You turn on your TV because itâ<80><99>s that time of the night. Itâ<80><99>s time for some wrestling! Youâ<80><99>ve been daydreaming about the upcoming matches all day at work. Youâ<80><99>re pumped! You start watching the wrestling show and are thrilled with what you see. Youâ<80><99>re on your feet. Youâ<80><99>re cheering. Youâ<80><99>re clapping. That matches are incredible. Everything seems perfect. Until you notice somethingâ<80>¦
The crowd on TV is dead.
Huh? You start to think. But this is so exciting! How could the crowd be sitting on their hands and yawning? This is some fine wrestling damnit! Whatâ<80><99>s the problem? You ponder the question for the next few minutes. You start to think maybe thereâ<80><99>s something wrong with you. Are you missing something? Are you sick?
Then it hits you. The crowd doesnâ<80><99>t care. At all. And why is that? After another moment of pondering, it becomes blatantly obvious.
There is no entertainment.
Professional wrestling has evolved many times over in its long history. First, it was a secret bond among a select few who knew that it was fake. Then it evolved to territorial and national recognition. Then big businesses became involved. And finally, wrestling became a medium where big bucks could be made. However, those big bucks were not made through wrestling. Shockingly, they were made through entertainment.
To the wrestling purist, these comments may seem blasphemous. Yet, they ring true. The late nineties showcased the biggest business boom in wrestling history. It was known as the â<80><9c>Attitude Era.â<80> Note that it was not know as the â<80><9c>Best Wrestling Ever Era.â<80> Thatâ<80><99>s because this era is not remembered for its great matches. Sure, there were many memorable ones, but mostly this time period will be remembered for the entertainment value that DX, The Rock, and the Austin-McMahon feud all provided. It was all about the entertainment, not the actual wrestling. Without the entertainment value, the Attitude Era would have been nothing special.
As an example, take the situation comedy Family Guy. I could sit here and tell everyone that theyâ<80><99>ll love the show because itâ<80><99>s a cartoon sitcom. However, would you turn it on expecting a great show because itâ<80><99>s merely a cartoon sitcom? No you wouldnâ<80><99>t. You would immediately categorize it with shows like The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and South Park. While those may be great shows, you wonder how Family Guy is anything different. Yet, you turn it on and find that itâ<80><99>s a great show because of the unique entertainment it provides. If Family Guy was boring and just like everything else, it wouldnâ<80><99>t be nearly as popular as it is now. The Family Guy entertainment style made it a phenomenon.
Just like wrestling. You canâ<80><99>t expect someone to like it just because itâ<80><99>s wrestling. They may not like the whole idea of wrestling. But if they see entertainment involvedâ<80>¦ then it may be an entirely different story.
Entertainment sells. Bottom line. In any media industry, people ultimately pay to be entertained. Whether they are paying for tickets for a movie drama, or ready to jam to a new CD, they want to be entertained. And so, entertainment, whether or not the pure wrestling fan likes it, is here to stay.
However, where has it gone on SmackDown? If you hadnâ<80><99>t guessed, the story in the beginning was about a hardcore wrestling fan watching SmackDown. He was watching a match with someone the likes of Finlay, Regal, or Benoit. He was excited, because the wrestling was great, yet the crowd wasnâ<80><99>t. There, the crowd represented the common or casual fan.
The problem is, in an industry thatâ<80><99>s called sports entertainment, there is severe entertainment missing on SmackDown! Itâ<80><99>s almost as if WWE forgot what brought them a second brand in the first place; that of course being the tremendous entertainment of the Attitude Era. Since then, WWE has groomed its fans to be interested in wrestlers and angles before any wrestling actually happens. The basic formula is that a storyline will develop between a good and bad guy, then ends in a pay off match. By the time that match comes around, the viewer is supposed to know whatâ<80><99>s happened between these guys and where they stand on the issue at hand.
Yet on SmackDown, there is rarely any of that. Yes, there is still some entertainment. But much of the show is riddled with filler matches with wrestlers that are unknown by the common viewer. Simple entertainment could be added, which would make SmackDown ten times better.
Entertainment doesnâ<80><99>t have to be elaborate stories. It can simply be introducing a wrestler with a character. Then having that character tell us who he is, what he is doing, how he is doing it, and why he is doing it. For instance, why does Vito wear a dress? He certainly hasnâ<80><99>t told us. What is MVP doing running around SmackDown without a â<80><9c>contract?â<80> What does Wrestler A think of Wrestler B? How are they going to beat each other? Why should the viewers care about them?
There are so many questions! No wonder SmackDown has failed miserably in the ratings! Itâ<80><99>s also sad because the great wrestlers on SmackDown, like Finlay, get zero reaction from the crowd. Itâ<80><99>s because no one is given a reason to care. It could be the greatest wrestling in the world, but if there is no story or character, the common viewer doesnâ<80><99>t give a damn.
Entertainment isnâ<80><99>t hard! Again, we donâ<80><99>t necessarily need soap operas. Sure, theyâ<80><99>re great, but just give us a simple reason to care about who we are watching in the ring! Character is just as important as being able to wrestle, if not more when it comes to WWE. RAW has shown that entertainment builds a superior product. DX is mostly entertainment, as is John Cena, and they are all frequent main-eventers. Ratings and buyrates show that people love this stuff as compared to SmackDown, which many say has the superior wrestling. This is sad, especially considering that SmackDown does have great wrestlers and is available in more homes than RAW.
All in all, entertainment is a key to professional wrestling. Without it, there is no common interest, and boredom starts to take over. Many may speak out against the term â<80><9c>sports entertainment,â<80> but in the end itâ<80><99>s what generates the interest and the money.
For the second time this week, Dragon Talk Podcast is back! This time, I had to rant about a few news stories, most noticeably some of TNAâ<80><99>s recent decisions. This is a really fun show, only 20 minutes, and you should all give it a listen!
Click here to listen to Dragon Talk Podcast now!!!
Until next time this has been From the Eye of the Dragonâ<80>¦