Why Do Old Men Keep Making Professional Wrestling Look Bad?









This is going to sound like an ageist piece of writing. I promise it’s not that at all. There are plenty of veterans in this business that have kept up with the times, or at the least, understand that professional wrestling has changed from what it was 20-30 years ago (and embraced it).

Paul Levesque, Sting, Tony Schiavone, William Regal,  Scott D’Amore, Fit Finlay, Jerry Lynn, and I’d even go as far as Eric Bischoff: All names that have either kept up with the times, some even with an old-school mindset, or continue to help evolve the sport in some manner. I respect and appreciate everyone of these dudes. They understand the following concept:

You can learn from the past — but you shouldn’t live in it.

…and then you have the miserable old gits that have far more influence that they should.

Speaking of which, Vince McMahon is back in creative! Are you not excited? After last night’s alleged “Worst Post-WrestleMania Raw” ever, are we not all thrilled at the prospects of everything just being the same shit, different night?

It seems that way, right? WWE fans keep tuning in for an exciting change from what it was, and as soon as things look up, one wealthy old fart finds a way to dash everyone’s hopes.

Why do old men keep making professional wrestling look bad? It’s an honest question that appeals to the very nature of the evolution of this craft. Let’s dig in…

Return of the Mac…

If there’s one glaring notion I have gathered from McMahon’s return it is this: He simply thinks he knows better, and thinks he’s bigger, than the entire wrestling industry. This is a man who just this year a faced multiple lawsuits for sexual misconduct against him. A man who watched over the sale of WWE to a non-wrestling entity so his shareholders (and himself) could become even wealthier.

A pitiful man with a God Complex who has now seemingly nudged his way back into WWE creative once more. Can you think of any other reason (other than that this is all he knows in this world), that McMahon is willing to work until he takes his last breath at the gorilla position?

I am not inside McMahon’s head, though I imagine it’s a whirlwind of scantily clad women chopping the heads off of anyone who sneezes in his direction whilst “Stand Back” blares in the background. In my mind, McMahon is a symptom of a bigger problem.

The “back in my day…” mentality of professional wrestling’s elders.

In other words, the self-justification of one’s own ignorance and resistance to evolve simply because things were “different” in their heyday. The notion that because pro wrestling was more popular many years ago — then that means what they did was somehow “better”. And wow, do we see this over and over and over again in our industry.

“Back in My Day…”

“Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” – George Orwell

When Mark Calaway made his cringy “real men” comment in 2021, it was met with mostly negative feedback. I mean, why would anyone want to feel safe and take care of their physical and mental health? Why play video games when you can instead do a ton of cocaine, inject steroids, and play with guns and knives like they did “back in the good ol’ days” of pro wrestling? Don’t you know you must suffer like your elders did to gain any respect?

These select wrestling elders, while they don’t mean harm in their comments (well, not all), they have severely lost touch with the zeitgeist of modern society. They have developed an apathy towards change and believe wrestling should look like what it looked like in “their day”.

Even though change is inevitable, these older figures are too stubborn and too selfish to embrace such a change. Yet, they are still given media attention through interviews and often asked about the current state of pro wrestling — which is always usually an outdated take.

Wisdom is one thing; but it often comes in form of recycled grumblings of a mindset held many decades ago. Don’t get me wrong; there are veterans in the industry that are doing good things within it.  They aren’t outspoken about it; they’re just quietly putting in the work. Whether or not as a fan you might be misled by these louder grumblings is another issue entirely.

Are these bookers, analysts, and older voices actually contributing to the evolution of pro wrestling — or holding it back?

Continued Bad Wrestling Takes From Old Men

There have been a slew of outdated, racist, sexist, homophobic, or just downright “lol ok, grandpa” statements/actions made over the years by a large group of wrestling elders. There are too many to list here, but a short list of individuals who have made such comments:

-Hulk Hogan
-Ric Flair
-Bill DeMott
-Triple H
-The Undertaker
-Michael Hayes
-Vince McMahon
-Jim Cornette
-Bill Goldberg
-Road Dogg
-The Sandman
-Glenn Gilbertti

…and the list goes on and on…

Most recently, the ‘old man shakes fists at clouds’ award goes to Rick Steiner; who recently made transphobic comments towards Impact star Gisele Shaw.

This isn’t about cancel culture, which is just a blanket term for those who complain when they can’t be insensitive towards others anymore. Steiner insulted another human being simply for choosing to live their life how they wish. How hard is it not to insult another person just for being themselves?

We are all just clumps of atoms, cells, synapses, hormones, and flesh. Who cares who identifies as what? Just live your life and let others live their lives.

But aside from all of that, the real question is this:

When do we stop listening to these outdated wrestling elders? Respect is not given simply because you were there — respect is given when you aren’t a hurdle for progress. Respect is given when you can understand that life evolves, and the future may look different than what you’re accustomed to.

But as life evolves, perhaps it’s simply harder for these elders to keep a pulse on reality…

“It Doesn’t Seem Real Anymore”

Bret Hart was one of my favorite wrestlers growing up. Unfortunately, he also criticized the modern-day sport. In his mind, “leg-slapping” during superkicks takes away the credibility of the sport and makes it seems “less real”.

I don’t think MMA fighters stomp their foot on the ground while throwing a punch like Bret did many times in his career. I don’t believe human beings purposely run full speed into the ropes from a “real” Irish Whip, or willingly get slingshot into a turnbuckle.

The suspension of belief in pro wrestling was lost a long time ago as more fans became wise to what is going on. What these older personalities are doing is actually insulting the modern fan base — not modern pro wrestling. 

Pro wrestling evolved to meet the needs of the fan base. I’m sorry, but headlock takeovers and back body drops just aren’t exciting. Yes, you need emotion and selling from the storytelling aspect; but this can be done with a faster/exciting move set. Most honest fans aren’t worried about the slapping noise of a superkick. Leg-slapping in wrestling has been around for decades — long before The Young Bucks and The Usos.

Good faith fans aren’t focused on whether or not leg-slaps are “real enough”. There are a plethora of other wrestling moves that break any sort of realism as is.

Wrestling is a performance art — and it can be done in various ways and used to tell stories with different methods. But at the very core — you just want to see cool shit. Much like a movie, a song, a TV show, a live musical, etc. At the end of the day, you just want to see cool people doing cool shit.

The definition of what “cool shit” is over the decades, however, has changed.

Keeping Up With the Kids

Do you know why Tony Khan is pretty based? Because he at least tries to listen to the modern pro wrestling zeitgeist. Of course he’ll get wisdom from his older producers and agents; but he wants to be a part of wrestling’s future. He’s going to make mistakes. He’s still on a steep learning curve, even to this day — but his heart is in the right place. Khan wants to evolve along with the business.

And the same can be said for Paul Levesque. He’s trying to keep a pulse on the future of this industry for WWE’s future. If McMahon were to actually step aside, I have no doubt that Levesque could do great things with the WWE product in due time.

Any wrestling evolution in history has taken place at the hands of fresh, young minds. Whether it was McMahon himself during the early 80s, Bischoff and Heyman during the 90s, or Khan right now with a true alternative in AEW. At some point, wrestling elders need to step aside and realize that the future does not belong to them. They can give a good faith effort to contribute to such an evolution, but more than ever, many need to step aside.

Music, cinema, television, theatre — it’s all changed greatly over the last few decades. Yet wrestling still seems to be behind the curve in that aspect.

Going Home

You can’t force change; you can only inspire it. Much in the same, you can’t force wrestling fans to watch the modern product through the lens of the territory days and Golden/Attitude Eras. Times have changed, and so has how fans watch professional wrestling.

I’ll say it again: You can learn from the past — but you shouldn’t live in it. 

From offensive takes, to awful booking, to outdated analysis — we need to finally move on from these  wrestling elders, and the comments they make. Yes, thank you for being apart of my childhood. There are lots of great memories from a lot of the names in this article.

But let’s leave it at that: Memories.

If you aren’t contributing to the continuing evolution and growth of this artform, then with all due respect; take a seat. Ride off into the sunset. We’re all going to be okay without you. Pro wrestling will evolve as it naturally should — because it’s still happening right before our eyes, even in spite.