Monday, November 10, 2014

The Future of Wrestling

In the afterword of Steel Chair to the Head, Henry Jenkins IV discusses the evolution of the WWE from the standpoint of a lifelong fan, himself. He closes the book by looking towards the future of wrestling, which he anticipated becoming more adult to coincide with the aging of the original fan base of Hulk Hogan and friends back in the '80s. I think it can be agreed that wrestling definitely has moved away from the risqué content and into an era of relative "adulthood." This begs the question, especially with oft-repeated axiom "wrestling is cyclical:" where will wrestling go from here? A new generation, the children of the Hulkamaniacs, is already being raised on John Cena's Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect. When they reach a certain age, will the WWE try and again kick off an attitude era of rebellion against their old fans? Would having another attitude era even be effective when the previous generation has seen it all before? Because of my recent post about the future of WWE, I find the possibility pretty compelling that the WWE could start walking children through the more or less same growing-up process as their parents.
If the WWE would adopt more socially progressive archetypes for their characters, the WWE could be a cool way for kids to learn about diversity and American culture through bodyslams and cartoonish cooperation, then transition to risqué, but still socially liberal storylines. After going through so many years of pro wrestling, it's bizarre to think that today's matches are the culmination of almost a century's worth of thought. How can you possibly up the ante on the extravagance that was the attitude era? We live in an exciting time to be a wrestling fan, because in the next few years (provided the cyclical theme holds up) we will get to see an era that tops even the attitude era, which will surely be so crude and so base that it will burn out the eyes of the PTC and curdle milk.

1 comment:

Sam Ford said...

It's a great question, Mikey...but I think back to one of the points made by Henry IV (who now goes by the writing name of Charlie Jenkins..) Charlie writes that wrestling is one of the few entertainments where fans have such a direct impact on how wrestling is shaped. And this gets back to Mikey's call to action....

Perhaps the appeal should be made as much to wrestling fans as to the wrestling promoters to think about what "being more risque" means...and perhaps it means being more socially progressive, or making wrestling storylines be "about something" in a provocative way, and tackling social issues even more aggressively...I don't know. But I think it's a great question to ask.