It was still extremely cartoony. In a serious promotion guys like road warrior and sting would not get pushed because of their size and look or be painted up the way they were. You mentioned certain things but overuse of gimmick matches, black scorpion, White Castle of fear, Shock Master etc put it in same bracket as what Vince was doing not what was happening between 1900-1950Whaaaa?
- WCW before Hogan and from about 1996-1998/1999 was generally pretty serious. Granted they had a few goofy characters (Dungeon Of Doom, Glacier, Robocop) the main events were serious stories that were realistic in their approach. The nWo became a huge deal because of just how serious and realistic it was and the silly shit was generally kept to a segment or two a week.
I should point out this is what us pro wrestling used to be. A time when pro wrestling was still considered a sport and shared the back and front pages of newspapers with football, baseball, boxing
TNA the company that gave us claire Lynch, fish market Street fight, reverse battle royal, electrified steel cage match, lock box challenge, Jenna Morasca wrestling on ppv- I'd argue TNA for the majority of it's life was pretty serious also. They didn't do a whole lot of exposing the business in their peak and offered a more serious and realistic alternative to what WWE was doing at the time. I was a long time TNA fan and I remember the only time I was really insulted was when Matt Hardy became "broken" and fought his brother with drones and shot explosives at him. Now they do really stupid comedy shit all the time and book intergender stuff but for the entirety of Dixie's run it was generally serious wrestling.
They tried to out-zany Vince
Roh weren't on national TV though. 2005-09 was probably most serious any known us promotion got in last 30 because ecw was zany as fuck, uswa and away went full on crazy.- I don't follow ROH anymore but when I did their style was always quite serious also. That might have changed as it's been a few years since I was actively following.
When business started to fall in 2001 Vince went full on car crash and obviously it flopped.- Hell, you could even argue certain time periods in the WWE were super serious. I don't remember too much silliness from like 01-04/05 from the WWE.
Night after survivor series 2001 you had Vince pulling down his pants and making people kiss his ass, hla, Al Wilson, Katie Vick, Heidenreich raping Cole, Eugene, Goldberg in a wig,.. attitude era or today actually would have been a better period to pick
I have issues with aew (some big ones) but I don't think they are exposing the business any worse than a giant chicken man hatching from an egg, RoboCop saving sting, a guy who thinks he is a rooster, a wrestling manbull, a clown and bunch of midget wrestling clowns, group of wrestlers running around the ring after a raw turkey, undertaker dying and ascending to heaven, a 7 foot mummy born out of a block of ice, 80 year old woman given birth to a hand, a leprechaun and land of little people living under the ring.I assume this post is going to have people saying "On TNA June 4th, 2005 AJ Styles wore a turkey suit to the ring and wrestled in it!" and you all are probably right. I'm talking general tone of these shows though. I'd say AEW has done more comedy and exposing of the business than anyone on national television in a long time (Maybe ever)
There has been so much silly shit in us pro wrestling over the past 35 years that stuff like Marko stunt or orange Cassidy doesn't bother me. Once Vince cut that 'welcome to the attitude era' spiel in 1997 he told everyone this is fake and we borrow from cartoons/comedies etc.