Hello wrestling fans, and welcome back to The Trademark Rants. Now, you’re probably wondering where the hell I’ve been for the last few months. Well, I sort of had a Vince Russo experience. As some of you may remember, I recently converted to Christianity, and basically, in about April, I was pretty much done with wrestling, seeing that the door (if you will) was closed to me, and believing (at the time) that my future was in ministry. I continued to write columns until about July, although I had stopped wrestling altogether a month or so earlier, when TNA lost their time slot of FSN. Then, one day, I just stopped writing, and I found that I honestly didn’t miss it. I didn’t miss the Internet, and I wasn’t missing wrestling. For almost four months, I probably didn’t watch wrestling at all, except when I got together with my friends Terry and Chris for the PPVs. And it was in this time that I explored a potential path in ministry. To make a long story short, I found that ministry is, at least for the time being, not in God’s Plan for me, and apparently, wrestling is. Without going into much detail, I’ve been presented with an unprecedented opportunity to help build and eventually run an Indy Wrestling Promotion currently based out of Canton, Ohio, and, of course, I’m taking it. This is, at least from my experience, a once in a lifetime opportunity, just the idea that I’m basically being handed a wrestling promotion after being completely uninvolved in wrestling for nearly six months (and, for those who have never been involved in the wrestling business, six months is an extremely long time to not be around. In wrestling, six months is like a lifetime). Never mind all of my other past experiences in the business, many of which have been chronicled in past columns more than once. So here I am, again. At the request of my business partner, I have, once again, returned to the Internet. Unfortunately, to be completely honest, I’m not terribly excited about it. For one, I barely watch WWE, which would need to be the main focus of my columns in order to draw readers. Secondly, I honestly hate the Internet Wrestling Community.
Perhaps, I should explain this a little bit. First off, when I say that I hate the IWC, I don’t mean that I hate the people involved with the community. I hate the community itself. The people, for the most part, are just trying to convey their love of wrestling and their frustration with the direction of the business as it stands now. The problem is that, honestly, most of the people involved in the IWC are so blind and/or ignorant to the business and how it actually works that I feel like I’m talking to brick walls. I honestly don’t think any of you really give a crap what I say, because most of you don’t understand step one about how wrestling really works. So, in an attempt to bridge that gap, I am, for the first time, going to explain everything that you don’t know, and everything that you can’t see.
First of all, the WWE is full of crap. And no, I don’t mean that their shows are full of crap. I mean everything they claim to say is “real”. Everything from what WWE wrestlers say in interviews and online commentaries to the so-called “news” they now post on their website to lull in the most ignorant of the wrestling fanbase into believing that WWE is actually going to shoot with them. If the WWE was truly interested in truth, they wouldn’t have fired Matt Hardy. Any time the truth even tries to get out, the WWE tries to cover it up like a government conspiracy, and when it backfires, they try to make it look like the whole thing was an angle when it wasn’t. And, just to make things worse, most of you actually buy into their spin of the facts when they do this, and still have the audacity to consider yourself “smart” fans.
One of the most infamous claims I’ve ever made in my four years of writing columns on the Internet was that the Ross Report (when it existed) was nothing more than a gaggle of lies, corporate lines and horse sh*t. And while, in hindsight, that comment was, at best, harsh, it’s also very true to the nature of not only how the WWE works, but how wrestling works in general. The truth is that you’re not a smart fan. You’re being lied to. The dirt sheets and the Internet can give you glimpses of the truth, but even then, without actually being inside, you can never fully comprehend the reality of the wrestling business.
The WWE has been attempting for nearly a decade now to reestablish a sense of kayfabe in the wrestling world, despite being the leading force of destroying kayfabe in the first place. In fact, most of the wrestling world is trying DESPERATELY to turn back the hands of time and reestablish a sense of kayfabe. Why, you ask? Why go to all the trouble to recreate kayfabe when wrestling has actually benefited from “coming out of the closet” (if you will) and admitting that it’s a show? Why do this, despite renaming your company World Wrestling Entertainment, when your fans already know the truth? Because the industry is dying, and no one in positions of power can see why. The WWE, and the entire wrestling industry in general, wants to believe that the business is hurting because of internet spoilers and backstage news leaks, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. They want to blame the dirt sheets, the Internet, the smart fans… but they’re not even close to the root cause. The problem isn’t in the revealed secrets of Pro Wrestling. It’s in the very nature of the business itself, dating back to the very origins of what we now call Sports Entertainment.
The business, as it was originally structured, was meant to make promoters money while keeping the talent under a sort of totalitarian control. We see it now in how contracts are structured. Wrestlers are hired on as independent contractors and are pitted against one another, and whoever draws in the most money (or, as it is often the case, curries the most favor with the promoter) gets the top spot. This, in turn, creates an environment of fear and paranoia among not only the wrestlers, but the promoters themselves. The wrestlers, wanting mostly to survive and provide for their families, do whatever they can to get the top spots, and then do everything they can to keep them once they get them. An example of this can be seen with Jeff Jarrett and Triple H now. Whether Paul Levesque actually loves Stephanie McMahon or whether Jeff Jarrett is TNA’s most experienced worker are moot points when you consider that Paul is sleeping with the Head of WWE Creative or that Jeff essentially runs TNA, which just happens to be co-founded by his father. And, it makes it even fishier when you see Triple H holding the World Title for the last three or four years and Jeff Jarrett has been the NWA Champion for the majority of TNA’s existence. The problem that the wrestling industry sees is that, due to the lack of kayfabe, we, the fans, are seeing this reality, and reacting accordingly. Instead of hating Triple H and Jeff Jarrett as characters, we’re resenting the power they have behind the scenes. We’re actually hating the real men behind the characters, and not “playing along” with the script, which is a problem in the minds of those who book and promote wrestling.
So now, you see the WWE doing everything they can to refocus our attention to their storylines, including setting themselves up as an ‘insider news site’ to bring us the ‘truth’, because, after all, it’s directly from the source. One of the easiest ways to hide is right out in public, and since the WWE controls everything they put on their site anyway, what easier way to dupe the fans than by appearing to give them what they want. The truth is that they are lying to you. This isn’t exclusive to the WWE. All wrestling promotions lie to their fans. That’s just one of the ‘traditions’ of the business. Lies are the nature of kayfabe, and promoters do it to protect the secrets of the business, such as Paul Levesque sticking it to Stephanie McMahon, or Jeff Jarrett essentially running TNA (despite what Dixie Carter may claim), or that the WWE fired Matt Hardy because the Internet found out about Adam Copeland’s affair with Matt’s girlfriend Amy Dumas and that news began affecting the WWE product.
But it isn’t just promoters who have bought into this logic. Wrestlers, too, seem to believe that the Internet is the problem, although they often claim the problem the Internet causes is different. Some wrestlers speak out against Internet Spoilers, or, giving away the results of matches before they hit the air, or, sometimes, before they even take place. Some wrestlers appear to resent the critical nature of Internet fans, which, to me, seems silly. If you’re really going to take every critic’s negative review of your match personally, you are in the wrong business. Seriously, let the mark think what he wants and let it go.
Then, there’s the wrestler who takes offense to the Internet knowing about his personal life *cough*Edge*cough*. Perhaps, if you weren’t a lying snake who cheated on his wife and slept with his friend’s girlfriend behind his back, then yeah, we probably wouldn’t talk about you so much. That’s the curse of celebrity. People are going to know things about your personal life. Sh*t happens. Get over it, have fun with Amy, and make the best of the heat you have, because this might be your last shot to get Triple H’s spot… you know, the one you’ve been trying to get for five years now, but always fell short because you got hurt just before you could grab it.
There are also the wrestlers who think of us on the Internet as mere children who ‘hide’ behind the Internet, then talk sh*t about wrestlers. Um… yeah. Most of the time, you’re merely talking about a fan who’s given a bad review of your match. Now, scroll back to the last paragraph, and my comments about one Adam Copeland. This, for the record, is ‘talking sh*t’, not to be confused with the majority of the ‘Net, who simply say that your match sucked. I’m a rarity, and believe me, for a person who uses his full real name on the Internet and has given away so much personal information in this column to fill an unofficial autobiography, I find it hard t believe that anyone would really think I’m “hiding” behind the Internet. But hey, what do I know? I’m just crazy enough to think anyone reading this is going to care…
And then, there are the wrestlers that, like the promoters, see the Internet and the deterioration of kayfabe as the disease that is killing the wrestling business. Many times, the ‘secrets’ that the Internet reveals is that so-and-so is playing backstage politics to protect his spot, or that he’s sleeping with so-and-so to get a push, or that management favors this guy while they have a low opinion of some other guy. So, these are the make-or-break secrets that are ‘hurting’ the business by being exposed? The wrestling business is dying because we’re aware of the fact that wrestlers, for the most part, don’t work as a team to put together the best show possible, and instead, actually act as a gaggle of free agents trying to negotiate the best deal with whoever to get the best spots, ultimately working against one another to the point that any other business or group would literally implode through all the in-fighting? Um… could it be that maybe, just maybe, the problem isn’t that we know about this environment of backstabbing and political power-plays as much as it’s the environment itself that’s causing a lot of the problems that wrestling faces? Could it be that the business needs to come up to speed with how business in any other industry is conducted? Could it be that maybe the industry needs to become more of a team environment rather than Cutthroat Island? I don’t know, but I hardly see how anyone knowing about this environment is hurting the business. In fact, it makes more sense to see the environment of backstabbing and political power-plays as the problem than I would anything else. What I don’t understand is why the WWE, and the wrestling business in general, doesn’t seem to be catching this same logic train, because it’s as clear as day to me.
Okay, well, I’ve written myself dry for the time being. Check out my space at http://www.MySpace.com/MikeJohnsUSAW for news about everything I’m up to these days, as well as the development of Northeast Ohio’s newest wrestling promotion, Ultimate Shock & Awe Wrestling. Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you again soon, when I have more to say.