The Return of Legitimacy?
To quote John Laurinaitis, it appears that WWE are indeed making an attempt to make the product more legitimate in terms of realism. The WWE showed a remarkable amount of progress this past week by mentioning the infamously banned letters, ‘UFC’ on WWE RAW. To associate them with a real licensed sport only makes professional wrestling look more legitimate and reputable. To make note of Brock Lesnar’s accomplishments post his first WWE run only stands to bring more eyes to the product and create a realistic setting for storyline development. It must have been fitting for many anti-Cena fans to see the jovial John Cena receive a bloody lip in return for the years of self deprecating laughter. I for one have been left frustrated by the decision to keep Cena a comedic character despite the storyline obstacles he has had to overcome. For many, Lesnar’s ground and pound is right up there with wade Barrett throwing a glass of water in Cena’s face. I’m sure the former will be the preferred choice for nostalgia in the future. There has been a growing trend this year of introducing promos that wander the boundary of real or kayfabe. CM Punk’s anti-regime promo and the confrontations between Rock and Cena left many the casual and even hardcore internet fan question if the context was real emotion or just scripted. I use my cousin’s reactions as representation for the casual fan. Like many he believed that Cena unsuspectingly called out the Rock for having a Promo written on his arm, and that Brock actually flipped out from the slap (thinking the introduction of the backstage roster was sign of real drama unfolding in the ring).
For Vince McMahon and Dave Bautista, the forefront of realism and legitimacy is to use big guys on the roster and have them carry the heavyweight / main company title. Batista and other professional wrestlers have been quoted to dislike the PG era and use of small men in heavyweight roles. It personally pleases me that guys in the mould of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan can carry the company torch; however it is understandable that a causal fan can’t realistically accept a small man as the World Heavyweight champion. I’ve had to argue back and forth that Daniel Bryan would probably have the grappling experience necessary to do distinct damage to someone like Mark Henry in extreme circumstances. However, for some it is a notion that is impossible. The underdog story in wrestling has it’s excitement in the chase. However, it can serve to be detrimental once the title is won and if all other guys are taller, bigger and have a greater reach. Vince wants big guys on top. If it’s ever been more noticeable, I think the re-introduction of Rock, Brock, Brodus and re-debut of Ryback is evidence enough. Ryback’s devastating clothesline on Smackdown ‘Blast from the past’ has made me very interested in the character. Although I didn’t feel it caught on in the early FCW days, I believe that Ryan Reeves has worked very hard on his figure. His personality shined through on NXT season 1 and it was fully expected that they would make use of Reeves in the future. I think that weight divisions would work very well in professional wrestling. It will become easier for people to suspend disbelief in this respect and accept the world champions of that division. In UFC and boxing, people care about the people who carry belts in all divisions. Why can’t wrestling be the same? Why can’t a smaller professional wrestler have the right to claim that he is the best, for example, Welterweight Pro Wrestler? I realise that the US and Intercontinental titles are designed for this sort of purpose, but it isn’t necessarily the same idea when it allows the likes of Big Show to carry the belt. Those belts have no real representation. What does it really mean to be the Intercontinental champion? What are you the champion of exactly? If there was to be a return to legitimacy, then I think the weight division approach would be one to consider. I realise that losing the underdog story is detrimental so there would need to some tweaking, i.e. allowing all smaller guys to go for gold above their weight categories, but not vice versa for big guys. I would love one day for the a guy on the roster to claim that he is the best Light-heavyweight (186 to 205 lb) in the world and be able to main event a PPV.
Wrestling in general has become a tad more realistic as of late. However, how far would you push the boundaries? Until next week, enjoy the world of wrestling.