If you watched Monday Night Raw, you saw what is right about professional wrestling.
The promo involving Triple H and Seth Rollins is as good a confrontation as professional wrestling has seen in quite some time. While many publications have written about the lost art of the promo in this business, it’s good to see an angle work as well as it did Monday night.
I was going to write an opinion piece on something I read in Rolling Stone Magazine, the notion that professional wrestling has lost its way and wrestling of the past is a lost art. The article highlighted the success of the Four Horsemen and wrestlers of the NWA from decades ago where their work in front of a camera was just as important as their ability in the ring. It’s true that this business has become more about action and less about words. However, to get a match that is the caliber of Rick Steamboat and Ric Flair, a lot more must be done then just locking up collar and elbow.
The segment with Rollins was a thing of beauty. The brokenhearted wrestler who once again suffered a devastating injury, and by doing so will not be able to perform at WrestleMania, is a tried and true formula for success on a microphone.
What Rollins started Triple H finished. The finality of the segment, with Rollins stating unequivocally that he will indeed be in Orlando in April takes me back to the 1980s when wrestlers like Roddy Piper and Dusty Rhodes would sell their souls to be part of mega wrestling events.
WWE has a handful of wrestlers who can deliver that kind of excitement. But when it comes to a roster full of entertainers, there is a separation gap. Chris Jericho is money. When he wants to, John Cena can deliver a convincing monologue. Bray Wyatt is outstanding. Kevin Owens is getting better by the day.
This company may not deliver the same kind of format as it did during the Monday Night Wars or the creation of the Attitude Era, but the creation of brand extension is helping to bring back that old professional wrestling feel.
Nothing will beat an exasperated Flair looking into a camera and telling Harley Race he will not give up the NWA World Title, but listening to the monologue in the back and forth between mentor and pupil on Monday night was a thing of beauty. Kudos for its scripter.
Could this mean WWE has struck gold? It’s possible. If the creative team, which includes Triple H, can maximize its talent in front of a camera, with the likes of The Miz, Neville and Dean Ambrose, this promotion has hit upon something that can engage the masses.
All too often this business has become more about high-flying antics, quick matches, and little build of a potentially great feud. I’m hoping, as a wrestling purist, fans will get to see the art of the promo revisited. When I was younger, watching Tully Blanchard, Randy Savage, and Hulk Hogan cut a promo was worth the price of admission. Possibly more than watching them perform in the ring.
WWE needs to take a trip back to its roots and rediscover what works. Having today’s biggest performers sell themselves in front of a camera makes the product better. Fans’ sensibilities have changed. They want more drama, they want to like the villain, and they want more suspense. It’s not about blood and broken bones anymore. It’s about the rising action and how the fans can get their fix.
I’d love to see WWE revisit the art of self-promotion. If wrestlers can do what Rollins did on Monday night, professional wrestling will find its way back toward being great again.