“I know no more encouraging fact than the unquestioned ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor”
-Henry David Thoreau
Well, this is it. Monday night, come home from work, grab a beer, take a seat and engulf yourself in pyros and gimmicks and the best production money can buy. Make sure to notice the 20×22 foot wrestling ring in the middle of the arena as well. That’s right, stare at it. It’s pretty. You stare at the screen for 2 hours coming away with nothing. It comes as simple as using the restroom. It’s something you do. Wrestling fans watch wrestling. Like the news we keep up on what is going on, and then go about our day to give it no more of a thought until next Monday. This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time…What exactly are we watching? Wrestling has evolved right? All things evolve, sometimes good, sometimes bad but in a sense they DO evolve. What has wrestling become? It’s fans? Can we define an actual direction that wrestling is taking us? Let’s give it a shot.
“The great thing in this world is not so much where you stand, as in what direction you are moving.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Entertainment over wrestling; wrestling over entertainment. We as wrestling fans live with two different directions of wrestling. Vince McMahon has taken the wrestling world away from pure wrestling and into gimmickland. TNA has taken us into the land of the X-division and the 6-sided ring. Watching a WWE show reminds us now of the “good ol’ days”. The slow type of match where a wrestler will knock his opponent down only to walk the ring to plot his next attack while the victim lays in pain from what could be a simple double axe handle to the back. Very formulated, very predictable. You most likely know what is coming next, you know when a wrestler will dodge a high risk move and exactly what move he will counter with. The promos are the same, you can even predict those. This product is mainly geared towards little kids and those who truly believe John Cena was stabbed in an actual nightclub. All of your favorite wrestlers are here, and you can’t wait to mark out for their flashy entrance and their one finisher that will hopefully lead to a victory. There are no surprises here, you can see the next PPV card coming from a mile away (or months away), and while this is still the top dog in the business we watch for no other reason than it’s just what we do. As said before, wrestling fans watch wrestling no matter the circumstances…Then the Wrestling….
Small production values, little pyros in fact substitute laser lights. Smaller venue, smaller staff, smaller wrestlers…Small. Lack of production values mean less focus on gimmicks. Everyone jumped on the Carlito Cool bandwagon because he spit the apple in the victims face and it looked so well edited like a real TV commercial! Instead we get a cheaply made footage of Abyss under a waterfall acting mean with chains. No titantron, no long entrance ramp, no panning view of the wrestling ring a huge arena while this wrestler has made his entrance and places himself on the second turnbuckle and makes a godly pose to his adoring fans. Instead of 10 cameras, we have 2, maybe 3. Wait, the WRESTLING. No 80’s slow style here, every move will likely have a quick counter, suplexes, suicide dives, and sick finishers of which people cringe. The match truly tells the story and after 20 minutes of this action the only thing you can do is smile and scoff at yourself in amazement of what you are witnessing. You’ve never seen a Canadian Destroyer, you’ve never seen someone like A.J. Styles pull off a 2nd rope springboard moonsault into a reverse DDT, yes Elix Skipper DID tight-rope the top of a steel cage to land a hurancanrana, and even the Pounce looks like it hurt. The actual physical sport of wrestling is evolving right before your eyes the likes of which ECW did in the mid 90’s. This is awesome! Wait! Nobody is watching! Huh? Of course nobody is watching because the “entertainment” has money. Money buys the production values, the primetime slots, the salaries of well-known wrestlers and even its own site dedicated to it’s corporate wealth. It OWNS you. So it comes down to money and then comes down to the consumer which is US. The fans. Who are the fans?
“There is no salvation in becoming adapted to a world which is crazy.”
Three fans here, its simple.
1) The fans who accept – They are realistic. I know a guy who is like this, he’s an intelligent man and a well knowledged wrestling fan. He understands the product and the situation wrestling faces right now. Money buys contracts of huge stars of which TNA does not have. He knows Vince McMahon has a monopoly over the wrestling industry and there isn’t much to change that fact. While Dixie Carter and Jimmy Jarrett have a small one hour timeslot where few people can see it, Vince rests comfortably knowing that no competition actually exists. Rest assure that time will eventually bring stars like A.J. Styles and Americas Most Wanted to the WWE where he will buy their souls and TNA with it. There are a number of fans who do not have the internet nor are exposed to TNA at all. The concept of evolved wrestling may be misunderstood to them, and an RKO on a chair will do nicely. They understand that these people exist and do not take anything into TNA’s possible uprising, but they see things for what they are at this moment. Until something happens, they are NOT buying into it.
2) The WWE marks – Let’s buy into gimmicks over wrestling! There is no other explanation to this than these fans actually take whatever Vince McMahon hands them. Once again, Carlito Cool. No wrestling skills, no mic skills, but a good gimmick with an overabundance of build up, and you have your future U.S. champion! Yes, I said no mic skills, anyone can fake a Razor Ramon accent and spit fruit in peoples faces. Yet we see whole websites dedicated to this guy! How did this happen? Guys like Shane. I work with this guy Shane. He’s a good guy, I like him, but when it comes to wrestling he seems very blank. I try to sell him on TNA all of the time and the amazing matches that has happened, and then he responds with a distant look on his face, then tells me that his character and Rey Mysterio are tag team champions in his Smackdown vs. Raw game. Yes, scratch your head. These are the type of fans McMahon NEEDS. While people may like what is happening to Batista, lets not forget that he has only had a few somewhat comedic promos with Triple H, he still can’t wrestle worth a damn, and now he could be headlining Wrestlemania 21. This explains Heidenreich, Snitzky, and the soon coming Chris Masters. People will buy into just about anything as long as they are told that it’s what they are supposed to like. I would actually be curious what would happen if Vince took a wrestler like Chris Benoit or Chris Jericho and did a heel turn one week, then a face turn the next week, and repeated for 3 months straight. Would the fans still cheer when they were supposed to? Would they boo when they were supposed to? Something tells me YES.
3) The Internet smarks – “smark” is such a dirty word isn’t it? Now these types of fans are mostly us. We know a lot about the business. We could tear apart someone like my co-worker Shane by asking him if he knows what “juice” means in wrestling terms and scoff at his stupidity and lack of answer. We read too much news and know EVERYTHING. Most of us are ECW fans who know that they basically were screwed and at the same time responsible for “WWF attitude” and NO we cannot let that go. We want the fast paced hardcore action with good storylines much like the attitude days where it seems that writers and bookers were actually THINKING. The fans decided if you lived or died, not a 3 minute promo. We LOVE pure wrestling and top notch action, including stand-offs, wrestling exchanges, psychology, some sick suplexes and slams and of course the more than occasional HIGHSPOT. Instead of accepting the politics of the WWE and knowing that Triple H basically runs the show, we point our fingers and cry “FRAUD!”. We know talent is misused and will never get the opportunity to even run with a world title unlike others who are undeserving. Example could be Rob Van Dam to a Dave Batista. Boy am I picking apart Batista or what? It’s what I do, I’m an internet “smark”. We are pulling for TNA to pick up a sweet TV deal with a 2 hour slot on a good network. As Paul Heyman said and did in ECW, “accentuate the positives, hide the negatives.” We do not care about pretty pyros and overdone promos, we want pure damn wrestling. We have a loud voice, yet it goes unheard in the mainstream. As the “realist” wrestling fans would say, we’ll probably go nowhere with this talk of revolutionizing wrestling once again, watch your old ECW tapes, go to your indy shows, and deal with the fact that Vince is the real King of Wrestling.
“As long as people will accept crap, it will be financially profitable to dispense it.”
Raw was at 9.0 and beyond ratings in it’s best time. Same with wCw. Now the numbers have dropped to 3.8. Lucky if Vince can make 4.0 now. Are these fans still out there? That’s a 5.0 gap that seemingly vanished. We can assume that maybe half of those 5.0 numbers grew out of wrestling for one reason or another. The demise of the nWo or the absence of Austin in the past few years off and on, the absence of The Rock, the fans who still want their wCw and could still use Kevin Nash and Sting on their television sets, the fans who just think the WWE is boring now and would like a change. How about the ECW fans in Philly and New York and New Jersey and more of the northeast and Midwest who still want their ECW? The true fans are still watching yet we need to spark something unseen in many years…A reason to watch. The bottom line is the FANS make the product. The fans are buying the tickets that pay the wrestlers salaries. You can accept the reality of it, or make the reality of it.
“The more extensive a man’s knowledge of what has been done, the greater will be his power of knowing what to do.”
Wrestling IS in our hands! The number of wrestling fans online could possibly reach the millions. The only way we can say anything is to SPEAK OUT. This doesn’t just mean revolting against the WWE like some may assume. You think the webmasters at WWE.COM don’t read storyline e-mails or ideas? That’s crap. E-mail them! Their e-mail addresses will be listed below who actually run WWE.COM. Whether its good or bad feedback give them feedback anyways. TNA wrestling has a more open approach with its fans and there are ways to get involved with them directly as well. Lest we forget that the WWE and TNA do not tape their shows in front of an audience of 30 people. We can MAKE the wrestling, and we can CHANGE it. Do not be afraid to speak out. Below are some contacts for both organizations.
(get involved and sign up for the community and try to spread the word of TNA!)
(e-mail TNA directly)
(Call TNA! Speak out!)
(these are the people who run the WWE.Com website, feel free to contact them.)
(MAKE A COMMENT ABOUT WWE PROGRAMMING AND WRESTLERS)
Apply for writing spot as a “fan” AKA “we pay your damn salary Vince”
1241 East Main Street
Stamford, CT 06902
CALL THE WWE! If you do it at night when the office hours are closed you can leave a voice mail on just about anyone’s machine. This includes Brian Gerwitz, Shane Mcmahon and so on. Your voice will be heard whether they like it or not!
Sign the ECW petition! If not even an ECW fan sign it to show you want change in the WWE and YOUR wrestling!
Instead of accepting the reality we can make the reality. Wrestling has no direction right now, but the way its heading could lead disastrous and very boring results. Even if you are mostly ok with the product on either show, speak out! You have the right to be heard because you are what make wrestling what it is. On that note, I’m taking a deep breath, and will let actions speak. Thank you.