THE VIEW FROM DOWN HERE – What Do Fans Want?

I was struggling with something to write this fortnight. I mean, how many more column inches do we want to waste on how well/poorly the WWE are booking CM Punk? How about the walk-out ending of Monday Night Raw where even JR left HHH in the lurch? (For what it’s worth, I was confused by it but not having much NBA news in Australia I lost what it was – a stupid dig at the NBA and their threatened lockout.) Why would you want to read another jaded IWC member saying why everything is really bad and it could never, ever get worse, even though some of us remember when every wrestler had a day job and so we had wrestling garbage men, wrestling hockey players, non-wrestling baseball players (‘cause they were on strike, geddit?), wrestling pig farmers, wrestling matadors, wrestling Connecticut blue-bloods, wrestling racing car drivers, wrestling freaking men wearing bull’s heads and mooing in the ring?

Ah-hem. Sorry.

I could look at what other writers here at the Pulse are saying. And I even started by addressing Blair Douglas’ seemingly irrational hatred for all things Mark Henry. But I stopped myself. Because I feel exactly the same way – exactly – when it comes to the Undertaker. All right, Undertaker was not a midcard joke like Henry for 15 years. But he did rise from the dead, crucify Bossman, need 20 people to get him into a casket, have the weirdest relationship with his brother ever, and have classic matches with Giant Gonzales, Sid, and King Kong Bundy. I have never seen a 5-star Undertaker match. I think the Shawn Michaels matches have been overrated (although the first Hell in a Cell with these two was Undertaker’s best match ever). I think the HHH match at the last Wrestlemania was over-rated, and I’ve watched it away from the hype of the show. This is an unpopular view, but I don’t care. So, I apologise to Mr Douglas; I know what he’s feeling and can actually understand where he’s coming from.

I could do another book review, some more reviews of films featuring wrestlers, a look at old PPVs, but that doesn’t seem to be what people want to read. No, what the people who read sites like this seem to want to read is another rant about how bad things are so they can then do one of two things:
            (1) whinge, whine and become generally abusive because the writer is being too negative about something they think is really good; or
            (2) agree and then up the ante by making more and more negative comments until the abuse is directed at the writer for not being negative enough.

So what do fans want? And by fans I mean everyone: writers, viewers and those who frequent sites like InsidePulse for the ‘backstage’ extras.

Well first, I would like to think that everyone wants to be entertained. They want to sit down and watch something or write about something where they enjoy the majority of a two-plus hour offering. I does not have to be wall-to-wall, packed to the rafters, “holy cow” moments every segment, but you should at least walk away going, “You know, that wasn’t so bad.” But that should go without saying. It’s what we want from all television, films, sporting events, concerts, books, you name it.

But wrestling fans want more than that. They want their favourites to be the ones pushed. And what has that got us? Well, one classic example would be if it wasn’t for the way fans cheered at the Royal Rumble in 1994 when he eliminated everyone, Kevin Nash may not have become the walking ego rumours state he is, pushed down everyone’s throat for years until it was just assumed he was as good as he said he was. And if things don’t highlight their favourites the way they think things should, then everything is wrong with the world and the product.

And the other things fans want is for things to be like they were in the “good ol’ days”, the “glory days” of wrestling. Normally this translates to “how wrestling was when they first started to watch.” So for people of my generation and a little younger, it was Hulk Hogan and rock’n’wrestling. For the next generation it was ECW or the Attitude Era or the Monday Night Wars. My starting point was pre-Hogan, watching Australian wrestling on TV. So what do I like? Stiff looking matches that look almost legit, but not a real fan of what is called ‘hardcore’. But also, coming from a gymnastics background, I like flippy floppy lucha libre.

Well, guess what? That ain’t gonna happen. I have a good friend (in his 60s) for whom wrestling today is too fast-paced. For him a 30 minute match where 20 minutes is a headlock or submission hold is wrestling to him. To another mate, it’s Japanese stiff-as-all-hell matches with four hundred suplexes. The old days are just that – the old days. ECW is gone; the first One Night Stand PPV in 2005 was a nice bit of nostalgia, but that was all it was – nostalgia. Oh, and a very public open audition. It showed that, once and for all, ECW is part of the past. So when TNA did HardCore Justice it was sad. 5 years later, more wrestlers dead, more people broken and it was… sad.

The past is gone, time to embrace the present and look to the future. For kids I know, John Cena is the best wrestler. They are bored by the Bret Hart, Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Four Horsemen, etc DVDS. They think Austin is overrated. They think of Shawn Michaels as an old guy who retired. For them, in ten years, this will most certainly be the best wrestling and this will be their “good ol’ days”.

What about the writers? What do they seem to want? Well, the writers are just another group of fans; sure, they’re more vociferous about their views, and have a platform to vent, but they, we, are still fans of wrestling at heart. But we tend to put up with more crap because we think we have to, and yet we also know where to look for other avenues to get our fix – local product, ROH, indy wrestling. For my son, the best wrestling he’s seen is Riot City Wrestling. He thinks WWE is boring, doesn’t even sit through TNA, but loves RCW. I think that’s awesome.

However, for a good look back on the recent events in WrestleWorld, I recommend you read Mike Gojira and his well thought out article. To summarise Mr Gojira – relax, take a chill pill, and let’s give it a chance.

Blair Douglas has posted a letter to the Internet Wrestling Community which has garnered a lot of feedback. The letter itself covers some of what I said here (dammit! That’ll teach me to write my columns a week in advance!) but still worth reading.

Joel Leonard does some nice work here.

And, finally, my favourite Pulse columnist James Alsop treats readers like intelligent people. Not that others treat them like idiots, but how many columnists use terms like ‘Brechtian’ and know their audience will comprehend what is meant?

And that’s another view.

 

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