I am a veteran of WrestleMania’s.
In fact, the first one I ever watched live was WrestleMania 9 and I was in awe of the fact the Hogan came out of nowhere to win the title from the then short lived reign of Yokozuna.
Obviously this is a thing that I now appreciate was more to do with Hogan’s ego than it was in entertaining me.
But this year, WrestleMania and me share an age number so I thought I’d give some thoughts, a nostalgic letter if you will, to my WrestleMania memories and what the problem is with the modern-day spectacle.
WrestleMania 9, being my first obviously holds a special place in my memory. Not so much for the main event but for silly nature of the whole thing that, in retrospect, was the last straw for a lot of superstars.
This was when Hogan was so much bigger than the corporation, yet Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were obviously the future. This was when the Macho Man had been reduced to a color commentator, against his will and expertise.
Before this though, I had a great video rental experience of every WrestleMania. Hogan Vs. Warrior will always be one of the most important matches in wrestling history from WM 6. Piper and Hart from WM 8 will also be a key match for Hart’s career.
But the love for Wrestlemania began with the Attitude era’s response to the Monday Night Wars. I’d almost totally converted to WCW at the time and ECW was beginning to appear on my cable TV radar.
WWE (F at the time) really found a way to engage in the Generation X of the time in order to, almost literally, save the corporation.
So this is where I chime in. I was that Generation X. At the moment I’m referred to as Generation Y, a generation of fairly overqualified young people between 22-32 in the dire straits of a recession recovering world.
We need a break. We need counter-culture. We need the shamelessly archaic and showboating nature of what the Attitude era provided.
Except when we tune in, we see the same six or seven people that were around when we got too busy to watch wrestling anymore. Your HHH’s, Orton’s, Batista’s and Undertaker’s, hogging the limelight, almost like the stars that got pushed along to make way for them.
The last time I watched WWE wrestling consistently was during the Evolution era and, for a short time, during the resurrection of ECW.
There are a few new names here and there, some people that have gone up and down the card like Ric Flair’s trunks and all of the belts have changed. But to be honest all I see now is the same names from 10 years ago that I’ve already mentioned, along with that guy from The Marine, and a load of presumably talented people jobbing for them.
What would make a great WrestleMania then?
Well nostalgia for one.
It’s not something that Vince McMahon is noted for. But for all of the hype around WrestleMania’s history, there is very little actually gleamed from it about what makes successful entertainment.
Maybe I’m a nostalgic cynic, but the storylines to a WrestleMania should be that fan-favorite irresistible force meeting that immoveable object on all parts of the card. Along with some comedy and a practical conclusion of all the storylines.
How can the hard fought journey to the main event from the Royal Rumble victory be legitimately that if the same seven people do it?
Secondly then is the storyline that engages the generation that is their current target audience. WWE suffers from a lack of competition when it comes to producing and delivering its content.
But people have developed and those that are fans aren’t just going to be there because they own a T-Shirt and follow a hashtag.
WWE needs to find out what the ailment of Generation Y truly is and do what they’ve always done very well in creating TV, and that’s exploit it.
Hogan against the Cold War, old guards against young guns, athleticism against technicality, violence against violence, rebels against corporate ethos…
All of these historic events typify the generation they were set in. All WWE needs to do is find out what this generations is and you’ll see a truly entertaining WrestleMania.