Since WWE took all its programming TV-PG in an effort to attract younger fans (and more importantly, advertisers to younger fans), people have pissed and moaned about it nonstop. Initially, I bought into the notion that you don’t need excessive sex, violence or vulgarity to put on a great wrestling show – and that’s partially true, as there are countless examples of clean and completely jawdropping wrestling matches. Furthermore, I wrote off complaints about WWE’s new TV-PG direction as a case of nostalgia, with folks remembering only the good stuff from the Monday Night Wars and Attitude Era, and more or less wanting things to be more like they were when they were younger.
I’ve since moved away from that point-of-view, however, as the more I think about wrestling, the more I think the genre itself doesn’t just benefit from crassness and sensationalism, but it relies on it to achieve the visceral impact that people expect. That’s not to say that every wrestling show should feature Bra and Panties Death Matches with people getting fluorescent light tubes smashed on their heads – or that those matches should ever happen really – but there’s a very tangible value in letting wrestling do the things that other forms of entertainment can’t or won’t. Just as importantly, there’s a historical precedent for it, as wrestling as long acted as a form of catharsis for paying fans.
In this week’s “Straight Shoot” article over at UGO.com, I look at both that historical precedent as well as the reasons why crassness matters in professional wrestling.