To Be Determined – Being a Wrestling Fan

Pro Wrestling has been a part of my life for a very long time. I started following it back in the eighties through a blurry feed of a Lebanese TV station that showed WCCW, through the (then) WWF boom later that decade, the WCW domination years all the way to today’s era. I’ve mentioned in the past that it’s not easy being a wrestling fan in Israel and we had to go through years and years of no TV broadcasts at all. Through it all I never stopped following wrestling. But for how long?

Recently I found myself thinking about how I really feel about wrestling. Do I still care about it and why? Do I like wrestling or do I enjoy only discussing it with other people? Had I been in the US, would I have stood up for WWE or encouraged other to cross the line to TNA? And what does it mean to love wrestling or care about it? IS it enough to only follow WWE and/or TNA, or am I not a “real” fan unless I follow ROH, DG USA, EVOLVE and other indi feds?

There’s a small Israeli pro wrestling company called IPWA. I’ve never been to any of their events, I never took part in anything they do, I never really had real interest in them. Since the wrestling scene in Israel is very small, and most of the wrestling fans belong to the same on-line community, I was often criticized for not showing support for IPWA and for not giving them exposure here on the pulse. I was asked what kind of fan am I if don’t support them.

But the question rises about the big feds as well. It doesn’t matter what happens, wrestling has never been my number one priority when it comes to watching shows. When life gets too busy or hectic, I can go weeks without watching Raw, Smackdown or Impact. I’ll read spoilers, watch the parts that really draw my attention and then catch up before PPV events. I still watch PPV, but that’s because it’s a regular get together with friends every two weeks.

Yet, even if I don’t watch all the shows, I still get angry when I think a promotion is doing something particularly stupid or excited when I think something good is going to happen. I still go to my computer every Tuesday morning to check what happened on Raw the previous night. Because deep down, even if I only have time to read spoilers, I’m still a wrestling fan.

In the last TNA roundtable, I used some harsh language against TNA and their latest offerings. Incognito, one of our regular readers asked why I take this so personally, did Dixie Carter run over my dog or something? And it got me thinking, why *do* I take this so hard when a wrestling promotion is doing so many wrong things, whether they’re based in Florida or in Connecticut? And really, why am I so hard especially on TNA?

The simple answer is that I want them to do well. I want to be a wrestling fan that enjoys what he sees. And I don’t want to enjoy the shows because I’m coming with a positive attitude willing to embrace everything I see. I want to enjoy the shows because they will earn it.

As for TNA, I’m harder on them because I expect more from them. TNA can’t afford to make as many mistakes as they make. TNA can be a strong wrestling promotion. A real number two that would give WWE some stiff competition. TNA has all the tools it needs to achieve that if they only did what a number two promotion should do – try harder. They need to try harder just to have a secure future, but they don’t. Instead, they’re repeating the same mistakes that took down two promotions in 2001.
After more than eight years TNA are still in a startup stage and their future is not as secure as it seems. Even their ratings number don’t tell a real story about their fanbase. A couple of friends of mine visited the US this summer and attended tapings at the Impact Zone. They said that TNA couldn’t fill the place for Impact and they sent reps to the theme park, looking for visitors who would act as audience. Even that wasn’t enough and they had to close off an entire section of the stands because no-one was there. I recently heard that they had to cancel most of their remaining house shows for 2010 due to poor sales. After eight years in business, TNA could and should have been in a much better state.

So yes, I’m harder on TNA than I am on WWE. WWE can afford to make mistakes because they do have a real fan base and even their weakest numbers are something that TNA can only dream of achieving. I’m harder on TNA because I want them to survive and not become another trophy on Vince McMahon shelf. I’m harder on TNA because they have a roster that either equals or surpasses WWE’s yet a casual fan wouldn’t know that. I’m harder on TNA because I don’t want to see another wrestling promotion does everything wrong and closes shop.

So the bottom line is, I do care. I am a wrestling fan. And as a wrestling fan, it is my duty to demand a better product and expect more from the promotions. If I just accepted everything and tried to see the good side to everything, I wouldn’t be a fan, I’d be Pollyanna.

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