Why The WWE Needs To Get Younger, Plus 5 Things We Liked About Hell In The Cell
When it comes to fantasy drafts, the old reliable veteran is never the preferred option. They are boring, due for a major regression, and simply not sexy. Every owner wants to draft the sexy young player that is poised to break out, ignoring possible red flags along the way. This past year, players like Andre Johnson and Roddy White were passed over for younger version of themselves. In theory, it makes plenty of sense. You want to have the younger, more exciting players on your team, rather than someone you think could break down. It doesn’t matter what sport we are talking about though. Every owner and general manager wants to continue to get younger and better. Look at the New York Mets, who are starting four young pitchers in the World Series. If they had stuck with Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese in the rotation, it’s certainly no guarantee that they would be where they are right now. So why does WWE refuse to get away from these veterans, when the rest of sports yearns to be younger?
Nostalgia is one thing. Everyone always likes seeing their favorite player come back to a hero’s welcome in a Ring of Honor celebration or a jersey retirement ceremony. WWE has their Hall of Fame, Old School Raw, and Slammy Awards for nights like those. They are the perfect night to have a legend appear and to touch upon some of the great history of the company. Loading up on veterans on an edition of Raw before a PPV that you need to sell though, is just not the way to be successful. Fans all want the young stud, not the boring old guy.
We are told that WWE skews younger now, that they are family entertainment. It’s why we have the TV-PG rating in place. If WWE is trying to satisfy their young fan, I understand, (albeit disagree), with pushing John Cena to the moon. He is the young fan’s favorite, the superman, and superman doesn’t ultimately lose. The part that I can’t fathom is the reliance on featuring former wrestlers like Steve Austin, Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels. Austin may be the biggest draw of all time and Flair and Michaels are probably the best two performers ever, however, your fan base just doesn’t remember their achievements well enough to appreciate them. Ric Flair’s hey day was the 1980s. Steve Austin was a super star in the late 1990s. Michaels retired over five years ago. Trotting these legends out instead of pushing the current talent, essentially tells the fan base that these guys are more important than the ones you see every week. The current fan base looks at Austin, Flair and Michaels, much like as a current New York Giants fan looks at Lawrence Taylor, Phil Simms and Michael Strahan. Taylor and Simms retired decades ago, and while they were incredible football players, they aren’t doing anything to help the Giants on Sunday. Strahan, a more recent retiree and a player who is around more often than not, is certainly more current but still equally as helpful.
We’ve talked previously about how the part timers come in during WrestleMania season, to make a paycheck. It’s when Triple H, The Rock, and Undertaker show up more regularly. That’s a separate problem, because at least they are actually wrestling. Steve Austin was brought out last Monday night to simply introduce the Undertaker. Both of these men are in their 50s. What was the point? Shawn Michaels was brought out to tell Seth Rollins, the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and someone that Michaels will never wrestle, how much better Michaels is than him. Flair, who has been on television semi-regularly crying over his daughter, WWE Divas Champion Charlotte, was brought in to introduce Roman Reigns. None of these legends did anything of significance. They showed up, collected a paycheck and left, only to be brought back again to do something similar in a few months. Their appearances are becoming more meaningless by every arrival.
Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen the ratings for Raw hit catastrophic lows. Less people are watching weekly than ever before. At least in 1997, when the ratings were this low, people were watching Nitro and the NWO. If I need my wrestling fix, I’m much more likely to watch NXT on the WWE Network, rather than turn on Raw. While it is owned by WWE, NXT is about the young guns, the new talent. Today, in 2015, the wrestlers that are going after the main championships in the company are all in their mid 40s. Kane, has been employed with WWE for over 20 years and has a gimmick that is long outdated, no matter this split personality nonsense. D’Von and Bubba Ray Dudley both returned to WWE a few months ago and are the most decorated tag team of all time. Yet, they have also been on the national scene for two decades. The Undertaker, who was in the main event of Hell in a Cell, is 50.
In sports, both in fantasy and reality, we are trying to get younger and find the breakout superstar. Yes, C.J. Anderson and Jeremy Hill look like fantasy draft busts. Sure, draft picks don’t always work out as we expect. Even still, WWE needs to quit relying on older guys that we look back at fondly to carry today’s product. Fans ask for guys like Dolph Ziggler and Cesaro to be pushed. The problem is they aren’t even young anymore. Ziggler is 35, Cesaro 34. They have toiled so long in the WWE system that they have lost their youth and their ability to be the hot young new superstar WWE so desperately needs. The company’s reliance on the past killed a possible better future. This concept needs to end now, before younger potential superstars like Roman Reigns (30), Dean Ambrose (29), Seth Rollins (29) and Bray Wyatt (28), get just as stale.
Here are five things we liked about last night’s, Hell in a Cell.
Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker
Over the past month, the buildup was essentially a video package. WWE knew they didn’t need to give the fans anything to make them buy into the Undertaker and Lesnar going at it one last time, inside Hell in a Cell. The match lived up to the hype, as it was a bloody, brutal battle, which saw Lesnar expose the wood in the ring in a cool moment. I also really enjoyed the callback to the Summerslam match, with Lesnar conquering the Undertaker once again, this time with a dramatic low blow. Perhaps my favorite moment here, though, was the very end. With the Undertaker basking in the glory of possibly his last match (except not possibly at all, considering that next month’s PPV Survivor Series is marketed completely around him), the entire Wyatt family came down and brutalized the deadman. For months, the Wyatts toiled against the former Shield and fans have yearned for Bray to just turn into a babyface. Instead, after last night, Bray and his family became even more demonic. Wyatt, no doubt trying to avenge his WrestleMania loss, had his family carry out the Undertaker and I expect Survivor Series to be headlined by the Wyatt Family taking on the Undertaker, Kane and two others (The Dudley Boyz perhaps)? It was just nice seeing Bray become a violent monster again. Which leads to….
Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns
In general, both Hell in a Cell matches really delivered. The matches are no longer based around the insane crazy Cell spots anymore, and that’s a good thing. Wyatt and Reigns fought each other with chairs, kendo sticks, and tables and it was plenty brutal. While I didn’t love both men hulking up repeatedly after all of the physicality, I guess this is one of those suspend disbelief moments. For once, there really was no interference and the two (supposed) biggest future stars looked like it. Reigns, who has already main evented a WrestleMania, continued to earn his good will back from the fans with last night’s performance. Wyatt, who obviously factored into the ending of the show, is just firing on all cylinders right now and I just wish the company would let him run with it. When he does eventually become a babyface, he is going to be huge. Excellent work here.
The Return of Alberto Del Rio
Although there were murmurs of Del Rio talking to WWE again, he being the one to answer John Cena’s open challenge, was a big surprise that I didn’t see reported anywhere. Del Rio can always go, and last night reaffirmed that. Del Rio looked in great shape and his chemistry with Cena is always outstanding. The fact that he won cleanly in a relatively quick match, with a relatively harmless move (especially after Cena’s classics with Kevin Owens earlier this year), was a big surprise. I understand that Cena is going away for a couple of months, but I was still surprised Del Rio beat him so easily. Despite looking wonderful last night, and it being a nice surprise, I’m already afraid of getting bored of Del Rio. His work has always been top notch, but his character bored the hell of me, as he fell into the Sheamus category. I’m sure they will be teaming up/wrestling each other multiple times over the next year and they will both be stuck in mid-card purgatory. I definitely can get excited about a potential Dolph Ziggler/Del Rio program though, harkening back to their prior feuds.
The Amount of Clean Finishes
Constantly in WWE, in the 50-50 booking philosophy, it always seems like when a heel wins a match, it’s not without interference. Even when the babyface wins, there is always some sort of unresolved doubt involved. However, Hell in a Cell really felt like a blowoff night for many of the current rivalries we are seeing, which means we are about to enter the final phase of the year before the Road to WrestleMania begins. Every match had a decisive, clean ending, other than the tag team title match, which honestly seemed clean enough. I was just impressed with the lack of shenanigans throughout the night. Hell, I don’t even think there was a single roll up surprise victory, which is usually unheard of on a WWE PPV.
Seth Rollins Wins A Match!
Perhaps the person that needed a clean win more than anyone, the WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION mind you, finally got one. Yes, we all knew he would beat Kane, but it was nice that there was no tights grabbing, weaponry or outside interference. The champ of the company just beat his top contender, clean In the center of the ring. While I did not enjoy the match very much, Rollins continues to prove that he can work with anyone and come out looking like a star. WWE may want to keep telling us how much better Michaels is/was, but right now Rollins carries the company every night, with his performance in the ring. While his title reign has been a relative disaster, at least his performances are constant highlights on the show.
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