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  1. #1
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
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    May 2018

    [KOTC:R1] Just Business: The Elite Are Already History

    I wonder if the Emperor Honorius watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill truly realised that the Roman Empire was about to fall.
    - Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Best of Both Worlds Part 1

    History repeats itself. This industry is cyclical. Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

    We all know these lines. They are spoken often, by many. They are understood less. Wrestling fans have long busied themselves wondering when the next 'Monday Night War' might come, when the 'next Stone Cold' will emerge or when the next 'wrestling boom' will explode into life. They do this because these things have happened before and because history repeats itself, because the industry is cyclical and because it is in heeding our history that we can learn from it.

    Perhaps this is why the recent announcement on the part of 'The Elite' regarding the formation of a new professional wrestling organisation - All Elite Wrestling (AEW) - was met with such giddy excitement. Long have we as a collective fan base waited for the blossoming independent scene to deliver a new viable 'competitor' for WWE, to bring an end to Vince McMahon's monopoly and, quite possibly, to perhaps catalyse a repetition of the past. Now we have one, and we have one with deep pockets and billionaire financial backing. It promises to be a wrestling organisation built around wrestlers, run for wrestlers and designed to reward the long-suffering professional wrestling fans of the western hemisphere who reject the McMahon-sponsored vision of 'sports entertainment.' It promises to be everything many feel WWE is not, nor has any intention of being again. It promises a viable alternative. It promises a repeat of history.

    You may be wondering why it is I keep using what might be considered the wrong personal pronoun. What's with all the 'we'? I am, after all, a WWE loyalist through and through and make no attempt to hide the fact. When AEW first came to light, in fact, my initial, even instinctive reaction was to pay it little heed. This was not the first time since the demise of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) that a rival organisation was looking to get off the ground. Similarly, it was not the first time a rival organisation would attempt to offer up an alternative to a leviathan company with pockets as deep as those of an ever-expanding WWE. I must embarrassingly admit, therefore, to having harboured a degree of early contempt for the prospects of this latest project. What did it even matter that they signed Chris Jericho?

    I was a fool.

    I was right; but, nonetheless, I was a fool.

    It cannot be denied that this is not the first time others have attempted to form a new organisation to offer a new alternative to WWE, in an industry more heavily monopolised than perhaps most others that might compare. This has all been tried before and it has all failed before too. What's more, so much of this start-up company is, to my knowledge, untested. The nature of its beast will present challenges people may not immediately consider. There is every danger running may be attempted before anyone has so much as walked a single step. Recent signs of promise should not be read as certifiable guarantees and every grandiose statement of intent only further increases the risk of disappointment - and, with it, failure. It should never be forgotten that, even beyond the confines of the tumultuous environment of WWE, the New Daniel Bryan's words ring true: wrestling fans really are a fickle bunch. It won't take much for the counter-cultural appeal of the underdog to become the faded fashion of an anti-climax. Ultimately, the future can only ever be an undiscovered country.

    I believe all of this to be true, though I confess I lay the cynicism on thickly. I do so purposefully, to make this point: history repeats less in the literal, more in the abstract. It is not in the emergence of a new professional wrestling organisation that we find the exciting recurrence of historical events, but rather in the affecting mindsets of those responsible for it. It is in the group of men who call themselves 'The Elite' that we find our past as prologue.

    There was once a group of men, some decades back, who changed the course of the professional wrestling industry forever. They called themselves 'The Kliq' and, by 1997, exercised creative muscle in both the major wrestling organisations in the United States. If you might forgive a momentary over-simplification, it was in part through the influence of 'The Kliq' that the fabled Attitude Era came about, with Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall et al pushing for edgier professional wrestling unconcerned with its long-held status quo; indeed, at times, actively seeking to subvert that status quo. We might debate whether what resulted was good or bad, but the point remains it was through their unapologetic philosophy that the industry changed irreversibly.

    Now history repeats itself, as another group of men, referring to themselves as 'The Elite', charge towards change under the banner of their own philosophy, unconcerned with the existing status quo and less intent on subverting it as they seem to be in dissolving it altogether.

    Cody Rhodes, the Young Bucks et al have admirably proven to be men of their word. I was one of many who met previous claims of their willingness to prioritise creative integrity over financial profitability with the same cynicism that saw me disregard AEW upon first learning of it. "Money talks," I said to myself and to others willing to listen. I am more than prepared to humbly admit I was wrong, and have been proven as such. What has become clear is that this group of men truly are as interested in making art as they are making money and, through both, in catalysing arguably the biggest change in the professional wrestling industry since WCW folded in 2001. It is, thus, not in their creation of an alternative organisation that they pose the biggest threat to WWE, but in the creation of an alternative mindset - one that legitimises the idea that a creatively fulfilling environment is as equally important as a financially rewarding one.

    That is not a bidding war WWE is well enough positioned to fight right now, meaning they would be as foolish as I feel I was in dismissing the process that 'The Elite' have started. Like 'The Kliq' before them, should Rhodes et al see their philosophy catch on then they very well may alter the industry irrevocably and Vince McMahon will need to respond. He will need to do so earnestly too. Half-measures won't be enough. The seeking of compromised territory won't be enough. The dictatorial relationship between his old fashioned creativity and the creativity of those who actively practice the art they love - and, in doing so, have far more intimate knowledge of it - will need to end and be replaced with a system capable of writing the kind of cheques that names like Dean Ambrose, Hideo Itami and The Revival have already started explicitly asking to be paid with.

    And so it is that, suddenly, Vince McMahon's pockets are found to be empty.

    What has been revealed over the last month, and most certainly since AEW was announced and the intentions of 'The Elite' became clear (to pursue their dream at the expense of what we are led to believe were unprecedented contracts offered to them by WWE), is that the money is fast becoming the least important aspect of this already snowballing situation. That it is in the art this war looks to be waged takes WWE's natural advantage and renders it irrelevant. It is there that the real danger lies.

    It is a danger too. It is foolish to pretend it isn't. If such a perceptible shift in locker room culture continues to persist then WWE will have no choice but, in the boldest fashion, move to meet it. If they don't, if they keep scripting, if they keep micro-managing, if they keep prioritising the entitled likes of Brock Lesnar or the ageing likes of Kurt Angle or the familial likes of Shane McMahon over the contemporary talent rapidly proving WWE's long-peddled myth of a passionless generation to be what we've always known it to be - hollow and without foundation - then they might very well find themselves lurching quite suddenly from an embarrassment of riches in the locker room to the wants of poverty.

    History really does repeat itself, and right now the Visigoths are charging over that seventh hill. The time has never been more pressing for Vince McMahon to look long into the mirror and ask himself whether he will stop fearing the future or, instead, allow his own Rome to fall; because if history teaches us only one thing, it is that nothing can last forever.

  2. #2
    HUGE Member TheLAW's Avatar
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    May 2018
    Slow Clap! First shot fired, and it's a doozy! Nice work here, 'Plan. Clean, concise, and damn poignant!

  3. #3
    flames... pure flames
    Main Page Writer, One Nation Radio Host, Rap Artist, Beatmaker, Youtuber. - All the links will be in the top pinned tweet. Let's Connect.

  4. #4
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    May 2018
    I believe this is what they call setting a yardstick.

    What a great way to start they tournament.

    Good luck Type.

  5. #5
    You know who I am, but you don't know why I'm here
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    May 2018
    Type indeed got a tough draw. Going to be tough to beat this or anything like it in the tournament really. A masterclass in engagement, flow, writing quality, and use of topic.

    Burned it down, brother
    Author of The WrestleMania Era book series, author of The Doctor's Orders columns on LOP since 2010, LOP Columns Hall of Famer, former host of The Doc Says podcast on LOP Radio (2013-2018), former LOP Raw and WWE PPV Reviewer (2006-2007), and former LOP Smackdown Reviewer (2004-2006)

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    May 2018
    Nicely done, my friend. And if you do win I will be the first to congratulate you. You have a style all your own and do a fantastic job putting things into context. We'll see what happens! I think AEW's biggest challenge will be that the WWE has such a large "WWE only" audience and it will be hard to get those people to watch something new. As the past has taught us though, competition is a good thing and there's no reason both companies can't be winners here. In the end, even if AEW doesn't win, we might have them to thank for a true shift.
    Last edited by typeitinmaan; 02-01-2019 at 02:35 PM.

  7. #7
    This is such a perceptive historical analysis, the parallels between the Kliq and the Elite are striking. The thesis makes me tremendously optimistic as a fan - if we're on the cusp of a WWE-AEW war that is going to be fought over artistic achievement rather than money, then my eyes are gonna be glued to the screens.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Sep 2018
    I think it was easy to write AEW off at first due to them not being the first company to create an opposing promotion to that of WWE. But the fact that they are creating a different ideology is what should really be scaring WWE.

    Fantastic column!

  9. #9
    I like it, a fav to win this whole thing.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    May 2018
    Love the opening quote and the sole re-visitation of it in the concluding paragraph. I mean, I’m a sucker for a good quote in a column anyways, but I think you made it work particularly well here. It subtly set the tone for the column, lingered in the undercurrent of the reader’s mind throughout the column, and then was explicitly brought up again at the end. Wonderful stuff.

    No issues on the technical side of things, unsurprisingly. Really loved the line, “…will need to end and be replaced with a system capable of writing the kind of cheques that names like Dean Ambrose, Hideo Itami and the Revival have already started explicitly asking to be paid with.” Thought that one really summed up the crux of your column, and in a manner of literary tastiness to boot! Oh, but here’s a super nitpick: The triple use of “et al” in close proximity kind of stood out to me as a bit jutting.

    The writing in this is excellently paced, fluid as ever, and makes for a wonderful read. Perfect use of the single sentences as paragraphs to stand out emphatically. I absolutely love the title, too – using the multiple ways of interpreting the phrase “they’re history” to possibly mislead the reader to initially (before getting into the column) think you mean to say “they’re toast” is a nifty little trick.

    My initial read of the column left me thinking that while the writing was magnificent, the topic itself was possibly a tad mundane. Giving it a second read, however, had me realizing that I didn’t give it enough credit the first time round. Yes, AEW and their potential threat level to WWE has been discussed quite a bit, but often in terms of the literal, which you mention. Your take on another paradigm, the different “kind of cheques” comparison between the two, was indeed more refreshing than the popular discussion. Still not maybe as profound and jaw-dropping a topic as I’ve seen you churn out, but that’s a very high bar, and a silkily written and cogently argued piece will take any topic a long way.

    In terms of the actual argument, I guess the mainly sticky point with me personally is the idea that Vince’s pockets are completely empty in the avenue of art and creativity, whereas AEW’s pockets are full – or at least, fuller than Vince’s. I think creating revenue and creating art are not mutually exclusive, and while the popular opinion is often to point to WWE lacking in the latter what they make up in the former, the art aspect of it is subjective.

    Really terrific stuff here, ‘Plan! A joy to read.

  11. #11
    Senior Member
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    May 2018
    So it's almost not fair right? I mean at this stage of your career you've refined your style so much that it's a master class in column writing damn near every time. You've been rightfully awarded just about every honor this place can bestow and quite frankly I'm often in awe at how well you can turn a phrase. I didn't actually expect you to go towards The Elite and AEW as a topic so I was pleasantly surprised, but as a true WWE guy that we know you are, you incorporated how even their early infancy has caused changes in the way the WWE will have to think in the future.

    Masterful. Congratulations

  12. #12
    The Brain
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    May 2018
    I wasn’t sure where you were going with this at first, but I agree with your core assessment, that the impact AEW is poised to make is forcing a creative change moreso than re-creating a head to head Monday Night War. It won’t be enough for WWE to attempt to sign every wrestler they can get their hands on, especially if this generation is less interested in money than they are in freedom or art. Well written as ever and with a good point. I'll offer a counterpoint to the universal praise though, I thought at times it came off a bit overwritten, perhaps sacrificing clarity for the sake of extra flourishes. What I'm saying is, sometimes you're just showing off!

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