Not that you need to be told, but professional wrestling sure has changed a lot in the last 30 or so years. Once contested in smoke-filled VFW halls—okay, that hasn't changed—the biggest wrestling events happen in sold-out arenas and stadiums. Hell, WWE's gonna try and fill a pretty huge one next year... a mission that may be impossible if their image isn't at least somewhat repaired in the coming months. But that's a story for another day.
Over time, as wrestling evolves, long-standing traditions and customs go by the wayside. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not so much. There's a good mix of both for this week's Cageside Countdown...
The things we miss most about wrestling.
Due to the overwhelming response for the countdown, this edition will be supersized. Before getting into the countdown, here's a small list of what DIDN'T make honorable mention.
- Sami Zayn
- Eddie Guerrero
- AJ Lee
- Shane McMahon
- Championships that mean something
- General managers
- Faceless authority figures
- Wrestlers being called wrestlers and wrestling being called wrestling
Again: these didn't even make honorable mention. Before we dip into the things we miss most, here are...
20 honorable mentions, or 20 things that could probably still use a comeback anyway. Maybe. Remember, these countdowns are made by you, so don't blame the messenger. (Unless noted, all photos via wwe.com.)
1. This may be on the verge of a comeback, but if you put a tag team or a stable together, they should have a name. Like The Corporation. The Mega-Powers. The New World Order. The New Day (sucks). The Four Horsemen. The Heenan Family. See where I'm getting at?
2. This grinded my gears sometimes, and it probably grinded your gears too, but you know in the middle of a huge brawl or just as a major confrontation was set to go down, the commentators mention they're out of time and the show ends in a cliffhanger, forcing people to tune in next week to see what happened, even though you knew full well they weren't gonna show what happened? Yeah, I miss that too.
3. I'm of the opinion that a wrestling promotion should have one world champion and one world championship. However, there was a period when WWE's secondary world title, the World Heavyweight Championship, meant a lot and it was useful. Quite a few people would have never gotten a world championship run in WWE without the Big Gold Belt. (photo via prowrestling.wikia.com)
4. Speaking of world titles, whatever happened to world title matches on television? Look, I get that world titles will pretty much never again change hands on TV, but once in a blue moon, it does. And when the world championship changes hands, maybe it adds new viewers at least in the short term. And long term.
5. Maybe it's the nature of society today with short attention spans and the demand to have everything now, but long term feuds have been a thing of the past for quite some time. A couple of notable anomalies have been John Cena versus The Rock, playing out over a two-year span, and Daniel Bryan's fall and subsequent rise to the WWE Championship. The Monday Night Wars and more wrestling on TV made longer feuds all but a thing of the past, but the occasional comeback wouldn't do any harm, would it?
6. Speaking of things not lasting long these days, long-term tag teams. Tag teams these days are formed for the sole purpose of breaking them up later, or for the sole purpose of giving a couple of people something to do so they're not totally useless. The thing is, as soon as some of these teams get some traction, they immediately break them up. Dear bookers: stop doing this.
7. Pretty sure I'll get a lot of hate for this: I'm sorta okay with having no blood in matches... to a point. Not every match has to have everyone bleed. But if that match is a part of a very heated feud (take the recent John Cena-Kevin Owens feud for example), I would not only welcome the sight of blood to heighten the tension, I encourage it. Hell, I demand it. It adds a bit of realism. I'm also okay with unintentional bleeding as long as it does not endanger the safety of others.
8. One common complaint on wrestling programming these days is that most of the people on the show are just listlessly drifting in the wind, coming and going without a sense of what they're doing or why they're there. If there are people feuding, or hell, even if they're not, give us some sort of motivation for these characters that make sense. A lot of times, why they fight is just as important as who they fight.
9. A long-time staple on NWA and later WCW programming has been the World Television Championship. Granted, it's a third division belt, but it pretty much satisfies the qualifications of having a championship match on TV every week when the house show was still the driving force for revenue. WWE's got seven hours of television a week. They also own a championship belt that hasn't been used since it ended up in the garbage more than a decade ago. How's about ya dust that TV title belt off? Please? (photo via theofficialwrestlingmuseum.com)
10. This probably won't make a comeback, but the Hardcore Championship gave the lower card something to do during the latter days of the Attitude Era and a bit into the Ruthless Aggression Era. Plunder and comedy matches, sure! But information in recent years on concussions may leave this a thing of the past.
11. These days, most PPV sets look the same. Part of this is due to a cost-cutting measure, but even black ropes for PPVs have gone extinct. I'm pretty sure you don't even need black cables. Just cables wrapped in blacktape. Just because the sets look the same doesn't mean the rings have to as well.
12. One of the biggest complaints among both casual and hardcore wrestling fans is the lack of logic and continuity on wrestling shows. With the quality of writing in dramas and other serials rising in the 21st century, this is simply inexcusable. (photo via rollingstone.com)
13. It's not coming back, but do we ever miss it. In 2002, the World Wildlife Fund won the right to legally call themselves the WWF... or at the very least, prevent the real WWF, the World Wrestling Federation, from using those initials with their brand ever again. The letter F in the WWF changing to E has not only cost the company millions, it forever altered the brand most associated with wrestling as we knew it.
14. It seems kind of weird in this day and age to have a match end in a pinfall without a finisher. These days, it only happens in the event of a screwy finish or an injury. I know the finisher is a visual cue for the audience, but mix it up a little. Surprise and shock them once in a while with an unexpected finish. (photo via diva-dirt.com)
15. The E's had more than one opportunity to bring it back in recent years with a few hot faction feuds, but they won't pull the trigger. I wish they could, because the return of War Games: The Match Beyond would be kinda cool. Sure it lives on in spirit as Lethal Lockdown, but we want the real McCoy.
16. Due to concussion lawsuits, the biggest moment of Seth Rollins' professional life is now lost to the dustbin of history. That moment: when he used the curbstomp to win the main event of Wrestlemania 31. The move's been associated with Rollins since his main roster debut. Him using the Pedigree just doesn't seem right. It just isn't. (photo via kayfabenews.com)
17. Another complaint among wrestling fans is that many of their characters not only act the same, they're written the same. This is a hard fact of life: not everyone is cut out to recite lines, and people can see through that. Many of the best moments on the mic in wrestling history has been unscripted promos, or at the very least, promos with a few bullet points. If you must go with a script, and this is just me, have them hit a few bullet points, give them a clock, and let it rip. The best promos come from the heart.
18. Kevin Dunn is seemingly not a fan of them, but most everyone is, myself included. Tournaments in WWE are the fucking...best. And with WWE Network in constant desperate need of subscribers and new programming (especially in the wake of the Hulk Hogan scandal), a WWE version of...say... the G1 Climax... would be pretty awesome. And even if not G1: WWE Edition, some tournament. More tournaments. Make more use of that Network than Legends House and Total Divas reruns.
19. For some strange reason, Vince McMahon's logic says that numbered Wrestlemanias make the event feel old. This is the same man who once said wrestling is what his father did and he's in the entertainment business. Mind you, this logic has not stopped the NFL from numbering its Super Bowls or Major League Baseball from numbering its All-Star Games and World Series, and that sport's been around for nearly a century and a half. Despite doing away with the number for Wrestlemanias, people are still gonna number them anyway.
20. I get that there is a place for chickenshit heels who run away from their comeuppance until said comeuppance arrives and corners them. But what happened to the days of the legit heels who don't wait for their comeuppance; they just deliver the punishment so the comeuppance never comes. Do dastardly things. Poke an eye. Pull a finger or three. Use the ropes for leverage. Be heelish without being chicken.
So if these didn't make the countdown, what did? You'll have to wait a couple days to find out.
Hey! If you're curious... and I know you are... check out these past Cageside Countdowns.
- Best of Wrestlemania 31
- Best PPV Themes
- Worst Acts In Kayfabe
- Most Extreme Moments
- Best Wrestling Cities
- Best Rock Moments
- Things Missing on WWE Network
- Why You Hate Vince McMahon
- Best Things In Wrestling Right Now
- Most Disappointing Storylines
- Most Iconic Wrestling Photos
- Best RAW Guest Stars
- Best Wrestling T-Shirts
- Best TNA Moments
- Worst PPVs Ever