I’d like to think I’m not the embodiment or manifestation of a typical Internet wrestling fan. The types of fans that feel they’re completely ignored by World Wrestling Entertainment, the types of fans that pack most of the Wrestlemania and other major pay-per-view crowds. You know: the types of fans that wonder why Antonio Cesaro & Daniel Bryan aren’t pushed. I honestly didn’t really know much about those guys as, over the year, it’s been consistently more difficult for me to follow the independent scene.
I’m a 35 year old married male with a child on the way who owns a small home in suburbia, Anytown USA. I’m a regional account manager for a publishing firm. I like to woodwork, I play fantasy football and I have a German shepherd. I lead a pretty simple, average American life. I’ve also been a lifelong WWE fan. Not just one who watches on TV and doesn’t contribute financially to the company, either. My father was a traveling sportswear salesman in the 70’s and 80’s and I was fortunate and blessed enough to attend Wrestlemania IV, V, VII, X, XII and XV with my siblings.
I also grew up going to NWA shows and followed ECW on television through my teens, even attending their penultimate pay per view. Into my early adulthood, I paid my own way to attend Wrestlemania X-Seven, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV and, most recently, XXVII. Not to mention the countless Armageddon, Money in the Bank, Hell in a Cell, Summerslam, Royal Rumble, RAW, Smackdown, ECW and NXT events I’ve attended. Needless to say, my favorite form of sports and entertainment is professional wrestling.
An avid MLB and NFL fan to boot, I don’t spend nearly as much time and money on those forms of entertainment as I do with wrestling. Over the past 5 or 6 years, life has brought on all sorts of more responsibilities keeping me from exploring the other non-televised realm of pro-wrestling in America yet I still remain a loyal fan of WWE. I spend thousands of dollars a year on PPVs, live events and merchandise.
Although I’d like to think I’m not the embodiment or manifestation of a typical Internet wrestling fan, I share in the absolute dismay and heavy criticism about last night’s pay-per-view offering from WWE, Wrestlemania 29. I should digress here and say I enjoyed the show and had a small gathering at my home. However, the ending of the show left me wondering – for the first time – if I should even continue supporting WWE’s current stale, product and either explore other forms of pro-wrestling entertainment (there’s only one other that’s broadcast nationally) or find another program or form of entertainment to invest in mentally and financially.
Over the years, I’ve read countless stories about the absolute refusal of WWE’s creative brain trust to augment or change the character of John Cena. I’ve read claims that the company is so overprotective of a character directed at a demographic 20 years my junior that they’ve refunded customers whose children were upset at a loss or have gone out of their way to financially reimburse parental units of children who don’t understand the product is scripted.
I cannot understand how WWE officials and announcers claim Cena receives a “mixed reaction” yet was jeered by 90% of MetLife stadium yesterday evening. I do not know why WWE wastes its time on the temporary cash cow of people they aren’t even sure will be wrestling/sports entertainment fans 5 or 10 years from now. You’re reading a letter from a male in his mid 30’s, there’s little chance that I just “started watching” the product.
Yet WWE’s continued ignorance toward a much more loyal demographic leads me to believe you don’t want me watching your product. I’m not clamoring from a mountain top to turn Cena heel but I’m wondering if you, at all, listen to your core audience. Change him up a little, make him a little more than one-dimensional, add something new to him, hell change his theme music. I’m so sick of the character that if you turned him heel, I’d buy front row tickets to your next 5 Wrestlemania offerings. Your core audience aren’t the parents of children who buy so much Cena merchandise that they can’t afford to attend or even watch a PPV, your core audience are those of us who have stuck with the product no matter what.
I've stuck with you through the post-Attitude Era downturn, through the Chris Benoit tragedy, through the mainstream onset of MMA. I feel a kinship and a brotherhood with every one over the age of 18 who is upset and sick of your product. I find myself not wanting to spend another dime on anything WWE-related until things change. This includes elevating stars to the same level as Cena, rethinking your business strategy about where “PG era” has taken you or changing Cena’s character into a more realistic human being and not a Superman who somehow ignores the jeers and cat calls of WWE’s devotees at their biggest event of the year.
Your website claims you don’t take suggestions for storylines yet I’ve seen the comments on your website and the actions of fans at your shows: you bend over backwards when your 8-14 year old demographic is upset yet completely ignore your older, more devoted demographic because you simply think we’ll “keep watching and complaining.” With a child on the way, I’m not so sure I’d expose him or her to John Cena as he is not a realistic role model at all.
In fact, I’d do my best to sit them down at the proper age and explain the ins and outs of pro-wrestling and how John Cena has become an irritating, unrealistic, unflappable parody of what professional wrestling should not represent. Hulk Hogan’s character didn’t even this stale this long.
Obviously your company has chosen to cast me off as another “Internet darling” who “won’t be satisfied until Daniel Bryan is pushed as far as John Cena” but this notion, perpetrated by many Cena supports on the Internet, is completely false. I’m someone who was even a former stockholder in your company until I could plainly see that you no longer listen to anyone old enough to purchase alcohol, carry a driver’s license or vote in a U.S. election. I’m not even asking for a $70 refund, I’m simply asking you and your creative team to stop and listen to the fans. You can get an 8 year old kid to cheer for Damien Sandow if you tried hard enough, don’t worry about “losing merchandise money.” Worry about those you are completely turning off from your product.
Until this letter is addressed by an official from WWE, I absolutely refuse to purchase any further PPVs, live event tickets, merchandise, DVDs or anything else the WWE is selling. I know that a thousand dollars or so is a drop in the bucket to a multi-billion dollar company, but maybe others should follow suit. Maybe if things don’t change with your writing and creative team and development of characters, the next step is a boycott. I don’t know.
All I know is that I’m frustrated, annoyed and completely turned off from continuing my 30+ years as a devoted, loyal-no-matter-what WWE fan.