The feeling in the business today is one where we get too much of the same thing. Whether it’s John Cena in WWE, or a spoiled main event on a TNA PPV, there is always something for fans to moan about.
I remember in the Attitude Era, fans enjoyed talking about wrestling. They enjoyed getting their friends into wrestling and making it a fun night whenever it was on. They lived and breathed wrestling. Whether you were a WWF fan, a WCW fan, an ECW fan, or something else entirely, you didn’t mind getting together and talking about wrestling. It was more interesting to talk about wrestling back then. You learned what you knew about a company you didn’t see from a friend, they could fill you in on what they liked about it, and they brought you up to speed with what was going on.
Nowadays, wrestling isn’t considered a casual subject anymore. You can talk about wrestling to a friend or work colleague, and someone who used to watch wrestling would be surprised you still watch it. They tell you how all their favourites stopped wrestling, and they simply moved on.
It’s not a good feeling when you get that reaction from someone, especially when you are passionate about wrestling, and they don’t understand what you see in it anymore.
When social media hit, the wrestling business became a cesspool of negativity. Of course, the internet itself is so full of negativity, there is virtually nothing out there which doesn’t have some degree of negativity surrounding it, but with wrestling it is different.
With wrestling, you see what everyone thinks of a wrestler you love, a company you love, the wrestlers you hate, and the companies you don’t care for. This frustrates people a lot, and guaranteed, majority the time, someone is going to argue/troll someone to the point they get upset.
The thing is, it doesn’t matter how positive you are about wrestling in today’s world, someone, somewhere, will jump in and give you their irrelevant opinions. They take negativity from their own lives, bait someone in, and then make themselves feel better by making that person feel bad. It is sad, but so very true.
The wrestlers see this too. They know what you think of them. Can you imagine how thick skinned John Cena must be to see all that negativity on a daily basis and not crack? The average person couldn’t handle that kind of stress. We sometimes forget that it isn’t fair to take our own pain and use it to hurt others. In wrestling this is a practice which happens on so many levels. Every wrestler is critiqued and overanalyzed to the point that every stone has been unturned, and then we judge them.
It doesn’t help when kayfabe has been completely destroyed over the years. The good guys have trouble getting cheered, and the bad guys have trouble getting jeers, it is an old system that doesn’t work as well it did.
So what does this rambling have to do with wrestling?
The fact is, WWE continues to use wrestlers from an age before social media, before the major changes in the wrestling industry. They are still in the old mindset. They truly believe that John Cena is over, when in reality, he isn’t anywhere near as over as he could be. Fans bought into Hogan because of kayfabe and word of mouth. You didn’t have conversations with your best friends about how much Hogan sucks at wrestling, you only ever heard the good parts of what he was doing.
I have a good friend, when I was in school he was a huge WCW fan. WCW had tons of criticism over the years, but all I ever heard from my friend was how much he loved the product. He loved Sting, he loved Goldberg, he loved Vampiro, he loved the nWo Wolfpac. He didn’t care about the little things that people often point out about WCW, to him those things were normal. When WCW folded, he has no interest for wrestling anymore. What he saw as wrestling died in 2001.
I feel in time, peoples attitudes towards wrestling might change. They might not, but you know, I have to stay optimistic that wrestling fans will eventually learn that it isn’t a “you versus me” mentality. Wouldn’t it be awesome to come online and discuss wrestling with other wrestling fans without that one person saying you suck because you like a company they don’t?
All you have to do is BO-Lieve. That’s what I keep telling myself. In an age where heels never smile, always cheat, always hide behind others, you have Bo Dallas there, smiling away, inspiring others, and all at the same time, being an awesome heel at the age of 24.
The dude is younger than I am! It makes me feel so old. At the same time it makes me appreciate these young cats a whole lot more. Then you have Paige, only 21 years old, and she is acting like a dominant champion. She has a belief in herself that she will be great, and it shines through, which is why the WWE has faith in her.
You see the former members of The Shield, Rusev, Bray Wyatt, Stardust, all under the age of 30, and you feel like you are watching the future. You know there will be more names to join them in the future, we are on the edge. We are on the edge of that cliff, once that line is crossed, the new names will flood in and the old guard will scale back into a life of putting over these new stars. We can’t watch guys like John Cena forever, they will step aside eventually. The WWE is still using a few older guys, they are still looking for those breakout stars. Eventually, whether they find the next Steve Austin or not, it will have to change.
I’m not just talking about the WWE either, TNA is also on the edge of the cliff.
Wait? How can that be? They just brought back the six sided ring and former ECW guys, how is that moving forward you say?
TNA is moving backwards to move forward. It’s like a game of chess, you can’t always push forward, sometimes you need to move a piece backwards in order for the game to move forward in your favour. It’s a business that has continued after 12 years despite all the critics, and it grows more and more every year. I have often defended TNA, because I defend wrestling as whole. They do have some weaknesses in the product, they always have to some degree, even back in the golden era. It’s absolutely impossible to please everybody, but they keep moving forward, and they keep giving wrestlers the opportunity to work.