Professional wrestling was popularized in the 70s and 80s due to insanely-exaggerated characters and good-guy vs. bad-guy storylines. Hundreds, even thousands, of people would gather around in a building to see a culmination of a feud, rallying behind the hero in hopes to slay the villain.
One of the best examples of this is the classic 1987 feud of Hulk Hogan against Andre the Giant. While neither of them was known for their wrestling ability, the story that commenced from once-friend Andre the Giant turning on WWE Champion Hulk Hogan was incredibly compelling.
Andre felt as if his 15-year winning streak was being eclipsed by Hogan’s championship reign. Allowing rogue manager Bobby Heenan to infiltrate his influence, Andre ripped Hogan’s chain off during an episode of Piper’s Pit, much to the shock of both Hogan and the spectators.
This would lead to a match at WrestleMania III, which drew a crowd of over 93,000 fans in the Pontiac Silverdome. Being coined by commentator Gorilla Monsoon as “the irresistible force vs. the immovable object,” Hogan was the victor and created one of the most popular highlight reels in pro wrestling history by slamming Andre.
These are labeled the “good ol’ days” of professional wrestling, and many critique the current brand due to being a far stretch from the character-driven product of old.
One of the people who is very dissatisfied with the current product is former WWE talent Scott Putski.
Being the son of former WWE Tag Team Champion and Hall of Famer Ivan Putski, Scott already had a legendary pedigree with big shoes to fill.
When he made his television debut for the Global Wrestling Federation (GWF) brand, his lineage made him one of Texas’ most popular superstars, and he received a major push for the company. Putski would win the top title, GWF North American Heavyweight Championship, as well as the GWF Texas and GWF Tag Team Championships.
Using his popularity from GWF, WWE acquired Putski. Oddly, they placed to 250-pound jacked-up specimen in the Light Heavyweight division. On a recent episode of the Pancakes and Powerslams Show, Putski explained why he believed Vince McMahon made that decision.
“There was a lot of heat between my dad and Vince, so he was gonna I guess stick it to me since he couldn’t stick it to my old man. Which was fine. In a round-about way, that’s just who Vince is. And I wasn’t stupid enough to let him do that and hang around.”
“I mean, here’s a guy, he put me in a light heavyweight division, and I’m 250, and Shawn Michaels was the champ at the time, and [he] is a buck ninety, soak and wet. At the time, I was traveling with Joe and Mike, The Road Warriors, and we would just laugh about it. There were people just laughing about it, and they were like, ‘You’re a light heavyweight?’ [I’d say], I guess I’m whatever they tell me to be.”
“It was Vince’s way of slapping my dad in the face, because my dad was a big, strong guy. It was kind of a dig, because you know Vince is a wannabe bodybuilder. I giggle and laugh because I know the ins and outs of muscle fitness, and you’d see pictures of Vince in there, it’s also comical, because that ain’t him, man. Those things are so airbrushed it is not even funny.”
Putski also criticized Brock Lesnar ending the Undertaker’s streak, stating that a significant amount of people stopped watching wrestling at the very moment.
“People bring up ‘I stopped watching wrestling when Brock Lesnar beat the Undertaker at WrestleMania.’ I mean, I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that. [They’d say], I quit watching WWE when Brock Lesnar beat Undertaker. I cannot tell you how many times that have happened. That was a kind of an ignorant move.”
Overall, Putski calls today’s wrestling “a joke.”
“Everybody’s the same. There are no characters like there were back then. I think the problem with wrestling as a whole is, if you go back to the days of wrestling in the golden era, everybody was a different character. You had your Oriental guy, you had your Polish guy, you had your Indian, your cowboy, you had your black guy, your Hispanic, Irish guy. You had people who everybody [could say], ‘that is my guy.’ That’s my heritage, or that’s the guy I like. Doesn’t matter if you liked all of them, you’d go because this is the guy you could relate to. And now, everybody’s apples or oranges.”
“Wrestling today is a joke. Honestly, you talk to people, and everybody’s a wrestler. Back in the day, if you were a wrestler, you could tell you were a wrestler. People want to see freaks. I’m sorry. They want to see freaks. They want to see freaks, and they want to see things that are believable. They so badly want to believe this is real, but it’s been exposed so much, that the guys who are doing it now, it’s so fake.”
Sadly, Putski speaks for many people who have watched wrestling for decades, and the proof is in the numbers.
[Featured Image by WWE]