Wrestling journalism is hurting the industry Submitted by Going Broadway on 02/06/2019 at 08:08 PM
Right off the bat, let me ensure that my views do not represent the fine staff at NODQ.com, and I hold Aaron Rift to the highest esteem.
That being said, my qualifications for writing about such a subject are as follows: I have been an Editor for multiple local newspapers for many years now, and have won multiple awards for these publications. It turns out that I am also a huge wrestling nerd. Suffice it to say, if there are two subjects I know a lot about, it's news and wrestling.
So onto wrestling news...
This wouldn't be complete without acknowledging the work of guys like Dave Meltzer, who holds a legitimate degree in journalism, and Wade Keller, who started the PW Torch in Junior High, and lives a mere three hours away from me. Many stories are lifted from these two individuals.
However, even Meltzer and Keller are prone to getting worked by their sources.
In any news publication the word "rumor" is rarely found. I have been trained to ethically seek out truth, backed by documented sources and obtainable quotes via interviews with city and state officials. From studying legislation, ordinances, and regulations to asking the right questions at the right times to the right officials -- news reporting isn't terribly difficult in its process -- though quite tedious at times.
So why is the wrestling news industry still cluttered with false rumors, misleading stories, and a general disdain as nothing more than "dirt sheets"?
It's not terribly uncommon for even seasoned journalists to make mistakes. However, while retractions are common in news media, wrestling news outlets seem to not share the same sentiments. Quite often when reports are wrong, there is no attempt to correct the record. This leads to a sense of falsity when it comes to wrestling news reporting, as the reader never truly knows what to believe.
In any political news reporting, most stories stem from provable sources -- however, it seems that most of wrestling journalism stems from hearsay. As inaccuracy continues, it lowers the bar for wrestling journalism, when it could, and should be higher.
It was speculated, even by Jerry Lawler, that R-truth carried legitimate heat with Nia Jax after being roughed up by her at the Royal Rumble. After many media outlets reported this, Nia later squashed these rumors herself posting pictures of her and R-Truth at the Rumble after the "incident."
We have recently had conflicting reports that Ronda Rousey was leaving the WWE to pursue a family, to her alleged contract status through 2021. We now don't even know if Lynch/Rousey/Flair will headline Wrestlemania or not, because maybe they will, maybe they won't?
Hell, even news of how staff and wrestlers backstage are "shocked" at Dean Ambrose's coming departure -- which is pretty common sense in a case like this -- made the rounds.
When speculation is allowed to run rampant, it creates an environment where news may not actually be news, and this is a problem if fair and accurate reporting were to ever exist.
Speculation breeds levels of unmet expectation.
Not only do dirt sheets heighten the level of expectation of the reader to expect one thing (or spoiler), but regardless if they're happy with it or not, the thrill and surprise is likely gone.
I'll admit, knowing ahead of time that Lynch was to somehow insert herself into the women's rumble and win it, and Rollins winning the men's rumble, ruined the enjoyment a little.
Wrestling "news" from guys like Meltzer have sort of turned into more spoilers than news -- and I'm not sure if that's a good thing. A skeptic can easily say "just don't go to news sites" -- but that's quite an impossibility when if a passionate fan simply wants to partake in this art, any website/social media platform these days will contain news and spoilers. It's extremely hard to avoid.
On the other end, if the speculation and reporting is WRONG, which it often can be, the fan may possibly be let down by what could be a worse result than the original spoiler in their eyes.
So what do we do?
Quite frankly, this is both on well-known wrestling journalists and companies like the WWE and AEW to carry an open dialogue with reporters instead of being so secretive. Granted, I'm sure the major journalists in the industry have tried, but I question their methods and approach.
If wrestling journalists were to report on news like they did sports, this wouldn't be an issue.
While yes, sports journalists also carry some amount of speculation, it's rare that these speculations are wrong, and there are legitimate sources that exist within the organizations that can talk to the media. This doesn't truly exist within the WWE, for example. (Not that I know of)
Reporting on wrestling events like sports opens the door for a more legitimate feel, packed with personal stories, and a way to have spoiler-free reporting. It would be good reporting for a journalist to speak to a quotable source within the WWE that they were planning to push an upcoming superstar, for example. This is the same as a coach announcing to the media their starting Quarterback. You know a talent is getting a bigger role, but you don't know "how" -- this is essentially spoiler-free.
From strategies in how shows are being booked, the discrepancies of match time versus promo time, even down to which writers are writing what segments and what they want to improve on can all be valuable, spoiler-free news that legitimizes the industry over what would be seen as a "dirt-sheet".
Much like sports, there is no such thing as a bad play -- just bad execution. If in an interview a WWE official opened up about plans to push a certain match, segment, or talent, it's still on the company to execute the angle. Post-show interviews, much like in New Japan (only not staged) would help the legitimacy of news coming from certain talents that may or may not be pleased with their match/promo.
Furthermore, it helps to quell the rumor mill. Nia Jax is likely laughing at all wrestling journalists over the latest and now likely false news about her heat with Ron Killings. Imagine if the dialogue was open between a wrestling journalist and either Nia, R-Truth, or a WWE official that can simply verify if there's "heat" or not?
As always, much like the drama with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the lines of reality blur between verbal skirmishes between guys like Antonio Brown, Mike Tomlin, and LeVeon Bell -- but the sports media reports it as speculation -- not fact.
We don't have that in wrestling news.
To end this tirade, the next time you read a wrestling news article, identify the source; identify if it's even truly news, and simply ask more out of the initial source. If the brand of wrestling journalism that exists now were to one day change, it would not only benefit the fans and legitimize the journalists, but it would help the business as a whole.