I pride myself on going against the grain. Call me a contrarian and an agitator at times. E-mailers have called me other names, but that is part of the job. Heck, I was the guy who practically defended WWE when Vince McMahon forced Trish Stratus to get on all fours and bark like a dog.
Pause for the visualâ<80>¦
However, this is one of the rare times when I will happily join the chorus of critics. I was one of many who saw the Jeff Hardy story on Sunday morning. I wondered if we had yet another tragedy on our hands. Being found unconscious in a stairwell had an all-too familiar ring to it, considering past incidents and Hardy’s history.
I was relieved to find out it was an angleâ<80>¦for a split second. Then, I got offended. Mind you, it takes a lot to get me offended. I give pro wrestling a lot of rope when it comes to edgy, reality-based angles. However, never did I think I would give WWE enough rope to twist in the wind like this.
Wrestling angles pulling at heartstrings can be effective. Sprinkling a dose of reality can make a so-so angle rife with drama and emotion. The Jeff Hardy storyline was abhorrent. Despicable. Disgusting. Reprehensible. Lowbrow. I could go on and on with more anti-accolades. Many have before me.
If I were your standard wrestling fan, would this push me away? Probably not. And therein lies the problem. This is not about your wrestling fan at any level or intensity. Hardcore fans have a stomach for this. Yet, the WWE is going all PG-13 on us and trying to attract that mainstream audience that has fueled past “booms.” Do they seriously think that this will help? Is this entertainment? Scaring the bejeezus out of Jeff Hardy fans, only to wink and say, “Just kidding.”
I mentioned above that I was a day late on this issue. But frankly, I’m glad I waited. If anything could infuriate me more, last night’s Raw closing did.
Call me a conspiracy theorist, but John Cena’s little soliloquy at the end of Raw where he kissed the ass of every WWE fan watching on TV and in attendance was nothing more than damage control. The (lack of) creative team embarked on a senseless and pointless storyline, alleging the health problems of Jeff Hardy. The hellfire and brimstone rained down. So, to appease people, they brought out their standard-bearer to spin and talk about how important the fans WWE are.
If those fans were so important, the powers-that-be would not have posted that BS to their website on Sunday and lead fans to believe that Jeff Hardy may join the litany of wrestlers lost over the years.
Pissing fans off only to turn around and suck up to them does not make the situation better. It doesn’t make the distasteful taste any better. Angles should make money. Putting Jeff Hardy in a storyline hospital bed does not make a dime. He was advertised for Survivor Series. Then unadvertised. And then he rose like a Phoenix, tearing the IVs from his arm and overpowering hospital security.
If WWE wants to me a mainstream entertainment company appealing to fans of all ages, they need to get out of the muck, mire and slime that has hamstrung that will only hamstring their progress. Stupid decision after stupid decision does little to redefine your product to a new audience. You’re just finding more people to offend and disgust.