Anyone who has followed wrestling for 10-20 years can tell you that wrestling is nothing like it used to be. Sure, we still watch and anticipate each show, but there is no denying the downgrade in quality over the years. But what caused this? Why is it do different now? Lets take a look at a few things that, in my opinion, has gravely wounded professional wrestling over the years.
– The McMahon Steroid Scandal of the 90’s –
If you’re new to wrestling, you probably are unaware of this. This was when McMahon was facing serious legal allegations by the feds. He was indicted in 1993 and went to trial in 1994. Though he was acquited of the charges, this went a long way in damaging the image of professional wrestling. When role model (at the time, at least) Hulk Hogan took the stand and admitted to steroid use, this effectively shoved a dagger into the heart of the business. Looking back, this was surely foreshadowing many tragic events to come later down the line.
– The Montreal Screwjob –
While this certainly wasn’t the first screwjob in the history of professional wrestling, it is certainly the most famous. If you are unaware of this, Bret Hart was set to wrestle Shawn Micheals for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at Survivor Series in Canada. Bret was soon to be leaving WWF to pursue a new path in WCW. After a backstage conversation concerning the outcome of the match, McMahon agreed to an ending for the match. It would be a no contest and then, the following night on Raw, Bret would forfeit the title and be on his way to WCW. If you watch the documentary “Bret Hart: Wrestling with Shadows”, you’ll see this to be true.Â Finally as the two were in the midst of their match, Shawn Micheals applied Bret’s patented move (the sharpshooter) to Bret and the bell began to ring. McMahon, fearing Bret would carry the title with him to WCW, “screwed” him out of the title. It should be fairly obvious to anyone how this blacked the eye of professional wrestling.
– McMahon ‘Letting the Cat out of the Bag’ –
What I mean by this is when McMahon began to freely acknowledge that wrestling was fake, it was a huge kick to the face of the business. This killed the days of kayfabe and brought in a new era of “entertainment”. Was it always entertainment? Sure. Was it always fake? Of course. But no one admitted this. Wrestlers were well known to take offense to anyone who questioned the credibility of the business. So needless to say, I feel that killing off kayfabe was detrimental in harming professional wrestling.
– McMahon Purchasing WCW –
WCW had such a rich history, it was a shame to see it die the way it did. It was also sad to see that Vince McMahon now had a monopoly on the business. Gone were the days you could switch back and forth to the shows that currently had the best storylines. When WCW ended, wrestling became the McMahon show. Sure there are other organizations with better wrestlers (TNA and ROH), but lets face facts, it’s highly unlikely they will ever compete with McMahon the way WCW did. Lack of competition is certainly NOT a good thing in this case.
– What Happened to Good Characters? –
Seriously, lets not kid ourselves. Compared to yesteryear, the quality of the characters/wrestlers has nosedived a great deal. I feel sorry for those that just start watching wrestling now. They missed out on some great wrestlers, that’s for certain. Guys like Bastista, John Cena, and Randy Orton could never hold a candle to Macho Man, Bret Hart, or Mr. Perfect. It seems now that if you look good and are big enough, you’ll get pushed to the moon. It’s sad.
– The Chris Benoit Murders –
I don’t think I have to really explain this one, do I? It should be fairly obvious to see how this hurt.
– The Death of Owen Hart –
This is definitely the thing that hurt the business the most, in my opinion. In Bret Hart’s book, he calls this “the day wrestling died”.Â There is no doubt that I agree. It became apparent on this day that wrestling was no longer wrestling, it was a circus. I think a lot of people agree when I say that the stunt that took place that night had no business being in the sport. What need was there for it? I know that this has been debated and talked about to death, so I will just end by saying this was the worst thing to ever happen to professional wrestling.
So there you have it. I realize this comes across as me attacking Vince McMahon. I am not. Lets be honest, for better or worse, the man revolutionized the business. But isn’t it funny how when you think about the worst things to ever happen in professional wrestling he’s apart of most of them?