The Anti-Antagonist: A Bump in the Road

Adam Gorzelsky

Over the past year I’ve been asked countless times if it is difficult to remain a fan of professional wrestling while also contributing extensively as an analyst. To be honest, when I first began writing here I intended to rely heavily on my fandom in an effort to share my enthusiasm for the business with like-minded individuals (hence the name of this column).

Without a doubt, the demands of performing as an analyst and the access provided by this rather large forum have altered my perception somewhat and tasked me with the responsibility of providing content at a level that transcends my role as fan. Nevertheless, although I somewhat have strayed away from a consistent mission to write about a silver lining from the previous week, I’d like to think that my passion for wrestling continues to fuel every contribution that I make.

And herein lies the answer to this oft-asked question: Part of my nature as a fan is to want the absolute best for the business and the individuals involved in that business. From my standpoint as a newly minted participant in that business, improvement means the potential for more money in my pocket. However, from my standpoint as a fan, improvement means the opportunity to envelope my world in my favorite pastime.

Since I was a kid, one of my favorite aspects of being a fan was having the opportunity to talk wrestling with other excited fans. What once was a conversation at a school lunch table has now turned into the opportunity to interact with thousands of people via Wrestlezone, VOW, and Twitter.

Simply put, being given this opportunity to interact on a macro scale provides a unique window into the collective minds of the masses…While diverse opinions exist, a middle ground consensus usually is easy to spot. Unfortunately, when this consensus reflects negatively on the direction of WWE or the business itself, it usually manifests itself via a complete lack of enthusiasm…In essence, the heart and soul of what makes professional wrestling so enjoyable is torn apart.

We should be experiencing one of the most exciting stretches of the year right now. Even setting aside the fact that we’re currently on the unofficial “Road to Wrestlemania,” I think most people also would agree that 2012 ended with a bang. TLC had the wrestling world buzzing and this momentum carried into the Slammy’s edition of Raw.

We experienced this excitement firsthand on the Voice of Wrestling as our largest numbers to date flooded the servers. People wanted to talk wrestling…They wanted to talk about the Shield, Dolph Ziggler, and the limitless possibilities that awaited in 2013. A holiday lull was to be expected, but the new year offered promise…I, like many others, expected guns a‘blazin.

Instead, we’ve gotten the last two weeks……

I’m not talking about individual segments, as there certainly have been a number of bright spots both from the standpoint of pure entertainment and from the standpoint of storyline progression…I also recognize that some people have been satisfied with the start to the year and I don’t mean to diminish your enjoyment in any way.

From the majority of fans though, I see apathy…Whether it’s been a lukewarm reaction to the underwhelming “leaks” regarding Wrestlemania or the manner in which both Raws have seemed to inch toward confirmation of these fears, my overall sense is that fans aren’t angry…They simply don’t care.

We’ve seen this story before…Disjointed shows, a frustrating refusal to take the next leap with talent (See Dolph Ziggler), and a return to a formula that is tried and true yet utterly lacking in creativity (See John Cena). Unfortunately, after a taste of change and a glimpse into the future, the path that once again appears to be lying ahead is that much more damaging…That much more disheartening.

This can all change with one show that reignites the masses and presents a more desirable picture of the wrestling year. However, I also don’t hesitate to say that if these last two Raws have set the tone and the course for the remainder of the year, the product, and the corresponding fan support, is in line for a major setback.

In the end, there is no question that a bulk of this column is the analyst in me talking…hoping that a change in the current direction will mean a renewed sense of enthusiasm and in turn, an upturn in business for all of us involved with the industry.

Frankly though, the fan in me just wants to get excited about talking some damn wrestling with everyone! That fan and me will make the best with whatever we get, but also longs for a “Road to Wrestlemania” that leaves the rest of my brethren salivating. I always try my damndest to remain positive, but refuse to ignore the realities in front of my face…not when the answers are close within reach.

If we as fans do have the power to exercise our opinions to bring about change, now is the perfect time to put that power into action….I want my IWC back.

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