So, was Raw 1000 any good?

James Giles

A few days ago on this blog, I asked the question of whether RAW 1000th episode would be any good. I didn’t doubt that it would be a mostly entertaining show, based on WWE was planning, but had concerns that it wouldn’t do much to prepare more stars for the future.

So what is the answer to the above question? Well the short version is: yes, it was indeed a good overall show that provided many great memorable moments. But the long version? A different story altogether….

In this piece, I will be taking a close look at what I felt was good and what was not so good, the reasons why, and what it could potentially mean going forward.

The Good

D-X Reunion

The biggest highlight of the night for me was the one-off regrouping of D-generation X members HHH, Shawn Michaels, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn and X-Pac. After Vince McMahon’s surprisingly humble and understated opening, HHH and HBK kicked things off to an impressive reaction. After starting their popular routine, Michaels paused to tell Hunter that he felt something was missing: “Didn’t there used to be more of us?” That line got massive pop, and with it the others arrived in the familiar jeep and joined in with the heart-warming nostalgia piece. They span off all the classic catchphrases and HHH got in a few insider jokes (which worked well in context). All the guys seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves, and rightly revelling in the crowd’s reaction.

D-X role in the Attitude era sometimes feels understated, but this show was proof of how over their characters, and the whole concept of D-X, was during the 1998-2001 glory days. Admittedly it was of no real relevance to the current or future product, but on a night that was celebrating the best of RAW, it couldn’t have been more appropriate.

Brother of Destruction

Much like the above, the return of The Undertaker and re-uniting with his ‘brother’ Kane was all about nostalgia for the Attitude Era; the Brother of Destruction were never more over (as a team) than during this period, and they’ve been involved in many a classic RAW moment. I’ve been a die-hard fan of both since their respective debuts, and was heartened to hear a “this is awesome” chant break out at one point. But few quibbles made it fall just behind the D-X reunion for me. One minor one was that I would like to have seen them more classic attire to befit the occasion. A somewhat more major one was that a whole bunch of lower card guys had to get slaughtered in the process.

I know full well that it was inevitable in an angle like this, but the fact that something similar happened a few other times on this show didn’t help. Still, the audience lapped in up, so almost seems remiss to nick pick.

C M Punk heel turn

Much more engaging and entertaining as heel, thanks to his self-righteous character naturally lending itself to villainy, it was a relief to finally see Punk go back to the dark-side. He did it in spectacular, show closing fashion too, pounding his more-than-likely ‘Rumble opponent The Rock, and being the lasting talking point as RAW went off the air. Probably the only sensible thing WWE did with long-term planning in mind, it has opened up a fresh new batch of scenarios leading into Wrestlemania 29. Props should go to The Rock for selling it well and allowing himself to shown as vulnerable in his first appearance for a while.

The only real grumble here is that the actual bout between Punk and Cena wasn’t very exciting; they should have rammed it with near falls to crank the tension up, as the pace often felt too slow which drained it of much atmosphere. The DQ ending also felt cheap, but if they are planning a rematch at Summerslam then it mostly made sense.

Reaction to HHH

The HHH/Lesnar segment got off to a slow start; the banter between HHH, Heyman and the Stephanie McMahon wasn’t very interesting, in-spite of how competent they all are on the mike. It wasn’t until Lesnar finally ran out to confront the Game that things picked up. The reaction to Brock was somewhat muted, but given how little he has been on the programming, that wasn’t surprising. However, whenever HHH got any moves in during their mini-brawl, the audience erupted; it is one of the loudest face reactions to Helmsley I’ve ever heard. Clearly the crowd was on a HHH-high after the D-X reunion, but hopefully The Game can ride the wave of popularity all the way to Summerslam. It is exactly what is needed to give their match that special aura, as the anticipation was fairly low for many before this show.

IC Title Match

OK, so the outcome of the battle absolutely sucked; why The Miz, after his destruction by Cena and subsequent months of burial, was selected as new champ is anyone’s guess. But from an in-ring action stand-point, the bout was the best of the night. The fans seemed underwhelmed, but for me this had the pace and flow the main event should have done. It was a shame to see an ultra-talented mid-carder like Christian, who was gaining momentum, lose on the most watched episode of the year. And Dolph Ziggler would have been a much better choice, if they had to do a switch.

Still they both gave a great effort and performed admirably. The introductions by the legendary Bret Hart were also a welcome touch, even if his mention of Mr Perfect lent it a bit of melancholy. Pity they didn’t allow him to talk more; Bret would have been the ideal choice to help emphasise the importance of the IC Title.

The Not-so-good

The AJ/Bryan Wedding

Totally flat and lacking the usual zaniness that accompanies WWE weddings, this segment was mostly a massive failure for me. The fans didn’t seem to give a toss about Slick, but given that the other nostalgia was geared directly at the Attitude Era, it doesn’t seem shocking. If WWE had thought to add a few more pre ’98 faces, then he may not have seemed so irrelevant. But then, there wasn’t a whole lot (good) that was memorable about the New Generation Era, was there? I’d half expected to see The Godfather arrive to tempt Bryan away with his bevy of Ho’s, but alas it wasn’t to be in these PG days.

The end (of sorts) in which AJ was revealed as the new GM was another dud; after the build up of both story threads, it was a disappointing end, and the audience showed their apathy by barely reacting, and I did the same at home. With nothing much else to say about it, lets move onto the next bit, which followed this directly…

The Return of The Rock

It do love The Rock, he is phenomenal talent on the stick, and a tremendous worker (when he pushes himself); unfortunately, the booking logic during this angle was totally fucked up, and soured the appearance of one of my long-time faves. Announcing that you have been granted a World Title match 6 months from now, despite not being a full time wrestler or having done anything in particular to earn it, feels like a huge slap in the face to the full-time guys. When The Rock was thrust into the main event of WM 28 after several years in the wilderness (i.e. Hollywood), there was a lot of talk of backstage resentment. In that instance, it wasn’t justified; The Rock main event status on the show was a larger factor in its record-breaking gross than any other, and everyone in the company benefitted from it financially. Also, The Rock was facing Cena in a legend Vs legend, once-in-a-lifetime capacity, and nothing other than pride was on the line.

However, returning again after a several month absence, and injecting yourself straight into the future Title picture is another kettle of fish; a championship shot is something that should be emphasised as being earned through hard work, not how big a name value you are. The belt is there as a reward for the full-time guys, a show of faith that WWE believes you have reached the upper echelon and can draw big. Unless he is intending on resuming full-time duties, The Rock should be kept out of the title picture; he already firmly entrenched in the top-bracket and there are many other legends he could work with instead. If they want to book Punk Vs The Rock, it should be done at ‘Mania, and be non-title.

Another casualty here was Bryan, who after suffering through the lousy wedding, was insulted by Punk and The Rock before being left flat on his back with a Rock Bottom. It really wasn’t his night at all.

Charlie Sheen on Skype

What can I say about these interminable moments really? Worst celebrity involvement in WWE ever? Quite possibly. At least they were all pretty short, but really they should never have happened. Still, being a long-term WWE fan, I’ve developed the ability to block these things out of my memory.

No Stone Cold

For all the brilliant nostalgia, it was totally gutting to not have a live appearance from the most important character in the history of RAW’s evolution. The montage of clips they ran somehow made it worse; being reminded of some of the wonderful moments he created only made his absence more disappointing. Some are speculating that Austin might be convinced to return for a feud and match with C M Punk at WM 29, but seeing how he didn’t make himself available for this show, it seems unlikely.

Overall

The show definitely had more great moments than bad, even considering the gaping flaws in the entire Wedding segment, and provided a solid 3 hours of entertainment that most B-level PPVs don’t. But the problem was that most of the fun and satisfaction was gained through pure nostalgia; trading off past glories was the theme of the night and although it was done in a joyful and affectionate fashion, it did nothing to prepare WWE for the future. The interactive elements gave me some encouragement and obviously Punks heel turn was smart decision, but Punk is already well established and as I stated before, unless WWE makes more new stars, then the interactive advances will become redundant. That said, I am more enthusiastic about seeing where WWE goes next than I have been for a long time, and that in itself is big positive for me.

A take on Raw 1000

Craig Wilson

To say I was excited about Raw’s 1000th episode is an understatement. I couldn’t watch it live on Monday so recorded it with the intention of watching it last night, which I did. I didn’t even check my twitter feed – in fear of spoilers – or log on to 411mania or Wrestlezone in fear of finding out the results.

Was it worth the wait? Despite a promising start, no it wasn’t. There were positives, sure, but there were plenty of negatives as well and I felt the show dragged a little. I’ll do the positives first.

DX: Absolutely awesome seeing DX back. The introduction from Vince was a nice touch but great to see the whole cast, minus Chyna, back for this one. A really entertaining segment as was the one with HHH and Trish Stratus later on.

CM Punk’s heel turn: CM Punk is a fantastic character and my favourite guy on the current roster but his act is even more entertaining when he’s a bad guy so I’m looking forward to finding out how this heel run goes. It was also great to see him laying out The Rock as well, a brilliant way to end the show.

JR commentating: Sporting a snazzy goatee, it was great to have JR in the commentary again albeit for only the one match-up. Considering many of the historic moments from Raw’s history are voiced over by him, it was only fitting that he be part of the show.

The Undertaker’s return: Probably tied with the DX reunion as the best return of the evening. Not only did we get an amazing Undertaker style entrance but we got to see him and Kane lay out guys with Tombstone piledrivers. I’m no’ fan of the ‘taker but that was cool.

The APA: This was a curveball and a half. I never even thought about The APA in the run up to the show but the audience were clearly delighted to see them and possibly the last ever Clothesline from Hell.

And on to the negatives:

No Stone Cold: I was waiting the whole show for the sound of glass smashing and Austin hitting the ring, hell even if all he did was toast a beer in the ring to Raw 1000 then it would have been amazing. Stone Cold has a central role not only in the history of Raw but also the fact that there is still a WWE and whilst I don’t know the reason for his absence, it was a pity he wasn’t there.

The Wedding: What a colossal waste of time that was and even a cool cameo from Slick couldn’t save it.

AJ as GM: Leading on from the previous negative, this was anti-climatic to say the least…

Social Media/Charlie Sheen: Yeah maybe the Tout stuff could be good so I won’t comment too early but the whole Charlie Sheen stuff seemed like a colossal waste of time for everyone concerned. After heavy billing of his appearance at Raw 1000, all Charlie Sheen did was ramble from time to time on a Skype video to the commentators. Bizarre to say the least.

Bret Hart: Now, I hasten to add that in no way do I regard Bret Hart as a negative generally. He’s my favourite wrestler of all time. He’s in the negative column because he wasn’t used properly. It was brilliant to hear him name check Mr. Perfect but the fact he got such little time was a massive shame.

Legend Overkill: The legends were part of the reason I tuned in but I thought the WWE overdid it. I wasn’t expecting every legend to get five minutes mic time or anything but a number of them got nothing more than a cameo in a backstage skit.

Miz beating Christian: Do the WWE even have a strategy for the Intercontinental title or are they set on just bouncing it between guys till they find the right champion?! I guess it probably heralds the fightback for The Miz but, still, there are other guys on the roster far more deserving of a run with the belts.

So that’s my thoughts, what do you guys all think?

Raw 1000 An admission: Part of me is excited

Craig Wilson

So, the buzz on the interweb, and certainly on Twitter, has surrounded tonight’s 1000th episode of Raw – hell it even has a hashtag that’s been trending all day. Readers of this fair blog, who incidentally have helped get 10,000 views since February so thanks for that, will have noted my apathy for the WWE product of late so you would expect me not to really care about tonight’s episode of Raw. Right? Well, wrong. I am excited. Raw 1000 is a huge milestone that the WWE and all associated with the programme deserve credit for. It’s the longest running episodic television programme in America. That’s incredible. From its humble one hour beginnings back in 1993 to its current 3 hour long showing, it’s changed the face of wrestling for good, and for bad, for a number of reasons and yeah, I’m excited, but, and there’s always a but, my excitement in itself highlights part of the problem.

The problem, you may or may not be asking, can be summed up in one word. That word? Nostalgia. That’s right. Those that read this blog will have picked up by now that yours truly, and if I can momentarily speak for the others, James and Jamie, we are all suckers for nostalgia. Heck, if you presented me with the choice of re-watching this year’s Wrestlemania or Wrestlemania X then 99 times out of a 100 I’d opt for the 1994 showpiece from MSG. That said, nostalgia shouldn’t be a good enough reason on its own to watch the show.

Tonight’s Raw will feature a cast of characters from ye olden days including, and these are just rumours/spoilers, Vader, Slick, Billy Gunn, Road Warrior Animal, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Steve Blackman and Bret Hart. Hell, there are likely to be up to 30 former WWE superstars and Divas present tonight at Raw and despite my general apathy towards the current product, I can’t NOT be excited by Raw 1000. It promises to offer me glimpses of the golden moments from Wrestling history that were my childhood and shaped my outlook when it came to the often crazy world of wrestling.

But, should I be watching Raw solely, as I have recently, for the guest appearances of Vader and Sid Vicious or do those moments themselves highlight part of the problem. As far as I am concerned, yes they do. However, it is not something that the WWE themselves are slow to tap into. One needs only look at the way that the WWE have built towards tonight’s milestone, legend after legend coming back to destroy Heath Slater on Raw and the WWE audience, and myself grudgingly, have lapped it up.

The challenge for the WWE is to cash in on the goodwill surrounding tonight’s episode and kick off a new era for Raw. As I’ve said previously, the current set-up has become stale. Vince McMahon has made a great play of the interactive and social media platforms that the 3 hour programme will use to freshen itself up and that’s all well and good. Today, a new Raw logo has been released. However, certainly as far as I’m concerned, it needs more than more social media and a new logo to freshen things up and make Raw the unmissable show it was.

So, yeah, I am looking forward to Raw 1000 and I will watch it. A DX reunion and Bret Hart being two particular highlights for me. The problem, in my eyes, for the WWE is that I am much less excited about Christian’s IC title defence and CM Punk’s world title one, despite them arguably being two of my favourite performers on the roster. Tonight’s a massive night for the WWE and they deserve it for the show they have produced but it is also an opportunity to see in a new era and it’s an opportunity this wavering WWE fan hopes that they grasp.

Why It’s TNA For Me

Craig Wilson

Following my post the other day about losing interest in the WWE I can take some solace from the fact that now; unlike at other times I’ve fallen out with the WWE, I have another source of wrestling to watch. Namely, TNA.

As far as I am concerned, TNA offers me everything that the WWE does not and contains little or none of the stuff that so annoys me about the current WWE product.

Where TNA is winning:

1) Creating stars: Look no further than current TNA Champion Austin Aries. After leaving ROH in 2010 to join the big time, Aries struggled and storyline fought for a contract at the 2011 Destination X. One year later and he’s top of the TNA mountain. Another example is the former Champion Bobby Roode. From tag team wrestler to TNA champion would have been so refreshing for a crowd that was growing weary of former WWE wrestlers as champions.

2) Correct amount of champions: Regular readers of this blog will be aware of how much of a bug bear this is for me. Whilst the WWE has both CM Punk and Sheamus holding top titles, there is only one TNA World Champion, namely Austin Aries. This works fine, it’s straightforward and there’s no confusion about it.

3) More focus on in-ring action: Sure, TNA isn’t immune from dodgy storylines – Dixie Carter & AJ Styles being one – and the general backstage stuff isn’t great but the focus is more on stuff in the ring rather than inane stuff out of it. This works for me. I want to see in-ring action not a glorified soap opera.

4) Cruiserweights: It’s great to see that TNA put a lot more faith in the cruiserweight division, hell, Destination X is a PPV heavily focussed on the Division X title. You wouldn’t see the WWE dedicate an entire PPV to a Cruiserweight title championship, would you? Yet TNA do it annually and in a very unique way.

5) Tag team wrestling: This is another point that won’t come as any surprise to those that read my musings on this blog. Not only do they have a tag division, they’ve also previously made strides to add prestige to the title. Having Angle and Sting hold it for a spell for starters. Also, they use tag team wrestling to successfully get duos over as single competitors and there is no better example of that than Beer Money, the longest reigning champions, with both Bobby Roode and James Storm going on to be big name singles competitors.

6) Caters to UK market better: Sure, we get house shows from WWE but they are thoroughly bland yet very expensive. It seems that TNA actually put on a show. I read an interview with Bobby Roode in Powerslam magazine and he talked about the reason that TNA were doing steel cage matches during their UK tour was because UK fans seldom saw such matches live. What a great, and refreshing, attitude that is that will go a long way to endearing them further to the UK market.

7) Less emphasis on former WWE stars: Mentioned this briefly in the first point, previously it appeared that having worked for the WWE was all that was needed for a gig with TNA which did nothing other than make TNA look second rate. All change now, sure there are former WWE guys there but the likes of Buh Buh Ray, Devon, RVD and Kurt Angle are there on merit and have earned their places.

I had tried TNA before, last year in fact, but wasn’t enthralled by it whatsoever seeing it as nothing more than an imitator of the WWE. It seems, however, they have gotten their act in gear and seem keen to plough their own furrow and that is to their immense credit. No longer attempting to imitate their rival, they are intent on creating their own brand of wrestling. The recent pay-per-views have been very impressive and Impact is a very solid TV show. Hell, take a look at this Bleacher Report article on ‘What worked and what didn’t at Destination X’ and you see a long list for what worked and one solitary thing that didn’t.

Sure, it still has problems. Lack of a franchise player hurts but it’s not easy to find the likes of John Cena. Whatever his faults, he is without question the best known, and biggest merchandise selling, wrestler in the USA. TNA have no one that can really compete with him in that respect. However the group deserve a lot of credit for trying to forge their own identity and do things different from the WWE.

Previously TNA tried to go to war with the WWE but failed and that hurt them. However, they are the second biggest wrestling promotion and should take some comfort from that. They should set themselves targets and goals and build from there. A slower approach will work and as the product improves and interest in TNA grows from disillusioned wrestling fans, then the future is very bright indeed.

RAW 1000th Episode: Will it be any good??

James Giles

After seemingly months of endless build up, the 1000th episode of RAW is finally just around the corner, due to air next Monday. Despite not giving much away about what will happen on the night, WWE has at last laid a few of it cards on the table; the three hour super-show will feature C M Punk Vs John Cena for the WWE Championship and the wedding of AJ and Daniel Bryan.

I’ve got to be honest, neither of those are particularly intriguing selling points for me. I’ve never been very impressed by Cena and Punks previous encounters (why their MITB 2011 match was awarded 5 Stars by Wrestling Observer I’ll never know), and the prospect of this bout leading to another feud between them going into Summerslam leaves me underwhelmed. The one solitary upside to it is that C M Punk, after months of being the champ but not main-eventing any PPV’s, may actually be in the top spot of Summerslam (but more likely as challenger than champion). As for the AJ/Bryan wedding? I really couldn’t care less. Wedding angles are some of the worst to ever air, and WWE has done every interesting variation (gay wedding, ‘unholy’ wedding etc.) of it already. I can’t see what new spin on it they may take; they are usually an excuse to have a lot of guest appearances, or occasionally a big storyline development. Either way, you can rest assured it will take up way too much air time, as wedding angles always do.

So what else can we expect from the show? The Rock will be making an appearance, presumably to sow the seeds of a match a Wrestlemania. It may seem early for that yet, but WWE spent a year building to Rock Vs Cena, so it wouldn’t be surprising. D-X (that is, HBK and HHH) are set to reunite again – why is anyone’s guess, but as Shawn Michael is retired, don’t expect them to be paired off against anyone. Their last reunion mostly featured segments full of juvenile or puerile humour, so expect more of the same from two men old enough to know much better. Also, Brock Lesnar is supposed to respond to HHH challenge, so hopefully he will make an appearance in the flesh. I’d almost forgotten he was still signed to WWE, so few and far between are mentions of him made. But I’ve always been a fan of Lesnar, and he and HHH never had a major clash during Lesnar’s original run, so I am looking forward to their match. I just hope WWE does enough engaging build in the next few weeks, cause I know many fans are not as excited about this feud as me.

WWE is also relentlessly pushing the interactive slant to the new RAW; so much so in fact, that they have invested some of their own dosh into Tout, a new video messaging service, which you will able to use to send messages to WWE stars as the show is in progress. Twitter interactively will be increasing too, with WWE saying that people will be able to vote for different match ups and match types. Many older, long time fans (including myself) are against this, and are irked by the obsession with social media. However, I do believe it could help attract a new younger audience, and a slightly wider one than it has now. As much as Twitter et al, do nothing for me personally, they are massively popular, and through them WWE could end up being embraced by a whole new generation.

Overall, I think the show will likely be very entertaining, but there are still a few things that concern me. The biggest draws for me are The Rock and the Lesnar/HHH situation, and both of them are because I love those guys from the Attitude Era. Having checked out WWE.com and their blurb, it is clear that barely anything on the show is being built around younger talent. I appreciate that it is important to celebrate the past at a milestone like this, but I would also be the perfect launching platform for a new superstar that could really draw for the company. The interactivity is good place to start pulling in a new crowd, but if there is no-one new and young for them to root for, what exactly is the point?

Remembering Jack Tunney

Craig Wilson

My first non-wrestler “Remembering” post was inspired by Jamie’s post the other day where he reminisced about the olden days in the WWE and mentioned the former President Jack Tunney, who sadly died in 2004 aged 68.

Jack Tunney was known worldwide for his appearances on WWF television as the promotion’s figurehead promoter, suspending wrestlers, stripping them of titles and ordering matches, all during the WWF’s 80’s boom period while Hulkamania was at its peak.

Perhaps lesser known was that Jack, born John Tunney, was actually from a long line of promoters in Toronto. His father, John Tunney, and his uncle Frank Tunney were promoters in Toronto of wrestling, with John being the head promoter until his sudden death., Tunney entered into employment with the company as they promoted all over southern Ontario, and what they didn’t promote, they still had control over, allowing small promoters to run small towns where it suited them.

When Frank Tunney died in May 1983, Jack Tunney and his cousin Eddy Tunney, Frank’s son, took control of the company. With the years of experience under his belt, Jack moved into the spotlight his uncle loved, and Eddy was a silent partner. In 1984 the two of them switched their allegiances from the NWA to Vince McMahon’s fledgling WWF and what a business masterstroke that proved to be. They began promoting only WWF cards, becoming another stop on the WWF circuit.

Tunney has successfully positioned himself as the WWF’s man in Canada and in the summer of
of 1984, he was named the company’s storyline “President”. This made him a household name across the world. However, the title was ceremonial only, as he held no backstage power beyond that of a regional promoter; as such, his main roles were that of a storyline authority figure and to announce major decisions or events on television.

Some of his major television appearances were iconic moments in WWF history including stripping the Million Dollar Man of the title after he bought it from Andre the Giant, restricting Demolition to only two members after Crush joined the team, distorting Ric Flair’s “real world title” on WWF television and banning Jack ‘the Snake’ Roberts from bringing his snake to ringside. His run with the WWF coincided with the the WWF’s boom period with the peak of his reign arguable being WrestleMania VI, the first WrestleMania held outside of the U.S., which saw 67,000 fans attend the event at the Toronto’s SkyDome.

As the 1990s progressed, his onscreen appearances decreased with one of his final major appearances coming at the start of 1994 when he declared Bret Hart and Lex Lugar as the co-winners of that year’s Royal Rumble. In 1995, McMahon chose to run the shows in Toronto without any involvement from the Tunneys and that year Tunney was forced out of the WWF. After leaving the WWF he retired and disappeared from the wrestling scene.

Jack died Saturday, January 24, 2004, in Lindsay, Ontario aged 68. Nobody from the WWE attended Tunney’s funeral, nor was his passing announced on WWE.com. He will, however, be fondly remembered by WWF fans for his appearance with the company and the memorable, and iconic, moments he was involved in during his spell as WWF President.

What’s Wrong and What’s Right with WWE

Jamie Lithgow

In every era of professional wrestling you will find good things and bad things. On this blog we like the ‘good old days’ but we will freely admit that for every Stone Cold Steve Austin in the Attitude era there was also a Tiger Ali Singh. First I’m going to look at what’s right with WWE –

The WWE Champion is CM Punk and his primary challenger is Daniel Bryan. In my opinion they are the two best wrestlers in the company and two of the most entertaining personalities so it makes perfect sense to position these two in and around the WWE title picture. We don’t need Brock Lesnar to “legitimise” WWE, Punk and Bryan have done this by working from the very bottom rung of the professional wrestling ladder and making it to the top. Good on them and good on WWE for giving them the chance that they have worked for years to earn.

That’s pretty much it to be honest. At the moment I only really watch Raw and Smackdown because these guys are featured in a prominent position and almost always deliver outstanding matches. Therefore something must be wrong in WWE, let’s look at what it is –

WWE is lame. It’s aimed almost entirely at children because there is money to be made from their parents. The majority of ticket and PPV buying fans are ignored, because they are harder to manipulate than kids. It actually feels like WWE is trying the ‘ignore them and they’ll go away’ technique with some of its biggest and most loyal fans.

There is nothing wrong with having aspects of the product that children can enjoy, WWE has always had that to various degrees, but at the moment it is like watching a bad Nickelodeon show. Santino used to be funny but the novelty has long since worn off and he joins Brodus Clay, Hornswoggle, Jerry Lawler, Great Khali, Teddy Long, Zak Ryder and many more on the list of truly awful and cringe worthy children’s entertainers on the roster. If WWE wants to appeal to kids then it shouldn’t be copying Nickelodeon and Disney; whose shows may be popular but have extremely limited shelf lives. They should be taking notes on the most successful children’s TV show of all time, which also happens to be the most successful grown up TV show of all time – The Simpsons.

The Simpsons appeals to kids because it is colourful, over the top and contains plenty of slapstick humour. However its primary audience are adults. The story telling, subtle references and witty jokes are aimed at adults. You could probably piece together a good chunk of Citizen Kane from early Simpsons episodes. WWE used to be very similar, it was more of a violent soap opera, but the overall package was still very appealing to kids.

What has changed? Why have they watered everything down and made a once cool product totally lame and un-cool? Linda McMahon is running for senate again and needs to look as wholesome as possible. Ignore the drug scandals and risqué material when she did have a role in WWE. All that matters is that the company she used to be involved with is happy smiles and child friendly now, the past doesn’t count!

The WWE title picture totally sums up the entire WWE for me. Two of the best performers of their generation have been feuding over the WWE title all summer, a dream feud for all wrestling fans. But they can’t let us have it; they have to inject something to, apparently, catch kids attention. So the title is now redundant because Punk and Bryan are now fighting over AJ. I am happy to say that everyone who has been involved in this stupid storyline has done a fantastic job; AJ in particular has managed to carve out a little niche for herself and become the top Diva. However, the concept was flawed from the beginning. All Punk and Bryan need is the WWE title, that’s motivation enough. If they have to, really have to, create a love triangle then they could at least make it relevant to the ages of the people involved. This storyline is worse than Twilight; it’s not even high school stuff, its junior high school nonsense that most people in the audience don’t care about.

Along with the whole PG rated, children’s TV show garbage there are three other big flaws in the WWE for me. Firstly, the use of talent is terrible. You can predict the outcome of pretty much every match on Raw and Smackdown. The only recent exception is Tyson Kidd’s victory over Tensai. What was the point of Sheamus vs. Jack Swagger this past week on Raw? You see the match on paper and you know the outcome, so unless Swagger is permitted to win there is no point booking it. I get that WWE wanted Sheamus to look strong, so why couldn’t they just use a local talent as a jobber?

The way they job out anyone who is not a main eventer is terrible. They protect the likes of Cena, Sheamus, and Punk but couldn’t care less about anyone below the top tier. Dolph Ziggler is next in line for the big push, but he may have to wait a while because he has been presented as a glorified jobber to the big boys for years. Cody Rhodes is another potential main event level talent, but he’s no stranger to staring at the lights for the likes Big Show and Orton either. Even well respected and ever popular veterans like Christian can get jobbed out. Remember when they brought him back from injury too early so they could let CM Punk destroy him? As an aside I notice Christian has had nothing to say about this attack since his return. No wonder WWE find it hard to build new superstars, they constantly shoot themselves in the foot with nonsensical booking.

Another major thing wrong with WWE is that I’ve seen it all before, this past week’s Raw summed it up. John Cena & Kane vs. Big Show & Chris Jericho, I’m just not interested in watching a match like this. This is off the back of another feud between Cena and Show and building towards a MITB match which features only former champions. Oh, and this happened on a show which has been run by former General Managers for the last few weeks. To quote Miz; really!? It’s the same people being booked in the same positions to wrestle the same opponents as they have been for years. At least the World Title MITB match features mainly wrestlers who haven’t had endless title runs and never ending main event pushes, that’s a match worth watching.

The last major problem in my eyes is the horrendous over use of social media references on their broadcasts. Yes, by all means encourage fans to use Twitter and Facebook, but it’s gone too far. There’s no other show like it on TV for pandering to social media. Most other TV broadcasts promote the use of Twitter with a quick graphic or brief mention, not in WWE though. The commentators and wrestlers just keep banging on about it like it’s the best thing since sliced bread. It’s not. Twitter is just a novel twist on message boards and emailing. I rolled my eyes at the announcement of Charlie Sheen as the Social Media Ambassador for the 1000th Raw. What do Twitter and Topper from Hot Shots have to do with WWE? Probably about as much as Inbetweener James Buckley has to do with The Expendables 2. If you don’t get that reference then go to the cinema on an Orange Wednesday and everything will become clear.

So long story short I’m pretty bored and slightly embarrassed by WWE at the moment. It offers little for me, a fan of 20+ years. I have thus decided to look for an alternative and am therefore going to give TNA a chance. I used to watch TNA most weeks, but quickly lost interest when Hulk Hogan got involved. However Austin Aries as champion is certainly a draw for me, I was a fan of his in his first run with ROH. I will still keep an eye on WWE; despite everything they still have some fantastic workers capable of some great matches. However, I have decided that the grass is greener on the other side (hopefully that doesn’t include the wrestlers too) and I am going to give TNA a proper go.