As always, I try to give credence to TBLWrestling.com’s lengthy history whenever possible. Six years ago I wrote a brief column about tag team matches that made history. If you’re so inclined, go ahead and click over there to read this quick, 3 paragraph article.
There was once a time in professional wrestling when you had groups of great wrestlers who came together because their characters believed in the same core values. These groups came to be known as “stables” in the wrestling world.
We’ve had extremely successful examples of this like the Four Horsemen and the Hart Foundation. There were manager-led stables like the Heenan Family and even stables created to blend the old and the new generations of wrestlers like Evolution. Some stables were funny, but tough, like the West Texas Rednecks and some were out of place on a wrestling show like the Nation of Domination. We’ve had a Corporate Ministry, a Team Canada, a group of D-Generates, and a Disciples of Apocalypse. Some stables were just a waste of time like Los Boriquas, but others grew to take on a life of their own like the nWo.
But in today’s wrestling scene, there really isn’t that stable “feel” on any of the major shows. Sure, one can write-off the Umaga, Vince, Shane, and Armando pairing as a type of stable, but it’s really not what a stable should consist of. A semi-stable was created with the Spirit Squad, but no one cared about them enough for it to make a difference and the only thing to come out of that grouping was Kenny Dykstra – a low-card guy right now.
Wrestling needs more groups that resemble the classic Four Horsemen. Groups that would have their own battles with their own enemies, but still supported one another and the group when needed. The closest we’ve come to this was Evolution, but it didn’t last long enough as far as stables go. Other than Evolution, the only group that had that independent, but united feel over the last decade was the West Texas Rednecks (you can see I was a fan) and, to some degree, D-Generation X. I think it goes without saying that the creation and rise of the nWo was the most exciting group formation and evolution (sorry for the pun) that we’ve seen in modern wrestling history. And I think it also goes without saying that D-Generation X was probably the most entertaining that we’ve seen in a while.
But there’s still something missing and I think that “thing” is time. Today’s wrestling organizations are much more business-sound than they were even 10 or 15 years ago, much less 20 and 30 years ago. This is great for the financial health of the organization for a variety of reasons, but the drive in the last decade for groups to expand their scope from regional to national and from national to global has had one hell of an impact on what we see on our television screens each night.
These upward expansions have produced some positives for the fans such as the awesome increase in production values as well as the caliber of talent that makes it onto the main shows. But there have also been detriments associated with this expansion. For example, the PPV marketplace is inundated with wrestling shows that are highly priced. The chances of a wrestling fan being able to afford each of the PPVs is lower today than it was in year’s past. Jim Ross even addressed this in a recent blog entry saying:
“I do think that the volume of pay-per-views available to fans is challenging for anyone to purchase them all. I am sure some do, but I can also easily see that some folks financially can’t afford the volume of PPV’s that are available on such a regular basis. One a month is a tough hill to climb and time will tell if the current number of pay-per-views will remain. This sort of thing is always about what the market will bear and that matter will be addressed as time goes on.”
But there are also on-screen examples of some negative effects from this expansion. One way we see this is the need for fast-paced feuds. John Cena keeps blowing through his opponents to the point where there is a rumor that Snitsky is on his list to be decimated soon! Also, the progression of a storyline is no longer what it used to be. There was a time, not too long ago, where secrets and mysteries were drawn out over the course of months, not weeks. Just a mere 15 years ago we had superstars who battled each other upwards of 6 to 8 months!
The larger demands on today’s wrestling organizations demand this fast-paced product and it hurts all aspects of the show – even to the point where there is no time for the development of a stable any more. Both the management and the wrestlers are much more concerned about developing the individual over the entity. I think we can all understand that concept and the need for a person to be more over than a group. But at what cost?
Look at what the Horsemen did for its core members. Look at what D-Generation X did for Jean Paul Levesque and the New Age Outlaws. And the nWo made Hulk Hogan relevant again.
There is a place in the wrestling world for a well-developed stable of wrestlers, that much is obvious. However, which group will be the one to take the challenge to develop a long-term stable of wrestlers that we’ll still be talking about 20 years from now? WWE? TNA? Or maybe someone else…