As fans of professional wrestling, there are a couple of sacrifices we have to make. We spend money on the WWE Network, as well as t-shirts and other merchandise. We give our free time to watch more than five hours of WWE programming a week, not to mention all the other promotions that we have to keep up with. And we often get so frustrated by certain storylines that it inhibits our ability to function, which probably shouldn’t happen.
One of the toughest things about being a wrestling fan is the public’s perception of you. Wrestling fans have always been stereotyped as idiotic rednecks who believe what they are seeing is real and yell, among other things, “They took our jobs.” While there are some fans like that, they are the extreme minority. Most wrestling fans are actually quite smart and are fully aware that what they are watching is nothing more than fiction. Because we love pro wrestling so much, we are willing to endure the mockery we receive from society at large, but that mockery becomes a great deal harder to tolerate when it comes straight from the wrestling world itself.
WWE has a long history of insulting the intelligence of its viewers and continues to do so today. When the one thing you are supposed to be able to turn to in order to forget about the world makes you feel like an idiot, it’s incredibly frustrating and makes the product increasingly hard to watch, yet Vince McMahon just won’t cut it out.
Here are 15 ways in which WWE continues to insult our intelligence.
15. Wins And Loses Don’t Matter
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if wins and losses don’t matter in professional wrestling, why has nobody ever tapped out and been awarded the WWE World Championship?
Over the past couple of years, WWE’s creative team has come to believe that a superstar will be perceived just the same by the fans regardless of whether they win or lose. This, obviously, is not true. While the most talented superstars will be able to get over with the fans no matter what, it’s difficult to take a wrestler seriously as a main event competitor if they have spent the previous three months being handily defeated on the pre-show and in five-minute encounters on Raw.
14. Podcasts Are Unpredictable
Of course I’m talking about the Stone Cold Podcast which airs sporadically on the WWE Network. Firstly, this show is a major kick in the intellectual crotch because it isn’t even a podcast, it’s a regular old talk show hosted by a guy who has a successful show on a podcasting website.
Secondly, and most infuriating of all, the Stone Cold Podcast that WWE produces is pretty tame. However, that doesn’t stop WWE from telling us that it is explosive and cutting edge and unpredictable. Those things can be said about Steve Austin’s independent podcast, but the WWE incarnation is certainly not the anything goes tell-all the company makes it out to be. How can it be when the host has Vince McMahon in his ear telling him what he can and can’t talk about?
Mauro Ranallo’s commentary on SmackDown is one of the highlights of the show, and his work with Daniel Bryan on the Cruiserweight Classic was nothing less than stellar. He has an incredible ability to be both the play-by-play announcer and the color guy, and could easily handle two hours of SmackDown on his own. Unfortunately, WWEs other commentators do not share Mauro’s gift of wrestling gab.
Vince McMahon for some reason believes that the fans don’t have any interest in what is going on in the ring during a match and need the commentators to remind them about Total Divas, Pay-Per-Views, and whatever is going on with Roman Reigns.
On occasion, Michael Cole will break up his endless promotion of the WWE Network by screaming “Michinoku Driver” and hoping that he sounds like he knows what he’s doing.
12. Celebrity Guest Stars
Vince McMahon so wants WWE to become a major mainstream entity that he loads his shows with guest stars who know next to nothing about professional wrestling, and usually it’s not on the good side of the word.
McMahon’s belief that the WWE fans want to see Kathy Lee Gifford, Bob Barker, and Grumpy Cat over professional wrestling shows that he does not understand his audience at all. It makes you worry for Vince’s hearing in his old age, as the fans aren’t exactly quiet about their disdain of guest stars.
The most insulting part of the whole thing is when the guest star in question tries to act as if they care about the business with the sincerity of a pandering presidential candidate trying to score votes.
11. Enzo Amore Promos
When Enzo Amore was a part of the NXT roster, he was admittedly pretty entertaining. His promos were a little edgier and not so dependent on catchphrases – though he did have the whole “you can’t teach that” thing. However, since coming up to the main roster, Enzo’s promos have been stripped of all integrity and turned into a parody of themselves.
Now when Enzo Amore comes down the isle, Big Cass in tow, he seems more like a Vegas lounge comic than a professional wrestler. He does his whole “cuppa haters” spiel and then lists a bunch of things and the fans eat it up. Or at least they used to. Now the fans aren’t so enthusiastic. They’ve seen Enzo’s shtick enough times that it has become stale. They’re ready for something new, but they’re not going to get it.
10. The Hall Of Fame
Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool to see guys like Sting, Bruno Sammartino, and Randy Savage be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, but anybody who thinks it’s a genuine achievement is delusional. Of course, that doesn’t stop WWE from treating it as if it is a legitimate sporting Hall of Fame.
Every year, WWE does its best to convince fans that the people being inducted into the Hall of Fame made an indelible impact on the history of professional wrestling. Some inductees have indeed done that, but how are you supposed to take it seriously when the Hall also houses Koko B. Ware, Drew Carey, and Donald Trump?
9. NXT Superstars Are Rookies
From the inception of NXT, those who compete on the show have been branded as “rookies.” Even Daniel Bryan, who had a decade of wrestling experience under his belt when he appeared on the show, was called a rookie and fans had to endure commentators mentioning that Bryan had never made it in “the big leagues,” despite the fact all were aware that he had held championships the world over.
While some NXT superstars are indeed rookies, like Liv Morgan and those fellows Paul Ellering has been buddying around with, guys like Bobby Rude and Samoa Joe are far from it. It’s understandable that WWE does not want to reference time spent in TNA, but when these guys are brought up to the main roster, they need to be treated as accomplished wrestlers like AJ Styles and not as baby-faced newcomers like Sami Zayn.
8. Comedy Skits
For better or worse (usually worse) comedy has always been a part of WWE. Since Monday Night Raw began airing, matches have been broken up with short backstage segments designed to make the audience laugh and lower the tension before the next encounter. That would be just fine if the segments were in anyway funny. Unfortunately, they are not.
Instead of going for something that might have a little bit of artist merit, Vince McMahon and his writing team produce sketches filled with lowest common denominator humor (remember Natalya’s farting gimmick?)
If Vince McMahon genuinely believes The Miz arguing with a cat is funny, not only is he one in a million, but maybe he does not have the brain required to run a multi-billion dollar organization.
7. The Authority VS Roman Reigns
Last winter was a tough time to be a wrestling fan. WWE has been trying to get Roman Reigns over as the guy for a couple of years now and in December of last year introduced a storyline which saw The Authority attempt to keep Roman from the main event scene. There were a number of problems with this.
The first major issue was that the storyline was the complete opposite of what was going on backstage. Vince, Triple H, and Stephanie, who were making Roman’s on-screen life hell, all wanted him to become the face of the company and just couldn’t figure out how to do it since fans, you know, hated him.
The other problem with this storyline was that it had been done so many times before. Two years prior, The Authority was trying to keep Daniel Bryan out of the world title picture in a storyline which at least had some truth to it. And who could forget Steve Austin’s legendary feud with Mr. McMahon?
6. Total Divas
It has been said that when WWE first aired Total Divas, Vince McMahon Sr. turned in his grave. Actually, that hasn’t been said, but it isn’t unlikely. After all, Total Divas is an insult not only to the intelligence of WWE fans but to professional wrestling itself.
The show follows the WWE divas in storylines which are even harder to believe than what we see on Monday Night Raw. The women, many of whom are fantastic athletes, are portrayed as catty popular girls who just can’t stand the sight of each other because, as has been noted by numerous former WWE writers, Vince McMahon really believes that all women deep down hate each other.
5. Eva Marie
Eva Marie is a side-effect of Total Divas, and that is the best way to describe her because she is never going to be the center of the Women’s division no matter how hard WWE tries.
“All Red Everything,” as she likes to call herself despite the fact the only thing red about her is her hair, is easily one of the worst wrestlers to ever step foot in a WWE ring, but that hasn’t stopped the company from giving her numerous major pushes, all of which proved unsuccessful.
In an attempt to protect their investment, WWE has given Marie private training with Brian Kendrick, sent her to NXT, and covered the fact that she forgot to kick out of a pinfall (you read that right) with a storyline about a crooked referee.
4. “Anything Can Happen”
There are two phrases WWE likes to spout with frequency, one of which we’ll cover in a moment, and “Anything can happen.”
Since taking over the company, Vince McMahon has been telling viewers that anything can happen in WWE, which, to an extent, is true. The show is scripted, so events that wouldn’t happen in real life can be arranged for Raw and SmackDown. However, usually what happens is exactly what everybody thought would happen. The unpredictability is long gone.
A good example of this came at the 2016 Royal Rumble. Despite WWE’s insistence that it would be the most chaotic, unpredictable Royal Rumble of all time, Triple H wound up capturing the WWE Championship, which most people had been expecting for several months. This victory created perhaps the most uninteresting and predictable WrestleMania main event of all time.
3. No Continuity
This has been a major issue in WWE for years. Vince McMahon’s inability to make up his mind has resulted in countless random twists and turns in WWE’s storytelling, with some storylines being abandon with no explanation ever given.
This must be a pain in the neck for WWE’s creative team, but is particularly annoying for the fans, who are expected to just forget certain feuds and storylines ever took place. When a heel becomes a face and aligns himself with somebody he had a heated rivalry with in the past, we are asked to ignore the fact that the two superstars hated each other just two months prior.
WWE really insulted the intelligence of its fans with the recent MexAmerica storyline, which paired Alberto Del Rio with Zeb Colter, the raving racist who once campaigned for Del Rio’s deportation.
2. “It’s A New Era”
This is the second phrase which WWE repeats incessantly in an attempt to persuade fans to tune into its programming. The company really damaged its reputation among serious wrestling fans with its over-reliance on John Cena and insistence on pushing Roman Reigns. Claiming it is a new era is a good way to bring fans back to the product.
The only problem is that it isn’t a new era. Sure, it’s nice to see smaller guys getting a shot. It’s cool to see AJ Styles as WWE Champion. It’s a welcome change to see John Cena beaten clean. But the whole company is still very much geared toward getting Roman Reigns over.
Although Reigns is not in the Universal Championship picture, he is generally the one who stands tall at the end of Monday Night Raw. He holds a steel cage victory over current Universal Champion Kevin Owens and it is only a matter of time before he takes the title. If it is a new era in WWE, it’s taking a lot of inspiration from the last one.
1. It’s Not Wrestling
If there is one thing wrestling fans hate more than anything else, it’s being told that they are watching sports entertainment and not professional wrestling. How stupid does Vince McMahon think his fan base is? We know we’re watching professional wrestling. He knows we’re watching professional wrestling. The problem is he’s ashamed of it.
Vince McMahon no longer wants to be running a wrestling show. He wants to be the creator of an Emmy award-winning variety show, which is why he tries to convince all of us that WWE is sports entertainment. You may remember a particularly cringeworthy Hulu ad in which an actor declares “I’m not a wrestling fan, I’m a WWE fan.”
The insistence that WWE, which sees wrestlers wrestle in a wrestling ring, is somehow not wrestling is infuriating. It’s disrespectful to those who put their bodies on the line for the company and it’s downright insulting to the viewers.