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Why has nostalgia in wrestling never gone away?

Sting has been one of the biggest names in wrestling over the last three decades.
Sting has been one of the biggest names in wrestling over the last three decades.
Sanjay Dutta
ANALYST
Modified 08 Jan 2021, 02:03 IST
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One of the biggest news stories in wrestling last month was the "The Icon" Sting's debut in All Elite Wrestling. It was the WCW Legend's first appearance on TNT in almost two decades.

The former WCW World Heavyweight Champion is a humungous catch for AEW, and the company will benefit hugely by having The Vigilante in its ranks. 

Following his appearance on Dynamite, AEW released a press statement confirming that they have signed Sting to a multi-year deal. While they haven't divulged any details regarding his position in the company, it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that Sting has signed with AEW as an in-ring performer. 

One of the hot-button topics in wrestling over the past few years has been the over-reliance on aged stars. There have been numerous instances where a wrestling company has used a veteran to get more eyeballs on their product.

WWE has been witnessing a steady decline in its viewership over the past few years. The company's flagship show, RAW, recorded its lowest rating a few weeks ago.

While the viewership did bounce back in the following weeks, the steady decline has been a severe headache for Vince McMahon & Co. What did WWE do to counter this?

Well, they announced a "Legends Night" on RAW, which took place this week with Superstars like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Big Show, Mark Henry, and Torie Wilson appearing.

The main event of the show saw WWE Champion Drew McIntyre successfully retain his championship against Keith Lee. Following his win, The Scotsman was confronted by Goldberg, who challenged him to a match at the Royal Rumble.

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As expected, Goldberg's appearance and subsequent actions didn't go down well with a large section of the WWE Universe. The hardcore fans have been up in arms against the very concept of using legends.

They argue that by promoting legends at the forefront of a show, WWE is a disservice to its current stars. While the argument seems valid, one can't overlook the harsh realities of the wrestling world today. 

Pro-wrestling is a very niche form of sport/entertainment. It's becoming clearer by the day that despite their best efforts, the major wrestling companies aren't able to draw in new viewers to their product. They have a devoted fanbase who continue to tune into their show irrespective of its quality. 

The "casual fan" is slowly but surely tuning out of the sport. A cursory look at the TV ratings of wrestling shows over the past few years indicates that a large portion of fans who watch wrestling every week today is its hardcore fans.

Can the current product lead to wrestling becoming mainstream again?

The answer to that is an emphatic no. While it might seem to be premature to arrive at such a conclusion, the data at hand proves otherwise. WWE's TV ratings have been steadily declining over the past few years.

NXT, which many believe to be the company's best weekly show, hovers around the 600-750k viewers mark every week. AEW, on the other hand, has been having a hard time crossing the 1 million mark. 

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Wrestlers today are far better athletes than those in the 90s, but when it comes to star power, wrestlers of the Attitude Era are the most recognizable names in the business even today.

Everyone knows who Goldberg is in the US, but how many people know who Kenny Omega is outside the wrestling bubble? The sad and bitter truth is wrestlers today aren't as big stars outside the wrestling circle as their predecessors in the 90s. 

Wrestling companies use legends from that era to draw in casual viewers familiar with Hulk Hogan, Sting, or Steve Austin. It's about time that fans made peace with the fact that wrestling legends draw ratings.

Published 06 Jan 2021, 06:58 IST
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