I brace myself to face a barrage of abuse and thumb-downs for making this claim - the WWE roster of this era can deliver the best product for the company.
As you read this, I can visualize the WWE faithful ridiculing what I am saying. And I won’t totally blame you - the ratings have dwindled since the entertainment quotient of the product has gone down. However allow me to elucidate the claim.
I began watching WWE somewhere around the infamous Montreal Screwjob. I was too young to know its implication but I remember Bret Hart Hitman spitting on Vince McMahon and the iconic ‘Bret Screwed Bret’ quote.
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Therefore I was lucky to follow WWE through four different eras, over nearly 18 years, and could observe how WWF/ E evolved through these years.
The Montreal Screwjob was followed by the Attitude era - regarded as the most popular and the best era. It had a strong storytelling, ‘socially- tabooed gimmicks (such as ‘The Godfather’, ‘The Undertaker’, ‘Al Snow’), a strong element of drama, surprise and thrill.
The era, which lasted from late 1997 to 2002, saw WWE coming up as the biggest wrestling company in the United States, taking WCW out of the business and forming the platform for the successful future.
Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Rock, Kane, Undertaker, D Generation X (especially Triple H) and Mr. McMahon became the most important Superstars of this era.
The Ministry of Darkness, Mankind, Kane Shamrock and Shane McMahon played significant roles during this period, too.
Ruthless Aggression era:
The next five years saw ‘Ruthless Aggression Era’. The era became synonymous with aggressive wrestling, high-flying and risky maneuvers and was lauded for its quality for wrestling.
The era came on the backdrop of WWE’s purchase of WCW and the invasion angle. The sheer number of wrestlers in WWE gave birth to brand split, two top championships (WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship) and the concept of WWE Draft.
The era saw WWE’s version of NWO, the inception of Money in the Bank and numerous gimmick matches (TLC matches, Cage Matches, Ladder Matches, Hell in a cell matches etc.)
The Undertaker, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Eddie Gurrero, Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit were the most prominent superstars of these years.
This era also kick-started careers of future WWE superstars such as Randy Orton, Batista and John Cena.
Ruthless Aggression Era was followed by the PG era. The era - unpopular among the wrestling fraternity - had WWE trying to stay away from the controversy.
This era was similar to the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling era where John Cena became the cornerstone of the company as Hogan had done during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
PG era marked the end of swearing, adultery and bloodshed on the television. WWE also dropped the word ‘Wrestling’ and became an entertainment product.
The era came on the back of Chris Benoit's double murder-suicide case and Linda McMahon’s senate ambitions; it highlighted WWE’s desire to stay away from controversies.
John Cena and Randy Orton were the biggest names of this era. They were two of the safest people to rely on, both having strong gimmicks and solid image amongst the audience. This era is regarded as the worst in WWE history and finally, it was over in 2011.
This brings us to our ongoing Reality era. This era began somewhere around 2011 (some point on or after 17th July 2011 when CM Punk defeated John Cena in a match for the WWE Championship and then walked out of the company to come back a few days later).
The ‘glass ceiling’ as CM Punk called it, during his infamous ‘pipebomb’ was broken and guys like Punk, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler began to claim their stake among the elites of the company.
The type of wrestling has changed, fights have become more intense with sequences of brilliantly crafted wrestling moves. WWE also began to focus on digital media platform as they launched WWE Network and took social media and its feedback seriously.
CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns are a few of the most prominent of this era. Other wrestlers such as Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus are other important superstars of the ongoing era.
After having discussed the WWE product of the last two decades, let’s discuss more about the current product.
Today’s WWE is a combination of all three eras which preceded Reality era: there are strong gimmicks such as that of Bray Wyatt (similar to those in Attitude Era), gimmick matches such as Hell in a cell (a whole PPV), Money in the Bank, TLC (a whole PPV for TLC matches) and PG content.
But the Reality era has its own feature - segments of technical wrestling and wrestlers with a strong technical wresting background. WWE, beyond Cena and Orton, have largely thrived on CM Punk, Jack Swagger, Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett, Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins to carry their show.
A closer look at the list sets a pattern- nearly everyone came up from an Indie background; they joined WWE after a strong foundation laid in technical wrestling.
Thus, these are brilliant wrestlers. WWE is a wrestling organization. It may appear to present itself as an entertainment product but it should not look to go away from wrestling. The focus given on technical abilities of a wrestler in WWE NXT should be brought into the main product.
WWE already has two important things which makes a wrestling organization successful - the name and brilliant wrestlers. If this is combined with management decisions and directions in the best interests for organization, WWE can become the best professional wrestling organization for her wrestling.
Therefore I said, the WWE roster in this era can deliver the best product for the company.