From the Eye of the Dragon – It’s Not Easy Being One Of Us

Tim Wronka


If youâ<80><99>re reading this, then youâ<80><99>re most likely a wrestling fan. And if youâ<80><99>re a wrestling fan, you know what goes along with being one: ridicule from non-fans; schilling out countless dollars on merchandise and pay-per-views; the need to get online and talk with other fans; and perhaps the most prevalent, defending your stance on why you are a wrestling fan.

Any time the topic of interests come up, I always mention that one of mine is wrestling. And sure enough, that always turns heads. Suddenly, you think something is wrong with you. â<80><9c>Wait, why do I actually like wrestling?â<80> you may ask yourself. Iâ<80><99>m sure many of you reading this have been through similar situations yourself. You say you like wrestling, and next thing itâ<80><99>s onto 10,000 questions like:

â<80><9c>You know itâ<80><99>s fake, right?â<80>

â<80><9c>How can you watch men in tights?â<80>

â<80><9c>How can you watch that trash?!?â<80>

The fact of the matter is that wrestling has always been the bane of societyâ<80><99>s existence. To those that understand it, it allows for great, alternative entertainment. But to those who donâ<80><99>t understand it, it is met with disgust and ridicule. At least people that arenâ<80><99>t fans of things like the NFL or American Idol can admit why people love those two things. They would say things like, â<80><9c>Well, I donâ<80><99>t enjoy it, but I can see why people do love it.â<80> But when it comes to wrestling, if they donâ<80><99>t understand it, they HATE it. I guess you could call it fear of the unknown, but I call it ignorance on their part.

And now, more than ever before, wrestling is even HARDER to defend, making us question that much more just why the hell we are wrestling fans.

Now, where exactly am I coming from you ask? Well, look no further than the horrible situation that went down this past summer when the Chris Benoit tragedy occurred. The situation in and of itself was bad enough: a man murdered his family and then took his own life. But what I think was even worse, was how the media handled the situation. Because the media didnâ<80><99>t understand how wrestling works, they never gave Benoit any credit past the point of saying he was a murderer. Not once did you hear these geniuses from Fox News, CNN, or other news networks say that Benoit was an expert at what he did, and that he will always be remembered for being a phenomenal wrestler. Instead, they branded him as a cold-blooded killer, jumping on the steroid bandwagon for no other reason than the fact it was prevalent in other sports at the time. They also claimed that wrestling was fake, and they falsely insinuated what Benoit did in the ring required no talent. But at the end of the day, it was that he was a WRESTLER, not a murderer that justified for these vicious media attacks. If Katie Couric went and killed her husband, I highly doubt there would be so much ridicule on the mediaâ<80><99>s part. They would probably say that â<80><9c>None of us saw it coming, and she was such a great anchor!â<80> I could be wrong in that, but you canâ<80><99>t deny that since Chris Benoit was a wrestler that none of these morons ever heard of, they lay into his case with their bias against wrestling.

Now I donâ<80><99>t want to get into the morality of what Benoit did. In fact, you could argue that many wrestling fans themselves have blacklisted Benoit for what he did. But thatâ<80><99>s all a matter of opinion. Facts are facts, and what Benoit did to his family will NEVER change what he did in that ring and you will never convince me otherwise. I just wish one reporter who covered Benoitâ<80><99>s death would have said that. THATâ<80><99>S objective reporting, not bashing the guy.

But hereâ<80><99>s what Iâ<80><99>m getting at. As I said earlier in this column, itâ<80><99>s never been easy being a wrestling fan, but now itâ<80><99>s worse than ever. Hell, even when wrestling was at its hottest, pulling insane ratings and squashing records, people would still jump on the anti-wrestling bandwagon and point to things like sex and violence being a bad influence without ever giving the shows more than a 2 minute viewing sample. Well now that wrestling is out of the mainstream, defending your stance is an all out war, especially when non-fans point to Chris Benoit, steroids and low ratings. Iâ<80><99>m not blaming this state of affairs just on Benoit, but on everything that followed it. Congressional hearings, steroid investigations, suspensions, injuries, tanking ratings, sketchy creative decisions like McMahonâ<80><99>s illegitimate son or TNAâ<80><99>s wacky booking, and just downright paranoia have destroyed wrestlingâ<80><99>s already tarnished public image. But the worst problem of it all was the mediaâ<80><99>s TERRIBLE covering of the Benoit situation, with them almost making it a sin to be a wrestling fan.

Iâ<80><99>d like to share with you a personal story as to why wrestling is even harder to defend now than ever before. At the time the Chris Benoit tragedy occurred, I was interning at a local sports and news radio station in the Tampa Bay area. The day after the Benoit story broke, I was working with the daily sports talk show. I knew they would be covering it, so I asked the producer if I could jump on for a few minutes and discuss the Benoit situation through the eyes of a fan of his. He said that was fine, and I went on air to defend the Benoit situation against a host who hated wrestling and branded it as fake.

I sat across the announce booth from a totally arrogant host who discounted everything I said because I was a wresting fan. I told him quite simply that I know wrestling is simulated, but Benoit brought a sense of athleticism and realism to the sport that really helped blur that thin line between reality and fantasy. I followed that up with saying that I didnâ<80><99>t endorse what he did, but I wouldnâ<80><99>t let his final actions change my opinion of him in the ring. The host then blasted me, saying that if wrestling was fake, why did I care what he did in the ring? He then gave the whole steroid argument, and when I got into the numerous injuries that Benoit had sustained, he still maintained that wrestling was fake and that all fans of it are part of the problem wrestlers die so young. I agreed that there were some issues to be looked at, but I didnâ<80><99>t think it was fair for people to judge Benoit without ever knowing what he did. When he couldnâ<80><99>t refute that argument, he blasted WWE for airing a Benoit tribute show (even though that aired before details were released). At the end of the day, I had said my piece, but because I was a wrestling fan, my arguments were null and void to the almighty sports anchor. I even consented to some of his arguments, and went into it with an objective attitude, but I was still shown the door.

These are the kinds of problems Iâ<80><99>m talking about. Wrestling fans will forever be discriminated against as being buffoons. And now, amidst tons of controversy coupled with downright terrible product, being a wrestling fan is harder than ever. But instead of us just sitting around and being ridiculed, thereâ<80><99>s no reason we still canâ<80><99>t be happy as fans. If we stick together, and continue to believe in wrestling, then thatâ<80><99>s all we need. There is a possibility of all of this turning around for the better.

The fortunate thing is that no matter how bad wrestling may get, it isnâ<80><99>t going away. Yes, promotions rise and fall, but there will always be wrestling somewhere. This is something that we seem to forget. WWE is an American institution, and while something like the Benoit travesty might have destroyed some companies, WWE is still standing strong. That takes a lot of guts and determination to do that. Believe me that I never support WWE 100% of the time; in fact, I use this column to disagree with how insane their product can get. But at the end of the day, WWEâ<80><99>s stance throughout this whole situation is one that can be admired. Sure they had to suspend a few guys to suck up to the media, but they have gone about this doing all the right things. They are showing the worldâ<80>“and their fansâ<80>“that they can rebound from anything, and that there is no reason to NOT be wrestling fan.

And thatâ<80><99>s what we have to remember. Even if you hate WWE, love TNA, hate both TNA and WWE and just love Puro, we can all learn something here. WWE has shown they arenâ<80><99>t scared to face the music, and neither should we. We like wrestling, and quite frankly, I am getting sick of defending why I do. You should be too. When people ask you why you like it, donâ<80><99>t be timid. Stand up and tell them all the great things they are missing. They donâ<80><99>t have to listen, but YOU need to believe in it or otherwise youâ<80><99>re just like all the other nay-sayers. I, myself, have been in that position where I question why I like wrestling. One of the reasons I havenâ<80><99>t written a column in 4 months is due to that. The debates and controversies that have gone down since the Benoit incident left a sour taste in my mouth, but Iâ<80><99>m not going to let that happen again.

Now, Iâ<80><99>m not saying there is anything wrong with non-fans, but I despise people that judge something when they donâ<80><99>t have the facts or the experience. But donâ<80><99>t let these people get to you; enjoy wrestling, flaunt your old nWo shirt, and donâ<80><99>t be afraid to do so! Even if wrestling never gets to the point where nearly 10 million people are watching every Monday night, it will be always be something that you can enjoy, and thereâ<80><99>s not many people that can say that about other things.

Until next time, this has been From the Eye of the Dragonâ<80>¦

***

POST COLUMN UPDATE

Well, itâ<80><99>s definitely been a long time. In fact, itâ<80><99>s been over 4 months since I last published a column, and I have to say it feels like a lifetime. When my last column was published, it was about a week or two before the Benoit tragedy. As I alluded to in my column, I just wasnâ<80><99>t motivated to write since it seemed like everyone was writing the same damn thing in those weeks (Benoit/steroids/suspensions etc), and I didnâ<80><99>t think I would do any better.

But now I finally got a column out. Look for these to continue in the coming months, as well as my hopeful return to The Wrestling Crossfire audio show. In the mean time, check out TheWrestlingVoice.com, which just crowned a new Hall of Fame class, and will be revamped in the coming weeks. Also, check out TheWrestlingAsylum.com, for more columns, discussion, and a great e-fed!

Feedback is always much appreciated and responded too, and you can reach me here:

Email: timothywronka@yahoo.com

AIM: TimW14

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