TheLongGoodbye here welcoming all Cageside Seats members to a special edition of The Locker Room. I have to admit this is the fanpost that almost wasn't, but I decided to hunker down and write this commentary because of how vital I believe it to be concerning the sport I hold closest to my heart. Here it is in all it's glory:
CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and the WWE Universe Era
For as far back as I can remember I've been a wrestling fan. From listening to my father and his brothers tell stories about Dick The Bruiser, to going to my local movie rental store and renting as many wrestling VHS Tapes that my dad would allow me to get, to pretending I was a wrestler and wrestling my friends in our fake ring made of couch cushions and pillows, to being a little Hulkamaniac, to telling everyone to suck it! during the mid 90's, up until right now cheering for Daniel Bryan and lamenting the departure of CM Punk. You could say I've been through many "eras" in my time as a wrestling fan: The WWWF Era(or as I like to call it the Madison Square Garden era), The Hulkamania Era, The New Generation Era, The infamous Attitude Era, The Ruthless aggression era, and the present Universe era. Yes, I've had my share of breaks in between eras(a 5 year absence at one point), but I've always managed to acquaint myself with the latest stars within WWE and catch up on a few storylines to see if something piqued my interest even during those times when I did "take a break". CM Punk, the rise of Daniel Bryan, and the addition of a few other notable stars(Antonio Cesaro, Damien Sandow chiefly among them), brought me back as a full time fan and watcher of WWE programming. After which I found Cageside Seats and became a member last February, and I have actively been engaged in commentary and conversation since. I've loved every minute of it. The great articles and features, the hilarious comments, the graciousness of other members, and even the arguments! CAGESIDE SEATS 4LIFE!
With that being said I have grown increasingly concerned about this current era of wrestling in WWE that we so lovingly(or not) discuss here on CSS. The Universe Era, or "The Reality Era" as some people refer to it as. This era is defined by the 24/7 news cycle, the reality TV phenomenon, the WWE app, oh and some of the most spectacular wrestling we've seen from the company in more than a decade. With the start of the WWE Network literally 15 days away, WWE and it's fans will be entering into a brand new era: The Universe Era on steroids(pardon the terrible moniker). On Demand viewing of every single WWE, WWF, WCW, and ECW PPV ever, original WWE programming, every new PPV for only $10.00 a month, and who knows what else down the road, all available at the click of a button 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All of this sounds like a wrestling fans dream come true. It sure was a dream come true to the man typing this. I was hyped. I was prepared to enjoy wrestling on a level that we used to only be able to collectively dream about. Notice I said WAS.
CM Punks abrupt departure from WWE made me do a lot of thinking. Perhaps you noticed, or perhaps you didn't, that I remained conspicuously absent from the glut of fanposts and comments regarding the issue. From all the opinions, speculation and outrage. It's true I was, and it was because I had to really evaluate what Punks departure meant to me, to us, and to the current "Universe Era". Now I break my silence.
I made a fanpost just a few days ago that relayed a few comments Mick Foley made in relating how he became a fan of wrestling. It had to do with the feud between Don Muraco and Jimmy Snuka and how that feud started with Muraco "saying something" to Snuka but Snuka wouldn't reveal what he said. Mick said the mystery behind that feud is what drew him in. "What did he say?!" Mick wanted to know. It was the mystery, the unknown. I mentioned that was a poignant thought to ponder in the present day wrestling landscape. The mystery is gone, the unknown is known. Truthfully the mystery has been gone for a while, the unknown "secrets" and real life locker room drama long since known about and discussed in the public forum. Except now in 2014 we've reached critical mass. This is the reason I believe Punk left and the reason I believe Daniel Bryan is yet to be WWEWHC Champion.
CM Punk knew what I now know. The wrestling business, at least WWE, just isn't fun anymore from a performers standpoint. You used to be able to tell that performers were really enjoying themselves out there. You could tangibly see their happiness to be living their dream. I don't see that anymore. With the return of Batista and his "guaranteed championship run", Punk lost faith in his dream: To main event Wrestlemania and reach the pinnacle of sports entertainment. Competing against HHH isn't a consolation prize, it's a rib. It's a big "FUCK YOU" to put it bluntly. So is the booking of Daniel Bryan. To the fans yes, but even more to those two men themselves. It's a testament to how Vince, the shareholders, and most likely HHH, view the business of wrestling. How they view the performers, and how they view the fans.
The other side of the coin is, "It's all just a work". CM Punk leaving, Daniel Bryan's booking, the outrage showed by Mick Foley, the opinionated musings of Jim Ross, the WWE's silence on the whole matter, just a massive "troll job", pushing the envelope of kayfabe, and the blurring of reality to a point where no one can tell whats "real" or not. If that truly is the case then we've reached a point of no return. A movement into a kind of wrestling I don't really want to be a part of. An era where "reality" is just another word for fake. The beauty of wrestling is that it was simple. Simple reasons for feuds to start( Dusty Rhodes beats Tully Blanchard and he wins Baby Doll for 30 days), simple story telling( Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter for American pride), simple entertainment. A release from our busy world where we could relax and SIMPLY enjoy the spectacle of pure athletic prowess and have fun. Wrestling isn't that simple anymore and perhaps that's a reflection of our society at large. But it can be simple again, and be more fun than it's ever been. We, The Universe, have to demand it, we have to let our voices be heard.
The "Yes movement" for Daniel Bryan now being spearheaded by the WWE seems to be, on the surface, a direct reaction to those voices, but really it's just another rib, another ploy to placate the fans as WWE moves forward with it's complicated future. CM Punk figured it out, and I'm just now starting to wrap my head around the fact that I've become just as disenchanted as he is.
Whether you believe all of the recent developments are real, a huge work, or somewhere in between, I hope that everyone is still watching wrestling to simply enjoy themselves and have fun. Not because you want to see Daniel Bryan and Brie take nature walks, not because you want to see Batista tell fans to suck his balls on twitter, and certainly not because you want want to learn how to download an app. I'm still watching for the simple joy of watching wrestling, but the "Universe Era" is slowly sucking all the joy out of it for me.
Tell me what you really think Cagesiders. Do you agree? Disagree? Do you think I'm nuts? Am I just afraid of change? Let me, and "The Universe" know.
See you next time in....The Locker Room.