Re: The Over 30 year old WWE fan thread
I remember reading about Ric Flair in the late 80's/early 90's. By than I had just discovered who he was, despite him being a top star in the Southern territories for years, decades even. But I was always a true WWF guy, I just had such a connection at a young age to some of those over the top characters. Bush Whackers, Jim Duggan, Ted Dibiase (his promo's and vignettes were the best!), Berserker, Kamala, Hart Foundation, Rockers, Jake Roberts, Brutus the Barber Beefcake, early scary Taker with Paul Bearer, the Legion of Doom, Roddy Piper, the Model Rick Martel, Texas Tornado, El Matador Tito Santana, Hercules, Hogan, Warrior, Savage, Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Srgnt. Slaughter, Miss Elizabeth being as the first lady of wrestling, Vince on commentary, Heenan and Monsoon, Mr. Perfect, Sean Mooney, Mean Gene, the list goes on and on. Years later, I still remember those names and a vivid memory pops up every time I think of them. I had no idea who Flair was until he came to the WWF. I heard about how he wasn't the same in the Federation, he was watered down, not over with the crowd, and it was true, the WWF fans never truly embraced him during his short early 90's run with the company. At least the majority didn't. When he left, he didn't burn bridges, and now is widely considered a WWF legend. They've made stars for years and continue doing so, the WWE machine is sheer brilliance and its dominance on the industry and world as a whole is not to be overlooked.
The 80's and early 90's for me was the best period because lets be honest, at the time, a lot of folks still questioned whether or not it was real! You could suspend disbelief for a moment and get caught up in the wacky world of the WWF, even through the duds and missteps, you always knew that in the end your favorite hero would prevail. That's the thing, the difference than and now is that the hero's they created were much more revered to the talent of today. People point to the Attitude Era as the defining and shining moment of wrestling, but I happen to think that along with the great that came from it is a bit of responsibility for exposing the business and setting the sensationalism bar way too high to ever re-create. The WWF buried the business the moment it screwed Bret Hart, and some would argue even before that with some of the "real life" promo's that were being shot in 97. In terms of the late 90's, 97 still is my favorite year. Only because I was a Hart Foundation mark and enjoyed their feuds with the likes of the Nation of Domination and DX. I always found it interesting that 3 heel factions were feuding at the time. You'll never see that duplicated again. That was a year in WWF history that set the stone for the AE.
I switched ever so rarely to WCW to see what was going on, but deep down, I was always a WWF guy first and foremost. Hadn't much cared for Nitro except for a few spurts after the nWo was created. Otherwise, even during the down mid 90's, I still watched some boring ass Raw's every Monday night. There were times where you wouldn't necessarily see it on TV, but you could sense the arena's were half empty. The noise level was just so low that no dark lighting could hide it. But I still watched, because seeing Doink the Clown, Lex Luger, Razor Ramon, Diesel, Shawn, Bret, Owen, Yokozuna, Taker, etc., was still great TV for me. I was still fairly young at the time. By the time my teens came around, I grew with the product, which is why at 15-18 years of age, the WWF AE was more suited for a kid my age. There wasn't the same advent of the internet back then (can't count AOL 3.0 chat rooms and punting people using progz), so it wasn't as prevalent to watch sex, violence and vulgarity online anytime I want to. You had Springer and a few other talk shows like Jenny Jones and Maury, but otherwise, the WWF really changed with the times when they went balls to the wall in the late 90's.
Now looking back, it's all just classic wrestling that at one point, had a place in history. Despite the fact that people call these the "down years", in so many words, there's still some special matches that have taken place and will continue to take place so long as the WWE realizes the importance of match quality. Despite the flack that the WWE gets for their "lack" of wrestling, the PPV's are still unmatched in terms of what the superstars bring to the table. You can rest assured knowing that Jericho, Punk, Bryan, or even Cena, will bring it in a big time match. They know the history, they know what they're up against, and trust me, these guys hear the comparisons and obviously want to create their own history so one day people will speak of them as we sit here and speak of the stars that we enjoyed in the 80's and 90's. The product may not be as risky as it was 15 years ago, but remember, the same things that shocked people than, don't necessarily shock people now. The WWE went the "shocking" route in 2006 and it didn't do much for them. I enjoy the product regardless and will continue to support them if only because they've brought me so much entertainment throughout my life that I can't help but continue to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Marking for Shawn Michaels mullet and hairy chest since 1992.