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Levin: WWE Fails To Tell A Good Ol’ Wrasslin’ Story

Memorable feuds are lost in today's product, writes David Levin.

This month, we celebrated the late Roddy Piper’s birthday. I celebrated by watching the infamous “Dog Collar” match between Piper and Greg Valentine at NWA Starrcade ’83.

The Piper-Valentine feud is one of the greatest programs I have witnessed as a fan. Add the Flair-Steamboat dance in 1989 and the Tommy Rich-Buzz Sawyer battles all over the NWA in the early 1980s and you could tell exactly how professional wrestling was part of a niche lexicon of fans.

While they weren’t as mainstream as Hulk Hogan and your pick of any wrestler from 1984-1986, those matches—those stories—stand out because they had a beginning, a middle, and an end. That was how professional wrestling was supposed to be shown and how it was supposed to be told.

Regardless of the fans today, who will tell you Hogan-Warrior and Rock-Austin were some of the best rivalries in wrestling lore, you have to dig back deep into the archives to find a time when “wrasslin’” mattered.

Today, it is so watered down. Shawn Michaels has said it is unwatchable and Superstar Billy Graham has railed against it in his comments on his Facebook page.

The Post and Courier columnist Mike Mooneyham—one of the foremost authorities on professional wrestling—wrote an interesting piece recently about NXT and the future of pro wrestling. Mooneyham opens his piece with a line he wrote in a previous column: “If NXT is the future of WWE, then WWE’s future is extremely bright.” Those comments were made a year ago and based on what the company that controls the business is doing with its main product, he still feels the same.

WWE doesn’t have a wrestling problem, it has a promotion and booking problem. If there was a chance to step back and look at the way things are as opposed to the way wrestling was run before—the crumbling of territories and the need to monopolize the industry—fans would be more apt to follow the scripts of today. Take into account that the Internet and technology have eliminated the art of surprise and, well, that is why we bitch about it today.

Wrestling has a hard time with telling a story. Most feuds run two or three pay-per-view events, but they have little or no substance, just enough to whet the fans’ appetite and that’s about all. While AJ Styles-Chris Jericho and Sasha Banks-Bayley have been great feuds with a story, they are few and far between. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens could be a solid “story” on the main roster, but the reality is Owens is ready for the main event. Zayn isn’t even close to being there.

WWE did create something special with the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar, but we won’t see that happen again unless the creative team sees the importance of the Undertaker and Kane closing their novel in one final match. I’ve been crying for this for some time, but it has fallen on deaf ears. The veterans of yesterday understand what I am saying. The stars of today don’t have a clue.

So as we await the crushing loss by Styles at WWE Payback and hear over and over again that Roman Reigns is being shoved down our throats, I wait to see if there will ever be a true story told in this promotion. Something we will remember for a few years. Something WWE can hang its hat on. It’s highly unlikely to happen.

But as a fan, I can still hope and dream—can’t I?

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