Problems with Prowrestling

Open letter to anyone that actually cares.

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First of all I want you all to know that I love wrestling, had loved it for 22 years now and nothing changed about that. I still watch and I still get emotional about it, there is no doubt in my mind that it is one of the more important things in my life. I am a fan, a true fan, sticking with the product through thick and thin and… I am worried, worried about the state of that what I love and truly enjoy, it is noticeably going downhill.

While there is a lot to choose from and in some cases the quality is just as high as it ever was (nod to CHIKARA), there is a problem in places where it matters the most in the general picture and that is main stream scene. You can get quality from small promotions, but they aren’t the ones that keep the interest of most fans and they won’t be the ones that – if nothing changes – will pull professional wrestling under.

When I was growing up I had the privilege to watch the greats of this sport and yes, while a lot of people won’t give wrestling that, it is a sport and highly competitive one at that, just in a different way. Men and women work for hours and hours, day in and day out, holidays or not. They combine pure strength, speed, skill, charisma, role playing and passion (of course not all of them at the same rate). While the outcomes are predetermined and most of the things that happen aren’t real (if they did, we would see a lot of fatal accidents), but to strip those people of the right to call themselves athletes… That is a travesty.

And yet everyday I see the slow downfall of the industry. There is a lot of wrong being done and the ones that are to blame, the ones that like to play politics behind the scenes, think they know better and that they know whats best. Well they don’t. They turned the product that was fascinating into a predictable mesh of commercialism and bullshit.

Personally I miss the times of one-liners, catchphrases, over-the-top characters that had great in-ring presence and knew how to work the crowd. How to say, what to say and when to say it. We don’t have a lot those anymore. People back then knew how a wrestling match should look like, when someone went for a finisher that meant the end, there was no kicking out from a Piledriver, Chokeslam or a Powerbomb. Back then everything meant something. When a guy was climbing the corner of the ring, people were on their feet going crazy, cause it rarely happened, it was *the* moment crowds were waiting for. Right now, to get a decent reaction you need to jump from a 4 story building holding a rake, while doing 5 backflips… while on fire. There is something called “too much” and we – the fans – are subjected against our will to that. There seems to be too much of everything, everything that should be there, just not in that quantity. Too many commercials, too many cookie cutter good and bad guys, too many high risk spots, too many storylines that never seem to change, too many segments that come from who knows where and go nowhere, in which people seem to talk way too much. On the other hand we have not enough characters, not enough thought put into feuds, not enough in-ring time for actual wrestling, not enough care and finesse, not enough surprises and shocking results (and “shocking” here doesn’t mean gory). That is not how you build interest, that is how you build frustration and eventually resentment. You can blame the fans for leaving the product, but there is only *this* much we can take and some of us reach that point faster then others.

What needs to change is basically everything from the core, inside out. I would love to see matches end unexpectedly, like instead of a big finishing move, one of the opponents locks in a wrist lock and the other guy taps out. I would love to see a comeback of real finishers. In this day and age people seem to kick out from everything, no matter how big it was. A finisher is a finisher, once it’s hit, it should be the end. Occasional kick outs are fine, they build drama, once every 8 or more months would be OK. But what is the point of finishing moves, if you have to do them 300 times per match to keep a guy down. It doesn’t make the guy kicking out look strong anymore, it makes the guy doing the move look weak. That is not how you build up a character.

I would love to see a real comeback of stables and groups, not a few random guys put together for few months, but real, tight groups, like NWO or DX was back in the day and real tag team division. If you have more then one show (you know who I am talking to here) keep the guys from them away from each other. There is no point in branding if everyone shows up everywhere, every once in a while make those appearances special, week after week make them pointless. It also would be nice if the companies would lay their plans down for a longer periods of time. This would give the wrestlers actual point and direction. If you change everything from broadcast to broadcast, you get effects like the guy who never won anything meaningful, is boring as hell and got squashed on one PPV, get a title shot for the most important championship in the company – out of the blue – on the next PPV and then another shot, just because.

When I was growing up, even though wrestling was a lot more over-the-top, writers seemed to treat fans more maturely. I mean seriously, we loved every minute of program back then and we always never had enough. You don’t need a metric ton of blood each week and you shouldn’t, to keep our interest, but don’t act like we are still in the kindergarten. It also would be nice if those companies took their time to listen to their fan base, cause while there is a lot of stupidity, there are some genuine good ideas, that could and should be at least considered. Writers is another issue. If you hire television writers to write storylines for your shows in front of live audiences, they start to look like soap operas. Think a bit more about the business you work in, for eff sake! You are creating a theatre experience for the crowds, just because you show it on TV, doesn’t make it a TV show. Hire people that have the knowledge from that field, they know how to work in that kind of environment. A good theatre play can be on the stage for years with the same exact act, couple times a week, and people never get tired of it, get a hint people!

Expanding to other media is nice and welcomed, but why does every movie has to star what seems to be the least talented guy acting wise? Just because someone is “big” in your show, the show you create from top to bottom, doesn’t mean he will be as good in a new form of media. And then you have gaming, which is nice, more or less, but do we really need a “Generic fighting game XX – Now with new and improved hand animation!” each time? You love money so much… Did you know that games make a lot of money if you actually target them towards a broader audience and make it worth their while? “Batman: Arkham City” style and gameplay, “Witcher 2″ storytelling abilities and storyline choices, plus “GTA” open world possibilities, but wrestling themed anyone?

Wrestling is about suspension of disbelief, that IS written into the core of this profession and is the base of everything else. Do you know who has to keep a hold of that? We, the fans. We, the viewers. We need to believe to be interested, we need to be interested to care and we need to care to keep on watching. For years I have gained a ton of respect for each and every single person that steps between those ropes and performs for, sometimes, ungrateful people. I know I won’t stop watching, but I do know that the smaller the fanbase will be, the less interesting the life of a fan will become.

Yes, I am aware that this won’t change anything. But I felt like I needed to let this message out, cause it was drilling a hole in my head for a longer while now. Now please, ignore this.

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