Embrace the Spectacle – I truly believe that we are in a sort of Golden Age of wrestling

Embrace the Spectacle
By Chris Lopez

It’s easy to venture into the professional wrestling fandom and think it’s filled with people that do nothing except complain about everything they see. I spend time on “Wrestling Twitter” while I’m watching RAW, Smackdown, Dynamite, or a PLE/PPV and see A LOT of criticism, bashing, and complaining about the products being put on television. Don’t get me wrong, there are things that I don’t like either. However, there are times when it seems like whatever we’re watching is written off as the worst thing ever put out in the history of wrestling. I will not lie and say that’s never the case (I’m looking at you RAW after Mania), but I truly believe that we are in a sort of Golden Age of wrestling that is giving us some good stuff to watch. In some areas, we’re watching some of the best work put into the genre in a long time.

Let’s look at the mere existence of AEW. We fans clamored for an alternative for so long and Tony Khan delivered. Is his product perfect? Definitely not. In fact, I argue that the quality has taken a hit ever since he bought Ring of Honor. Though I am grateful he saved Ring of Honor from the scrapheap, I echo the sentiments of people who believe that Tony has spread himself too thin over the last year or so. Throw in the issues created by injuries, the MJF walkout, and the Brawl Out, and it’s no secret that Tony has had to do a lot of damage control. Yet, despite those problems, CM Punk is returning, they have another television show on the way, and All In at Wembley Stadium is headed towards a sellout. Are they doing the numbers that WCW did in the late 90’s? No, of course not. Television has changed so much that those kinds of numbers are practically impossible in today’s landscape. I laugh when people make fun of AEW’s ratings because they must be doing something right if they’re getting another nationally televised show. Warner Bros. Discovery would NOT be giving them more money and another tv show if they were “in the mud.” That’s just reality. As for the show itself, I do think some things could be better. I think we’re getting to a point where it’s time to take the belt off MJF. I love his work, but I don’t think it has lived up to expectations. I would love to see Adam Cole destroy Jericho one more time (I mean SQUASH him), go on a summer streak, and defeat MJF at All In. I love the Elite/BCC feud, I can’t wait to see Danielson vs. Okada, and I’m excited for the inevitable Blood and Guts match that I believe is on the way. Orange Cassidy as International Champion is a lot of fun to watch. I love Jamie Hayter’s work, and it’s horrible that she’s injured right now. However, they have a chance to do something fun with Britt Baker in the meantime if Tony decides to give the belt back to her as a babyface this time around.

Speaking of babyfaces, Seth Rollins is on the roll of his life right now. I was not a fan of his Joker-style character when it first started, but it has grown on me a lot. If Cody Rhodes is the #1 babyface in WWE, then Seth must be 1A. Despite how much I enjoy their work and the current product right now, I agree with just about everyone that Vince McMahon should not be back in charge of WWE. After a long history of scandals that would have sunk other people, Vince used his power to muscle his way back in charge and it sucks. Thankfully, he’s mostly working remotely, and I do not think that the progress made under Triple H’s reign as head of creative has been undermined all that much. The draft was a mess, I agree, but the shows themselves, in my opinion, have still been just “meh” at worst. To me, for the most part, the in- ring product and the booking have been mostly good. I don’t think anything has been as abysmal as the product was before Vince’s “retirement” (except for the RAW after Mania, that was an abomination).

Despite Vince’s takeover, there have been a lot of positives in the WWE over the last year. Roman Reign’s run as Universal champ is generational, Cody is the biggest babyface in wrestling, Seth Rollins is on another level, Gunther is amazing to watch, Bianca Belair just finished a great run as Women’s champ, Rhea Ripley is awesome, and the Bloodline story is the best in wrestling and one of the all-time great stories ever told.

As a fan, I haven’t felt like this since I started watching wrestling in 1999 when I saw Stone Cold Steve Austin give the stunner to the Rock through the announce table while Rock was holding a camera. That moment hooked me forever. There have been periods in my life since that moment where I didn’t watch as much, but I still followed it during those periods. That moment where Austin hit that stunner got me so invested because of its spectacle.

To me, it’s the spectacle of wrestling that gets most people hooked in. Ask me what match I would show someone to get them into wrestling and I will always say Austin vs. Bret in the submission match. Don’t show them Omega vs. Okada, Flair vs. Steamboat, or HBK vs. Bret Hart in the Iron Match. Show them Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 18 hulk-up vs. The Rock in front of 68,000 screaming fans. At the end of the day, wrestling is supposed to be fun. Right now, there’s a lot of fun to be had. Embrace the spectacle.