Say Your Prayers And Take Your Vitamins
December 16, 2005 by Gord Baker
Often we adults become ego-centric and think the world is controlled by us. We believe it revolves around us and our needs and wishes. These untruths could not be more evident than in the world of the WWE and its adult fans. The kids control this business.
In the early 80's, the genesis of the WWE empire began with a face (Hulk Hogan) who took on Super-Hero proportions with his weekly pontifications of "saying your prayers and taking your vitamins". Who do you suppose he was talking to" The youngsters were driving the business then and they are driving it now. Oh sure, I could go on about how the WWF degenerated into a classless, sexist exercise in vulgarity. But that was due more to the competition for ratings and Vince fell into the old tried and true formula of sex sells. It worked for a time, but the fabric of the product was suffering and the reputation of the business was being destroyed. The fan base was becoming one dimensional with a demographic starting at age 15 or 16. Where were the kids" They were in bed or told they weren't allowed to watch.
It is no coincidence that with this sex-fueled product came an attitude that most parents would not let their children watch wrestling. Adults had become an even larger % of the fan base, and Vince knew that something had to be done. In the last few years the storylines are a wee bit tamer and there seems to be a better balance. The product has become more family friendly and still has maintained an edge. Parents of 10 year olds can now let their kids watch and I would encourage them to watch with them as there is still some pretty "raw" storylines that may require some explanation.
When I take my 11 year old son to a PPV the theater is packed with kids. They cheer when John Cena appears, talks, and wins - while most of the adults groan and roll their eyes. Which audience member does Vince care more about" I think your answer to that is the fact that Cena still holds the belt.
When I watched wrestling as a kid, I was 8 years old and it was Saturday morning. I loved watching Eduoard Carpentier surprise opponents with his Mule kicks. I loved seeing Mad Dog Vachon take a chair to Abdullah the Butchers head and seeing the blood flow. The only thing missing for me back then was a scantily clad Diva. Today the WWE provides the wrestling prowess; the blood lust and a nice sprinkling of sexuality without going over the top. There is a nice balance right now and I guarantee you its all for the kids. We as adults should be happy that the kids can watch because they are the future adult fans that will later pay for their sons, daughters, nieces and nephews to carry on the passion for the squared circle.
I understand the adult fans that criticize today's product. I understand that they are tired of performers like John Cena who are obviously catering to the kids. I also understand that today's brand of wrestling is committed to a fan base that will buy action figures because those same young fans are their future; they are money in the bank. I'm ok with it because I love seeing the look on my son's face when he watches. I love seeing the same look I must have had on those Saturday mornings. Like it or not, the kids have control.
by Gord Baker ..
Pete Coochie wrote:
Very well written column. I have read many columns lately criticising the WWE, its wrestlers and story lines. You have put it in perspective quite well. We adults often look back on the old days as the better way. " Old school" is the best school. The question we must ask ourselves is " Are kids today any less entertained then we were" ". I think you did a great job answering that question when you mentioned your son and the look on his face. We adults sometimes spend a lifetime searching for something to make us feel that way again , when sometimes its staring us right in the face if we just let ourselves look at it through a childs eyes.
Joe Fish wrote:
I thoroughly enjoyed your column. It was insightful and gave me alot to think about. Vince tries to downplay the "child" audience and says so in his parental guidance section of the WWE website. He claims that 73% of the audience is over 18 years of age and uses that stat to justify his risque storylines. Well thats a bunch of "Hooey" !! They dont make all those toys and action figures for persons over 18. When I go to a live show or a theater PPV and look around its not 73% over 18, its probably the other way around. Good for you for shedding light on this fact and its definitly something us adult fans need to keep in perspective. I hope to see more columns from you in the future.
I agree with your column as well as what eveyone else wrote. I agree that wrestling has changed. The fan base is mostly young kids to adults in their mid 20's. I've been watching wrestling since I was 5. Im 19 years old now and i've realized that wrestling has changed. I remember watching wrestling as a kid and seeing nothing but matches. Now when I watch WWE, its like watching a soap opera. I looked the clock last Friday when SmackDown! came on, it took 30 min. to get the first match underway. They put to much time into the entrance and the talking. Undertaker used to take 30 sec. to come down to the ring. Now he takes like 2 minutes. Then after he wins it shows the commentators babbling on for 10 min about how neat the match was, then it goes to someone backstage talking about a match for 20 min. You only see like 4 or 5 matches now. There used to be alot more. I miss seeing 2 wrestlers fight, the bell rings, the commentators talk about how cool the match was while the other wrestlers come out. Theres even been a wedding on WWE. Thats soap operas gone out of control.
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