Are WWE Superstars lacking physical perfection? I’ve been noticing a trend in WWE lately: the pushing of superstars with a less than stellar look when it comes to their physiques, as can be seen with superstars like Keith Lee. And if the company is looking more to in-ring talent rather than aesthetics, what does that mean for those still fit and trim, showing shades of older superstars from days gone by? And while the physiques in WWE go soft, that leaves room for so many other stars in other companies to gain that lead in the proverbial gun show.
WWE’s past reputation for favouring the big guys
“Where the big boys play.” Sure, it was a WCW slogan, but for those of us who were in the trenches for those Monday Night Wars of the late nineties and even before, the massive and larger than life characters were surely the big eye-catchers of the era. One only needs to name stars like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Lex Luger, Kevin Nash and a plethora of others to see what I’m getting at. “Larger than life” is the only way to describe it.
But Vince McMahon’s obsession with the bigger guys was surely evident throughout the nineties. Getting him to sign and/or push smaller guys was like pulling out a stubborn tooth in a mouth full of cavities. And at that time, even the smaller guys like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart bulked up, leading to a roster that was certainly looking like they could handle themselves quite well on a pro bodybuilding stage.
And didn’t Vince try getting into the pro bodybuilding game as well to compete with the IFBB? Yeah, that’s right! I won’t get into it, but just mentioning that proves my point. So maybe, yes. When looking at the landscape today, WWE superstars are lacking perfection.
And yes, the direction of the company has changed severely. The dawn of the cruiserweights certainly changed the outlook of the business back in the late nineties (an era I’ll be referring to often, so bear with me).
Back when WCW was starting to take their now historic nose-dive into oblivion, it was the cruiserweights and the matches that they put on that saved them and kept them afloat for quite a while. Stars like Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, Juventud Guerrera and many others were putting on clinics that many marveled at. So, slowly but surely, we started to see many smaller individual wrestlers stealing the show and in WWE as well.
But is size what I’m talking about here? Not really. There are and always have been plenty of shorter wrestlers that show up in epic shape. Take a look at the roster today. There are a bunch of WWE wrestlers coming in light but extremely cut and ripped, making for very impressive physiques overall.
A lot of the smaller guys seem like “regular guys,” to use a term from The Nature Boy, Ric Flair. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a tendency for quite a few stars to be a little less than “perfect” for lack of a better term. Many WWE superstars seem to be content with putting forth a great match, even though the old waist size isn’t where it should be. Another example of WWE superstars lacking perfection.
Now…a slippery slope indeed. A difficult discussion to be had, but really, I’m just thinking aloud, or rather on paper…
Sometimes imperfection works
On the other side, stars like Bray Wyatt and Kevin Owens are proving that a perfect physique does not a great wrestler make—not always at least. These two are powerhouses all their own and proving that they could have held their own perhaps even in The Attitude Era.
And yes, even the golden era and beyond…the bigger guys that weren’t at all muscular had their place as well.
So yes, WWE superstars are indeed lacking perfection, but in some cases it certainly works.
Diversity is what makes the business work. Perhaps I’m being nostalgic for a different era, but there was just something about seeing a perfect physical specimen going to the ring to battle a larger than life man like say…Yokozuna. So yeah, you need those bigger guys, and you need the softer ones as well. But it’s the dilution of those class differences that is bothering me most when seeing the product these days.
A distinct difference should be set…that’s how epic encounters like the old David vs. Goliath can be set up for superstars on the rise and in their twilight. Superstars should choose where they fall and stick to their guns moving forward.
Making room for injury
There are those that would say: Lighten up! And I definitely understand that sentiment. But when I think back to Kurt Angle and Steve Austin wrestling, working out and hitting the ropes with a broken neck apiece, it’s kind of hard to be lenient on talent that doesn’t strive for perfection no matter what.
But again, this has nothing to do with the company pushing these WWE superstars lacking perfection.
There is still a high standard present in WWE
Now that’s not to say that there aren’t superstars that are definitely keeping trim and ready, much in the same way that the aforementioned wrestlers did. To name a few: Apollo Crews, Robert Roode, Bobby Lashley, The Miz, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler, Big E, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Drew McIntyre and quite a few more. These men are showing up to the game in tip-top and despite that some are smaller, they are still quite trim.
But what of superstars like Keith Lee? He’s certainly not an IFBB pro! He has the ferociousness, yes, yet we still need to see if he can hack a severe schedule on top.
Has the landscape changed forever? Is this the new beast incarnate? Why wouldn’t the company push a Robert Roode or say a Tommaso Ciampa instead of Lee?
ROH is showing that a physique is just as important as in-ring technique. Impact as well, and of course AEW has its exceptional athletes for sure; especially with Brian Cage, Luchasaurus and Moose walking around respectively.
None of these things should be an issue. During The Attitude Era, the wrestlers had an even more severe schedule, and getting to the gym every day and eating right was even harder. Steve Austin has been quoted by saying that a couple double cheeseburgers was the only way to keep the protein levels up, and getting to the gym was as dire as finding a fresh lagoon in a dry desert most days, but they did it. So these days, Covid-19, the schedule…none of these things should even matter.