They stood in the center of the ring. There were four of them in all; Stephanie, Shane, Hunter, and Vince. They took turns, each beginning with a somber tone, then eventually burst with excitement. The thousands in attendance and the millions watching around the world, listened intently, hoping the words had conviction behind them. The following days featured countless discussions and proclamations that the tide was turning, that it was a new day. Six months ago, the four people who have the most power in the WWE, made a promise to the fans. Six months later, it seems it was all a rib.
How Did We Get Here
World Wrestling Entertainment was and is, McMahon’s baby. He purchased the company, then named World Wide Wrestling Federation, from his father. McMahon had a vision for the future of pro wrestling, one that included expanding beyond the territories of the era, for a global brand. The late 80’s and early 90’s saw the then-WWF crush the competition and all but eliminate every other promotion. Eventually, WCW challenged the WWF, pushing McMahon to the limit. Eventually the WWF won out with better use of their talent and fresh story lines. The WCW slowly crumbled until it was on its last legs, perfect for McMahon to come in and pick up the last bits of meat off the carcass.
Vince McMahon purchased World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in March of 2001. Not long after, Extreme Championship Wrestling went bankrupt. McMahon and the WWE went from near collapse, to standing at the top of the mountain in less than five years. Suddenly there was an abundance of talent and insufficient spots to fill. The WWE suddenly had nearly all the best talent in the world, under a single brand, with no one threatening to take the throne from McMahon and his family.
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Over the past decade, the WWE has experienced exponential growth around the world. Each year seems to bring a new market for the company to conquer. Year after year, WWE casts an ever-growing shadow over the rest of the wrestling industry. However, while the company has gained in exposure, the in-ring and on-air product has suffered. Years of little to no competition created an abundance of complacency all around company headquarters.
What’s the Issue
The WWE has never lacked for talented performers. A quick browse of the company’s roster shows extraordinary men and women who can do things most of us could never fathom. For much of the last two decades, the WWE has had the pick of the litter, able to bring in the best and brightest around the industry. Part of the allure is the quest to become a star within the machine that is the WWE. Accomplish that goal, then a life of fame and fortune eventually follows.
However, the company has a finite number of hours for television programming. Fitting a bloated roster with varying degrees of popularity, into roughly 6-7 hours of programming, is an extremely difficult task. Doing so with a boss rumored to be as bad as most despots, makes the job nearly impossible. The main roster has at least five hours of programming a week between Raw and Smackdown. With a real limit on available time, it would make sense for the company to prioritize wrestling matches, you’d be wrong.
Seriously @WWE @SonyaDevilleWWE, @WWEEmberMoon, and @WWE_MandyRose are all phenomenal performers, in ring and on camera, and their current storyline is about a broken gameboy? @VinceMcMahon your talent deserves so much better than this garbage writing
— MG Swizz (@mgswizzle13) June 13, 2019
Instead, there has been segment after segment involving repetitive talking points, and seemingly the same half dozen wrestlers. Throw in the insistence to keep Shane McMahon in a prominent position, and we have a major issue. It could be classified as a fundamental issue. Shane is an athlete. He takes risks in the ring and is willing to take a beating. However, he’s also well past his better days, becoming more of a spot monkey by the match. Shane and his significant screen time is just another sign of the McMahons’ failure to deliver on their promises. From dealings with the Saudi royal family to creating special rules, the product is an utter mess, and wastes some of the best performances from their more talented performers (Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, Kofi Kingston).
Can it Get Better
The short answer is yes, things can improve dramatically over the next few weeks and months. The question of whether it will happen, that is the proverbial elephant in the room. The introduction of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and the amazing inaugural event, have set the table for the prospects of a real competitor for the WWE. Over the last month, it can be argued that the fledgling promotion has received the lion’s share of positive publicity compared to the WWE. The rise of AEW has placed a brighter light on Vince McMahon and his family’s company, and on the promises made six months ago.
The WWE answered the call when WCW came knocking. Vince and his team adapted and scratched their way to create an exciting product. Twenty years later, it is the WWE Universe and the larger wrestling community, who comes knocking. The jeers are growing louder, patience is wearing thin, and the trust is nearly gone. Six months ago the industry gave the McMahons the benefit of the doubt. Now here we stand, holding on to the broken promises, watching each minute with growing dread. Show us something Vince, you’re running out of time.