As an ardent WWE follower for almost 2 decades now, it feels strange to say that it's for the first time that I've been feeling alien to the product that I've devoted so much of my time to over the years. Performers changed, parental guidelines changed, approaches changed (to an extent), mediums of watching changed.. hell the entire quality of presentation changed but never once did I feel that I am watching something other than the good ol' sports entertainment version of professional wrestling, something which made me get into the product in the first place.
Now, it goes without saying that most of the members on this board have strong unequivocal views about the performer that is A.J Styles, rightfully so to an extent. I, as a viewer don't have rigid views over which type of performer deserves to excel and which doesn't, though I have my preferences like anybody else but I'm more than open to give everybody a chance, given they work their way up and prove themselves in the setting they're subjected to and what most of the viewers watch if for. Which brings me to the dissection of the first two weeks of the highly anticipated run of the "hottest free agent in sports entertainment" A.J Styles, who more than just being a character can be a manifestation of the death of WWE programming as we know it itself.
This guy makes his debut at the Royal Rumble, huge pop.. flashy entrance.. all good and then.. the camera again cuts to Roman Reigns having a concerned look on his face. Let that sink in folks, THE WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION
, the guy who is the representative of your entire product looking concerned about someone who most of the worldwide WWE audience has never seen
, a person who he outweighs by 50 lbs and dwarfs by 4 inches and quite frankly looks terribly mismatched in the physical department.. for what? It was as comical as it was depressing.
In the first weeks seeing him these are the some of the fundamentals I can deduce of his skill set and the lack of it :
* Poor on the mic.
* Average at playing a face. ( Many of his own followers have themselves testified to this.)
* Hardly any physical imposive-ness over anybody, a genuine lightweight.
* Robotic wrestling, hardly any emotive actions towards anybody.. generic as hell. The typical ARRIVE ----> MOVEzZzZz ----> LEAVE type of competitor.
* And the most important : A very
Already been addressed as the "hottest free agent in sports entertainment" at the start, 2 weeks later, this guy has gone CLEAN over 2 WM main eventers
. It's a travesty that the PROMO OF THE YEAR THUS FAR
was cut not for the benefit of the guy delivering it.. but for just so that this bland generic 210 lbs babyface with "apparently" great wrestling skills gets atleast some character and doesn't get embarrassed like he did at his entrance coming out to crickets despite beating a former WM main eventer a week before ( so much for wrestling skills).
And here-in lies the problem, this guy has done absolutely nothing to command the position that he does. Anybody else of his template debuting on the main roster would be starting off as a generic low carder
. It's just because only now, after so many years has there developed a demographic of solely " technical wrestling enthusiasts" who the WWE has to cater to and bring in talents like A.J Styles the likes of which wouldn't have been even seen on Heat and Velocity 15 years ago, the likes of which whose fans have many times unequivocally told me that A.J Styles is already " The best wrestler on the roster
. No, he isn't people.. far from it.. he's 5 rungs below even performers like Del Rio.
It even gets better, now there is news that some more similar guys are coming from Japan, if we are to go by what A.J Styles has shown us thus far.. I can safely say that WWE is well on it's way towards losing what made it different and famous in the first place and is heading towards a real terminal decline. I remember discussing in 2002 with friends about how The Undertaker's Big Evil heel run has been so badass thus far and how it has rejuvenated his career just because he looks more imposing and deadly.. say now that someone looks badass and you'd be called a closet homosexual in no time.
In the end, I just want to say as a fan who grew up being vowed by the magical display of character roleplay and charisma of The Undertaker, by the engrossing and highly entertaining mic work of The Rock and by the immaculate storytelling and in ring psychology of Shawn Michaels, I'm disappointed that now the only thing it takes to reach the main event in the WWE is to wrestle some 4.75 * matches on the other side of the world in a completely different setting and in-front of a completely different demographic. It almost feels that WWE is alienating itself from the very line of implementation that has made it the biggest professional wrestling organization in the world. just saddening.
Sorry for the long post, just felt like something I had to get off my chest.