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How highly do you regard wrestling?


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This comment from Death From Above got me thinking in tangets:

 

One other thing that bugs me. Overall, "originality" might be the most over rated pile of nonsense that gets praised in society as a whole. What does being original (when discussing something as subjective, and overall worthless, as wrestling match quality) even gain anyway?

Wrestling, and more specifically writing about it, have always been hobbies for most people. Despite a few people making careers out of it or securing book deals, wrestling criticism has never been pursued as seriously as film criticism, music criticism or sports journalism. That's understandable given the sheer scale of those entertainment forms, but while I was thinking about this, I couldn't shake the feeling that wrestling isn't as worthy a subject as film, music, sport or literature.

 

So, I started thinking about whether I actually like wrestling as much as film or music or rugby, basketball and tennis. My first thought was that all of those things are immediately and inherently superior to pro-wrestling, but then I started wondering why I've spent twenty or more years watching wrestling and why I spend a part of everyday reading up about it or watching matches.

 

I've had other hobbies over the years that have fallen by the wayside, yet when my wife tells people I like wrestling, I always try and downplay it.

 

I'm assuming that everyone here has other hobbies, in fact I'm familiar with some of them from other boards. So my question is:

 

How highly do you regard wrestling in regard to your other hobbies, and if it doesn't rate highly, do you think you spend a disproportionate amount of time on it?

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This comment from Death From Above got me thinking in tangets:

 

One other thing that bugs me. Overall, "originality" might be the most over rated pile of nonsense that gets praised in society as a whole. What does being original (when discussing something as subjective, and overall worthless, as wrestling match quality) even gain anyway?

Wrestling, and more specifically writing about it, have always been hobbies for most people. Despite a few people making careers out of it or securing book deals, wrestling criticism has never been pursued as seriously as film criticism, music criticism or sports journalism. That's understandable given the sheer scale of those entertainment forms, but while I was thinking about this, I couldn't shake the feeling that wrestling isn't as worthy a subject as film, music, sport or literature.

 

So, I started thinking about whether I actually like wrestling as much as film or music or rugby, basketball and tennis. My first thought was that all of those things are immediately and inherently superior to pro-wrestling, but then I started wondering why I've spent twenty or more years watching wrestling and why I spend a part of everyday reading up about it or watching matches.

 

I've had other hobbies over the years that have fallen by the wayside, yet when my wife tells people I like wrestling, I always try and downplay it.

 

I'm assuming that everyone here has other hobbies, in fact I'm familiar with some of them from other boards. So my question is:

 

How highly do you regard wrestling in regard to your other hobbies, and if it doesn't rate highly, do you think you spend a disproportionate amount of time on it?

 

I have to use Indikator's quote for what is inevitably going to come

 

As a wrestling fan it is not only your obligation to be depressed about being a wrestling fan but you also have to post at least three self-loathing posts a day on a wrestling message board while condemning the fact that other wrestling fans post on a wrestling message board ;)

Personally, I don't believe in this quote but it is sooo true for too much of the wrestling posters out there.

 

 

Now high do I regard wrestling? Well, I enjoy it a lot as it has a lot of stuff that entertains me. I like it more than watching other sports. When comparing it to stuff like film or music I have a harder time comparing it as I get enjoyment in different/similar ways from these things. With wrestling though, I can't find the exact same experience watching anything else. I am a big fan of seeing someone get knocked down, struggle to get back up and than battle within himself (the #1 battle in life) and his opponent to triumph. Yes, I can see somthing like that in boxing or MMA or films for that matter but the combined real/exhibition aspect of wrestling makes it more emotionally compelling to me.

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I don't think I view any of my other hobbies as less worthy than wrestling, but then I wouldn't say any of my other hobbies are particularly high brow (playing video games, watching soccer, etc). But I'm still wary of telling people I'm a pro wrestling fan, I think partly because I work at a university and it's not the sort of hobby to impress people with. Most of the time people are fine with it, but there's always that one stranger who has to be a dick about it and remind you that it's all fake, like this was something I hadn't known for over a decade.

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I'm fascinated by the business side of wrestling almost as much as the product itself. Wrestling's appeal for me is the combination of organizational development, marketing, public relations, management, personalities, athleticism, peroformance, and creativity all wrapped up into one. If I get sick of watching matches, I'll read some old wrestling observers and analyze past business decisions. When that makes me feel too dorky, I'll go back to watching matches.

 

To me, wrestling is a fascinating business that combines many aspects of the legit sports, music and film industry. Wrestling's place when compared to the aforementioned industries changes often, but it will likely always have a place.

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The elephant in the room is that for the US, Canada, Europe and a few other places, WWE = wrestling. I don't regard WWE very highly, I don't consider Raw or Smackdown worthy of intense analysis, and I don't think the US wrestling industry really merits more than two or three people making a living as 'journalists'. But I think pro wrestling as a whole is worthy.

 

I really like this topic. Thinking about it made me think of a particular reason why I enjoy pro wrestling so much. From the standpoint of suspending disbelief and enjoying it as a sport, or caring about who wins, wrestling (especially if you follow multiple promotions) lends itself to more satisfaction than does sports. I say this as a Buffalo Bills fan, where losing four straight Super Bowls was heartbreaking, and missing the playoffs for a decade has been depressing. In wrestling, you can get behind a number of wrestlers at once and be happy when any of them get a big win. You don't get a sense of "well, that's a year wasted". There's no "we're out of playoff contention, time to look at the next draft".

But I'm still wary of telling people I'm a pro wrestling fan

This goes back to the WWE thing. You have Obama casually referencing 'WWF wrestling' when it comes to cable TV talking heads, and besides the accuracy of the comment it acts as a huge slam on wrestling as low. Beyond just him saying WWF long after the name change, he uses it as an example of something not worth his time. That's how most people see it: a farce of steroided men in tights yelling at each other, or 'soap opera for guys'. If I get half a chance to talk to someone about things like Japanese wrestling I can usually make headway on making my interest seem less freakish, but with the effort involved I don't bother. I cringe when I'm at a family gathering and my mother brings up my fandom. I have to defend pro wrestling in order to defend myself, and it ain't easy to defend pro wrestling.

To me, wrestling is a fascinating business that combines many aspects of the legit sports, music and film industry.

Exactly how I feel. I think the business/promotional aspect is much more interesting than it is for regular sports. The best matches in a given year tend to thrill me more than the best albums or films or TV series.

 

So it combines sports (rooting for athletes, free agents, athletic development), fictional storyline analysis, business analysis, and entertainment. Reading about how FMW had the biggest indy gate in history in '91, then looking at how Onita now wrestles at lowly Shin Kiba 1st ring in front of 100 people, gives me something to think about. Or I can watch him get thrown into exploding barbed wire and say "he blowed up real good".

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Ditch, as a Cowboys fan (Dallas is my home town) I say, "Suck it!" LOL

 

That Indikator quote has served me well as a sig for awhile -- didn't it come from the Porn v Wrestling thread? That thread ruled.

 

It took me awhile to "come out" as a wrestling fan to anyone at all because I was ashamed and didn't feel like dealing with the teasing. These days, I am very open about it -- at my old job, it was a source of pride that everyone knew I was a rasslin fan. I almost ordered a Randy Savage poster for my cube (and would have, if Highspots didn't crash everytime I tried to order that poster). It's easily the hobby that takes up the most of my time and $$. In fact, I am constantly trying to figure out how to not be so obsessed; even now, I am posting on this forum instead of dealing with the mountain of work I should be doing right now. And my enjoyment from reading about it in books and online is only eclipsed by my love for reading about baseball history.

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Very insteresting question.

 

I'm somone who grew up on wrestling, and still has a pretty sizeable collection although it doesn't really get much/any use for long stretches at this point, and it's the business end of the business that still keeps me interested for the most part. I don't really spend that much time with wrestling anymore, but I do spend a lot of times on a couple of wrestling-centric message boards (though this is probably the only one I still actually talk wrestling regularly). I prioritize following some real sports, my semi-serious hobby in poker, and music as things I spend much more actual free time with though as some examples. I still play video games in my 20's too, but being from the "Mario Brothers generation" at least among ourselves I don't think there's really much of a stigma towards that anymore. This isn't the 1980's and families are gathering together to play Rock Band now. So I don't think there's nearly the stigma with that which you might get with wrestling.

 

I grew up in a big (well, for Canada) city but moved out into a more rural setting not long after I got out of high school. As a result, I lost the ability to regularly get together with some of my high school friends I'd watch wrestling with. That damaged my fandom a lot. Sitting alone in one's living room watching wrestling isn't nearly as much fun as having friends to share the experience with, I think it's the same reason people tend to enjoy the live experience (for anything) pretty much by default more. There's something about sharing an experience that makes it better. From that point on I've been swinging more and more towards following the business end and less and less towards the actual in ring stuff.

 

I don't regard "entetainment television" that highly, meaning mainly sitcoms and TV dramas. There are a handful of good ones but I watch very little. I don't really watch much of anything anymore, aside from sports, maybe the news now and again, but not really very much when it comes to TV drama or sitcoms. The two chanels I watch the most are TSN (the big sports network in Canada), The National Geographic Channel (which has a ton of shows on engineering which I've developed a sudden interest in through my mid-20's), and I'm an Antiques Roadshow junkie. That gives you some idea of my viewing habits. Having said that it's not like I'd be embarassed to say "yeah I watched this show". I probably would be with wrestling if I'm around non-wrestling fans. It has a stigma, that's just the way things are whether it's right or not.

 

And that's kind of strange, because I do respect what wrestlers put themselves through as performers. I don't always agree with it, but I respect that it's not an easy business. Hell, it's a very screwed up business in many ways. But I still wouldn't spend a lot of time trying to sell non-wrestling fans on the idea that it's "respectable". But I don't regard most mainstream TV that highly as I said, and for the most part I probably respect what wrestlers go through at least as much as what actors on rotten shows are doing. There's no doubt in my mind who is working harder.

 

I don't respect wrestling as much as "real sports" as a generalization.

 

Musicians it probably depends on whether I liked the album or not. ;-) But if I liked it, I don't respect wrestling as much as top music. Doesn't mean I don't like wrestling.

 

To me, wrestling is a fascinating business that combines many aspects of the legit sports, music and film industry.

I'd have to echo this line as well. For better or for worse, pro wrestling is somehting unique. And even if I'm more interested in the *concept* of that something at this point than most of the actual execution of it, it does still fascinate me.

 

I draw comparisons between wrestling and (insert "legitimized" entertainment form here) plenty when I'm talking with other wrestling fans. I probably wouldn't do the same in reverse though. I think good wrestling is much better than bad TV, cinema, or music. I don't find it a strange comparison. Bad wrestling, well, that's a special breed all it's own but in the end that has to be part of the charm too on some level or you'd stop. And what I would consider the best wrestling probably entertains me as much as anything does.

 

I wouldn't say I'm ashamed to be a wrestling fan. Frankly I'm too grown up to really give a shit about anyone that wants to ostracize me in some way if they found out I enjoy it. But at the same time I don't go out of my way to talk about it with non-wrestling fans either or ever try and sell anyone on it. To each their own.

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I think the more I get certain aspects of wrestling the more I can appreciate it. You can also use what you have learned in the real world, especially things that have to do with manipulation, marketing, sociology and profit maximization

 

Mick Foleys cheap heat tactics are crowd manipulation 101. Although it is nowadays way more prelevant in MMA rule changing is also a very efficient way to change a whole sport. It took less than 10 years to completely change wrestling in Europe with the change of graeco-roman style to free style rules. Turn your promotion into something cartoonish and others will copy you. Use hardcore elements and others will throw out their rules. Use blood and others will learn how to blade.

I don't think any other sport has really changed in the last 40 years to my knowledge. Therefore we even have to get used to the thought that other sports could undergo drastic changes. Only wrestling is constantly changing, it just takes one other promotion or one other region to promote in where people have other needs.

 

The deeper you get into it the more interesting your observations are going to be. You will understand how sport government bodies are trying to dictate the way their sport is going. The more I know about Frank Gotchs time in Alaska scamming gamblers and the pre-WWII groups the more I get how boxing works.

 

Wrestling has an interesting aspect - the workers work the fans and the fans work the workers.

 

I have read a couple of European articles from the early 50s that commonly stated the notion, that the fans went to wrestling as a ventil for their anger. After the war it was quite common for them to be very polite, conservative and act befittingly in every aspect of their life - except when they went to wrestling shows. There they got invisible, they didn't care what others would say about them and if their interactions with other people was lacking of otherwise necessary etiquette. In other words, wrestling was a microcosmos for people 50 years ago.

 

I know a girl who once amused told me that she rated a politicians interview with pro wrestling standards (did he establish his character, was it a face interview etc.) - and thats certainly not a ridiculous thing to do. If you understand how a interview works you can apply that knowledge to virtually every interview. Of course for this to happen the interview has to be conducted in order to sell ones position or net worth.

 

We know of Muhammed Ali because he adapted pro wrestling into his act (and also his sport). Does that make him or even his interviews fake? I'm not really sure, it's also a rather philosophical question. If Duane Johnson would start using all his old catch phrases again, would that be real or fake? Nobody would even think about it weren't it for wrestling. Regarding these crossover issues "sports entertainment" is a rather fitting term I noticed just now.

 

Wrestling is the epitome of an impure sport. Always has, always will. Maybe we even embrace it because of it. Nevertheless, it is not redundant, you can even learn lots of things. So don't be stupid and inform yourself.

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NHL changed its rules and bless them for doing it. They'd probably be dead otherwise. Basketball added the 3 pointer. Football changed rules on downfield pass defense and the sport took a dramatic turn towards passing being the key. However all of those changes combined don't meet the changes for wrestling in the last 30-40 years, so a good point there.

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I know a girl who once amused told me that she rated a politicians interview with pro wrestling standards (did he establish his character, was it a face interview etc.) - and thats certainly not a ridiculous thing to do. If you understand how a interview works you can apply that knowledge to virtually every interview. Of course for this to happen the interview has to be conducted in order to sell ones position or net worth.

Yes, I am in the same boat. My understanding of wrestling as a performance art permeates how I watch everything else. Heel/Face turns, great promos, "getting over", working the crowds, etc -- I think it's all made me a smarter viewer of everything else in my life. Even if it hasn't made me more sophisticated or more profound in my understanding, it has ccertainly given me a vocabulary to discuss these things.

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NHL changed its rules and bless them for doing it. They'd probably be dead otherwise. Basketball added the 3 pointer. Football changed rules on downfield pass defense and the sport took a dramatic turn towards passing being the key. However all of those changes combined don't meet the changes for wrestling in the last 30-40 years, so a good point there.

Biggest change in soccer would be the substitute player, but that happened more than 40 years ago (early 60s) . For a long time I didn't know anything about it and I'd love to see a match without substitutions at least once.

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At the time of my life, I regard wrestling as a long way behind...

 

 

- Socialising

- Clubbing/Going out

- Travelling

- Sport (Tennis, soccer)

- Writing

- Music

- Making films

- University

- Theatre (Work)

- Reading

- Films/Television

 

However, I still find time to watch maybe one match a week, sometimes more, often less. It's a nice way to spend half an hour.

 

In 2005 my life was pretty boring, and I watched and bought a ton of wrestling, coinciding with the mass DVD era. I got burned out in 2006 when my own life picked up in activity, then I went travelling and working round the world for about a year, which meant I watched none or very little wrestling, excepting the periods where I returned home for some weeks.

 

So what I'm saying is, I enjoy wrestling, but it is not a major part of my life. Still, I'm not one to use many websites, but I find myself drawn to a couple of wrestling sites/forums daily, which takes up around fifteen minutes, so I'm still a small part of the IWC.

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Guest Kenta Batista

A long time ago wrestling was just wrestling to me. However in the last couple of years I began knowing more about it and EXACTLY HOW HARD it is to be a wrestler.

 

In basketball all you have to know is the basics and have NO CHARISMA or anything and can still win the championship,sell merch, and get sponsorships (The Spurs). In wrestling, that shit doesn't cut it. You can spend 10 years trainging with The Guerreros,Malenkos,Misawas, or whomever and STILL not draw a dime in the business. In other sports you DON'T have to adjust your game plan to the crowd. Wrestling, because its not a sport, and there are no real winners or losers....wrestlers have to rely on MORE then just their phyiscal strength or 'wits' to make tons of money in this business. There is no pyschology to basketball or football or anything, you either have the skills or you don't, also lady luck has to be on your side that day.

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I don't have any current friends in town who are wrestling fans. All of my wrestling friends are people I met online. I don't usually bring up wrestling around my friends and never at work. Many of the best points have already been made but I want to share this one story. I was having lunch with a good friend of mine I had not seen in about 5 years. I told him I was making cash selling some wrestling comps and he kind of laughed and asked me why I watched it. I explained the aesthetics of the moves and how I gather with other internet nerds and critique matches and rank them. He totally got it. It just so happens he was a dance instructor and he does the same shit with the mambo and tango and Dancing With the Stars shit. He criticizes dancers when they perform the wrong step the same way we criticize a guy for not connecting on a dropkick.

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I'm kinda in the same boat as a few of you guys. I don't really have any friends that are into wrestling. A couple are, but we just get together for Wrestlemania and stuff. Everyone who knows me, knows that I love this stuff. They don't get it, but they don't really care. My wife just found out that I communicate with people online about it and am participating in stuff like the Memphis poll, and she thinks it's "cute". She calls it my nerd project. Everytime I have wrestling on in the house (and that's a lot) she asks how I can watch it so much. I honestly have no clue why I like it. I just do. I'm really into music, too. I could probably go on for a while why that is, but not with wrestling. I'm just fascinated by everything about it.

 

I thought my answer to the question posed originally would be "not very highly". After thinking about it, though, I probably do regard it pretty highly. It's really probably my #1 hobby. I spend a lot of time reading music reviews etc online, but a lot more time reading about wrestling. I used to be embarrassed by it. Now I kind of realize that I have a beautiful wife, a nice house, I'm well liked by my co-workers and friends...so who cares.

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It's pretty much the same for me. The people I consider friends in my everyday life aren't really into pro wrestling.

 

I don't consider pro wrestling a "highly regarded" hobby of mine, but I do enjoy it and I do find the background behind it to be interesting. The more I learn about the business, the more I appreciate it, even when what I learn about the business is the stuff that doesn't paint a good picture.

 

Pro wrestling has always seemed to me to be something that lots of people watch, yet when people are around those who either aren't pro wrestling fans, or who they don't know if they like it, they don't really talk about it. It's funny, because you look at pro wrestling through the years and it tends to draw high ratings and large crowds when a strong product is delivered, but it's still somehow taboo to admit you are a fan unless it makes for a cool T-shirt.

 

I don't really consider any form of entertainment to be "highly regarded" though... as in, not something that I would put on a pedestal and act as if it's the be all, end all of what entertainment should be. Most of what I see in any form of entertainment is not something I would call a "standard bearer," even those that I particularly enjoy.

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I don't have any current friends in town who are wrestling fans. All of my wrestling friends are people I met online. I don't usually bring up wrestling around my friends and never at work. Many of the best points have already been made but I want to share this one story. I was having lunch with a good friend of mine I had not seen in about 5 years. I told him I was making cash selling some wrestling comps and he kind of laughed and asked me why I watched it. I explained the aesthetics of the moves and how I gather with other internet nerds and critique matches and rank them. He totally got it. It just so happens he was a dance instructor and he does the same shit with the mambo and tango and Dancing With the Stars shit. He criticizes dancers when they perform the wrong step the same way we criticize a guy for not connecting on a dropkick.

 

In regular social life I find it easier to talk about wrestling with people who don't follow it then with guys who watch RAW/Smackdown every week.

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This goes back to the WWE thing.

To be fair, I don't think this is just a WWE thing, though they've certainly worsened the image of professional wrestling at times through their sleazy business practices and silly storylines. I think it goes back to the roots of professional wrestling being a scam to con carnival goers and gamblers. I think the industry attempting to maintain kayfabe, even though it was regularly exposed and keeping the charade up was pretty ridiculous, created the stigma around professional wrestling that is maintained to this day.

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Most of my close friends growing up were wrestling fans, and most of them eventually walked away from it, though most of the ones I'm still in contact with will drop by if I'm ordering a PPV or something like that.

 

I have only one really close friend who would really still count as a "fan" to any significant degree. Actually, it's a pretty significant degree - he actually trained with Mikey Whipreck's fed to become a wrestler, and would have made his debut this past March, but walked away because it was taking up too much free time for something he didn't want to pursue seriously as a career. We actually kind of have an interesting dynamic with one another: I introduced him to puro/lucha/indies/older stuff/misc. non-mainstream wrestling, and over the years, we ended up developing opposing aesthetics - I became the modern "anti-smark smark" who prizes execution and basic storytelling skills, and he became the kind of "moves mark" that I usually rail against online. I guess that should inform my online behavior more than it probably does. Unfortunately, the impersonal nature of the internet tends to make unnecessary, over-the-top hatred of people easier, and at least in this case, seems to be the only difference between people I write TL;DR tracts about and a guy who is one of my best friends in the world, even if he does make the occasional crack about my John Cena man-crush.

 

With everyone else, my wrestling fandom usually isn't a major issue, simply because I don't present myself first and foremost as a wrestling fan. I let people get to me and my basic personality, and once they know I'm a basically alright guy, and we're on good terms, I can tell them I'm a wrestling fan at my leisure, and it won't really affect their established perception of me. At worst, it becomes the bizarre, inexplicable quirk of an otherwise reasonable dude. Best case people appreciate my interest, even if they don't share it, and will occasionally engage me in discussion when they hear about something wrestling-related and want my insight (I had a lot of friends and family coming to me in the summer of '07 asking me what the deal with this "Ben-oyt" guy was). Usually they're just politely indifferent, and then we move on to other matters.

 

Do I regard wrestling "highly"? Depends on how we're defining that word.

 

At some point a few years back, I started writing a book about wrestling and my feelings about it. I think it was something I never expected would get shared with anyone, and honestly something I probably knew I'd never even finish more than one chapter of, but I was feeling it at the moment. I did finish the introduction, though. Here are some excerpts from it that I think sums up my feelings pretty well:

 

Let's get it out of the way right now: profesional wrestling, as much as I've enjoyed it over the years, is intensely stupid. On top of that, it's astoundingly corrupt on a level that goes far, far beyond the matches being fixed, and into the realm of organized crime, drug dealing, and even covering up murders. And even aside from that, a lot of the people involved are just slimy. Stephanie McMahon, daughter of World Wrestling Entertainment head honcho Vince McMahon, went on TV all of two days after 9/11 and directly compared the attacks to her father being brought up on drug dealing charges by the FBI in 1994. Antonio Pena, a major Mexican promoter of the 90's, routinely hired men he met at a gay bar notorious for it's underage clientele to wrestle for him. Antonio Inoki, one of the biggest wrestling stars ever in Japan and founder of one it's biggest promotions, booked the man he was grooming to be his company's top star into a real mixed martial arts fight to give him legitimacy...only for the poor soul to be KO'd in nine seconds flat. And even if you're just looking at what's happening on TV, ignoring the men behind the curtain, there's still the mountain of stupidity that is wrestling's stock in trade. Giant egg hatching in the middle of a PPV event to reveal a man in a turkey costume doing a ten-minute dance routine? It happened. A witch doctor cursing The Ultimate Warrior, making him sweat black ooze and puke his guts out? It happened. A wrestler who was not The Wizard of Oz, but who was named "Oz", and who was manged by "The Wizard" who ruled over a land that was also called "Oz", that presumably was neither the original land of Oz nor the man named "Oz" that he was managing? Amazingly enough, it happened, and that's the tip of the iceberg.

 

So wrestling is a form of entertainment that provides the viewer with ample reason not to like it. And yet, even at it's least popular moments, millions of people the world over love it, myself included. Why? How could this possibly happen? What would make an intellectual like myself so entertained by an artistic medium where Hulk Hogan is considered a virtuoso performer?

 

I have a question of my own - does it really matter?

 

Oh, sure. I'm probably capable of stringing together a suitable, artsy-fartsy explanation of why wrestling appeals to me. In fact, I'll be doing just that a little later on. But really, is it that important? It's all just going to boil down to "crazy people beating each other up is fun to watch", anyway. Do I really need to justify being entertained by something stupid on a deeper level than that? I like video games, cheesy 80's music, "Three Stooges" shorts, Godzilla movies, the show "Family Matters", fantasy art, spaghetti westerns, Super Bowl ads, kung-fu flicks, and the collected acting works of Jim Varney. And I don't like those things ironically, either. I hate it when people like things "ironically". You like it or you don't. "Ironic" appreciation is just shorthand for unwillingness to admit you genuinely enjoy something stupid. I really like all those things, and I don't feel that it makes me less of a human being. I don't think I'm less intelligent or acceptable of a person because I like some dopey stuff. I don't think there's anything odd or "ironic" about the fact that I can enjoy those things and still appreciate Bach, "Citizen Kane", and Miles Davis. And I can enjoy all those things without feeling the need to treat them like high art. I feel perfectly comfortable in acknowledging that each and every one of those things is completely stupid, and I see no point in treating any of them like anything more than that. Not even "Ernest Goes to Camp".

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I have a group of 10-15 friends that will only watch RAW and Smackdown on the rare occasion and when I try to show them other stuff they don't really care about it. All of them have watched it for well over 10 years but if it isn't WWE or wasn't WCW then it's pretty meaningless to them.

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I'm kind of weird when it comes to being a wrestling fan. I started watching in 1992 because my older brother liked watching WCW. I didn't care for it much because most of it looked really fake. Then, one day I saw Sting doing the Scorpion Death Lock and I was like "OMG that's an awesome move!" Then I later saw Vader doing his moonsault and I was like "What the hell? I've been missing out." So if those two appeared, I would watch and enjoy it but for every Sting, Vader, Bret Hart, Yokozuna, Undertaker, and Great Muta there was stuff like the Ding-Dongs, T.L Hopper, Bastion Booger, and face Doink. I couldn't get into the WWF for several years because of stuff like that and I was actually part of the audience the WWF was going after. I couldn't understand how AAA and WCW could mostly avoid stuff like that (or so it seemed at the age of 5) and yet WWF seemed to fill their programs with that kind of foolishness. I wasn't patient enough to sit through Raw just to see the few guys I cared about and even when I saw them, it ended up being about fighting over jackets or giants who couldn't wrestle. I ended up enjoying the video games more than watching the shows when it came to the WWF. AAA seemed more reasonable, but my knowledge of Spanish was very limited so I could only really follow the in-ring action.

 

Then 1997 comes around and I tune into WCW to see that Sting has changed into a silent badass. I was hooked during 1997-2001. Any wrestling, whether it was from Mexico, Japan, or the US I would try to watch it if I could. I didn't know about dirtsheets and tape trading was impossible (no money and no connections) so I would try and download the stuff I couldn't get on TV online. It took a lot of patience to wait for these videos to download, but once the next weekend came I didn't regret it. It also helped that wrestling was popular at the time due to the Attitude Era (I hate that term; it sounds so cheesy) and Nitro being generally great among other things so most of my friends would talk about the storylines and which wrestlers we liked and hated. This was the general pattern until WCW died and the Invasion storyline happened which turned off some of my friends and my siblings who wanted to see Goldberg vs. Austin or Sting vs. Undertaker and instead got lame storylines like Booker T vs. the Rock and DDP vs. Undertaker. I kept watching in 2001 despite not liking the direction the WWF went into (though the matches were really good and great in some cases), but in 2002 my social life improved and high school ensured that I didn't have much time for pro wrestling. I tried to watch Raw, but seeing Jericho lose once again to HHH, Hogan coming back (I hated him with a passion), the nWo failing, RVD losing to HHH and then having the belt end up on HBK, Rock losing at Summerslam to Brock Lesnar (I didn't like Lesnar at the time), Katie Vick, and other decisions like that turned me off as a viewer. I still watched Smackdown when I could, but Raw was the primary show I watched so once I stopped watching that I pretty much quit watching WWE regularly. There were no alternatives that I knew of in the US apart from TNA which I gave up on once Jeff Jarrett got the belt and I stopped downloading matches from Mexico and Japan so I pretty much stayed away with a few exceptions (ex. Eddie Guerrero's title reign and feud with Rey Mysterio).

 

I generally didn't hear much about wrestling apart from seeing a friend of mine in 11th grade do the Walls of Jericho to a friend of ours and talking to my math teacher who was a fan of the NWA. I wished I had known more about them at the time, but to me the NWA was basically WCW (I know that's wrong now.) It wasn't until I lingered around on Youtube that I got to really see what I missed in pro wrestling. Watching matches from Stampede, Georgia Championship Wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling, and others brought back my interest. It was motivated partially by nostalgia too since I wanted to watch Rock's feud with Jericho again. When I heard Jericho was coming back I decided to give the WWE another chance, but I couldn't get into their main eventers except for Jericho. Raw seemed better than when I had stopped watching it, but Smackdown was still the more wrestling oriented and entertaining show. This only improved once the draft happened so I do not bother with Raw.

 

How do I see pro wrestling? Pro wrestling at its best is one of the most entertaining spectacles I have ever seen. The beauty (couldn't think of a better word) of seeing two wrestlers play to the crowd and show their showmanship in the ring is something I have not seen duplicated in any other form of entertainment. When done right, the whole "It's fake" thing disappears because after a while the line between reality and fiction gets blurred. Most blockbuster movies can't do that for me. The memorable storylines from the promotions I've watched always had a certain logic to them that could keep me watching over and over again. I only gained more respect for it after reading various autobiographies (Bret's and Jericho's in particular).

 

Unfortunately, it's rare when pro wrestling ever reaches that kind of high. There's a lot of potential in it as a form of mainstream entertainment, but it's killed by cheesy promos, stupid storylines, and mediocre matches. That's how I've felt in my various stages of watching wrestling. When it was good, it was amazing. When it was bad, it was disgusting.

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Dude, you like FAMILY MATTERS??!!

 

Good read, SLL. I am always asking myself that same question - "Does it matter?" I ask it because I am trying to get away from justifying how much time and $$ and mental energy I put into rasslin fandom. And I ask it to see if trying to be caught up on everything is worth it after all. Some years back, I realized that reading every comic I could get my hands on became not "worth it", despite how much I wanted to not miss out. Similar here. But I suppose obsessions are like that. . .

 

A few years back, I wrote a paper for a grad course on wrestling as theater. It started off tongue-in-cheek, but it turned into 16 pages of thoughtful (if markish) observations. I am proud of that essay, partly because it allowed me to intellectualize/legitimize my hobby a bit. And everyone of my classmates that I told about it wanted to read it.

 

And I got an "A". :)

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I realize that I never answered the actual question... I don't have any real respect for the business itself. I mean fuck, there is a "What is worse... Pron or Wrestling?" thread just a ways down. Maybe if the business side wasn't so scummy, I wouldn't be so ashamed. However, as a fan of the on-screen stuff and finding the internet as an outlet for that fandom, I hold it pretty highly. I have met some really nice people because of my wrestling hobby. Wrestling has opened doors with people in the music industry (my other hobby) so I have made some cool friends and get free concert tix, T-shirts and music. I talk to Phil, Naylor and Loss nearly every week on the phone, probably more than my local friends. I have had dinner with Elwood, teke, Baker, and Tim Noel when they passed through TX. My comp shills have helped me pay for my new house and acquire a sick amount of wrestling. When I go to Philly/NY in July, I know I have a tour guide wherever I go. I could probably go and break bread with people in about 25 different countries through the comps. Fuck man, wrestling is good :)

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SLL's writeup is dead wrong. Totally missed the entire point. Ignorant to the extent of either retardation or insanity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...everyone knows that Ernest Goes to Jail is clearly the best movie of the series.

 

But seriously, I feel mostly the same way as he did. Let's face it, in most of its incarnations, wrestling is pretty goddamn dumb and a very lowbrow artform. There's more intelligence and psychological depth in your average comic book than on nearly any episode of nearly any wrestling show. The plot twists on Lost typically make more sense than wrestling swerves and turns. On those rare occasions when a booker manages to craft a genuinely smart storyline, you can bet that the followup will not be as good.

 

And the bad points are INCREDIBLY bad. In the year Two Thousand And Freaking Nine, our next wrestling PPV is going to involve an arrogant, lying transvestite wrestling a defenseless middle-aged widow and mother... in a pig pen. And the tranny is the good guy and we're supposed to cheer him as he beats up and humiliates a widow who can't possibly defend herself against her athletic opponent. And this is the GOOD company. Don't even get me started on TNA.

 

Some of this is, however, not technically their fault. After all, what other television show puts out as much sheer volume as the WWE? They've got six hours of new TV to produce every single week, plus PPVs, house shows, internet stuff, the foreign tours, outside media appearances, and other various and sundry ancillary products. That's a shitload of stuff, every single week, just a ghastly grind. How many other fictional entertainment media are required to crank out their shows that fast? Even simplistic stuff like half-hour sitcoms still take weeks to write, shoot, and edit. The only example I can think of that is even close to the ghastly speed of the wrestling model are... soap operas. Which tend to look a lot like wrestling does from a storyline perspective and share many of the same problems. I think that with the insane grind of doing all this show every week, it's rather inevitable that the product itself is going to suffer. Of course, that still doesn't explain away wrestling's tendency to constantly shoot for the lowest common denominator with shit like the aforementioned Santina/Vickie hogwaller match. I guess that's a self-perpetuating sort of thing; wrestling is dirty and stupid, so it attracts people who like dirty and stupid entertainment, they become the core audience (not to mention the next generation of wrestlers), so wrestling stays dirty and stupid forever.

 

 

And oh yeah, on the friends thing: I literally only have a couple of longterm friends who I didn't meet through wrestling. Being In Da Biz for years really skews my social circle. So I actually don't have a hell of a lot of experience with trying to explain my inexplicable love for watching sweaty musclemen in tights grabbing each other, to non-fans.

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I realize that I never answered the actual question... I don't have any real respect for the business itself. I mean fuck, there is a "What is worse... Pron or Wrestling?" thread just a ways down. Maybe if the business side wasn't so scummy, I wouldn't be so ashamed.

Not that I'm disagreeing with this general point here, because wrestling is clearly a very screwed up (and probably under-regulated) industry. But in terms of any sort of embarassment as a fan vs. being around non-fans, I don't have it for this reason. Because none of the non-fans I've ever talked to really grasp (or really care) just how ridiculous an industry wrestling can be behind the scenes.

 

And that's probably for the best because as Jingus puts it, it is hard enough "to explain my inexplicable love for watching sweaty musclemen in tights grabbing each other, to non-fans", without them knowing that someone in Dragon Gate had a pet monkey they tortured or that Bruiser Brody was stabbed to death in Puerto Rico or that some promoters got guys jobs in exchange for sexual favours, or whatever.

 

Wrestling is a ridiculous thing. Some of those ridiculous elements are what make it great, some of them are what make it... well, the stigmatized thing that it is. Double edged swords and all that.

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