in today’s age? Now I know you and I are obviously thinking, well WWE has WrestleMania, so of course it has the excitement and spectacle, but does it really? For almost this entire century so far, WWE has been unopposed, running wild as the unquestioned #1 company in professional wrestling, aside from the final year-to-15 months of WCW, and a cup of coffee where Impact Wrestling seemed it was up to the task of challenging World Wrestling Entertainment, and in that time WWE has painfully grown complacent. Now with the meteoric rise in attendance, and overall attention from fans from all over the globe, coupled with Mark Cuban’s funding of AXS TV, could we be on the verge by the next decade of another challenge to WWE’s never-ending crown on top of the pro wrestling industry, and a better question, which we will dive into next, can WWE, in its current creative state, survive a legitimate challenger, and can it survive another “war” so to speak?
Okay, so yes, no one will bankrupt WWE, I get that, with the millions of share holders, etc, WWE will be around almost as long as the McMahons or any potential future owner deems fit, but will the fan interest be there for WWE? Let’s look at this decade. WWE has proven to be more than just stubborn, but borderline inept when it comes to new stars and who they want to push and make champion. This century WWE has only had a select few guys they’ve looked at as “THE” guys, names such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, John Cena, Randy Orton, and now Roman Reigns. Not exactly that great of a selection for the first now 18 years of the century, despite the resume and star-power of the names listed. All the while, WWE has had several names in the company more than capable of running with the baton, names such as CM Punk, John Morrison, Shelton Benjamin, Dolph Ziggler, Mr. Kennedy, MVP, Seth Rollins, and Finn Bálor all come to mind as names passed over for the more corporate favored look, and choice. John Cena and Randy Orton are a parallel to Steve Austin and The Rock, if for no other reason, than they were the clear cut two guys who wanted to be the flag bearer for the company, and stuck around the longest vs the other names from their historic debuting class of 2002 (Brock Lesnar and Dave Bautista).
Roman Reigns is an example of WWE’s stubbornness to move on from the aforementioned names, as they took John Cena and Randy Orton’s longevity for granted, mainly Cena’s, and never decided to build any new stars to move up into Cena’s spot in the company until he already started to cut back and making himself gradually more and more part-time. Once Cena started taking more movie roles, WWE panicked, and decided to go with Roman Reigns for that spot, with many fans seeing the move as a way to keep The Rock happy (Roman’s cousin), and to see if they can truly mold their own superstar, despite fan pushback of legendary proportions. Roman Reigns debuted his Leakee character in 2010 and debuted on the main roster as we know apart of The Shield, and fans actually really took to Reigns during the Shield’s run and after their split, fans were hugely behind Roman, mostly because of the mostly genuine rise of the star. However soon-thereafter, WWE began pushing Reigns heavier than almost any superstar ever, and fans rebelled. No superstar has had more help to try to get on the fans’ good side than Reigns, with WWE using the widely-hated Sheamus, using the age-old evil Vince McMahon character in a psuedo Austin/McMahon-esque brief feud, The Authority, defeating Undertaker at WrestleMania, and being groomed for the obvious encounter at WrestleMania 34 vs Brock Lesnar, WWE is showing why they are still stubborn. Having one marquee name in the 1980s led to easily the worst period in company history in the early 1990s, with Hulk Hogan leaving, followed by their attempts at a supporting cast in Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage, leaving the WWF scrambling to find new big names, who in turn also left for WCW.
All of that leads to this point, with NJPW rising in fan attention and more fans learning about the company, coupled with WWE’s stubborn booking of headliners, is history destined to repeat itself? Could names like Finn Bálor and Shinsuke Nakamura, who are already NJPW legends almost, decide to leave WWE to return home? Ultimately one thing is for sure, it will be feasting time and WWE’s famine if they continue to neglect their in-house superstars (no pun intended) in favor of the corporate created stars. With New Japan’s slew of in-house created names mixed with some familiar faces, NJPW is shaping up to be a true fresh #2 in pro wrestling, something that has been desperately lacking for almost 20 years. Could we see the day where Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi, and Hiroshi Tanahashi are bigger stars in the US instead of WWE’s mega stars? Time will tell ultimately.
What do you all think? Do you agree with my take? Am I wrong? Head over to Facebook.com/MainEventMadness or hit me up on Twitter @JonMEMRadio, and let me know what you all think! Also don’t forget to come back here to Wrestling-News.Net, and check out MainEventMadness.Podbean.com and TheChairshot.com for new episodes of Main Event Madness every week! So until next time everyone, take it easy and I’ll see you around!