Thursday, May 7, 2009

TV-PG is A-OK

One thing I've noticed as I've traversed the murky waters of wrestling "journalism" is that there is no such thing as objectivity, which is generally the first thing you're taught in any journalism class - news and opinion don't mix. Everywhere I go, someone is injecting their opinion into the news items and the recent thing to rail against WWE about is the adoption of the TV-PG rating. Apparently this has had some fundamental impact on the very nature of WWE programming, but I've still seen no evidence to support it. Have some things changed? Sure, but let's examine some of the supposed casualties of the ratings swtich:

One Night Stand changed to Extreme Rules
I've not seen anything that actually confirms ratings for the reason behind this, WWE just changed the name of the PPV. Was it the result of TV-PG that "Vengeance: Night of Champions" became "Night of Champions?" Then why should we assume that "One Night Stand: Extreme Rules" becoming "Extreme Rules" is specifically because of the new rating? One Night Stand was the name of the ECW reunion special since it was originally intended to be a one-off reunion show to celebrate ECW, why continue using the name when ECW is now the third brand?

WWE can't run violent matches like Hell in a Cell!
The last HIAC (SummerSlam 08) was a month after TV-PG was introduced. Plus, we've seen pretty much every other violent match type since then - tables, ladders, Extreme Rules, Last Man Standing, cage, Elimination Chamber, etc. All we haven't seen is First Blood, which leads us to...

No more blood!
There has been less blood since TV-PG was introduced, but that didn't stop Ric Flair from bleeding like a stuck pig on Raw a couple weeks before WrestleMania. Seriously, I've seen Freddy Krueger movies with less blood than that segment.

No more raunchy, Attitude Era storylines!
Good! As I said in my defense of John Cena last week, it's not 1999 anymore and the trainwreck TV fad is over. Let's be honest, most of that stuff from the Attitude Era was terrible, for every great segment from DX and Stone Cold, we got Mae Young giving birth to a hand, Mark Henry with a transvestite, Vince McMahon taking his pants off, Beaver Cleavage, Mr. Ass, Al Wilson, Big Bossman as the worst human being on the planet, The Rock throwing The British Bulldog in dog shit, Meat, Katie Vick, and stupid stuff like that continued all the way up to Vince McMahon performing JR's colonoscopy. I'm not saying there's not a place for completely stupid skits, but is anyone going to shed any tears if we never see Big Dick Johnson again?

Toned down Divas!
Again, good. The Divas are presented as eye candy enough as it is, but why can't they be athletes first and foremost? Look, I know we're still dealing with an audience of males, but 40% of today's WWE viewers are female, do you think they want to see the kind of stuff that went on in the 90s? Do we really need another Live Sex Celebration with Edge and Lita? And the Divas aren't in Playboy anymore? Sorry kids, they're not obligated to take their clothes off every year for your masturbatory pleasure.
C'mon, you're on the internet, porn is readily available to you at all times, you don't need the TV-14 version of it on WWE programming.

Irritating kids at live events!
Those kids have always been there. I've been going to WWE events since the 80s, my first one when I was just five years old. I'll tell you one thing, I'd much rather sit next to a kid than a smark, at least the kids enjoy themselves and have an excuse for being annoying.

Kid-friendly does not mean "for kids." MLB, NBA, NFL and all professional sports are kid-friendly, but that doesn't make them kids' entertainment, it's just something the whole family can enjoy. Did I love the Attitude Era? Of course, but it's over and it's been over for eight years now, even if WWE is just starting to realize it. Make no mistake, my support for this transition is not a call for WWE to go back to the 80s and early 90s cartoon characters. I don't want to see wrestling plumbers, magicians or garbagemen, but who do kids today love the most? Guys like Rey Mysterio, Jeff Hardy, John Cena, and Batista... there's nothing cartoony about their gimmicks, they're just colorful characters.

If anything, TV-PG has made WWE better. There's a focus on in-ring competition not seen in WWE since Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were carrying the company, and even back then, they had a midcard to work with that was average at best. I'd make the argument that this is the biggest focus on actual wrestling that's been seen in WWE since Vincent Kennedy McMahon bought the company from his father.

Smarks will always find something to complain about, they always do, and today's product isn't perfect (read any of my recent Raw reviews for evidence of that), but I just don't see how this shift has made the product worse. I think some people forget the fact that some of the more "mature" programming on television is actually the most juvenile. Through appealing to children and families, WWE has allowed itself to actually grow up.

11 comments:

  1. The Divas aren't in Playboy anymore?? Then why do I ever bother watching them? That's it, I'm done.

    An aside: As you know, I didn't watch WWE in the '90s, but the stuff you mentioned sounds AWFUL, and were it like that today, no way would I be tuning in.

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  2. Let's have a look at the reasons why PG is bad according to that WWE Universe blog you linked to. Apologies if my points overlap, which I have a bad habit of doing. :P

    * WWE superstars cannot swear on TV

    Swearing only ever suited Steve Austin and The Rock. As an alleged writer, I've learned that you should only swear if it is effective. Having everyone and their dog saying 'ass' and 'shit' gets tiresome after a while, like it did in the Attitude era.

    * No more Divas in playboy.

    The smarks complain about hiring women for looks over talent. And let's be honest, the sight of fake breasts is closer to a freakshow than a thing of beauty.

    * No more matches like "Bra and Panties".

    See above. Raunchiness or great ratings on the silly snowflake scale. Not both.

    * We have to listen to micheal Cole call the FU an "attitude ajustment"

    The FU name needed to change anyway. I'm surprised a punchline referring to Brock Lesnar has lasted six years. And what else is Cole meant to call it? The Death Valley Driver? Let's confuse the audience by saying Cena has just executed a DVD.

    * If anoyone goes to a live event theres about a 95% chance you will be next to an irritating child

    A child? Liking wrestling? What kind of crazy planet do we live on?! Children should not be allowed to enjoy anything ever.

    * TNA rating are going up because not as many kids watch that (some people hate TNA)

    So ratings are going up because certain demographics are not watching it? Oookkaayy... And for the record, I saw TNA in Manchester in January. There were lots of kids there, enjoying themselves, something smarks can't do.

    * Half of the things on the show are embarrasing to watch now. eg Hornswoggle -.-'

    Anyone who hasn't been entertained by "embarrassing" stuff like Hornswoggle at least once is a liar.

    * The chance of a 6 year old wearing the same WWE merchandise as you increases

    That's true, if you're the size of Hornswoggle. This man clearly hasn't heard of medium or large shirts.

    * WWE looses older audience (eventually about 90% of fans will be under 10!

    And 75% of people believe 94% of facts are 30% made up.

    * WWE is full of stupid gimmicks (eg idiots thinking they are a marine cause of a movie)

    That is true. Gimmicks like "Beaver Cleavage, Mr. Ass, Al Wilson... Meat, Katie Vick".

    * Half of WWE fans dont even like the Wrestling!

    ...that comment is just profoundly stupid. Do half the fans go to shows because they like the arena's hot dogs and bathroom facilities?


    In conclusion - this man is an idiot.

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  3. GA -

    Could you imagine the smark outrage if they Cena called his finisher a Death Valley Driver? They'd have a collective stroke.

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  4. If TV-PG worked so well, why did the then-WWF go away from it in the first place?

    TV-PG in wrestling has only worked when you don't have legitimate competition catering to the 18-35 male demographic.

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  5. The TV ratings system was instituted in January of 1997, when WWE was already moving in a more "mature" direction. WWE made that shift because of things like ECW becoming such cult success and WCW putting out edgy storylines like the nWo, that was the nature of the business at the time. But it's not anymore, that's my entire point. People began tuning out from WWE while the Attitude mentality was still being embraced.

    WWE's old business model wasn't working because it was bad. People didn't want to see King Mabel, The Godwinns, Rocky Maivia, The Sultan, Duke "The Dumpster" Droese, etc. But WWE isn't presenting a product similar to that today, their product right now is pretty much exactly what we've been seeing for the last two years... nothing significant has changed because of this switch.

    If edgy, "adult," old school ECW-style programming is what people want to see, WWE will adapt once again and change with the times. I wouldn't be surprised if that happens when the young kids in the audience today become teenagers and the cycle of the 90s repeats itself.

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  6. The thing that bothered me was there was a particular episode of Raw after Orton's handcuffing attack on Triple H where during those ubiquitous replays of what happened last time where they decided that they weren't going to show Orton DDTing Stephanie, despite the fact that a) Divas do so much worse to each other, b) it was a scripted event that we all saw the previous week and c) it wasn't even the most horrific thing to happen on that particular show.

    Not showing the Flair bloodfest again was understandable, because I don't think they had any intention of Ric Flair turning into a broken fire hydrant of blood, but not showing a scripted set piece that aired live the previous week... that was beyond stupid to me.

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  7. TV-PG rating is terrible. And since they became TV-PG there ratings have gone down. So they should change it back to TV-14.

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  8. Actually, the ratings have gone up since the switch. Raw is averaging its highest ratings since 2006 after switching to TV-PG.

    ECW's remained largely consistent the last few years and is almost always the top rated program on Sci-Fi.

    Smackdown's ratings have gone down because it's on a station that can barely qualify as a network.

    TV-PG has been mostly good for business, the only thing about it that makes no sense to me is editing bloody matches on WWE 24/7.

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  9. The TV-PG rating is a joke. WWE was great back in the attitude era because it had an edge to it. Now there ratings are going down and they are losing money just because Vince wants to target a younger audience.
    When at the same time he is losing his adult audience.

    So they should change it back to a TV-14 rating so they can get there adult audience back.

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  10. Then why did ratings go down when WWE was still trying to cling to the edgy Attitude Era? The bottom line is, people who grew up in the Attitude Era are adults now, many of them have kids and they're not going to take their children to see an Attitude-esque show. Who wants their kids to see 80-year-old women giving birth to hands, Mark Henry trying to have sex with a transvestite, or someone trying to cut off a wrestler's penis? The adult audience is there, it's just time to grow up. People don't watch Springer anymore and people don't want to see Triple H dry hump a mannequin in a coffin.

    Times change, companies have to adapt or else they'll cease to exist. WWE has put a heavy emphasis on the in-ring product above the sideshow and it's working right now. That's not to say there won't be a demand for an edgier product once again in the future, but clinging onto the dead Attitude Era is what put WWE in a major slump in the first place.

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  11. Do you not realise that when people die, there is a child to replace it?

    It's the same thing with wrestling fans. When a fan loses interest, perhaps due to a change in the product or whatever, that product change was brought about to bring in new viewers who will then stay watching for 10 or so years, then the cycle will repeat itself.

    The world, just like WWE, is different now to how it was when the Attitude era began. Back in 1998/99, South Park was just starting and grabbed everyone's attention because of it's crudeness, but now whilst it's still popular, it doesn't have that same shocking edge (this is coming from someone that doesn't watch the show).

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