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Wrestling, like any other form of live entertainment, is best experienced in its native environment rather than someone’s living room. The collective excitement of a crowd unquestionably enhances the viewing experience and brings about an altered perspective that creates a unique connection with the product.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been highly critical of WWE for its seeming lack of apathy during what should be one of the most exciting periods of the wrestling calendar. Frankly, I’ve felt a bit exhausted covering a product that has utterly failed to evoke an emotional response from me on a consistent or noteworthy basis.
I had hoped that my attendance at Raw this past Monday would recharge my wrestling batteries and get me psyched for the remainder of the Road to Wrestlemania…To a certain extent, spending my night immersed in a sea of casual fans accomplished a portion of this goal. Unfortunately, a wave of in-the-moment emotion could not silence the glaring problems that continue to plague what can only be described as a failed Wrestlemania build-up…In fact, the live experience from this night magnified these issues.
First and foremost, there is no denying that live wrestling continues to be well worth the price of admission. After spending more than a year engrossed in the world of “smart” wrestling fans, it was a bit refreshing to spend a night amongst people who couldn’t care less about backstage politics or the long-term implications of what was unfolding in front of them.
I quickly fell into my old ways as the night progressed, neglecting “smart” logic in an effort to enjoy the show to its fullest. For instance, I cheered my lungs out during the triple threat match despite the fact that I knew deep down that Wade Barrett would be walking away with the win.
In this regard, I had fun being a mark for the night…A slightly intoxicated one at that. Unfortunately, despite these flashes of pure, unadulterated emotion displayed by myself and the crowd at varying parts of the night, I have to say that my overall experience left me greatly concerned about the current direction of the product.
As mentioned earlier, I was surrounded by individuals who likely have never heard of Wrestlezone and who probably think that the IWC is an STD. They cheered the faces, expressed little to no knowledge or concern for the actual person behind the on-screen character, and were oblivious to the obvious happenings that were about to occur…In essence, they were free from the shackles that sometimes hinder the ability of “smart” fans to enjoy the show.
With that said, based upon my observations, it didn’t appear as though these individuals enjoyed vast portions of the show. There was confusion and downright boredom as I got the sense that 3 hours of a disjointed show left the natives quite restless and disinterested.
I’ve heard many complaints that the crowd itself was dead and didn’t do the Lesnar/Heyman/HHH segment justice…I saw Seth Mates on Twitter go as far as saying that the WWE likely won’t be returning to Pittsburgh again on the Road to Wrestlemania as a result.
I’m going to be blunt…That show…This “Road to Wrestlemania”…This entire year…It’s all been utter garbage. It’s been nothing more than a pathetic attempt to capitalize monetarily on the WWE machine. We’ve seen more movie promos than memorable moments…Hell, promos for The Call, the Marine 3, and whatever Wade Barrett’s travesty was called, each have seen more on screen time since Royal Rumble than the damn WWE champion.
I’m not exactly sure how fans are expected to react when it’s becoming more and more apparent that putting forth an entertaining and coherent show is no longer the main priority. I can say that I’m no longer willing to pretend that a satisfactory degree of redeeming qualities is present on a week to week basis…While this may make it impossible to avoid the inevitable “don’t watch if you don’t like it” comments, I’m certainly at peace with this reality.
Let’s face facts…It’s Vince’s prerogative to run his company in the way that he sees fit. If this Wrestlemania season ends up being one of the most lucrative in recent memory, the decisions made during this time may make perfect business sense….These decisions might also be killing the WWE as we know it.
At the end of the day, I saw fans of all shapes, sizes, ages, walks of life, and degrees of interest thoroughly bored at an event that used to draw unmatched levels of emotion…That’s a problem…That’s not a problem with the city…That’s not a problem limited to uptight IWC fans who constantly over-analyze…It’s a fundamental problem that has to be admitted and addressed before it spirals out of control.
At this time of year, this column should be full of optimism and excitement for the biggest wrestling event on the calendar…Unfortunately, I have to call a spade a spade. After the ball dropped on New Years Eve, WWE picked up this ball and has continued to reenact this ceremony over and over again.
I’m not sure that there’s sufficient time left before April 7th to salvage the excitement that has been lost…I can only hope that whatever reset button is available is pushed the moment the arena lights dim in New Jersey.