The WWE is a different beast when compared to similar institutions. The company was founded all the way back in 1952, and it has gone through so many transformations that people decided to separate them into eras. The interesting thing here is that despite a lot of wrestlers being part of most of these eras, their demeanor and actions changed from one to the next. They adapted, just like the promotion did, to what the fans wanted, or what the market demanded in order for the WWE to remain a profitable company.
There was the nostalgic Golden Age back in the 80s and early 90s, the fan-favorite Attitude Era that took place in the late 90s all the way to the early 2000’s, and a bunch in between until the most controversial era in the history of the WWE, the notorious PG Era. Now the adjective notorious here will either be a perfect one, or you will think it is out of place depending on which side of this argument you fall. Some fans think the PG Era was the worst thing that ever happened to the WWE, and there are even those who stopped watching wrestling just because there was no more blood. At the same time, this was a business decision that helped the WWE attract a family audience and more investment. Good or bad, we will try to talk a little about the PG Era and give you 10 reasons why it was bad business for the WWE and five why it was good business.
15 Bad: It Angered Fans
There are many reasons why the PG Era was bad business for the WWE, but perhaps the most apparent and important reason for this was that it angered a great majority of the fanbase. Sure, after a while people got used to all the family-friendly and PG content, but in the beginning, it was rough for the WWE to get fans acclimated to this new era.
It was basically a complete 180 in a wrestling world that people had gotten used to watching and enjoying for the vast majority of their lives.
If you are someone who grew up in the 70s and 80s, wrestling today is almost a completely different sport from what it was when you first started watching. They sure overcame it, but the backlash for the change was one of the reasons this might have been bad business for the promotion.
14 Bad: No More Red
One of the biggest complaints fans had about the switch from the old school rougher wrestling to this new PG and family-friendly sport is that there was no more blood. Some of the most memorable matches in the history of the WWE, and wrestling as a whole, were the ones in which wrestlers drenched the ring in red. Seriously, some guys were so notorious for their bleeding and making others bleed that they would put a lot of the most vicious MMA fighters to shame when it comes to drawing blood during a fight.
However, one of the first things that had to change when the WWE decided to go the PG route was that bleeding would no longer be tolerated by the company. As many can imagine, a wrestling crowd that had gotten used to people throwing steel chairs and making others bleed was not too happy with the sudden change.
13 Good: The Kids
Of course, there have always been parents who love the idea of taking their kids to WWE events and showing them how awesome wrestling could be. However, back in the day bringing your kids to one of the shows was a controversial decision, to say the least. In one night, everything could go fine, but imagine bringing your kids to the show where Edge and Lita “celebrated” their relationship in the ring.
That would have been a terrible decision because no kids should watch something as suggestive as that particular moment in WWE history.
Nevertheless, since the PG era began, parents managed to bring their kids to shows without any fear of them watching something inappropriate. The WWE became family-friendly, and that opened up a whole new market avenue for the company.
12 Bad: Where Are The Moves?
Another thing that changed when the WWE decided to go PG were the moves the athletes are allowed to perform. Yes,
there are still formidable moves in the repertoire of most wrestlers, but what they can and cannot do inside a ring has become so regulated that some moves have been completely erased from the WWE.
The reasoning here is that some of these moves are so dangerous that it would not be wise for them to be shown to an audience that might include kids. And that is just a shame because the dangerous moves were really a vital part of the Golden Age of wrestling and pretty much every single other era aside from the PG Era. Don’t get us wrong, wrestling is still fun, and the superstars have some crazy moves they can perform, but it’s just not the same anymore.
11 Bad: Athletes Punished For Doing Their Jobs
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why there was a lot of backlash for the changes that were immediately imposed at the dawn of the PG Era was that Vince McMahon and the WWE management were vicious in dishing out punishment for wrestlers who were slow to adapt to the new rules.
We have a lot of examples of guys who were fined because they went into a show and decided to do exactly what they used to before the revolution.
For example, we had the $100,000 fine Batista received after bleeding during a match right at the beginning of the PG Era. And then we have the legendary WrestleMania XXVII match between Triple H and The Undertaker, which got them in trouble with Vince because of the nasty chair shots that happened during that match.
10 Good: Investors Love It
Going PG was, from a business standpoint, a great deal for the WWE. Whether hard-core fans would like to see it this way doesn’t really matter because at the end of the day the WWE is a business, and businesses are and should be focused on making money. While the WWE does make a lot of money from its fans with tickets and merchandise, a good chunk of their budget also comes through advertisement. Back when the promotion was enforcing blood and hard-core content, it was tough to find people who would advertise during the shows. But
since it became PG, the WWE managed to attract a whole new dimension of people who wanted to promote their products during commercial breaks.
If anything, opening up this new avenue gave Vince McMahon more room to negotiate with prospective advertisers.
9 Bad: Narrative Not As Entertaining
Another thing that old-school fans of wrestling are caught complaining about quite often is that the narratives and the creative process are not the same as it used to be. And if we are to be fair, we can’t really blame the writers on this one because they are not the ones who decided what kind of content was okay or not for this new direction of the WWE.
Hell, there were Bikini challenges back in the day. Can you imagine anything like that happening in the WWE of today? No, and those are not the only things that writers are not allowed to put into the shows anymore. Even the romances between wrestlers are not the same as they used to be. It is almost like making it family-friendly made this side of the business more fake than it already was.
8 Bad: We Miss Cursing
Since we are talking about bad things that happened because of the PG Era, a lot that is spoken about here includes the nostalgia we feel for some of the things that just don’t happen anymore in the WWE. We talked about the blood, we talked about the storylines, but above all else, something that every WWE fan who signed up to the group before the PG Era misses is the cursing.
Yeah, we know there are a lot of people who don’t appreciate vulgarity. Then again, you have to remember that the whole idea behind this business is that people enjoy watching two guys or gals beating the hell out of each other inside a ring. A great deal of the business is promoting these fights, and it is hard for people to get hyped up for a fight these days without the trash talking and calling each other names beforehand. You can still do it, but it’s not the same.
7 Good: Merchandise
Since we talked about the PG Era serving to bring in a new crowd to the WWE, it follows that this new crowd also became the target of a new kind of merchandise the company managed to sell. Of course, there have always been action figures and T-shirts being sold in huge amounts to the WWE fans. However,
ever since the promotion became family-friendly, more and more parents thought it was okay to buy their kids a John Cena or a Brock Lesnar action figure.
Before, wrestlers were people usually connected to viciousness, blood, gore and all kinds of explicit content. Yet, ever since Vince had the brilliant idea of going PG, the image of wrestlers started to change. Of course, we still have our heroes and villains, but the outlook of the entire company has changed, and this was good for business in the end.
6 Bad: Ratings Going Down
In almost all of the entries that talk about why going PG was a good idea for the WWE, we mentioned the fact that making the company family-friendly has helped the WWE acquire more fans and helped them make the brand friendlier for advertisers. That being said, they must be making a hell of a lot more money through advertisement these days because that is the only way the company would still be valuable given the fact that their ratings have been going down steadily ever since the company went PG.
Most people pinpoint the turn to the PG Era to be somewhere around 2008 when the ratings went down to 3.27 from the 3.61 they had in 2007.
These days, WWE ratings are supposedly around 2.17. Back in the year 2000, their ratings were a whopping 5.88.
5 Bad: The Power Struggle
Ever since the dawn of the PG Era, wrestling fans have seen Vince McMahon steadily taking more of a backroom role in the company. Slowly, but steadily he has been transferring power through the many sides of the promotion to his daughter Stephanie, her husband Triple H, and other people who were fan favorites while they were wrestlers.
We don’t know exactly how much power these people have, but it seems like Vince is really intending to let them take the reins for a while.
At the same time, we kind of miss watching Mr. McMahon and his antics from time to time. Yes, the guy is about as controversial as wealthy owners of companies like the WWE come. But it is hard to deny that Vince is one of the best entertainers of his generation.
4 Good: Keeping Shareholders Happy
This entry goes hand-in-hand with the idea that the WWE became more attractive to advertisers. Many people might not know this, but the WWE became a publicly traded company quite a while back. And even if you are not that into the financial game, you at least know that companies that are publicly traded have to care for some things that companies that are completely private owned do not have to endure.
The biggest factor here is that Vince McMahon has to keep his shareholders happy.
Yes, a lot of people might think otherwise, but the WWE is not there only to keep Vince happy anymore. He also has to keep the people who pump money into the company happy. One of the ways he found to do just that was by keeping the content PG and family-friendly. This brings in cash, which in turn makes the shareholders happy.
3 Bad: Put The Company In A Tough Spot
As we said before, some of the best things about the WWE switching to a PG side was that they managed to attract the attention of younger fans and in turn the attention of merchandise sellers who target that audience. One of the biggest deals the WWE ever made was the one they had with Mattel in order to produce and sell WWE toys. Believe it or not, those toys are a big chunk of the merchandise money that the WWE gets every year. With that in mind, it is fair to assume that this commercial deal is one of the most important for the WWE.
The problem here is that becoming dependent on deals like these, have kind of put the WWE on a chokehold when it comes to what they can and cannot do in terms of the future of the company. After all, Mattel itself already said that if the WWE decided to go for a more mature route in the future, they would pull out of the deal.
2 Bad: The Fans
We can talk about pros and cons all day, but it all comes down to the fans. The PG era was something that attracted a lot of people to the WWE, but it also got a lot of people to walk away from the company. Ultimately, it will be up to the big shots in the promotion to decide whether they would like to keep the new fans they got, or try to make a move to recover the ones they lost. At the end of the day,
it is just sad to think that people who have followed the sport for so long eventually let go of it just because of the changes that came with the PG Era.
We hope there is a way to make these people return to the WWE because this is an industry that needs their hard-core fans. However, it will be tough to make some of those hard-core fans return if there is no blood or more explicit content.
1 Good: NXT
Perhaps the greatest thing that happened during the PG Era of the WWE was the creation of NXT. Yeah, it might not have the same star power of RAW or SmackDown, but that is exactly the point of NXT. It was during the PG Era that this new side of the WWE was founded, and it indeed became one of the strong points of the company. Yes,
everyone loves to see their favorite wrestler every week on the main roster, but people also love to see younger talent rising up through the ranks.
NXT became the perfect example that you can bring in a bunch of people who were previously unknown and then out of that bunch pick out a few who will eventually become superstars. A few examples that show just how much this new brand was good for business are the rise of Asuka and the current RAW Women’s Champion, Alexa Bliss.