The Big Payoff

Corbin Macklin


I have been thinking a lot about why wrestling is not as exciting as it was when I was younger and knowing this is not that thing where you think the stuff you liked as a kid was the best... Unlike many people, I think the Attitude Era was the garbage they serve us now with more stars. I am still a mark for colorful era of Hulkamania in its prime. I was a huge fan of young Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar. I'd say 2002 to maybe 2009 I would do anything to watch wrestling. I have many memories of watching SmackDown on Friday nights eating Chinese that my late grandfather bought. I used to plan things on Mondays and Fridays around WWE. Now? You cannot pay me to watch the tv. I was watching a YouTube clip because that is how I stay current on what is happening + I watch the PPVs on the Network when it hit me: wrestling doesn't give us satisfying payoffs anymore.

Let me say this before I say anything else: pro wrestling only works as a story of good overcoming evil. If you have two faces or two heels against each other it can't have anywhere near the impact. At its core, wrestling is giving you one side you want to see win, and the other side you want to see get beat within an inch of their life. And if you give the people too much heat, you burn them out. One of the main reasons WWE storylines suck is because it is usually heat followed by the heel winning followed by more heat, which leads to fans thinking the face cannot overcome. And in most cases they usually don't. Think. When was the last time you saw a babyface repeatedly get one over on the heel, in successive segments on tv. And that babyface wasn't named Stone Cold Steve Austin. Exactly. So, the last 20ish years has been watching heels get so much heat the fans feel burned.

The recent TLC show was trash because of one SIMPLE reason. Heels won up and down that card. Baron Corbin had poured dog food on the locker room leader that no one in the locker room ever comes to help... Then beat him in the match. No one with sense expected The Miz to beat Bray Wyatt who got cheered like a babyface but was the heel. Bobby Lashley beat Rusev in a tables match after months of the storyline that will never end. The heel women's tag champs won in the main event. Forgive me for not really remembering what else happened. I think 2 babyfaces won all night. That affects the energy of the crowd. Remember that Battleground show that had Jinder beat Orton in a Punjabi Prison match? That was a similar show that wasn't terrible from a work standpoint... It was heel heavy. WWE these days likes to have pretty much every champion be heel and they get heat in every other segment. Again... Too much heat burns out the audience.

If all you do is get heat, what even does heat mean?

WWE doesn't balance The Force. After months of Shane claiming to be the best in the world and beating former world champions in matches and not giving them anything he lost one match and left the company. So, they built KO to be his opposition aaaaaand then when he was gone now KO is just another guy with nothing to do because he can't torment someone that's no longer with us. Stephanie spent years cutting people down on the mic and slapping people and no one would say or do SHIT and then maybe she would take one odd table bump or fall in a kiddie pool of mud in a calendar year. This is crazy, because WWE wrote the "babyface overcoming the abusive authority figure" playbook with Austin giving innumerable stunners and wasting gallons of beers on himself and others. It's almost like they don't want babyfaces to get over.

You don't have time for me to complain about every unsatisfying feud ending but highlights are: that time Cena wouldn't put Bray Wyatt over, Roman Reigns the last 5 years, Undertaker retired then came back... I could do this all day. If there are less satisfying payoffs then less money gets paid.