After the excesses of the Attitude Era and to a lesser extent the Ruthless Aggression Era, WWE has focused on giving fans a more family-friendly product over the last decade plus, but it seems that creative choice may be coming to an end. Starting this coming Monday, WWE Raw will reportedly start coming with a TV-14 rating. Exactly what that means is anyone’s guess, but there are suddenly a lot more mature possibilities.
WWE has a long history of pushing the envelope. Storylines in the late 90s and early 00s regularly involved sex and a degree of violence and danger not regularly seen anymore. In 2008, the company made the decision to change the rating of its TV shows and ultimately its booking style to be PG. The controversial choice turned off some fans who wanted to see racier content, but it also allowed WWE to form closer partnerships with many corporate sponsors and larger companies.
WWE hasn’t made any official announcement about why it’s making the change, but news of the change trended widely on Twitter. There are certainly a host of different possibilities and possible outcomes. Let’s start with blood and violence. WWE has really pushed to try and be safer over the last decade or so. Many previously commonplace moves are now outlawed for being too dangerous, and there are not nearly as many scary falls. You also very rarely see blood. It’s possible WWE wants to ramp up some of that aggression to be a little more life-like.
Then again, it’s also possible that this change has more to do with sexuality than violence. At one point in time, WWE regularly featured more storylines that were of a sexual nature. Networks have seemingly become more comfortable with airing such content, and WWE may be wanting to follow suit. Or it may just be wanting to give some of its performers more flexibility with their costumes or overall presentations.
Then again, this might specifically be related to swearing. WWE programming uses plenty of light swearing now. You sometimes even hear words like “bitch.” Cowboy Brock Lesnar dropped the “shit” word last week and got bleeped. Maybe WWE wants to add in more colorful language or maybe give performers the option to swear in specific moments to add emphasis without getting bleeped.
It’ll be interesting to see how the product evolves over the next few months, but I’m also very interested in the why behind this change. Specifically, I’m interested in whether it has anything to do with AEW? The upstart wrestling promotion has given WWE increased competition over the last few years by offering a more mature product that disproportionately seems to appeal to older fans. Maybe WWE wants to entice some of them back.
We’ll keep monitoring this change in the coming weeks. Expect Wrestling Twitter to have plenty to say and assumedly at some point, expect WWE to offer at least a little information on why this change was made.
Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.
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