I'm fine admitting that I was for a long while a fan of professional wrestling. I can recall the greats of the 1980s and 90s like Sting, Rick Flair, Jake Roberts, Hulk Hogan, the Rockers, the 1,2,3 Kid, Razor Ramon, Crush, who else, uh "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Vader, The Road Warriors Hawk and Animal, Virgil, the Mountie, I.R.S., The Big Boss Man, The Bushwhackers, Tatanka, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, of course the Hart Foundation, Stone Cold Steve Austin,The Ultimate Warrior, Ahmed Johnson, the Nation of Domination, Rick "The Model" Martel, and one of my favorites the underrated "Z-Man" Tom Zink.
I watched wrestling faithfully for at least twenty years until the early 2000s when I slowly lost interest in the sport altogether. It got to the point where it was more about the sex and the stereotypes than the performances. I was never one of those kids who refused to accept the fact that wrestling was staged or more choreography than spontaneous fighting. My parents let me in on the gag and I probably didn't care if it wasn't real. It's been about ten and a half years since I watched professional wrestling and I'm fascinated with the recent connection between the WWE and the UFC. They've become strange bedfellows, at least to the majority of mma fans who dismiss the very thought of professional wrestling having one bit of influence on mixed martial arts, in particular the UFC. To them their sport is far more intelligent and deserves a lot more credit as a legit sport than the soap opera fanfare involving two men over 6'0 fake beating each other up while wearing speeds and knee pads.
But my question is this: How deep are the influential roots of the WWE when we look at the rise of the UFC? Are there any similarities between the two? Do you think casual fans or those skeptical of the UFC often draw the comparison to professional wrestling? Is that something the UFC worries about as they try to further mainstream their brand? Are the comparisons between the two inevitable? DO you think most people who maybe have watched two or three UFC events have this view of mma as professional wrestling in a cage? Is that something the sport will have to deal with? Instead of competing with and sharing the same status bar as the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB, is the UFC's current and long term chief rival Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment?
Boxing and the UFC had a manufactured rivalry but those two sports in comparison to one another are further apart than comparing the UFC to the WWE. Whether its demographic, core audience, target audience, what have you, the most likely individual to follow mma is more likely to be a professional wrestling fan than a boxing fan. And most boxing fans, especially older ones aren't inclined to follow mma as closely as they follow the sweet science. Personally I give mma guys credit and have said they are as legit as boxers but I still prefer boxing over mma.
So basically my questions are:
-Is there any difference between the UFC and the WWE outside of the obvious fake wrestling in the WWE? Any similarities in terms of audience, production, business model?
-Was this inevitable?
-Is the WWE the UFC's chief rival for the long term?
-Can the two companies work together?