Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic – A modest response… (thank you, Ace)

Last week, a Pulse Wrestling colleague of mine by the name of Brad Curran made an attempt in his Confessions of a… piece to “work up” the indy contingent within the writing staff (as he referred to a few of us) by claiming Ring of Honor fans are rabid freaks who scare him, and asking us to stop writing about ROH.

TODAY’S ISSUE: Responding to Mr. Curran

I’ll start by admitting something to you, Brad. When the ROHbots took over a while back and started dominating Pulse Wrestling with all their talk about how great it was, I felt the same way you do now. I wanted them to leave me alone about it already. I thought they were elitist snobs who wanted to brag about how much better they knew the industry and rub our noses in it. It seemed to me that we, the simpletons not wise enough to enjoy the good stuff, were left in their wake, and they loved that concept.

But then something happened. I began growing more and more frustrated with the immaturity, poor wrestling action, and intelligence-insulting angles and storylines of the “Big 2” (I guess those are my “daddy issues” at work?). So much so, in fact, that I was about to quit watching professional wrestling altogether, as sad as that was for this 25-year fan to contemplate. Then lo and behold, I was coerced into checking out ROH, and do you know what happened? Surprise. I didn’t like them; not at first.

Their pay-per-view debut, Respect is Earned, was my first full serving of Ring of Honor, and they didn’t impress me. However, in fairness as a would-be journalist and as a favor to a friend, I didn’t try just one show and write them off (especially a show like this – their first shot at ppv meant that ROH tried to shove a lot of content into those two hours, and the resulting show certainly wasn’t their best effort). Instead, I gave them another look.

Ten minutes into their second ppv outing, Driven, I realized there was something special and different about Ring of Honor and became a fan. Since then, I’ve seen a lot of their stuff, and have enjoyed almost all of it. But I was quick to gripe when they ran a highly controversial angle I didn’t approve of, so I’m anything but completely biased in my support of the indy sensation. To date, the suggested rape of Allison Danger by Bobby Dempsey at the Sixth Anniversary Show, orchestrated by Larry Sweeney, was the one and only offensive moment I’ve discovered amongst hours and hours of watching ROH, so I’ve let it slide since nobody’s perfect and everyone makes mistakes.

You say you’re a “WWE mark” Brad, but although Vince McMahon has perverted his company into the circus known as “sports entertainment” (a phrase McMahon himself brought to prominence to avoid certain unpleasantness regarding government regulation of athletic events), WWE was once a professional wrestling promotion, so somewhere inside you is a pro wrestling fan. Why would you not want other fans of the genre to have a product they enjoy as well? Do you honestly believe WWE offers the only wrestling worth watching? There’s no way you could be that shortsighted.

And by the way, contrary to the title of your column, the term is sports entertainment with an “s”, or the more sarcastic, snarkier sportz entertainment with a “z”. What you wrote, “sport entertainment”, is nothing. With a stumble like that right out of the gate, it’s no wonder your column was so far off the mark.

My next question for you, Mr. Curran, is what’s so “unsettling” about a devoted group of fans who really enjoy a certain product? Do die-hard fans of the Rolling Stones scare you? Do you fear the Raider Nation (ok, I admit they can be a bit scary occasionally)? Are you uncomfortable around people who really like James Bond movies? I’m not sure I comprehend what’s “unsettling” about people who watch the same sort of thing you do, just a different “flavor” of it, if you will.

And why, oh why would you want us to shut up about ROH? Pulse Wrestling does a great job of covering a myriad of pro wrestling companies and styles, and that diversity is a strength, not a weakness as you suggest. Believe me, we have enough pro-WWE/TNA writers on staff as it is, so if we were to follow your lead and abandon ROH (or at least quit writing about it as you suggested) our little haven of pro wrestling at the Pulse would become severely limited. We’re not, after all, and I’m quite certain the owner and editors are proud of our wide scope of coverage.

Over three years ago, I was hired by Pulse Wrestling to write a weekly opinion column about professional wrestling. I’m sorry Mr. Curran, but until Widro and his inner circle ask me not to write about Ring of Honor anymore, I will discuss ROH or any other wrestling topic as often as I like. But to humor you, I’ll point out that of my last five columns prior to this one you’re reading, I wrote a grand total of one about ROH (Eye of the Storm DVD), with another about FIP (which is practically ROH anyway, so if you must, call that 2 of 5, or 40%).

If you look farther back, the five most recent columns before that included zero ROH content (meaning I’m down to 20% ROH content over my last 10 columns). And if you continue to dig into my archive, you’ll find that I consistently shake it up and discuss varied topics. I never bang on the same door week after week.

I’ll also note that I had no intention of writing about ROH this week until I read your laughable column, and was planning to discuss how well the younger guys are faring in WWE of late. So I must ask, upon what exactly is your oh-so-charming request for me and my fellow ROHbots to “shut up about ROH for a bit” based? I think what you really meant to say was, “stop liking that other product so much, or just keep your fandom to yourself. I like WWE and TNA, and you should, too! I don’t see the appeal of ROH, so therefore, there is none.”

However, variety is the spice of life, and to each his own. Why you would even care about which products I enjoy is completely beyond me. Perhaps you should switch to decaf. Or as Aaron succinctly put it, just don’t click on ROH columns anymore, and spare yourself from the scary fans who actually like Ring of Honor. We promise to leave you alone if you don’t read us.

Speaking of Aaron, I’d like to thank you for including me among the “indie contingent” on the site, as you so eloquently put it. I take that as a compliment because it means my taste in wrestling has evolved to a larger view of the landscape, and I’m no longer restricted to what’s convenient but ultimately unsatisfying to me. It doesn’t make me a snob to admit that there is a world beyond the easily accessible. In fact, it takes a true fan to seek beyond the mainstream and into the unknown.

I’m not sure I know what you mean when you say I have “daddy issues”. At 36 years of age I’m comfortable admitting that my tastes have changed, and I accept that the burden of my entertainment isn’t solely on the broad shoulders of Vince McMahon. While I maintain the WWE product is truly less enjoyable than it was in the glory years of my youth, I also recognize my own responsibility to seek the forms of entertainment that are right for me, and have stopped wasting my precious few hours of “me-time” each week on stuff I don’t enjoy. When it became painful watching seven hours of original content each week from WWE and TNA, I quit.

In your column you admit, “I’m perfectly okay with the crap WWE and TNA shovel.” But I’m curious; if you recognize what they offer IS crap, why are you okay with it? Seriously, please let me know. Do you really not care about the garbage you allow into your brain, or are you so lazy and cheap that you’ll take poor quality entertainment because it’s easier and more cost-effective for you to consume than the good stuff?

You would have been better off just stating that in your opinion WWE and TNA are the superior companies, and leaving it at that. But admitting they “shovel crap” and trumpeting your fandom of them at the same time makes you look really foolish, Mr. English Major. You’re basically telling us, “I know this stuff sucks, but hey, it’s what I’m familiar with, and I refuse to allow my tastes to mature or to try new things.” I should think that as a staff writer for a great pro wrestling website, you might feel a bit of responsibility to investigate the promotion that has so many of your colleagues all excited.

If you didn’t want to spend money in that investigation, you could have posted something along the lines of “I’m curious about ROH but don’t want to burn cash checking them out” on the super-secret writers’ forum. I would have mailed you a few DVDs (which I purchased and didn’t pirate, by the way) all the way from South Korea, or your colleague, the great Pied Piper of ROH himself Pulse Glazer, would certainly have offered you as much as you could handle from his extensive and impressive library of ROH and FIP greatness.

But clearly you weren’t interested in doing any research. You just wanted to make incendiary comments and try to get a little heat on yourself. Starting this discussion in public, and mentioning myself, Aaron, and Bones without even having the common courtesy to link to our archives was a bit rude, and proves you didn’t really want to talk to us about our ROH fandom. What you really wanted was to get under our skin for whatever reason. Well, my friend, you didn’t. I really couldn’t care less if you don’t like ROH, or if you think ROH fans are too into the product, or that you want us to go away.

I know what you’re thinking: this entire column proves me wrong, and indicates that you somehow have succeeded in bothering me, because I took the time and effort to respond to your original crap-fest. Not so. I simply felt that if you were going to poke at me in public without ever even talking to me before, I should respond to you with my thoughts about your strange view of being a pro wrestling fan.

Contrary to what you wrote, I don’t believe that “ROH is the greatest thing ever. In the history of creation. Even better than air, opposable thumbs, pornography, Matt Fraction, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, or any other thing you can possibly think of. It is the pinnacle of human achievement”, nor do I think “you are retarded if you don’t agree.” I just really dig the product, so I purchase DVDs, go to live shows when I can, buy the pay-per-views, visit, discuss it online with other ROHbots, and sometimes write about Ring of Honor in my columns.

And if the term “ROHbot” is meant to be derogatory (as opposed to simply identifying a Ring of Honor fan) then perhaps it’s time to come up with a term for those people who enjoy boring TV shows, short, bad matches, lame attempts at comedy, silly storylines, wasted talent, and a parade of has-beens. Oh, I know! We can call them WWEirdos! You might even be king of the WWEirdos, Brad! Congratulations! And while I can’t imagine what it would take for me to ever feel bad about enjoying Ring of Honor, Your Majesty, I can assure you that if such a force exists you certainly don’t possess it. Nor will you ever.

The number one comment I hear from casual fans when I introduce them to Ring of Honor is that ROH reminds them of the old NWA days, back when the in-ring action was at the forefront and the other ga-ga was kept to a minimum. Those old days were outstanding, so any similarity casual fans see between them and ROH is a compliment to Ring of Honor’s efforts, and proof that they are producing exactly what they intend to: very good professional wrestling.

You summed up the entire point of your column in that cute little list you made, describing why you’re not into ROH:

“1. It’s cheaper- I’m cheap… I spend as little money as possible to follow it… So, following a promotion by DVD? Not for me.” Okay, then don’t. But leave me alone about how I chose to spend my own hard-earned money.

“2. I’m a WWE Mark- Grew up with ‘em… and have watched RAW religiously since. And a lot of my favorites from that era are in TNA now, so I get a nostalgia kick from them.” Enjoy WWE and TNA! I don’t want you NOT to like what you like. Watch them religiously, purchase their ppvs, and write about them week after week. I don’t care.

“3. I am not a work rate fetishist- At a certain point, when you guys keep throwing asterisks at me, I go numb…” Clearly you’ve made the right decision for you then, since ROH is more about in-ring work than WWE and TNA are. Good for you – you’ve found what you like, and so have I. But I for one have never used the “snowflake” rating system, and for those who do, ROH really does feature a lot of great wrestling action – it’s how they sell DVDs, Sir.

“4. I think I’m more of a sports entertainment guy- …I also like the lame comedy, talentless models who can’t wrestle… and stupid angles. So, I’m thinking we’re not the same audience, you know?” First, wow. As I said before, I can’t believe you admit that they produce “lame comedy” and “stupid angles”, along with featuring “models who can’t wrestle”, yet in the same breath say you enjoy it. It’s hard for me to comprehend an educated man feeling that way. But again, I’m happy for you; knock yourself out with mounds of wrestlecrap week after week.

Second, you’re right. We’re NOT the same audience. But if you already know this, then why write your column? You realize your tastes and ours aren’t in synch, so just let it be. When in your busy life do you have time to care about what WE like? Just enjoy what YOU like.

“5. I’m jealous of you- It’s true, and I have to [did you mean “two”?] comedic analogies to illustrate it. I’m kind of a disapposionate [was this supposed to be “dispassionate”? I need to get me one of those English Degrees!] person, so anyone who raves over anything the way you guys do over ROH kinda freaks me out. I only wish I could feel that over anything, much less a wrestling promotion. ” Well, I already know what your answer will be, but if I thought you might be reasonable about it, then I might suggest you give ROH an honest try. You could have let somebody like Glazer, who before your column would have been more than happy to assist, introduce you to ROH from the perspective of a newcomer if you were willing to watch with an open mind. But again, I know you really just wanted to stir the pot, not to learn about ROH and why fans get so into it, so forget I mentioned it.

In summary, Brad, I hope you realize the indy contingent around Pulse Wrestling will continue watching, writing about, discussing, and enjoying whatever we please, and you’re just going to have to deal with that. Or don’t. We don’t care.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

p.s. – “One might as well try to ride two horses moving in different directions, as to try to maintain in equal force two opposing or contradictory sets of desires.” – Robert Collier

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