The Stomping Ground: The Relevance of the IWC
by Mike Gojira on April 8, 2011

Great googly moogly! What a ridiculous amount of “thoughts” (including my own right here) we’ve had this week in reaction to Wrestlemania XXVII! Or should I say WWE Mania XXVII? Or whatever the hell they want to call it now. Stupid PR decisions. So they are an entertainment company who, despite refusing to use the word “wrestling” in any context, make the most money off of WRESTLING to further their toy lines, T-shirts, movie company, and video games? Pure, unadulterated assery. That’s right, ASSERY. I made up a new word.

Ahem.

Welcome, everyone, to the SECOND Stomping Ground of the week. I am your always humble and slightly lactose-intolerant host, Mike Gojira, riding high after CORRECTLY PREDICTING THAT EDGE WOULD RETAIN AT MANIA.

Did I mention I was modest, too? (The key word being was)

After watching Mania last Sunday, and after reading the reactions of my fellow columnists, it got me thinking about an issue that has been in existence since the birth of the Internet. Now this issue is nothing new, as it has been discussed to death in the past, and most of us are aware of and have come to terms with it. Ah, acceptance.

I am talking, of course, about the relevance (or irrelevance) of the Internet Wrestling Community.

Before the birth of Al Gore’s alleged love child with a computer, the only way most fans got their wrestling fix was through paying for house shows, watching wrestling on television, or reading magazines. There was very little inside info spread to the masses; kayfabe was as intact as it would ever be. As a kid you found yourself believing the legitimacy of the storylines and characters; as a teenager you saw through the smoke and mirrors and cheered for the heroes and booed the villains; as an adult, you looked for the storytelling WITHIN the matches themselves, you saw and appreciated the effort and pain of the performers and you knew that it was all in good fun. However, there was never really a forum in which to express your opinion other than chatting with fellow wrestling aficionados face-to-face.

Then came the Internet and everything changed.

Many blame the Internet for the death of kayfabe in professional wrestling, and maybe they’re justified in believing so. After all, it was the Internet that gave rise to taped Raw spoilers, rumors of backstage altercations or politicking, and leaked storylines from credible sources. Prior to the instant message, fans would either have to wait for the dirt sheets or have to know someone in the business.

Over the years burgeoning websites popped up all over the World Wide Web. Each proclaimed to have “insider info” on WCW, ECW, and the then-WWF. Each proclaimed to be run for the fans, by the fans. In a sea of endless mark-developed websites, there seemed to be no respite. In order to stand out, some more prominent sites had guest columns written by those in-the-know, both wrestlers and bookers, who would let the fans in on the secrets of professional wrestling.

Suddenly the terms “babyface” and “heel” replaced “good guy” and “bad guy.” The fans were referred to as “marks,” an old carny term for a paying member of the audience, and many took offense. They believed that they were being called mindless sheep who were being “fleeced” out of their hard-earned money. In response, some fans who claimed to know more than others began calling themselves “smart marks,” or “smarks,” to distinguish themselves from the generic fan. The truth is that there is no such thing as a “smark;” regardless of how much you may or may not know about the business, we all share the same love for wrestling that unites us together.

The Internet had become a place to praise or gripe about the product in a way that could never be rivaled. Here was a place of instant gratification, where your words could be seen by hundreds of thousands across the globe in a matter of seconds. Students of the game wrote their thoughts in hundreds of columns, eager for their words to be read and their egos satiated. They loved and hated and clamored for recognition not only from their peers but ultimately the McMahons and Bischoffs of the day.

And their voices went unheard by the business for a number of years until the Internet had become such a large facet of human life that it could no longer be ignored. The Internet Wrestling Community had become too large to simply brush off, and it seemed as though we’d finally get a say in how to run our favorite pastime.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned.

Luminaries of the wrestling world such as Eric Bischoff claimed that the IWC was irrelevant; we made up such a small percentage of the audience that our complaints didn’t matter. People would still be ignorant; they would still pay for wrestling, because it wasn’t the matches themselves that mattered…it was the intrigue of the characters that brought in the people. I find myself wondering if guys like Bischoff are right.

This past Sunday’s PPV gave me pause.

Think about it: the fans tuned in to see The Rock, glued their eyes to the set to watch Snooki, sat around at bars and apartments all over the world to see the spectacle of the Streak. We were baited with a gloriously delicious-looking worm on the hook and we bit into it…only to find that it didn’t taste right.

The Rock may have overstayed his welcome, we lost a title match in Sheamus/Bryan, the Streak continued as we always knew it would, and the main event failed to deliver anything other than a promo for the following year’s Wrestlemania.

We Internet columnists are a fickle bunch. The week before, we were hyped up because the build for the show had improved just seven days prior. The week after, we became disillusioned with the product, wondering where the company would go from here. Such is the roller coaster of professional wrestling. Yet we continue to watch.

When Eric Bischoff handed over the newly-christened World Heavyweight Championship to Triple H without him actually earning it in a match, I went on a sabbatical for a few months. I refused to watch Raw because I was sick of seeing The Game bury talent after talent in the ring. But in a few months, I returned. My love for the business could not keep me away from it and Raw was THE show to watch (although I did watch Smackdown on a regular basis). I thought, like many did, that Triple H would destroy the business from within. Here we are nearly ten years later, and the WWE is still thriving.

The majority of my fellow writers believe this year’s Wrestlemania to be either an outright failure or just a simple misstep on the road to bigger and better things. What it all comes down to is this: the WWE made a shitload of money, Atlanta made a shitload of money, and old school fans who just wanted to see old school names like The Rock walked away satisfied.

I often find myself wondering if writing about this business is worth it.

Then I look back at all the fond memories I have of wrestling, I smile, and I say to myself, “It’s most definitely worth it.”

I ask you, dear readers, whether you believe the IWC is relevant or not. Feel free to leave your comments below. But before you do that, here are some…

Cheap Plugs

There was A LOT going on this week, since everybody decided to throw their hat in the “Let’s Bitch About the PPV” ring, but I won’t link you to those. Instead, here are a few columns that, although may have some focus on Mania, are not fully devoted to a list of thoughts shared by all.

Our newest columnist, James Alsop, has joined the Pulse with a look back at the InVasion. Hard to believe it’s been ten years, but I digress. James has a very interesting positive spin on it, so check out his work.

We say goodbye to Mark Allen, whose final column was posted earlier in the week. I loved him like a brother, although I’ve only known him for a few months, we never really chatted, we never actually met, and I don’t know a damn thing about him. Still, a brother!

Rhett Davis (who thinks he’s RAD, but I keep telling him that people are saying he has a RASH) has a great column on how he would have shaped the card of Wrestlemania XXVII. Can someone tell him that it’s “Rey Mysterio,” not “Mysterios”?

If you read ANYTHING on Wrestlemania, get your ass over to Pulse Glazer’s brutally honest review. The man knows his shit, and I’m not just saying that because he got me a job here.

……….

Not at all.

My boy Joe Fiorello has taken over responsibilities on this season’s Tough Enough recap. I can’t believe that chick said her favorite match was Melina vs Alicia Fox. Jeez.

Although Jonah Kue threatened to fire me for comments I made about him being disorganized, I laughed them off because he doesn’t pay me for my services anyway. Here’s his positive spin on the results of Wrestlemania and what it means for the company’s future.

You’ve also got Chris Sanders, Joel Leonard, Chris Biscuiti, Steven Gepp, Andrew Wheeler, and A CAST OF THOUSANDS all over the damn place. Seriously, they’re like cockroaches or something. I’m not giving you the links. Just search ‘em out, you lazy misfits.

Finally, I’d like to once again thank Penny Sautereau-Fife for her excellent work on my new icon. I thanked her previously in my “Top Thoughts on Wrestlemania” column, but I figured most of you haven’t checked it out yet. Nothing spells WINNING! like Godzilla as a masked luchador. Smell the buy rates!

Until next time…so long, and thanks for all the fish.



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