Through the wonders of the internet, I’m actually 1000 or so miles from my computer right now yet you are still able to read my column. I pumped this little ditty out before I went on my “working vacation” to Miami for the week. Before I get to the column this week, I just want to point out that in the 10+ years that I’ve been writing this column I’ve never written more columns in one year than I have so far this year. Well, I find it pretty exciting at least!
My DVR is set to record TNA Impact each week. I really like TNA for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s not dominated by Jean Paul Levesque. But this column isn’t about that – it’s actually about something that I hate about TNA (and WWE and every other wrestling organization for that matter).
This column is about the bastardization of the term “legend” (and you can apply the gist of this article to the term “icon,” too). At some point over the last few months, I made a comment about how Levesque sounds like a moron when he puts his big boy voice on and talks about “this industry” and “this business.” Anyone with a Cracker Jack-level MBA degree knows that professional wrestling or sports entertainment is not an “industry” given that there is no competition in the marketplace and that applying the term “business” to an entire pseudo-industry is about as logical as hitting an orange with a fly swatter to make milk.
TNA has a major problem with their promotion packages in that everything is overhyped to the max. The way they make every single event seem like the most important event in history actually has the opposite effect of what they’re shooting for; in other words, when everything is the most important thing ever…then nothing is important at all.
As I said earlier, my DVR tapes TNA each week and I watch it when I get a chance. I was watching the November 1st show and the overly dramatic announcer was hyping Sting and Angle and he called them both legends. Part of me was really offended at that and after I figured out why, I began writing this column.
The term legend is correctly applied to a story or myth that handed down from generation to generation that may or may not be true. Further, the people in this story may be called legends themselves in the event that the story supports some type of real or imagined greatness (or evilness, it depends). In recent years, professional wrestlers have used this term as a catch-all for just about any wrestler from the 1980’s and early. This is a true bastardization of the term.
Now, I’m not denying that there are different levels of legends. It would be foolish to say that Tommy Dreamer or Taz are not ECW legends. They certainly are legends in that organization. But it would be just as foolish, if not moreso, if you didn’t put that characteristic into the context of the larger wrestling world. In other words, while these men are legends in ECW, they are barely small fish in the huge ocean that is WWE.
When the over-dramatic TNA announcer calls Sting a legend, I’m fine with that assessment. Sting was the main man in WCW for a number of years. He beat the best that professional wrestling had to offer during all of his reigns on top. He certainly is/was one of the most prolific characters in professional wrestling over the last 20+ years.
But I take issue with Kurt Angle being described as a legend. Kurt Angle is absolutely a legend in the amateur wrestling world; he won an Olympic gold medal with a broken neck! That’s incredible! But in the professional wrestling world, he has not been around long enough to be called a legend by any means. Yes, he’s had some amazing professional matches in both WWE and TNA, but (and listen up here, younguns) putting on good matches does NOT make you a legend in professional wrestling!!!
I will repeat: putting on good matches does not make you a legend in professional wrestling!
Hulk Hogan is one of the biggest legends that professional wrestling has ever seen and he couldn’t wrestle his way out of a sock for the last half of his career. On the other hand, The Fabulous Moolah may be one of the biggest (if not the biggest) wrestler in the history of the business and she could whip any woman that stepped into the ring with her and make it look like science. On the men’s side, Ric Flair is certainly a legend as are men like Bret Hart and Harley Race. These are men that have stories told about them by younger generations. Keep your eyes peeled, folks. I said generations; plural!
Just because a few young wrestlers that may or may not be wrestling any more tell great stories about Kurt Angle, this does not make him a legend. Is Kurt Angle on his way to becoming a legend? Yes. In fact, I would say that if he stopped wrestling today he could possibly be in line for a low-level legendary status in the next 8 – 10 years.
But to call him a legend today? That’s just wrong.