“If you don’t enjoy watching, why bother?” this is a question that a lot of wrestling fans have either, asked, been asked, or at least wonder. We all know the feeling, of watching RAW, or Impact, or whatever product it is. Enjoying it, then going on reddit, or some type of forum, and seeing the same people who dislike every show, still picking holes in what you thought was a great episode. It seems ludicrous to many, and used to seem odd to me, that people will continue to devote three hours of their week watching RAW, yet always end up angry with the product they’ve watched. I’ve come to understand these people more than I used to. While I still enjoy the wrestling that I watch, I’ve come to understand, how if you begin to dislike the wrestling you watch, it could be hard to let go.
A simple comparison between devoted wrestling fans, and loyal fans of a sports team can be made. Making this comparison, can help you understand, why some fans continue to torture themselves, with watching products they simply do not enjoy. I am a fan of Aberdeen football club. As a fan, or “supporter”, I feel as those I am bound to this team. In the event the club is not doing well, and are not entertaining, and are frustrating to watch as a supporter, I would not stop supporting them. I am loyal to this team, to this brand.
Similarly to a sports team, many wrestling fans feel a loyalty to certain products. If Aberdeen football club start to perform badly, I stick around, support them, and hope things get turned around. This is how I imagine some wrestling fans must feel. They don’t enjoy Monday night RAW, but they continue to tune in each week, in the hope something changes. These fans would like to believe the product could change, change back to being like a time when they did enjoy it.
Wrestling, and watching wrestling, almost becomes a way of life for some. Again, in the comparison to sports, many fans begin to watch a certain sport at a young age. Watching that sport then becomes a habit, it’s just something you do. This is similar to what happens with a lot of wrestling fans. They watch RAW on Monday night, because that’s what you do on a Monday night. While many fans may not enjoy the product they watch on a Monday, or a Tuesday or whenever it may be, to them, it’s still better than anything else on TV – because they have a passion for wrestling. They may not enjoy the storylines, or who is getting TV time, and who is not, but at the end of the day, it’s still wrestling. It’s still that physical art form.
The loyalty only becomes stronger when it’s for the first product a fan ever watched. For much of us, that product is the WWE. TNA, ROH, Lucha underground and whatever else it may be, they’ve come later. For those whose first experience of wrestling was WWE, the WWE represents wrestling as a whole. Everything else is a bonus, it’s extra. Many would see every other product as simply a parody of WWE, a company trying to do WWE in a different way. Of course, we know this isn’t true, WWE wasn’t the first instance of wrestling, but when it was your personal first experience, it truly defies the art form.
Over the years TNA has lost a lot of fans. The product simply became so unbearable for some, they stopped watching. I’d suggest this is because the loyalty and passion for TNA was weaker, it wasn’t most of those fans first wrestling love. Some very hardcore fans – such as myself – have stuck around. No matter how bad we thought the product was, we kept watching, we held that loyalty and belief in the brand. In my opinion that loyalty has paid off big time, I’m enjoying TNA’s product now more than I have in years. The WWE has even more of these hardcore fans; it has also experienced a drop in viewers over the years. However, many of the hardcore fans remain intact, no matter how disillusioned with the product they are.
Wrestling lies in a very fortunate position. Similarly to sports teams, wrestling shows gather great numbers of fans, or “supporters” that have a bond, an almost unbreakable loyalty to their brands. When you look at television as a whole, only very little products have the luxury of having this amount of loyalty. Sure, I’m sure there are some seriously devoted fans of the Simpsons or of the Walking dead. However, generally if these shows start to go downhill, and viewers aren’t enjoying watching them anymore, they are a lot quicker to abandon ship than wrestling fans. WWE has an even greater fortune. Despite there being so many alternatives to the WWE, there are still a lot of fans that will watch WWE, even if they believe the alternatives are far better. Simply put, WWE is the figure-head of pro wrestling. Many people will not watch any wrestling at all, if they aren’t watching WWE. No matter how good or bad the product is, for many this loyalty is never broken, the love for pro wrestling, is never broken.
Tags: Lewis Michie, monday night raw, Ring of Honor, ROH, smackdown, VInce McMahon, wrestling