Welcome back to another edition of Reading Between The Ropes. Well, things have been VERY hectic for me since the last column I wrote, but fear not, I am still making time to write!
I have to admit, I am surprised by Bush’s win in the US elections this year, but at least he got the popular vote this time around. Why is there still an electoral college anyway? It doesn’t get any more outdated than that.
My Lakers are off to a 2-2 start, and they really dominated the Hawks in their last game. Still, it was the Hawks, so that isn’t saying much.
All right, enough about me, let’s get on with the show!
The Older I Get, The Better I Was
It’s common knowledge that professional wrestling just isn’t what it used to be. The classic days that were ruled by Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, etc are gone. In fact, most fans today aren’t even old enough to remember the superstars of the 80’s.
Even the Era of Attitude, the wrestling renaissance of the late 90’s has become a distant memory. 9 out of 10 fans would tell you that wrestling is no longer en vogue because the storylines aren’t on the same level as they used to be, and the lack of competition has caused a serious downturn in the overall quality of the product.
I am not here to dispute that fact, however, I will say that the good old days weren’t as great as most people make them out to be and today isn’t as bad as people think.
To start things off, consider the human brain’s memory storage system. We tend to forget negative things, and focus on the positive. For instance, I went into the doctor’s office a few weeks ago and had to get a shot. Of course, the doctor mentioned that I would feel a slight pinch, and I have had shots before and knew it would hurt. While the pain wasn’t intense, it definitely hurt more than I remembered. So why is this? It’s because we forget or lessen the impact of negative things, like pain.
It takes something extraordinarily bad for it to stick in your mind, and this applies to things that you watch as well. For instance, I will probably never forget the Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg match at WrestleMania 21, because it was simply that bad. However, if you asked me what the worst match I had seen in the past few months was, I couldn’t tell you. This doesn’t mean that there haven’t been bad matches or segments during the last couple of months, but there just hasn’t been anything so extraordinarily bad that it sticks out in my mind. The minor “pains” have been forgotten.
For the positives it’s the exact opposite. I can remember most of the matches that were fair to good, like Paul London vs. Akio from a few months back. Was it anything special? No, it was just a little bit better than an average match and as such I remember it. You tend to focus on the positives, and remember them more than negatives.
The point is that it doesn’t take much for an above average match to be remembered, but a poor match has to be really poor to be recalled in our memory.
Everyone wants to be happy, although their definitions of happiness may vary. As such, we remember the positive things, things that we like. If something stands out enough for us to remember it over a long period of time, like say a few years, then the memory becomes more and more amazing in our minds. It’s the classic Al Bundy syndrome…a 5 yard drive to score a winning touchdown in high school had become a 40 yard drive through 5 300-pound linemen in the snow with a broken ankle to win the championship.
For another example, look at the NBA. Most fans would tell you that the 1980’s were the greatest era in basketball history, and will point to the high shooting percentages and high scoring compared to today’s game. What they fail to realize is there wasn’t much defense being played in the 80’s, so while it’s true that scoring and shooting percentages are down in this era, the game itself has changed.
The same holds true for the WWE. Hulk Hogan body slammed Andre the Giant in the 80’s and it is seen as the most incredible feat of strength ever witnessed. During the heyday of WCW, Sting did the same thing to The Giant (Big Show) and it only created a small murmur of interest. A few years later Brock Lesnar took things a step further and F5’ed the Big Show, which took much more raw physical strength than Hogan’s or Sting’s body slams. But which one of those three will be remembered the most? Hogan’s body slam, of course. We have built it up in our minds as the most amazing moment ever, when wrestlers today are surpassing those feats on a nightly basis.
The glory days of wrestling weren’t as great as we make them out to be. They had their fair share of bad angles and poor matches, but we don’t remember those. Instead, we focus on the positive aspects and then compare today’s matches and storylines to them. Overall, the talent we have today is light years ahead of the 80’s and even late 90’s stars, yet we fail to recognize it because we are too busy reminiscing about what we have built up to be the golden age of wrestling.
Why do you think that the main event is last? It’s because it’s usually the best match of the show, and the WWE wants the last thing we remember to be an incredibly positive thing. The show could be a total bomb, but if the final match is a hit, then the fans will come back for more. It’s what keeps people tuning in, they remember how good the last show was and are excited to see the next one.
I see people all over the internet saying that wrestling just isn’t what it used to be. That’s complete and utter hogwash. Wrestling today isn’t what you remember the past to be, but our memories are not an accurate reflection of the past. Besides, you wouldn’t want it to be the same all the time, that would be boring.
While personally I tend to agree that storyline wise the WWE was being a bit more creative during the 90’s, the difference wasn’t as great as we make it out to be. Essentially, we need to focus on more of the positives from today and stop being so negative. It’s not that the product is all that much worse than it used to be, it’s that we tend to compare the great moments of yesterday to the mediocre ones today.
Ok, now let’s take this one step deeper, shall we? This notion that things were better yesterday isn’t one that applies only to the WWE. After 9/11, America has lost it’s innocence, so to speak. Suddenly the brutality of the real world is thrust upon our doorstep, and everything changes overnight.
We see literature and music talking about how they want to go back to the way things used to be. In fact, it was a song that I heard by I believe Pennywise called “Back in Yesterday” that was the inspiration for this column. It’s basically about looking back on the past and how you don’t realize how good things were at the time.
Yeah, the world has changed since 9/11, but that doesn’t mean that everything is bad. This “loss of innocence” has permeated our very society, and we can’t live focusing on the negatives. Take a moment and think about the good things in your life, and think about the improvements that have been made in the last ten years.
The past is not to be forgotten, but we can’t dwell upon it either. Just like the WWE, we have to look forward to what is to come and enjoy what we have today. The past is gone, and things will never be the same again, but change isn’t always a bad thing.
The wisdom of the ages can guide us, but we have to appreciate the present as well, and look towards the future with optimism.
Ok, maybe I got a little too preachy at the end there, but I was on a roll! Anyway, don’t forget to come check out my site, WrestlePower!