Molly Belle's Something to Smile About: The Game

It’s often so easy to become lost in the 24/7 nature of the professional wrestling news cycle and the corresponding storm of crazy that inevitably encompasses it on social media. I think it’s important to remember the reason we all started watching this wild and wonderful thing of ours in the first place as well. Because whether in large ways or small, it simply makes us happy. With each column, I’ll shine a light on something or someone in the wide world of professional wrestling that is creating smiles out of thin air. Care to join me?

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Who doesn’t love a nice fun game? They serve many purposes, mostly as distractions, and give us an outlet to laugh, scheme, play the odds, and more. Still though, if you play the same game long enough, it starts to feel stale. It becomes boring.

If that doesn’t sum up what WWE has become in recent years, I’m not sure what does. Sure, there is more to it – much more – but I can confidently surmise that I’m far from the only one to feel that way. I’m not one to get lost in the numbers that rule the business, but they rarely lie, right? The audience for WWE has dwindled. Some weeks, you can clearly see its floor – the faithful who would stay no matter the state of the product. For many of us, the state of the company drove us away long ago.

Now, these are my own opinions and experiences. If you’ve enjoyed the product over the last few years, I’m genuinely happy for you. I really am! Wrestling is for everyone, and this is a great example of that. Different strokes for different folks and all.

I have loved this thing of ours for 24 years. For much of that time, WWE was the only option – for some time, the only one I knew about. It was everything. I didn’t like every little thing that they chose to do, but who did? Its impractical to expect perfection. But there was a tangible effort I felt through the product when I tuned in. It’s an excitement and commitment that you can’t fake.

Over time, that feeling faded. The stories that so engulfed my mind became unrecognizable. Rematches of last week’s rematch from the week before (which was usually a rematch from another rematch a week prior) began to exist as commonplace. The incredible performers who I had become so fantastically invested in from NXT would be called up the main roster to be inevitably buried or changed to an extent that any excitement I had disappeared within weeks, if not days, of their debuts.

To exist as wrestling fans, we operate under an understood and shared suspension of disbelief. We have to. To be impacted emotionally and to invest more than just a couple hours of our time every week, we need to believe, even though we really don’t. The biggest problem I ultimately couldn’t overcome with WWE was being made to feel like I was stupid. Over and over again. It felt like a betrayal, which is of course silly but also felt very true.

I had given my support and love to this thing for my whole life, and they were treating their fans like things didn’t matter, and more than that, that we couldn’t see it or shouldn’t care. It made me sad, and one day I just stopped. Why continue to give yourself to something that makes you angrier more than it makes you smile? I’d check in again every now and then to see if things had changed, but they never did. And as time went on, I just accepted that perhaps they never would.

Then the unthinkable.

Vince McMahon stepped down, and Triple H was proclaimed the heir apparent responsible for the creative direction of the company and more. As sad and unfortunate as the news surrounding the situation was, the wrestling side of the conversation gave me a glimmer of hope – something I had not felt for WWE in literal years.

Immediately, I began wondering what he would do differently, if anything. What could he do? Would he really be in charge? How quickly would we see his vision on screen? WHAT DID IT ALL MEAN?!

My questions would be answered much sooner than I thought they would be. Almost immediately, we began to see bits and pieces of Triple H bleed through into Raw and Smackdown. Some stars not given due chances were brought back. Rematches lessoned significantly. Things began to MATTER again. I don’t dare assume that running a wrestling company is anywhere near easy, but his actions early on have proven that all it takes is perhaps a little connection to the fans you’re trying to serve, and the improvement has been astronomical already.

No one has ever doubted that Triple H absolutely loves this business. It burns within him. Always has. That feeling I explained earlier, the one that you can feel through the screen when things are great? For the first time in forever, I feel like that feeling is possible again from the company up north. I’m not expecting perfection. I’m not expecting an overnight revival of a long-gone golden era. I’m just a girl – a simple wrestling fan – expecting a product she can once again be proud to be a fan of.

With WWE, you can’t change the game. The game is the same as it always has been. But you can change how you play it, and that’s exactly what Triple H is doing. No different than what he’s done his whole career. There is a very large group of people like me, who turned away when things weren’t great. We can be swayed back, and he knows that. In my humble opinion, there is no better person for the job.

I’m very excited for what the future holds for WWE.

Hope is alive again.

I like to end these special columns as graciously and as simply as possible.

So, to Triple H and WWE. Thank you for the smiles this week. Here’s to many more.

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