I’ve been watching the WWE for as far as I can remember. I still can remember really awesome and adrenaline pumping matches like Undertaker vs Mankind in Hell in A Cell where Mick Foley took two incredibly nasty spills from atop of the Cell. One where he was tossed from the top onto the announcer’s table and the other one where he was chokeslammed through the Cell roof!
This was the Attitude Era, a glorious time when it looked like the WWE took the action in and out of the squared circle seriously. This was when the more brutal matches took place like the aforementioned Undertaker vs Mankind as well as Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Shawn Michaels with Mike Tyson as referee. But even throughout all of the adult madness, the WWE always had time to interject a little levity into their programs. This is particularly amazing, especially when you think that Mick Foley, the guy that literally should have died during the Hell in A Cell match, was doing really funny skits along with the Rock.
Why am I mentioning this? Well, I think the WWE is kinda forgetting the comedic wrestlers and is primarily just focusing on the generic “tough guy” mold and I think that’s a shame.
To be fair, there are still a few sideshow attractions that still manage to get away with being funny. There’s the New Day and their antics in general. There’s also the duo of Enzo Amore and Big Cass. I’ll even include James Ellsworth. However, these guys seem like exceptions to how wrestlers are supposed to behave these days. Wrestlers aren’t supposed to be silly anymore. No, they take wrestling seriously.
Don’t believe me? Well, let’s take a look at one of the more sillier wrestlers that suddenly got all serious: Heath Slater. Remember just a few months ago, he was one of the funniest draws of Smackdown. He managed to take that “I got kids” statement and ride it to the Smackdown Tag Team Championships. And, technically, he was a “joke” of a wrestler at the time. But fans loved it so much that he became a huge success! Pretty neat for someone that wasn’t even picked during the WWE draft!
Heath Slater has changed as of late. Well, he hasn’t exactly been appearing on Smackdown as of late. But, the last I saw him in competition, he wasn’t playing up his “I got kids” schitck anymore. The last time he was on TV, he was just another wrestler who was just a tough guy. He wasn’t a joke anymore and it really hurt his popularity. Fans almost immediately lost interest in Heath Slater the instant he started becoming more serious.
Heath Slater is actually just the latest victim of this lack of whimsy the WWE has. There have been many more of them. Emma (whenever he may actually debut) isn’t the rather ditzy character that made her so charming in NXT. The Vaudevillains used to have some really enjoyable antics in NXT as well. Bo Dallas doesn’t “Bo-lieve” anymore. Bayley stopped being the girl with a carefree spirit to someone who just wants to be champion because it was her dream as a child. I will even include Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho and The Miz as they used to be funny with their over-the-top personalities but they seemingly quit those exaggerated personas and just became guys that like to yell into the mic.
In fact, most of the comedy acts in the WWE have left the company already. Santino Marella and his weird kooky segments are sorely missed nowadays. Cody Rhodes AKA Stardust isn’t wrestling for them. Adam Rose’s party van has been totalled. Vickie Guerreo is no where to be seen anymore. Damien Sandow, who managed to carry a lame duck gimmick as The Miz’s stunt double into comedy gold territory, left as well.
Honestly, this is really sad because, even during the tougher Attitude Era, there was a lot of entertaining comedy bits then. Most people forget that a lot of the more memorable comedic characters were created during that time. There was Dude Love, one of Mick Foley’s different personas. There was Edge and Christian who would pose for the benefit of those with flash photography. Mark Henry became Sexual Chocolate. Those are just a few of the weird characters during the Attitude Era.
But the weird thing is that a wrestler didn’t have to be funny all the time during that period. It was fine to be serious at times and then switch gears the next day and be whimsical and silly. Mankind can take a break from being a tortured soul and put on Mr. Socko for laughs. Stone Cold Steve Austin can deliver pranks on Vince McMahon instead of delivering Stunners. The Rock can start singing about the Smackdown Hotel during a match. D-Generation X can be incredibly juvenile even though they were one of the most dangerous factions during the Attitude Era.
I think the WWE is shying away from the silly segments because a lot of their more recent comedy bits have gotten over like a lead balloon. They’re more recent attempts at being funny just, well, isn’t funny. But that doesn’t mean we don’t like to have a little whimsy with our violent wrestling. Fans want a good mixture of humor and bloodlust in wrestling all the time.
If you want proof that fans still are okay with silly segments, take a gander at what Matt Hardy’s “Broken” gimmick. This is a gimmick that shouldn’t have worked at all in today’s “serious” wrestling market. Yet, fans started to embrace the super entertaining disjointed story wherein Matt Hardy just deleted his old character and became Broken Matt Hardy. Fans became thoroughly entertained by the craziness and zaniness of the character and he was a smash hit! Even with me!
Honestly, I don’t watch TNA because, well, it’s alot like the WWE. Lots of angry wrestlers who have no other persona than just being angry. But I started to here good things about Matt Hardy’s new gimmick and I watched a few of his segments on YouTube and, while I didn’t fully understand it, I still loved it. It was just the right amount of crazy that was just surreal and funny that I couldn’t help but fall in love with it!
The WWE are just relying on their current comedy acts like The New Day to show that they still have a humorous side. But The New Day and the current comedy acts are slowly disappearing. The WWE is currently seemingly doing their best to limit the humor in their programming as of late. It seem like World Wrestling Entertainment is forgetting that “funny” is also a form of “entertainment” and is one of the factors why wrestling became popular. Fans don’t only tune in for the wrestling. We tune in to RAW, Smackdown and the pay-per-view events because they have something for everyone. There’s action. There’s comedy. There’s drama. There’s even some adult situations. They left in everything but they’re slowly taking out the comedy. Maybe the WWE should remember the whimsical side of wrestling and that it’s supposed to be fun. And that includes being funny.
Do you think there’s room for humor and whimsy in the WWE? Let me know in the comments section below!