Monday Night Raw celebrates its 1000th episode tonight with a DX reunion opening the show and The Rock confirmed to appear along with rumoured appearances by many of the attitude era superstars. It’s bound to be a retro fest for wrestling fans of a certain age, who like me spent Friday nights (before it was live over here) glued to the inappropriate action, baffled as to why their mums didn’t want them walking around with “Suck It” written on a t-shirt, while struggling to say WWE instead of WWF.
However, is the WWE’s continued reliance on stars from the past harming its present and
future? First off I’ll be the first to admit I love it. I love seeing HBK and Triple H goof around or Road Dogg enter the rumble. When I lost interest in wrestling a few years back it was the promise of stars of my childhood that got me back watching. Since getting back into it I’ve grown to love some of the, if not new then newer, members of the roster who have really grabbed my attention and become the guys I look out for while quietly cheering, as the rest of my house is sound asleep.
The most obvious of these newer faces is CM Punk. The guy is as good in the ring as he is at cutting a promo and has a unique character which is totally over with the fans. He is anti-establishment just like Stone Cold but is a totally different and exciting proposition, swapping downing Stevewisers for his straight-edge life style and making not drinking seem bad ass. However, I think he is criminally over-looked and underplayed by the WWE. Of the eight PPV’s since he won the title he has featured in the main event just once. While John Cena continues to main event just about any PPV he is involved with and even those way past their sell-by date like Big Show are in main events. Punk’s latest match was mid-card and was followed by a Diva’s match and a Ryback walkover. Worse still it now looks as if it’s all set up for Punk to drop his title to Cena on the big night on Monday, so he can renew his half baked rivalry with The Rock. It gives the feeling that Punk was only given the title to look after while Cena was pre-occupied with the “match of a lifetime” at Wrestlemania. He has even been overshadowed in the video games department. Much was made of him making it onto the cover of WWE 13, only for a Special Stone Cold edition to be announced this week.
Not only does this under value Punk but it also takes the shine off of the WWE Championship. We are now in an era where the belts play second fiddle to poor Cena feuds and matches involving “retro” superstars. With the main belts devalued it means something like the Intercontinental Title, which back in the day was the gateway to becoming the biggest star but now you’d struggle to remember who even holds it (it’s Christian by the way). The company needs to restructure the belt system. They need to create a unified championship and make it the “biggest prize in sports entertainment “and stop relying on bringing back the old boys for one last match. If guys like CM Punk and the fantastically old school heel Dolph Ziggler aren’t given more main events, the WWE will be struggling come the 1,500th or 2,000th Raw. Nobody will be big enough to get the crowd to pop when their music hits the way that on Monday DX ,The Rocks and, fingers crossed, Stone Cold Steve Austin’s will.
I’ll be cross chopping, people’s eyebrowing and shouting “hell yeah!” as much as the next Jabroni on Monday. I just hope the WWE use Raw’s 1000th episode as a opportunity not only to look back but to build for the future, using the increased audience to push the new generation of Superstars.
You can follow Sam on Twitter @samtennent as he discusses Football, Music and other aspects of popular culture.