CB’s World: What Happened to Characters In Wrestling? (WWE, Raw, Tough Enough)

Instead of repeating what’s already been said, and because I feel WWE did a spectacular job with their video tribute (below), the only thing I can think to say about the untimely death of Macho Man Randy Savage is this:

Rest in peace Randy Savage, THANK YOU, and we’ll miss you.

Moving onto somewhat related other matters, when watching both WWE Tough Enough and Raw this past Memorial Day Monday, what really stuck out to me the most was the one thing that was truly lacking throughout most of this three-hour block of programming: CHARACTERS.

Before I continue, I will say already that there were a couple of exceptions to this statement. First and foremost, Stone Cold Steve Austin – and even more surprisingly, Bill DeMott – were tailor-made for a show like Tough Enough. DeMott’s daily interactions with the contestants and Austin’s Bottom Three showdowns have been the best part of the entire series, and while that makes for great reality TV theater, it also speaks to the lack of energy and entertainment value brought forth by the competitors’ themselves.

Jeremiah and Luke have shown glimpses of charisma, but the show really took a downward turn after Rima was eliminated. Say what you want about Miss USA’s lack of in-ring ability (and the same goes for Jeremiah), but at least she brought true personality to the table along with giving off the vibe that she really was invested in the top prize.

As for the other contestants, there’s really not much else to say in terms of CHARACTER. As much as I appreciate Andy’s work ethic and as much as WWE would love a guy his size to do well in the Tough Enough factory, does anyone really buy into his whole Silent Rage bit? Also, while Luke thinks he is a lock to become a superstar, does he bring anything new to the table that guys like The Miz and Alex Riley haven’t already brought to the table?

The scariest part about all of this lack of character in Tough Enough is that it speaks to WWE’s inability to really find the next crop of superstars that they so desperately need to revitalize their product. Sure, they might have a future star in NXT Season Two product Alex Riley – and Riley’s blossoming feud with The Miz is one of the only true displays of CHARACTER I saw this week on my TV screen – but since the whole NXT experiment began, how many new recruits have really stood out as characters who will be remembered for generations to come?

Now let’s take a look Monday Night Raw, the flagship show. Technical difficulties aside, I give all the credit in the world to R-Truth for giving us everything he’s got into making us look at him as a vile, villainous, psychopathic character. He’s the biggest exception right now in all of WWE, someone who really is taking his game to the next level and making us DESPISE him in the process. Let’s see if he can keep this going, or if the rug gets pulled out from under him like it has for so many others recently.

It can therefore be said that other than R-Truth, Miz and Riley, there was nothing else memorable about last night’s Raw, and no one else stood out. CM Punk has been completely wasted in the New Nexus debacle, and NONE of his cohorts in the New Nexus are worth his character’s time and energy. Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston have been having these same kinds of matches for months, and while I am happy to see Dolph get his trademark bleach blonde locks back, how sad is it that the most memorable parts about someone is their hair and their valet, and not anything tangible they say or do themselves?

Evan Bourne pops up every once in awhile to get a surprise win over a bigger opponent (see: Sheamus), and then said bigger opponent exacts revenge when seemingly being more focused the second time around (see: what will happen next week with Jack Swagger and Bourne).

And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Divas division. While I appreciate the refreshing real-life explanation from Kharma about her pregnancy, this is the one time where I wish WWE didn’t pull back the curtain to reveal such details. For one, Kharma was being built as a monstrous force who was terrorizing the Divas, and in two weeks the entire build was completely and abruptly undermined. It was as if the Creative Team had no idea how to be, well, creative, and so they went with the truth.

It also didn’t help seeing the Bella Twins come out and make fun of Kharma as if they thought this was Emmy-winning material. This part of the segment came off as cheap, unnecessary, and well, stupid. And now, the Divas division is left in shambles once again, with no characters remaining to fill Kharma’s void. Although, in this case, you can blame WWE, since they do have women who are capable – Gail Kim, Beth Phoenix, Natalya, etc. – that they choose to disregard.

At the end of the day, I understand that the WWE is in a transition period. However, the one thing I also know that WWE seems to blatantly ignore at all levels is this: their staying power is in serious trouble.

When Macho Man died, a part of my childhood that I LOVED died within me.

And in the current WWE, there is nothing I LOVE, no characters to cling to. It’s enough for me to start steering away into other directions already, and whenever the time comes for me to have kids, there just might not be any trace of what I loved left.

And ultimately, there just might be no reason for me to keep the tradition of habitual Monday night viewing alive for generations to come.

That’s all from me this week – CB.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,