WWE over the years has certainly changed but it wasn’t until the last year and a half or so that they faced their biggest challenge. The pandemic cut live crowds from the show and although a tonne of hard work was put in place to make Thunderdome as spectacular as possible, it was only ever going to be a band-aid over a bigger and more gruesome wound. Thankfully, live shows are back as the road trip for WWE begins again after a 70-week hiatus.
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So, if you’ve been a fan of wrestling over the last few decades like we have been, you’ll have amassed plenty of warm and fuzzies to cherish along with plenty of new memories that will be in store soon. But just how does today’s wrestling compare to the glory days of the 90’s?
The Glory Days
In the early 90’s the buzz that came from Friday night wrestling was not just looked forward to the whole week, but lingered long after the weekend had finished. There was figurines and playing cards, you could make our own rings and spend hours trying to perfect your hero’s finishing moves on your friends. It’s not to say that the buzz has diminished, but with so many distractions for kids these days online, it’s definitely changed.
Yes, the Hogans and Warriors and Million Dollar Men were just as menacing as the Cenas and the Lashleys, but they were global stars outside of the sport, too. Their fame rose well above the WWE and with less competition for fans than what there is these days, they were true superstars.
Like most things, it has come down to money as now you can watch wrestling every night of the week to make the most of ratings and the availability of fans. In the 90’s, Friday night was it and although there were less people watching over all when you take the full seven days into account, the ratings from that one Friday night was immense.
Not to compare apples with oranges, but apart from Cena and the Rock, you couldn’t really ask non-fans the names of wrestlers anymore and expect a correct answer. And even then, Cena is possibly only known as an actor. It’s all that competition again, with kids having their noses in their phones 24 hours a day and only pulling them out for the two hour pay-per-view they make their parents purchase.
There’s no more figure fours in the playgrounds at school, no body slams with your mates on the weekends, it’s watching the show and then going back to Fortnite.
What the WWE have done amazingly well is add a healthy dose of cinematic tech into the mix, which is visually stunning. It’s made events like Money in the Bank be a true visual spectacle and certainly no kids were checking in on their phones in that crowd. It’s the way of the future and it’s definitely going to rope in some new fans.
Now that some level of normality looks to be returning to our world, things are looking very exciting for the upcoming Raw, Smackdown and especially, Summerslam. Cena is back, but more importantly, the buzz that only a live crowd can generate is back, and that is absolutely terrific news for all fans.
If WWE can survive these last tough years, there’s going to be no stopping them in the future. Let’s just hope we can see the glory days of the 90’s if not back, some decent resemblance.