The modern era of wrestling has given old school fans so many things they never thought possible. From women's iron man matches to bi-weekly pay per views that don't cost $50, modern wrestling fans really are living the dream.
Old school WWE fans used to have to wait months just to see their favorite superstars face off against anyone who had their own action figures. If they wanted to watch a big event, they had to actually watch it live or get their moms to tape it on a VHS.
And somehow moms always stopped taping before the main event was over!
But there are a LOT of things the younger generation of WWE fans miss out on while they soak up their on-demand 24/7 wrestling content. Most of the amazing ridiculousness of the 80s and 90s have vanished from the current landscape. Bigger than life cartoonish pro wrestlers have been replaced by vanilla superstars in tank tops and gym shorts. But it's not just the change in superstars that have old timers pining for a bygone era.
Here are ten amazing things that old school fans miss about professional wrestling.
Jobs as gimmicks
These days wrestlers are nearly without gimmick. They go by regular names like Luke or Kevin or Dean. Some of them wear dirty tank tops and some of them wear their own t shirts. Bleh.
Back in the day a wrestler's gimmick was basically a regular job turned evil. They were tax attorneys or evil dentists or evil clowns or evil garbage men. If it sounds stupid, well, that's because it was. But that's what made it fun. Anytime I see a Barber I expect him to put me in a sleeper.
Bring back the job gimmick, but update it for the new era. Maybe an evil Barista?prevnext
Call me a savage, but I think adding a little "color" to matches really added another level to any great feud. The PG era has erased any intentional use of blood and while that is good for a generation of wrestlers who won't grow old to look like they have a barcode on their forehead, it takes away the drama of seeing someone fighting through a crimson mask to steal a victory.
Imagine how differently we would remember the Stone Cold passing out in Bret Hart's sharp shooter match if he weren't bleeding. Or how differently we would remember literally every Dusty Rhodes match?
Seeing wrestlers bleed didn't make old school fans want to go out and cut up our friends' forehead when were kids. It just made us want to squirt ketchup packets on each other, which is delicious.prevnext
Where have all the husky men gone? Overweight wrestlers used to be a staple of the wrestling landscape. Their impressive girth always made their moves look more painful than an average sized superstar. They could turn a simple bear hug into a crushing maneuver and don't even get me started on their splashes. Every large wrestler had a great splash that they could use to break a babyface's ribs. This tactic allowed for the face to return weeks later and wrestle a heroic match with tape around their waist. It told a very effective story.
Has the WWE become too weight conscious? I want to see a big fella in a thong sitting on someone's chest! Who doesn't?prevnext
The Blue Cage
Blue Steel is more than just a Zoolander pose. Just look at the glory of the blue cage. LOOK AT IT! Visually, it was a much more impressive structure than the normal, chain-length fence that you can see sitting in your own backyard. The blue cage was likely abandoned because it was so freaking heavy, but the weight of the steel is what made it look so dangerous.
Bring back the blue cage, WWE. Please.prevnext
Backstage promos before matches
You might be thinking, wait, I've seen backstage promos in the current WWE and you'd be right. There are a few, but the difference now is the poor women who are asked to get interviews are told to ask one question and then do nothing more than give a blank stare as the interviewee rambles gets their lines out. Old school fans remember legends like Mean Gene who were just as important to the interviews as the superstars involved. Gene felt like a real journalist who was forced to take a job in the circus. His normalcy represented all of us watching at home.
Also, the backstage interview was crucial to adding context to a match that was about to happen or one that had just wrapped up. The story could continue to evolve well past what had happened in the ring. Granted, most of the interviews were ridiculous, but that's what made them so special.prevnext
Street clothes for street fights
How are we supposed to know you are in a street fight if you aren't wearing street clothes? As ridiculous as it may seem, seeing wrestlers dropping their spandex in favor of denim and work boots always made the fights feel more "real" than the ones in the ring.prevnext
Heel managers were a staple of old school wrestling. At one point, every single bad guy in the WWE was represented by some sort of snivelling little weasel that talked big talk but always hid behind the monstrous men they were manipulating. Heel managers built entire stables that they would use to try and collect gold, fame and fortune in the WWE. Each of these managers seemed to come with their own special weapon of choice. From Mr. Fuji's throwing salt to Jimmy Hart's megaphone, every heel manager had their own signature weapon which they used to their client's advantage.
The payoff to a heel manager was always seeing them get their comeuppance when the babyface would finally get a hold of them.
The closest we have these days are Lana, Maryse and Paul Heyman. Two are women and one is technically an "advocate" who only rarely gets involved in Brock Lesnar's matches.prevnext
Wrestlers singing their own theme songs
If you've made it all the way to the WWE and get your own, customized theme song, why wouldn't you want to sing it yourself? The WWE doesn't want to spring for the rights to purchase songs by any musicians you've ever heard of, so we are generally stuck with aggressive generic guitar riffs. Let's spice things up by getting these dudes back on the mic. Imagine how much more over Roman Reigns would be if he was singing his own theme song.
"I'm just a Shieldy guy ..."prevnext
This one goes, not just for wrestling, but for life. I know mullets have made a bit of an ironic comeback with hipsters in Portland bicycle shops, but they need to make a comeback inside the squared circle. Whether it be Ricky Morton's Kentucky Waterfall or Tatanka's Native Cascade, nearly every hero of our youth once sported a mullet and it was glorious! They were all business in the ring and party in the back.
I would give anything to see a New Era wrestler un-ironically start rocking an 80s wrestling gimmick with a beautiful, glowing mullet.prevnext
Tearing off the shirt to reveal a different shirt underneath
There was no more dramatic way to announce your allegiances than by tearing off your t shirt to reveal the t shirt of a rival group/gang underneath. This happened all the time during the NWO black and white/Wolfpac era in the WCW as well as when DX was running wild over the WWE. It was the absolute best way to turn heel or face and it has sadly been lost in the modern era.
In the current WWE there are sadly no factions and wrestlers only wear their own t shirts, so the lost art of t shirt treachery has faded into oblivion.prev