It’s funny, as much as I’ve loved watching the WWF over the years, particularly in my youth; I can actually pinpoint a few fairly specific elements/events that lead to me completely turning my back on wrestling for nearly a decade.
First and foremost, was the general dearth of quality talent in the mid-2000’s.
Both The Rock and Austin had just left the company, and while guys like Chris Jericho, Triple H, Kurt Angle, and, *sigh* Brock Lesnar did what they could to carry the torch, the void left by the 2 legends was just too damn big.
Moreover, by this point the WCW and ECW guys had fully integrated into the roster by this point, resulting in much of the hype and mystique surrounding some of them giving way to the reality of their somewhat eroded in-ring ability.
In short, when the big 2 left, I stopped tuning in for the whole show, instead checking in just to catch the main events from week to week.
Next, was the fact that the quality of the storylines were beginning to flounder at times with atrocious bullshit like the “Katie Vick Incident” becoming increasingly commonplace.
It’s a long story, but in case you’re wondering, the “Katie Vick” storyline involved Kane accidentally killing his girlfriend in a car crash years back, resulting in Triple H mocking her memory by… Dressing up like Kane and fucking a mannequin:
Like I said, long fuckin’ story.
Not worth going into.
Finally, and I might be alone on this one, I feel like the nail in the coffin for my relationship with wrestling in the early 2000’s just might have been Stone Cold’s adoption of “What?” as his new catchphrase.
Listening to Stone Cold, be reduced to a mic toting clown and stumble his way through his promos every week, shouting “WHAT?” at random intervals, was more than a little annoying.
Truth be told, I was never really a diehard Stone Cold fan, largley because he often feuded with The Rock; who I actually was a diehard fan of.
I always “liked” Austin, but he was always 2nd or 3rd banana to The Rock in my book.
That being said, Austin’s “What?” catchphrase was absolutely maddening to behold.
Not only was he not nearly as funny as I think he was expected to be, but to hear the crowd shout “What?” at every pause, in every promo, often times out of synch with the man himself, or worse yet; during promos that he was neither a part of nor mentioned in, was one of the most annoying weekly occurrences I can recall in wrestling.
Well, outside of watching X-Pac do his Bronco Buster twice a fuckin’ night…