There may not be a more argumentative collection of human beings on the planet than wrestling fans. Whether it's about WWE vs. WCW, Stone Cold vs. The Rock or whether or not Roman Reigns is actually good at wrestling (he totally is, by the way), fans are willing to end relationships over their opinions. But the one thing they all agree on is that it's not as good as it used to be.
And as irony has it, Vince McMahon himself may share that sentiment.
On an episode of the Ross Report, WWE Hall of Famers Jim Ross and Kevin Nash had a long discussion about the state of WWE. Nash shared an anecdote from just a few years ago that supplied a clue that Vince McMahon is disenchanted by his current crop of WWE Superstars.
"I remember one time I was talking to Vince – it wasn't the last WrestleMania, I think it was the one before – and I just asked him how things were. And he goes, 'The thing that's changed more than anything, [is] back when you broke in here in the fed, it was a shark tank. Like, everybody went after that top prize, and it was a battle. Now, [wrestlers] wait for him to come around with a sword and anoint them.' It's just not the same anymore," he said.
This is quite the loaded quote by the former WWE Champion. If Nash is remembered he and Vince's conversation correctly, then we can deduce that the WWE boss is just as nostalgic as we fans are. Even more, this would be an indictment of this era of WWE.
The "shark tank" McMahon allegedly referred too was the frenzied environment of the mid-1990's. Back then, when Nash was at his most relevant, WWE and WCW were in a capitalistic war - one that WWE spent 82 consecutive weeks as WCW's whipping boy. Fueled by the quest to stay alive, WWE would eventually lift its family-friendly programming in exchange for the Attitude Era. Combined with WCW's New World Order, this lead to arguably the greatest years in professional wrestling history.
But in 2017, WCW is long gone, and the only proof it ever existed is on the WWE Network. For nearly 20 years, WWE hasn't had an ounce of competition, which has to be nice, but in recent years, it's been a formula for some lethargic television.
But is this due to WWE's wrestlers being complacent as McMahon once asserted to Kevin Nash?
There's have been rumors that because WWE is about the only game in town, some wrestlers are afraid to rock the boat, thus ending sitting their meal ticket on fire. This conservative philosophy would indeed contribute to a safer, therefore, boring WWE. But it can't as simple as wrestlers are not wanting to take risks.
As a publicly traded company, WWE has a much different set of priorities than it did in 1997, most of which are dedicated to shaving down the stigmas of their past. Since switching to TV-PG programming WWE as a whole has been overproduced in the name of eliminating mistakes. This sterile environment has kept WWE highly profitable but may have had an inverse impact on the Vince McMahon and Co.'s ability to create transcendent characters and stories.
So while Vince McMahon may be right about his wrestlers playing it safe, they may be simply following the company's lead.