Hi everyone. Today I’d like to touch on the subject of part-timers, and why the company feels obligated to feature wrestlers with reduced schedules.
The biggest underlying problem with WWE is the strongly sought after Attitude Era. Fans still want to see The Undertaker, Goldberg, The Rock, and even Triple H to some degree. Some fans have a problem with these guys taking spots from young full-time talent. But should anyone be criticized for Goldberg and Lesnar having the Universal title for their match at Wrestlemania? Instead of Owens and Jericho? Well, I’m going to say yes and no.
A championship goes where it’s needed, and Vince felt it would serve better purpose in the Goldberg/Lesnar feud as a symbol of dominance over the other. However, Owens and Jericho are staples of Monday Night Raw, so it can be said that they deserve a main event spot with the Universal title on the line. The feud between Owens and Jericho is more personal, while Goldberg/Lesnar is a competition of dominance between two behemoths. Getting a title win serves little purpose if Jericho took it off Owens (no disrespect to Jericho, he’s awesome), whereas if Lesnar took it from Goldberg it’s easily bigger news the next day. In no way does it affect the program between Owens and Jericho, so I can’t see a problem with it.
Consider this .. what if Goldberg and Lesnar were full-time? What would happen to Kevin Owens? Would he still be in the main event? Likely not, but at least he’d get airtime. Having bigger names on Raw each week would take time away from young superstars trying to make a name for themselves. We’d have less women’s matches, less cruiserweight matches, less Strowman segments. We’d get less of everything .. as each show would revolve around Goldberg and Lesnar. They would dominate the show as much as they do opponents.
Something I worry about with talent post-Attitude Era (minus Cena & Orton) is they didn’t get to work with the buzz of an era filled with casual television viewers. After WCW and ECW’s demise, the casual audience slowly tuned out and moved on to other things. Nowadays you’ll find some of them looking back on YouTube videos of Austin stunning McMahon and others, reminiscing on days gone by. As much as we’d like them to, they don’t care for the current generation as they’ll never be as entertaining as those who came before ..
.. and it’s not WWE or the talent’s fault. In the late-90’s there were so many new eyes watching who never cared before. They were interested in the drama and hearing about backstage altercations, along with arguing over who had the better show between WWF & WCW. Controversy .. and having no clue what to expect, played a huge part in getting talent over. Had someone like Kevin Owens or AJ Styles worked in the Attitude Era, they’d of got exposure worthy of their talents. Everyone involved in the era benefited greatly from the high ratings.
Let’s Make Wrestling Great Again.
What does Vince do each year? He pulls out a member berry (South Park reference) .. chews on it somewhat .. eats it, and picks another one. He does this til he figures out how he can drag all the old fans back one more time for Wrestlemania. He does this because he knows they don’t care about the current roster .. so he plays to nostalgia. And they’ll gladly watch Wrestlemania with their family if they get to see their heroes again. It makes them feel safe .. they can remember the happy times when they were young with little to no responsibilities.
When Vince books Lesnar/Goldberg/Taker/Rock (etc.) for PPV, it’s mainly so casual fans will tune in and perhaps .. just perhaps, they’ll see someone like AJ Styles and say “I need to start watching WWE again so I can see him each week!”. And because part-timers aren’t there .. AJ Styles gets guaranteed main event airtime on Smackdown. The fan will get to see their newfound hero doing what they do best with no one getting in the way.
What I don’t like is when someone claims “this guy deserves to be in the main event over this old part-timer!”. From a business standpoint it makes no sense. If said full-timer was a bigger draw than said part-timer .. Vince wouldn’t have booked them to begin with. Vince would happily let the old legend stay at home so he’s not having to fork out a ton of money. He’d prefer to book the new star .. but can only do so if they can draw as good, if not better than the legend he wants to bring back.
It’s about whether a full-timer deserves to be in the top spot. Did part-timers have it easy when they worked full-time? Did they not earn the right to have a reduced schedule? Did they not earn the right to headline Wrestlemania? How do we quantify who deserves it more? Would Goldberg be deserving if he wrestled 1-2 minute matches each week on Raw? Would Lesnar deserve it if he wrestled every live event? Does The Rock have to wrestle on Raw and Smackdown each week for three months before getting a title shot? Where do you draw the line?
The Double Standard.
Does Roman Reigns deserve to win at Wrestlemania because he’s full-time and Undertaker isn’t? Or does it boil down to whether we like/hate the talent? What if Reigns was .. likeable (I accept your sarcastic laughter) to most? Would Taker be holding him back if he won? Would we criticize Vince for not giving Reigns control of the yard? Would we blame WWE for continuing to cling on to its past instead of pushing present and future?
That’s the thing .. I see a minority who don’t like The Undertaker getting guaranteed Wrestlemania slots each year. However, most could never bring themselves to criticize Taker as they are massive fans and they know the man behind the character earned the right to wrestle when he’s physically capable. He’s “earned” that perk, but in doing so it takes a spot away from someone else. We can’t preach about the future of wrestling when many fans can’t see past The Undertaker’s inevitable retirement.
The biggest question is: Should we appreciate part-timers? I understand why Goldberg and The Undertaker wrestle sporadically .. they ain’t getting any younger and to have them on the show each week would risk injury. But what about Lesnar? Could he do what he did in his first WWE run and maintain his image as “The Beast” each week for several years? It’s possible, but I think highly unlikely.