Wayne's World: Now v Then - A Comparison of the WWE Product of 2013 against 2001
Jul 6, 2013 - 10:24:11 PM
Welcome back one and all to the weird and wonderful place that is my mind, my name is Wayne and you are now entering my world. Nearly two weeks ago I made my solo debut on LOPRadio and if you haven’t heard it as yet well then you didn’t miss much as to be quite honest it did not turn out as planned as my nerves took over and I stumbled through 80 minutes of agonising hell. For those of you who did listen I apologise for the torture I put you through but thank you for your patience in actually giving me a try.
Why do I bring my radio debut up? Well as promised in the show I had a few upcoming columns that I was going to bring to you, one of which being a further look into one of the topics I was covering on the show. The topic in question was me comparing the WWE product of 2013 against the WWE product of 2001. Why 2001 you ask, well that is for one simple reason, I not long ago finished watching all the PPV’s from that year. I recently got my hands on a download pack of every WWE PPV from 2001to 2010 (for some reason beyond my knowledge I clicked this download first and not the one covering pre-2001) and started watching them with my wife and oldest son Zachery when time permitted.
With the fact that I was watching wrestling at the time a few of these shows meant something for me. The Invasion PPV was the first PPV I ever watched live as I was able to watch it at my friends house, an experience I will never forget. At different stages of the year the stories were familiar as I had seen them unfold while others were in blind spots, having only heard about them. I got to see the first Three Stages of Hell match for the first time ever yet watched the Duchess of Queensberry Rules Match for at least the third and the second TLC match for the umpteenth time. It also let me place the order of how things happened and in what order. The one problem I have had over the years was knowing the bits and pieces but not getting the sequence correct.
No matter though how good the memories were or the new experiences there was one thing, while I already knew about it, which became more undoubtedly clearer as the PPV’s went on, the product of 2001 is a way different one than we have today. I know that all I did there was state the bloody obvious but if I didn’t say it than this column would be absolutely moot as it is those differences I want to compare. My plan here is to look at the major differences I see between the two years and find out which one really was better, and what better way than to start with the people who are the major reason we watch the WWE, the wrestlers.
At first glance at the rosters of the WWE in 2001 and 2013 and you can see that 2001 has a clear advantage in terms of star-power. When you look at the names they had to draw on for the main event scene back then it puts the current product to shame. When your roster has the talent of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, The Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho to flick between to main event a PPV you know you are doing something right and even if someone gets injured there is another highly talented wrestler to take his spot. However in return 2013’s main event roster is nowhere near the same calibre of star power with only John Cena and CM Punk appearing in the same area as those from 2001 and the WWE having to rely on bringing back the likes of The Rock, The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar and Chris Jericho back when it matters to help draw more people into the product.
However the main event does not the whole roster make and I wanted to try to work out who had the better supporting card, which of the two years had the better mid and lower card wrestlers. On just looking at who I had been watching I saw a lot of different talent guys and in quite honesty I could not split the two years so I decided to go out and get some help. At the start of every year the WWE has a match which is a major showcase of their mid and lower card talent, the Royal Rumble. What I did was pair every wrestler against their corresponding number from the other year and then went and got 17 different wrestling fans to vote on each match-up on who in terms of their year was the bigger star. These 17 people were made up of a mixture of people from other LOP writers to readers of my work to my family and friends and included a variety of nationalities and ages. I tried to mix it up as much as I can to get more of a real feel for who had the better roster.
Now some of the match-ups were quite simple as of course certain mega-stars still appeared in the rumble but once they countered each other out I was able to really see where everything else faired. Before we go on let us take a look at the results shall we.
|9||Jeff Hardy||Dolph Ziggler||8|
|0||Bull Buchanen||Chris Jericho||17|
|9||Matt Hardy||Cody Rhodes||8|
|2||Drew Carey||Santino Marella||15|
|13||Perry Saturn||David Otunga||4|
|11||Steve Blackman||Heath Slater||6|
|0||Grand Master Sexay||Sheamus||17|
|11||Honky Tonk Man||Tensai||6|
|17||The Rock||Brodus Clay||0|
|1||The Goodfather||Rey Mysterio||16|
|3||Hardcore Holly||Wade Barrett||14|
|10||Val Venis||Damien Sandow||7|
|0||William Regal||Daniel Bryan||17|
|17||The Big Show||The Great Khali||0|
|17||The Undertaker||Zack Ryder||0|
|1||Scotty 2 Hotty||Randy Orton||16|
|17||Steve Austin||Jinder Mahal||0|
|7||Billy Gunn||The Miz||10|
So after comparing all 30 participants from each Royal Rumble I find that I could not split the two years with each winning half of the match-ups. However in saying that 2001 did get more whitewashes than 2013 thus giving it a slight edge on that side of things.
While it didn’t give us a conclusive result it this little undertaking did in fact give us some very interesting match-ups. Matches like the Hardy’s facing Ziggler and Cody, Hardcore Holly facing Wade Barrett, Val Venis v Damien Sandow and Test going up against Antonio Cesaro are all matches that I wouldn’t mind have seeing. I think though the most interesting match for me though was Rikishi v Ryback, now that could make for an interesting match.
Another talking point coming out of this table the voters were more likely to choose the legend entries over their normal roster counterparts with the likes of HonkyTonk Man and Haku winning in 2001 and Goldust and Godfather winning in 2013. I think this shows just how powerful the nostalgia factor is with these guys coming in for the one off match, while it can be overdone like it was a couple of years ago having just a few can make a world of difference to a fan.
While the 30 matches could not pick a decisive winner maybe taking a look at the individual voters results could shed some light on which roster was more superior.
|Macho Mourn||LOPforum writer||11-14|
|Super Chrisss||LOP writer||14-16|
|Al Laiman||LOP writer||17-13|
|Romeo||former LOP writer||17-13|
So while not a conclusive result 2001 does get a slight nudge here winning 8-7 with 2 drawn voters. Again we some some interesting results here with both the youngest and oldest voters being the biggest proponents for the 2001 roster but for the majority of the voters it was more closer to being straight down the middle.
The more that we look at everything the more that 2001 gets a more slighter nudge of having the better mid and lower cards to go with it’s all ready dominant main card thus meaning that the roster today just does not stack up to the talent that the WWE had on hand just a mere 12 years ago.
This is something I missed talking about in my radio show but was really a major difference in the way the two shows stacked up with each other. While the wrestlers put on a great show it is the fans that make them megastars and the crowd from 2001 was just way more phenomenal than they are now.
Over the last couple of years we have seen certain crowds praised for their making a show greater than it was, the crowd at the Izod Centre at this years post-Wrestlemania Raw was one, another was the Chicago crowd at Money in the Bank two years ago. These crowds gained notoriety due to their fever-pitched excitement compared to the crowds we are used to in todays day and age. However when comparing them to the crowds back in 2001 we find that the noise they created was more run of the mill.
The crowds in 2001 seemed to pop at everything little thing that occurred thus making everything bigger than it was. Even the minor wrestlers were cheered thus making them seem greater than they actually were. This is something that is missing from todays product, the sheer rabid fanbase that the Attitude Era had. Those fans helped make the product bigger by expressing their opinion more vocally than we do today which in turn helped other people become more passionate as well.
By having a larger contingent of mega-stars 2001 was able to therefore have a lot more bigger matches throughout the year. By having the ability to have a couple of matches on each PPV with the biggest names in the business made for some very strong cards. Just look at the last PPV we had in Payback compared to its corresponding PPV of 2001 Judgement Day (even though Judgement Day was held in May it was still the 5th of the year same as Payback, WWE skipped a PPV this yearand will make up for it in October) to see what I mean for the major matches. Payback’s main event was Cena v Ryback whereas Judgement Day saw Stone Cold v Undertaker. Payback’s next two biggest matches was Punk v Jericho and Del Rio v Ziggler whereas Judgement Day saw Kane v Triple H and Angle v Benoit. The Tag Matches were Shield v Bryan/Orton and a 7-team tag team turmoil with the eventual winners Jericho & Benoit beating out the likes of E&C, Dudleyz, APA, X-Factor, Malenko/Saturn and the Hardyz. Hell even the women’s match of AJ and Kaitlyn in theory did not stack up to Chyna v Lita.
However just because the card looks better on paper though does not necessarily mean that the action will live up to the hype. In fact using Dave Meltzer’s famous rating system you find that each match scored basicly the same as it’s counterpart except for this years Divas match easily outscored 2001’s and the lower card match-ups of Ambrose v Kane and the Triple Threat involving Curtis Axel, Miz & Barrett easily beat the quality of William Regal v Rikishi and the Triple Threat involving Rhyno, Test & The Big Show.
So even though in reality it may seem like the stars don’t shine as bright as they once did the quality of the match that today’s stars put out is still on par with what we saw back in the day. Even without the massive fan support that was rampant back then or the major names that were around the WWE wrestlers of today know how to get it done.
The common theory of everyone nowadays is that all the titles, except for the WWE Title are worthless and are mere a piece of jewellery used to make a feud easier to write. Well maybe that is right but at least it is not the hot potato that it was back in the Attitude Era. I knew that the titles were tossed around like crazy back then but I never realised how bad the problem was until I actually sat down and watched the 12 PPV’s of 2001. Without the benefit of watching Raw or Smackdown and therefore not seeing any title changes I had trouble following exactly who was champion from month to month. I mean I would watch someone become champion at one PPV then at the next PPV someone new would have the belt around their waste.
I will use the Tag Team Championship as an example here as it was probably the worst culprit but the other titles had similar problems.
|PPV||Started PPV as WWE Champions||Left PPV as WWE Champions||Started PPV as WCW Champions||Left PPV as WCW Champions|
|No Way Out||Dudleys||Dudleys|
|Backlash||Brothers of Destruction||Two Man Power Trip|
|Judgment Day||Two Man Power Trip||(not defended however was won by Jericho/Benoit next night)|
|King of the Ring||Dudleys||Dudleys|
|Invasion||APA||(not defended, faced WCW champions)||O'Haire & Palumbo||(not defended, faced WWE champions)|
|Summerslam||Brothers of Destruction||Brothers of Destruction||DDP & Kanyon||Brothers of Destruction|
|Unforgiven||Dudleys||Dudleys||Brothers of Destruction||Brothers of Destruction|
When you are trying to keep track of 7 different titles (11 during the Invasion angle) this constant changing of champions made it very confusing. Just the WWE tag Team Titles changed hands 17 times in 2001. As for the WCW Tag Titles in the 5 months it was on WWE TV it changed hands 4 times. The longest anyone team held a belt for in 2001 was the Brothers of Destruction who held the WCW belts for 49 days, that means no single team could make it to two months holding the belts. For things that were supposed to mean a lot it did not seem like any the company really cared and just hot-shotted the title around to whoever they felt like on that given day.
However 2013 has got something to learn from 2001 which could garner some prestige back to their titles and make them actually mean something again, that is the ability for the champions to actually defend their title on a regular basis. Just to continue with the tag team title line of thought in the first half of 2001 the titles were defended 26 times on TV, that is at least 4 defences every month or once a week. In the first half of 2013 however we have seen a grand total of 5 defences, that doesn’t even add up to a defence a month. While I don’t necessarily want a defence a week at least defending the title within the 30-day rule with an extra match chucked in here or there would be more suitable to making the belts mean something once again.
The last big thing I noticed between the two years was the difference in the storylines. The one thing the Attitude Era was known for was its total unpredictability something that 2013 is only now starting to slightly get back in its booking. The ability to keep us on the edge of our seat because if we were to walk away we could miss something major just doesn’t happen much in todays day and age. 2013 suffers from a lot of this is whats going to happen, while it may not happen this week it will happen soon, and the fact that we know that it is coming means that we don’t choose to watch as we know what the final outcome will be, 2001 just did not have that problem.
However on the flip side with unpredictability brings change and too much change is not a good thing. Just like how I had trouble keeping track of the champions from PPV to PPV I also had trouble keeping track of who was face and who was heel. At least twice every PPV I had my wife or son asking me who was good and who was bad as the guy who was a face in the last PPV was actually the heel on this one and then two months later he was once again a face. The invasion story made it even harder to follow as guys chopped and changed between the rosters or feuded amongst themselves therefore having the crowd cheer or boo them in one instance and the opposite in another.
In the end there is only one conclusion I could come too when looking at the WWE products of 2001 and 2013, that even though on looking at them on face value 2001 looks like it wins hands down after a more in depth look at it we find that the 2013 product is just as good only it has different ways of doing it. However as shown 2013 has a lot to learn going forward by looking back at the past. While taking on everything that 2001 had to offer would not be a good idea for the future of the WWE there are things that taking a look at the past could do to once again make the WWE the force that it once was.
Thanx for reading,
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