We have all heard the crying and complaining, “I don’t know who such and such is so why should I care.” Whaa whaa whaa, cry me a river. At what point is it just certain fans crapping on another promotion that isn’t their favorite and less about the actual “unknown” wrestler? For those that are old enough to remember what life was like before twitter and facebook, lets take a look back at WWF and WCW from the 90s and some of your favorites that were “unknown.”
From WCW you had Stunning Steve Austin, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Cactus Jack, Rey Misterio (that’s how WCW spelt it) and many more that had virtually had no name value in America coming into the company.
On the WWF (what WWE was called before losing a fight to a Panda) side you had Edge and Christian, The Hardy Boyz, Diesel, The Undertaker and a young fella then known as Rocky Maivia. If you have to google who that is then you cannot call yourself a wrestling fan. All of whom went on to become Legends.
I remember watching all these guys growing up and not once did I ever say “who the hell is that and why should I care.” Instead I was more intrigued by this new character on my screen and excited to see what they could do. Somewhere along the way some fans have lost this giddy excited feeling of something new, instead some use it as fuel to the fire of a non existing war between promotions.
I will be the first one to admit that I did not watch much wrestling outside the WWE bubble up until 2019 when AEW came along. I was aware of ROH, Impact and NJPW, but I never really gave much effort into watching them until AEW peaked my interest. The look and feel of the promotion was so different to WWE at the time I found myself drawn to it each week. There was one problem though, aside from some of the bigger names I really had no idea who half of these guys and gals were. Google and YouTube are wonderful things people.
AEW is still a new company that is building it’s brand, They do this by doing a couple of things. They bring in established high profile talent from WWE, then people complain that they are using too many ex WWE guys. Or they bring in new young talent from the indies and around the world, then people complain they have no idea who they are. it’s a lose lose situation. But the biggest complaint from these two is the not knowing new talent. As I said above though, Google and YouTube are wonderful things and we can use these tools to research the new talent. Problem solved!
If only it was that easy right? well it is but people would lead you to believe it’s not, as they enjoy the “us vs them” narrative too much. Two of my favorite wrestlers at the moment are Daniel Garcia and Konosuke Takeshita. I didn’t have a scooby-doo who these guys were when they first appeared for AEW, but I was able to use the power of the internet to familiarize myself with them. I invested time and patience in getting to know these guys. Now before you jump on me and say “well that’s easy if you watch all the time, but what about the casual fan?” To that I say there is no such thing as a casual fan, there are fans of different types of pro wrestling and then there are fans of WWE. Don’t get it twisted, you can enjoy it all, and many do.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with liking just one promotion, I get it! WWE is convenient, and it has been pretty much the only game in town for the last 20 years. That is not a good enough reason though to bicker about talent you are not familiar with, not when everyone literally has the internet in their pockets. Are promotions like AEW, Impact, New Japan, GCW PWG and others for everyone? no, but they don’t have to be. Just like WWE isn’t for everyone, but the fear that the monopoly WWE once had on wrestling is over is very real. This is in my opinion why some people lash out at unfamiliar talent, they do not want to except the fact that better wrestling CAN happen outside of their WWE bubble.
Before AEW, I was a massive fan of NXT. It gave me more of what I liked, Longer matches with more athleticism on display that made my jaw drop. Did I know who Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Sami Zayn or Kevin Owens were? Not really. Did I research them? You bet your sweet buns I did. Now that I have seen their previous work before coming to WWE it has made me more of a fan of theirs. It really is that simple! So please stop complaining of being unfamiliar with talent and do some research, or just go back under your bridge.