(This was written before the PPV took place, so apologies for not mentioning it.)
Even though I write for InsidePulse, I also read a few other wrestling sites on the ‘Net, and when I’m there I leave comments as I see fit. Not a huge amount because, well, I’m not the sort of person who has to comment on every single thing every single person has to say ever. It’s just when I think my input could add something to an argument… or in some cases just because I like to be a smart-arse.
Anyway, this past month alone I’ve been called not a real wrestling fan because I don’t like John Cena, not a real fan because I do like Lucha Libre, a smark because I prefer Goldberg to Ryback (yeah, I don’t get the leap of logic there, either), a retard because I like some TNA, a moron because I’m not spending every waking moment masturbating over Daniel Bryan, and a “wannabe loser” because I dared mention that I have actually wrestled on the indy circuit. At least the Internet is nothing if not consistent – don’t dare offer a difference because people can’t handle it.
This got me thinking – just what in the hell do people want? Wrestling is an entertainment industry. It is not going to please everyone who watches it. It’s like the James Bond films, I guess. I really like Sean Connery but Roger Moore (especially the last 4 films) leaves me flat. I can’t stand Moonraker but think Skyfall is actually really good. And yet, online, apparently Moonraker is lauded for taking James Bond to a new level and Skyfall was overdone and dull. Different horses for different courses. But when I mentioned my opinions in a movie forum (at the end of last year) you’d have thought I’d personally forced opened each person’s mouths and took a dump in them. The hatred for me especially liking Skyfall was astronomical.
Same thing happens here at Pulse every time I dare say I was not a fan of the last 5 Undertaker Wrestlemania matches (although I did like Punk’s more than the rest). That clearly means five things – (1) I hate wrestling, (2) I don’t know what wrestling is supposed to be, (3) I have no idea about anything, (4) my opinions suck and I probably kill puppies for fun (or kittens) (or both*), and (5) I hate wrestling. Well, guess what? It’s my opinion. I’m entitled to it. I just happen to have a forum to put it forth (this column). So, sure, I paint a target on me for abuse, but what most people online seem to forget is that it is OPINION. Like it or lump it, it is OPINION. In something as subjective as entertainment, there are no right or wrong answers. Who’s better – the Beatles or the Rolling Stones? Quick! It’s that sort of argument. It’s all opinion. It’s not like science where there are hard and fast facts – liking of wrestling is a subjective opinion based on how you personally feel about grown men in spandex pretending to kill one another for money.
And so, I shall indulge. Here are 5 opinions I have about wrestling at the moment:
(1) Daniel Bryan is getting over because of sheer work-rate and personality. Yes, he is having some sort of push, but this would not have happened if he was not bringing the goods. Listening to the crowd explode at that Raw recently where he took out all 3 members of the Shield – they love him. He was booked into that position, yes, but he took full advantage of it. He did not drop the ball; he took it and ran. He is not a 6’2 Adonis of finely chiselled muscle. He is this generation’s Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels. Littler guys who got over by what they brought in the ring. Just like CM Punk before him. He is, at the moment, one of the main saving graces of the WWE.
(2) TNA is putting on some compelling wrestling matches. Okay, the storylines may be a little over the place, but in general they are still more coherent than many of WWE’s current “stories”. But it’s the matches. I am especially enjoying their tag division. Kazarian and Daniels are awesome, Roode and Aries are making the most of no longer being in the heavyweight title picture, Chavo Guerrero is helped by being in there (not because he needs to learn or anything, but to stop people getting bored with his act), and if Magnus and Samoa Joe are going to tag together again, I’m all for it. Even Storm and Gunner look the goods, and Gunner also could do with being in tag matches to help him improve. In singles, Kurt Angle can still bring it. AJ Styles can still bring it. Bully Ray is getting better. Jeff Hardy is returning to form. Their women are finally showing the promise they had 4+ years ago wasn’t misguided. If only they’d stop Sting from wrestling and get rid of Anderson…
(3) Now, Jim Johnston is not a bad songwriter. He often gets the atmosphere of a performer right with the music he writes for them. I think his numerous contributions to the WWF/WWE over more than 20 years should see him get a Hall of Fame nod at some stage. Having said that, I do miss the days of performers having famous or modern hits to bring them to the ring. I mean, would Ric Flair have had the same air without ‘Thus Sprach Zarathustra’, or Randy Savage without ‘Pomp And Circumstance’? ‘Sirius’ suited Ricky Steamboat to a Tea. ‘Iron Man’ fit the Road Warriors so perfectly. I think we need more of that. Sure, ‘Cult of Personality’ is used by CM Punk, HHH has something by Motorhead, and Daniel Bryan started with ‘Ride of the Valkyries’, but unless I’m missing something, I don’t think too many others are there. Sure, keep the in-house music or the self-sung tunes (John Cena for one), but some wrestlers might benefit from some external sounds. The crowd would be able to at least sing along and it might help get an audience behind a wrestler who just needs that “something extra”. Wade Barrett coming out to AC/DC’s ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ could almost work, I reckon.
(4) Even though I am a bit of a fan of the well-done spot-monkey match, I really do like me some work-rate in the matches I watch. You know, selling, psychology, telling a story within a match – Ricky Steamboat v Ric Flair sort of matches. Well, watching WWE and TNA you have to know I’m not going to be getting that outside of the rare PPV match… and even then… And that is why I like independent wrestling. In Adelaide, you see, we have most likely the most vibrant wrestling community in Australia, with four successful feds in in a city of only one million. And out of those four, Riot City Wrestling has the reputation of having the work-rate and everything I look for, which is why I have gravitated towards them as a fan. But they are also consistently pulling in the biggest crowds. So maybe others have the same idea as me in what they want. Indy wrestling, as bad as its reputation may be, can give fans something they often don’t get in the televised product (and this includes the hardcore garbage “wrestling” that some still think is valid). It fills an important niche. (Of course, some really are crap, but part of the fun is going and watching them all and finding out for yourself.)
(5) Wrestling needs a shake-up. For thirty-odd years wrestling has been virtually the same. Music brings the wrestler in, they do things in character, wrestle, hit a finisher (or series of finishers), win, give an interview or talk about things. All matches needed a reason to happen. Storylines appeared. Storylines dominated. Skill was less important than style and image. All of this continues to this day with only minor variations on the theme. Purists hated the music and the onset of sports entertainment. “Give us our twenty minute headlocks!” they cried. But they were drowned out. Even the more pure NWA/WCW eventually succumbed. And then… what? The Monday Night Wars? ECW? Well, sure some things changed, but not the essence of wrestling, as had happened in the 1980s (after a long gestation period, starting probably with Gorgeous George). Even the so-called ‘Attitude Era’ only brought in a bit of raunch and character shades of grey. I mean, really, what changed? Everything else was still the same. And now? It’s like the 80’s all over again: one guy mainly on top, being fed various bad guys or friends who have turned on him, except for a one year gap. We need another shake-up.
So there you have it. An opinion piece. Or lots of little opinion pieces. Sound out below as to how damn wrong I am and I’ll shrug. But there are two things to remember: these are just opinions, and it’s just wrestling.
And that’s the view from down here.
(*I don’t kill puppies or kittens. Unless absolutely necessary, of course.)
DISCLAIMER: I have been accused in comments and by email of not knowing what I am talking about when it comes to professional wrestling. So these simple thoughts are merely those of someone who has been watching wrestling for more than 30 years and has been stepping into the ring as an appallingly underskilled indy jobber for nigh on 20 years, who was a former state level gymnast and was one of the worst boxers in the history of the sport. I apologise for knowing nothing.
Tags: Adelaide, AJ Styles, Bret Hart, cm punk, Daniel Bryan, Daniels, ECW, HHH, indy, john cena, kazarian, Kurt Angle, Randy Savage, RCW, Ric Flair, ricky steamboat, riot city wrestling, ryback, shawn michaels, South Australia, Tag Team, TNA, undertaker, Wade Barrett, WWE