Welcome to another edition of “On The Ropes” by yours truly. Many of you will be reading this column for the first time, as I was hired by several sites this week. Obviously, this is great news. But one thing has been bothering me this week. Have you ever felt embarrassed to be a wrestling fan? Do you hide behind your love for professional wrestling? Ladies and Gentleman, please get ready, as I am about to put you “On The Ropes”.
On The Ropes – The Entertaining Sport
As I sat in school, hands by my side, the teacher spoke quietly to the class. She kindly introduced herself to one and all, and after several minutes, she began asking people what there favourite sports where. I looked forward and began to think of my favourite soccer match or my favourite baseball team, when suddenly she turned to me, and asked me what my favourite sport is. I stuttered and thought quickly, I turned my head slowly and I could see everyone looking at me. She repeated the question and looked at me stubbornly. By this time, I was sweating badly and my hands were gripped and clenched together. I didn’t know what to say. What should I say? What should I do? I looked at the desk and immediately I announced “Well…I like wrestling”. I looked up to the sky embarrassed and hurt, as my fellow classmates and teacher laughed so proudly.
Fortunately, the beginning of this column isn’t a true story but why are we so embarrassed to admit we are wrestling fans? Today, wrestling is seen as a joke by many who aren’t on the inside of the “sport”. That may seem a very harsh assumption of people who don’t understand wrestling, but in all honesty, I feel it is the truth.
Everyone who likes wrestling knows the feeling. At times, it can be very embarrassing admitting to someone that you like wrestling. It does feel ultimately embarrassing because people brand wrestling “fake”, “a joke”, “a comedy” and “crap”. So, when you’re telling the ultra cool kids in school that you like wrestling, it is hardly going to win you praise.
So, why does it feel embarrassing? Interestingly enough, I feel it lies solely with the WWE.
Everyone in professional wrestling today will happily admit that WWE is number 1. It most certainly is. It has some of the best wrestlers, production and staff in the world. It has national television deals in well over 100 countries and it is a regular household name. When you say “wrestling” to someone without wrestling knowledge, they will say “WWE”. No doubt about it. You see, this is what there educated to. Most people today believe that wrestling is WWE.
So, when Mr. Average is bored at 9pm, after arriving home from a hard days work, and he turns on Spike TV or Sky Sports or whatever, and he sees a Japanese Wrestler in a Mr. America outfit dancing to a song by Beyonce, does he feel the urge to continue watching? What about when he sees an Olympic Gold Medallist in his underpants? What about when he sees a woman supporting a man who raped her and forced her to marry him? Will he continue watching or will he laugh at the people who do watch “wrestling”?
Indeed, WWE markets it’s product as “entertainment”. Now, don’t get me wrong. At times, it can be quite entertaining. Unfortunately though, I have to wait three or four weeks before I find something entertaining from WWE. In my opinion, it isn’t entertaining anymore. I have been watching wrestling for well over sixteen years and when I, a lifelong wrestling fan, look at WWE negatively, it makes me wonder, what does a neutral think when they watch this product?
Many of you are probably thinking, isn’t this unfair to blame WWE? In a way, it does seem unfair, but in all truth, it is WWE who have removed the sport from the wrestling.
With there “kick ass” attitude from the nineties, WWE dubbed themselves “Wrestling Entertainment”. Back then, it was definitely entertainment. We had “Stone Cold” Steve Austin “opening up a can of whoop ass” on the owner, we had The Rock raising his eyebrow, The Undertaker was building his own ministry, DX was chopping there crotch, tag teams like the Hardyz, Edge and Christian and The Dudleyz were giving us memorable matches, the late Crash Holly was running around in airports, lobbies, restaurants, hotel rooms and more trying to win his Hardcore title and even Val Venis, Mark Henry and The Godfather was entertaining there lady friends. That was entertainment.
Now, we have relative newcomers in big PPV matches like Heidenreich and Snitsky, characters are coming and going in weeks like Mordecai, Johnny Nitro and Matt Morgan, the women’s division is focused less and less and there is more emphasis on looks, matches are thrown together on the PPV without no build up and some are even put on the card without explanation. We even have reality television on our brands weekly show. When an average member of the public watches this, is it a surprise we are embarrassed to say we are wrestling fans in public?
Take a look at Ring of Honor. This is a wrestling promotion that prides itself in being a pure “sport based” product. They insist that wrestlers shake hands after matches and when a legend like Mick Foley proudly stated that “ROH” should stand for “Ring of Hardcore”, fans somewhat booed Foley for his unprofessional approach to the company.
In Japan, wrestling is promoted on billboards and in national newspapers. The term known as “kayfabe” hasn’t necessarily been completely broken in Japan, and therefore, companies such as GAEA, NOAH and New Japan are benefiting greatly, as it is believable and is seen as a sport
Whereas WWE tell there writers to ignore the internet and columnists like yours truly, the FWA company in England, encourages its staff to look at the internet because it is something which is never going to go away. The internet isn’t going to suddenly stop speculating about wrestling, it is actually going to grow as we advance are technology and the FWA have realised this. As Alex Shane has stated himself “we target the smart marks, the internet crowd, which is the crowd which will pay £55 for front row tickets”. It makes complete sense. The FWA is now featured in national newspapers, and after the Alex Shane/Danny Williams spitting angle, it was even featured on national news programmes. The Great British people now look at the FWA and wrestling a little differently, because it doesn’t have women in fashion shows taking up fifteen minutes of its product, nor does it have nonsense storylines. Now that the FWA has been featured on the news and in national newspapers, it is appealing to many neutrals as a sport and a fantastic alternative to the WWE.
Even more interesting, in companies like FWA and ROH, when there is a mistake or two in events, do fans chant “You f****d up”? The odd one or two fans will, but hardly ever do you have 2,000 fans chant the famous line. That is because in FWA or ROH you hardly ever notice the mistake. In WWE, you still get the chant. That’s because you know exactly what is going to happen in WWE in the ring 95% of the time. It’s become repetitive. You know Rey Mysterio is going for the 6-1-9 when a guy somehow falls on the rope. That’s why the Styles Clash is such an effective move, you never know when it is going to happen, the build up is great and you never know if it is going to be reversed. In sports such as soccer, football and baseball, you never know what is going to happen. This, in my opinion, makes indy promotions such as ROH and FWA seem much more like sports.
As I tell the people who laugh at me for being a fan of the grapple game, wrestling is 95% predetermined. 95% of the time, the wrestlers know what is going to happen in the ring, but there is a 5% chance that something could get a little heated in there and something could happen unscripted, like the Bret Hart/Vince McMahon incident. These people who call wrestling “crap” and “fake” look at it differently then.
I can’t speak for any other country except England, because that is where I live, but when I tell people I am a wrestling fan where I live, they look at me funny. It makes me feel embarrassed to admit I am a wrestling fan. When I have visited America and Canada, fans treat wrestling with great dignity and courage, but there are still some people who look at wrestling as a joke. Why should we be embarrassed for the sport that we all love so much?
Take it from me, as you become older, it can be embarrassing telling someone you like wrestling. But I feel, as we move more into the future, wrestling will become much more popular, not as entertainment, but as a sport. I really hope so. In the future, when people ask me about there hobbies, I want to hold my head up high and proudly state my love for wrestling, rather than hiding in shame. I know for sure, that many fans today feel embarrassed of admitting there love. But in my eyes, the passion, the desire and the intensity means I will be a fan forever, whether I am embarrassed or not. I will always be a fan, no matter what.
Got any thoughts? What do you think of the WWE? What are your thoughts on the column? E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org The columns’ best feedback will be featured in the next column, so please remember to put your name and/or location on your feedback.
I would like to thank you all for reading and I hope you all have a great week. I am looking to expand greatly, so if you would like me to write for you site, please get in touch. I appreciate all the feedback sent to me and I read every piece, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Finally, I would just like to wish you guys a good few weeks. My next column will be published in about 2 weeks, but until then, thanks for reading and take care.
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