With the Survivor Series upon us, it is a good time to remember what the WWE and pro wrestling was, before it became the unfortunate perennial game of insider baseball that it is now.
The Survivor Series is one of the iconic WWE Pay-Per-Views, along with the Royal Rumble, SummerSlam and, of course, WrestleMania.
Vince McMahon coming out of the closet, so to speak, as the owner of the WWE and not just an announcer, in the aftermath of the 1997 Survivor Series, both saved and badly hurt pro wrestling. It’s been 16 years since McMahon screwed Bret Hart and turned the business upside down in the process.
McMahon, the genius that he is, made himself the ultimate heel and focal point of WWE storylines in 1997, but unfortunately it’s a formula that has been copied to death and has far overrun its course.
WCW did it, TNA did it and the WWE hasn’t stopped doing it — Eric Bischoff, John Laurinaitus Vicki Guerrero, Brad Maddox or Triple H as the heel CEO or General Manager. The WWE even liked the concept so much that for nearly a year it had an anonymous general manager who sent emails on live TV to WWE announcer Michael Cole.
The current storyline with Triple H as the center of attention as the heel CFO isn’t exactly lighting up the WWE ratings. The WWE needs to remember that the public has always loved professional wrestling because of the in-ring action, not because of the storylines.
Nobody really cares anymore who is running the company, they just want to see good action in the ring and good storylines among the wrestlers. The problem is that the WWE doesn’t have any tremendous heels who can serve in the role of antagonist, so McMahon and the heel general manager has to play that role.
It’s a formula that needs to change. The idea that a wrestler such as Daniel Bryan isn’t big enough to be WWE champion should not be aired publicly inside the ring on live TV. Who cares how big he is? Who would win in a real fight between Bryan and most of the other wrestlers.
The WWE should just build great storylines based on the simple traditions: good guy vs. bad guy, justice vs. wronging, fairness vs. justice. Who cares who the CEO is?
Back when Hulk Hogan beat the Iron Sheik to win the WWE title and set off the sport’s biggest mainstream era, nobody cared about who was in the front office. The fans just wanted to see wrestling.