Okay… Let me preface this article by pointing out several things:
- This piece is simply a piece of journalist’s opinions, and thus is protected under free speech laws both in the UK, through the Freedom of Press act, and the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution.
- I can back up every piece of evidence, and will happily produce them upon request.
The reason I have pointed this out is that World Wrestling Entertainment (incorporated) have a long history of suing detractors, and thus, to write anything that might be seen as overtly negative towards the biggest wrestling company currently around, we need to be able to legally protect ourselves.
Now that’s out of the way, is the rise of All Elite Wrestling down to WWE, and how can All Elite Wrestling be seen as WWE’s Frankenstein’s Monster?
To answer this, we have to look at a historic legal case: The state of New Jersey vs Vincent Kennedy McMahon. This case is vital to understand how the WWE changed the face of professional wrestling, and why AEW, or something akin to AEW was inevitable.
During the discussion aspects of the bill that would stop Professional Wrestling from being classified in the USA as a sport, Vincent Kennedy McMahon defined the product as “an activity in which participants struggle hand-in-hand primarily for the purpose of providing entertainment to spectators rather than conducting a bona fide athletic contest.” What this effectively did was remove the curtain between the audience and the WWE, destroying the one part of Wrestling that had been kept sacrosanct for years: The practice of Kayfabe. This was defined as keeping what audiences saw as being real as authentic as possible. This had previously being held to an extreme extent (and there will be a list about this in the near future), but Vince classed Professional Wrestling as “Sports Entertainment”. This was huge for not only Vince, but his wife Linda, who had worked tirelessly to get Pro-Wrestling deregulated, and finally managed it.
It would be an understatement to say that this was a bit controversial, with several wrestlers talking about it in shoot interviews, and it’s still being talked about today. This led to the rise of “Smark” or “Smart-Mark” fans. These fans had been following Pro-Wrestling for years, and now that the curtain had been finally lifted, the sport came under much more scrutiny than it ever had been before. Under this came the rise of Extreme Championship Wrestling, which, in my opinion, reinvigorated the sport with some of the most brutal, eye-watering action ever seen before. Also, as WWE took over territorial promotions across the USA, Jim Crockett Promotions got bought out by World Class Championship Wrestling, and by 1997, the Monday Night Wars had began.
However, merely 48 months later, WCW was bought out by WWE, and ECW faced financial ruin, before finally bowing out at the end of 2001. WWE won. “Sports Entertainment” as opposed to Ted Turner’s “southern Wrasslin'” won. If you think that Vince, who had (and still has) creative control over WWE moved on from this, think again. Every ex WCW wrestler that had been bought over from the WCW roster fell victim to “punishment” booking. What this means is that WWE booked them to lose in increasingly humiliating ways. There are two I’m going to focus on here, and for very different reasons.
The first was the return of Sting. Old school wrestling fans might know him, but to younger fans, his character was a surfer that could wrestle, before his character changed to a vigilante that appeared to be a cross between Batman and The Crow. His debut as the vigilante was so wanted by WCW fans that his return to face “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan was one of the most anticipated matches in WCW history. When Sting finally did the unthinkable and moved to WWE in 2014, he had only a couple of matches, with the most egregious being the “squash” match against WWE’s Chief Co-ordinating Officer, Paul Levesque. Paul was wrestling as Triple H (his alter ego), but the match in question requires analysis.
The match starts with a fairly solid match (even by WWE’s standards) and doesn’t go too far into melodrama until the former stable of Triple H, turns up. D Generation X turns up and this doesn’t look too pretty for Sting until the NWO turns up and evens the odds. Triple H then won clean, before the two men shake hands on the biggest stage imaginable. This makes no sense for two reasons. Firstly, Sting went to war with the NWO in WCW, and there’s no way in hell Hulk Hogan would have done this for Sting without a huge payday. Secondly, traditional wrestling planning dictates that a villain must ultimately lose, but this former WCW wrestler was a hero in this story. It doesn’t really make sense.
The second notable point where a WCW guy got “buried” was during 2003, in a feud with Triple H in the run up to Wrestlemania 19. Booker T was aiming his sights on the top title in WWE, and had to face Triple H to get his hands on the strap. Unfortunately, due to a mixture of bad planning, writing, and attitudes of those in charge, this feud came across with Triple H and Ric Flair coming across as racist sociopaths, and Booker T lost. I should point out that Booker T, for the uninitiated among my readers, is an African-American, whereas Triple H and Ric Flair were white. There were some horrifically racist points, and I’d be wasting both space in this article and time to list them all for you.
Have you noticed the similarity here? WWE punished certain wrestlers, simply because they won the Monday Night Wars. This created what some have described on “shoot” podcasts as a “toxic working environment”, and led to the rise of independent promotions getting TV Deals (TNA, for instance).
The other similarity, and by far one of the more important ones, is the fact the bad guys won. This shouldn’t be surprising to long-term WWE fans, as we’ve been seeing this ever since Wrestlemania 9. The thing is, this attitude of treating the fans of WWE the way that they have isn’t unusual. It’s something that drastically needs to change. Here is one of the more recent examples of how WWE villains see the audience. It’s pretty disgusting, right? The thing is, Dean Ambrose having inoculations to protect himself against a smelly and unhygienic audiences is only the lastest in a series of heels voicing how the WWE have seen their longtime fans.
Why does this matter?
The talent involved haven’t enjoyed it. In particular, there have been two wrestlers who really haven’t enjoyed it. Firstly, Jon Moxley. Moxley enjoyed moderate success in WWE, but they wouldn’t let him use his professional name, and called him “Dean Ambrose