Pro wrestling is not unique in having past greats casting judgement on the current generation. Every sport and artform has old heads talking about how the youngsters are doing it wrong, or the game/business has changed for the worse since their day.
With the popularity of wrestling podcasts, it does feel like it’s become a cottage industry for retired sports entertainers though. A relatively recent entry into the field is Joe “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis. On the latest edition of his What A Rush podcast, Animal unleashed a flurry of hot takes while reviewing WWE’s Dec. 16 TLC pay-per-view (PPV) and the subsequent episodes of Raw and SmackDown which re-introduced the McMahon family as on-screen authority figures.
Some of what he hit on mirrors debates fans are already having. Animal doesn’t think the McMahons “New Era” will change anything, found the use of Jim Neidhart in Natalya’s feud with Ruby Riott to be disrespectful, questions whether fans buy smaller wrestlers like Tyler Breeze as legitimate threats or draws, and believes audiences aren’t into Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose because we’ve seen the same style of match too many times.
Some of it just weird. He really hates Gallows & Anderson, and hearing Daniel Bryan call himself “The New” irritates the hell out of him.
Animal saved the hottest takes for the women, though, and specifically had a few regarding former SmackDown Women’s champion Becky Lynch. These quotes are from WrestleZone’s transcription, which also has Laurinaitis’ specific comments on the previous topics, too.
“There is a problem in the wrestling business. Yes, the women’s movement is growing, but when the women are the main event and they have the best matches on your card, there’s an issue.
If the McMahons are really listening to the fans and they want to do what they have to do to make the fans happy, you have got to have a line drawn in the sand on who the bad guy is and who the good guy is. That’s what the fans want. They want someone to believe in. They want someone to cheer. They want someone to boo. They want someone to hate. You can’t change the wrestling business that’s been based for 150 years on this kind of principle. Now all of a sudden you have good guy vs good guy. Come on, they want to have a line drawn in the sand because when you make it too confusing for them they can’t cheer for Asuka in the same way and all of a sudden cheer for Becky Lynch in the same match. You just can’t do it and it ends up making the match horrible.
I would let her [Lynch] back off of ‘The Man’ thing and let her just be a pure white meat babyface that doesn’t quit. Those are the kind of babyfaces that work. When you come out there with the attitude and strutting your stuff like she’s some kind of tough guy, come on! Jesus, Lord, anybody that’s ever been in a fight can see right through it and I’m just being realistic because that’s what works in this business. You’ve got to think shoot and work the shoot and right now they’re not taking advantage of their stars who are stars.”
We can wonder if Joe thought when Ronda Rousey was main eventing for UFC and making the company huge money it was a bad sign for their business. Lower ratings trends and drops in the number of live event tickets sold started for WWE before the ”Women’s Evolution”. And the notion that fans won’t buy an antihero character, or get invested in a match where there are reasons to root for either wrestler… I guess he missed the whole Stone Cold Steve Austin thing, and his WrestleMania headling rivalry with The Rock.
We could type up those responses, sure. Or we could just do what The Man did:
I like her way better.