When I was in the WWE from 1996 to 2003, my first year with the company was the worst. Creatively and financially hindered, the company struggled with a changing of the guard, injuries and a â<80><9c>greener pasturesâ<80> company just looking to take talent. While moneyâ<80><99>s no object now for the WWE, there are several similarities within the wrestling industry but are brighter times ahead?
Letâ<80><99>s look at December 1996. The main rivalry in WWE was Shawn Michaels versus Sid for the Championship but Bret vs Shawn loomed on the horizon. Stone Cold was just heating up and the Rock was still sporting the pineapple hairdo, a long way from becoming the Great One. Over in WCW, the nWo was growing in size and strength, just months after Hulk Hoganâ<80><99>s turn. The Cruiserweights were tearing it up and fans were tuning in. WCW was kicking Vinceâ<80><99>s ass before Austin was but the McMahon storm was gathering.
At the end of 2007, the main rivalry was Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy but Triple H and John Cena loom on the horizon. Many feel that Mr. Kennedy can become the next Stone Cold and Elijah Burke may break out to follow in the footsteps of the Rock. While WCW has become TNA (some may say the opposite is true as well), the biggest opposition to the WWE is the UFC. Pay per view buyrates for UFC are dominating WWE, even more so than WCW did in the mid-late 1990â<80><99>s. Can Vince McMahon summon up the courage as he did a decade ago to change course and fix whatâ<80><99>s broken?
In 1997, Vince created DX, the New Age Outlaws, the Rock and the Montreal Screwjob. That was a pretty damn good year. No new talent, just readjusting existing names and letting them do their thing. I wonder how good Kennedy, Burke and others can be if these lions are allowed to creatively roam free. Too many restrictions on promosâ<80>¦ too much control in 2007. In 1997, Vince opened the creative floodgates, ending the way his TV was produced for at least 10 years. What would happen if history repeated itself and Vince McMahon turned it out?
Brock Lesnar was supposed to be the Next Big Thing in the WWE. Now, heâ<80><99>s the next big thing in UFC, debuting in February. No Brock, no Austin, no Rock, no Goldberg. Four huge draws including the biggest two of all time gone from the ring. Add to that an aging Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and Undertaker and itâ<80><99>s time to sound the alarm. The industry has to create the next generation of superstars and thatâ<80><99>s on you, Creative Teams!
2008 can be a great year but in my opinion, those that produce wrestling on television need to look at what they are doing and think about history just over a decade ago. Vince Russo was there when McMahon threw down the gauntlet of change and together, they created the hottest period in wrestling. Both have the chance now to break the mold on what they do and start fresh.
What do you think should be done to make 2008 a great year for the wrestling industry? Email me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org or blow up the forums as youâ<80><99>re prone to do.