I’ve probably written something like this before. It needs to be flushed out to the wresting universe again. I don’t care…
Japanese word of the week: たのしい | tanoshii – “fun”
Song of the Week (linked): “Don’t Light My Fire” – Otoboke Beaver
If you take anything from this piece it’s this:
Negativity ruins wrestling.
Keep that in mind moving forward, as sometimes, it even makes those who try their best to be positive (like myself) turn into a negative, bitter person.
Remember when you watched professional wrestling without getting into arguments with other fans? Where you weren’t inundated with spammy, attention-seeking trolls firing up disingenuous hot takes for engagement and clicks?
It’s hard not to respond to bad faith opinions when so many other gullible fans eat it up. It’s like being the only rational-minded person at a flat earth conference.
Go back in time: It’s the Attitude Era. You’re having the time of your life as a fan in the midst of the WCW/WWF war. Even though no weekly show was perfect, did you ever find yourself analyzing the psychology of a match during this time? Did you ever think a match was “too violent” or a certain promo wasn’t “good enough” to get someone over? Had the thought crossed your mind that a match had “too many high spots” or “man, this match better get five stars from Meltzer, or else!”
Of course you didn’t. Even myself as an AJPW/ECW fan during the 90s never had these thoughts. Because like all of us, we were too busy enjoying pro wrestling.
And subjectively, if we look back to the Attitude Era — there weren’t that many bangers. The average match quality now far exceeds what it was during the late 90s. We had so many storylines in completely poor taste during the AE. Women’s wrestling (aside from Japan) was essentially non-existent sans for misogynistic storylines and bra & pannies matches.
Stereotypes, blatant racism, xenophobia, misogyny, toilet humor, blasphemy; we witnessed it all. And it’s a good thing that the Attitude Era is long gone for these reasons.
But still, even then, we found a way to enjoy it. So what changed? Why have we all become the very parody of the internet neckbeard fanboy, constantly overanalyzing every minute of wrestling television as if we were actual experts?
Why is it that it seems many online can’t enjoy pro wrestling without becoming pseudo-experts, criticizing every minute of every match?
Well, some answers, and some suggestions ahead…
Grinding for Participation Trophies
Human being are naturally inquisitive. It’s part of our evolution. We explore, we ruminate, and analyze.
We also like to fit in.
As part of this human condition, we usually prefer to participate in society and engage in conversation with others about collective passionate subjects. Be it sports, politics, music, or even some of your stranger interests such as dirt polishing and duck herding — we all are on a continued search for connection with others.
Pro wrestling is no different.
For over three decades, the internet wrestling community has been this collective haven for passionate pro wrestling fans. And even though the number of wrestling fans have dropped since the early 2000s, enough still exist to keep afloat two major mainstream wrestling promotions.
We mean well, but is our incessant need to participate in the larger conversational zeitgeist simultaneously bringing everyone down?
Before we answer that…some maintenance.
Troll? Terminally Online Fan? Somewhere in Between?
Most internet fans fall into one (or more) of these categories…
-Disingenuous & Irreverent Trolls
-Overanalytical and Jaded Attention Seekers
-Former Wrestling Personalities
-Regular dudes that just want to talk a little wrestling
Now a quick word for the first three on the list:
Creating entire social media accounts for the sole purpose to bash a wrestling company you don’t like takes a special kind of human being. How unimportant and wasteful must your life be to dedicate so much time into the senseless act of bullying others (fans and talent alike)?
Man, I wish I had that kind of time.
In addition, I see many cases of users that will literally copy their comments on any random wrestling-related post, and then paste it on multiple social media accounts and pages. This behavior happens on Facebook, Twitter/X, and Disqus.
These comments are often derogatory in nature.
If you are searching for connection so badly that you have to copy and paste your comment to multiple pages and accounts, then I truly feel sympathy for you. But whatever it is that is missing in your life that causes you to desperately search out attention and responses from your multiple duplicated comments — you’re not going to find it on pro wrestling social media pages and discussion boards.
I see some pretty heinous duplicated comments coming from users who even have children and spouses. Do they know you’re body-shaming other women online, or desperately making derogatory comments about athletes who play fight in tight clothing for entertainment?
Anyway, with that being said, I hope you do find whatever it is you’re looking for. However, it’s clearly not in pro wrestling.
Are you a former wrestler? Do you have an opinion? Do you like money?
Step right up! The IWC has a place for you in the bright new career of podcasting. All it takes is an opinion (outdated is preferable), a thousand dollars for a good microphone, camera, and sound board, and you’re off to the races!
Most wrestling podcasters that make headlines often give outdated negative takes; mostly for AEW, but even to WWE at times.
Now not all former wrestlers with YouTube Channels and Podcasts are in the mud in my book. In fact, two great channels out there are Maven Huffman’s YouTube Channel, and Stevie Richards’ Wresting Analysis Channel. Both are linked, and well worth your time.
But they aren’t getting much coverage in news bits we see around the IWC, are they? It’s the negativity that increases view count. What did Eric Bischoff say this time about Tony Khan and his “neutrality” towards AEW? How is Vince Russo and Al Snow finding ways to dump on AEW and WWE creative?
How about Konnan and Disco? They surely have the answers on the “real” “problem” with AEW. And the big tuna of them all — Jim Cornette. Cornette has made a second career out of monetizing small clips of his podcast on YouTube; which 75% of the time, focuses his ire on AEW.
Readers, are these personalities on television every week?
Then why are we giving them so much attention?
We can enjoy (or not enjoy) the product without being told what to think by aging wresting personalities. Insight only goes so far until it slowly starts to become an agenda. Once you see the pattern of said agenda, it dilutes the credibility of the insight itself.
And honestly, are any of these podcasters contributing anything positive to the wrestling community other than (mostly) negative insight?
Positive Wrestling Personalities
In addition to Richards and Maven, here are former wrestlers, or general wrestling internet personalities, with review shows/podcasts worth your actual time. While there’s bias in every podcast since we’re all human, I find the short list below to contain some of the less divisive, and more informational (and entertaining) listens. Try tuning/listening to only these for your wrestling fix and see how your mentality may shift into a positive light…
Links are to general YouTube channels where full podcast links can be found.
Yes, They DO Listen…
We hear you. Keep watching. #GiveDivasAChance.
WWE has listened to fans in their past. This is especially true on the infamous Dec. 17, 2018 episode of Raw where the McMahons all but admitted how crap their current product was. They promised change, and well, that didn’t actually happen until AEW came along to give them honest competition for the first time in nearly 20 years.
But remember, the IWC is a small sample size of wrestling fans, much like a political poll, or survey. What is said on the internet certainly doesn’t dictate what happens inside the ring, but in the social media age, it carries a little more weight than it did 10 years ago.
That being said, false or disingenuous narratives can spread like wildfire. Social media has slowly dumbed down our population; now addicted to the rush of dopamine and confirmation biases in their echo tunnels that social media outlets offer.
As we saw with the case of “journalist” Nick Hausman (I use that term sparingly as a former journalist myself), his reckless behavior regarding “rumored” unfounded claims of sexual misconduct by Chris Jericho turned into an online shitstorm. As a result, Sting’s very last match in New York was lost in a sea of negativity towards Jericho from gullible fans who will believe anything they read on Twitter.
The behavior of fans can be seen by both companies. While trolls can be easy to identify and block out, sometimes even false or bad faith narratives can reflect poorly on a company overall.
Honest critique is one thing. Even fun jabs at the competition has its place. But reckless and tribal banter is another; especially by jaded fans who are rarely impressed by anything these days and continue false and bitter narratives. One is good for wrestling, and the other is hurting it.
Is Being Overanalytical Ruining Enjoyment?
Now the beef of the article…
A quote from Disqus user Joe Cirillo:
“You can’t be a fan of both the Yankees and the Red Sox but you CAN be fan of both WWE and AEW. And being a fan doesn’t mean you are a fan of the executives running the show. I can’t stand a couple owners of the sports teams I follow, that doesn’t make me less of a fan no matter how critical I am of management. Pro Wrestling execs for me is no exception.”
It always amazes me that a simple dislike for Tony Khan, who is far better a human being than Vince McMahon ever will be, lives rent-free in the heads of so many fans. Even to the point where some have said that they can’t even enjoy AEW because of him — who isn’t even on the show.
That sounds like a personal problem, not a Tony Khan problem.
But let’s take a recent example of overanalysis. I don’t watch WWE, so I have only AEW to use as a reference. Wednesday night’s match between HOOK and Samoa Joe was a great example of such mindless overanalysis.
After a hard-hitting match, Joe still looked dominant in victory, and HOOK looked better than ever in his resilience to a veteran much bigger than him. Yet some online were actually saying that the match “buried” Joe. That he should have squashed HOOK instead. I’ve even seen some critiques down to where the last few camera shots should have been as the show closed.
Even with Joe’s win at World’s End, some complained that Joe didn’t get fireworks and confetti (I’m serious).
Other outdated and irrelevant critiques in the case of AEW…
“But are they a needle-mover?”
Why do you care?
“Where are their TV ratings at?”
Again, why do you care?
“Their ticket sales have dropped since last year…”
Do you work for the company? Again, why is this a talking point?
“Adam Page is a vampire. I’m offended!”
A hot vampire-cowboy? Sign me up!
We do this and overanalyze everything; from match psychology to move fluidity, to promo, down to whether or not a wrestler should have kicked out at one or two. Too boring, too many high spots, too dangerous, not dangerous enough, etc…
And it’s not just AEW, though they get the brunt of criticism. WWE gets crapped on as well within the same type of criticisms.
What if we just watch pro wrestling without such a critical eye? We did it during the 90s. We’re now at a time where we have two major companies, wrestling is slowly gaining popularity again, and we can’t go back to that?
It’s not an excuse to blindly love every literal moment of every show — but there’s a way to take a match in stride, enjoy what you can out of it (or not), without the need to analyze every second of it. And hell, even with some effort, find a little good in it.
Wrestling is Meant to Be Enjoyed
When does it end, honestly?
If you’re watching a horror movie (as everyone should), are you sitting there thinking to yourself (while watching):
“That shouldn’t have happened. This should have happened instead.”
“That line could have been delivered better.”
“I was hoping for better use of special effects.”
“This isn’t gory enough.”
“This isn’t believable.”
“I’m not sure where this plot is going. I’m skeptical. It doesn’t make sense right now.”
“I really hope the villain is put over properly.”
“I’m only watching this because the Metacritic score is high.”
“Sure, the movie was fine, but how much did it draw at the box office?”
If this is you, I’m so sorry.
The more time passes, the less tolerance I have for things which truly do not matter. And perhaps there was a time where I was that overly analytical fan; but it’s starting to wear thin. Do you know what’s way more fun than constantly overanalyzing something you watch and supposedly enjoy?
Just fucking watching it. And fucking enjoying it. Life is so short. Be positive!
Amazing idea, right? And if I don’t enjoy it, do you know the best solution for this?
Not to watch. …Crazy.
It Takes More Energy to Be Negative…
Everyone thinks they’re experts these days. The Dunning-Kruger Effect (you don’t know that you don’t know) is still in full swing in the IWC. In fact, it’s stronger than ever.
Hundreds and thousands of fans who actually believe their biased and influenced notions hold water. Unfortunately, these opinions become narratives, and social media has made it very easy to spread these under-educated opinions and overanalysis when it just isn’t needed.
The truth of the matter is that many fans need an article like this. Pro wrestling and politics seem to share a lot in common these days, in that the narrative is more important than the truth. Facts, statistics, rational thinking — who needs them? As long as we’re mindlessly fed clickbait from disingenuous internet personalities that confirm our biases that feed our online dopamine addiction, right?
Wrestling is supposed to be fun, isn’t it?
So what happened?
Imagine being that inside of your head and overanalytical that you can’t enjoy an entertainment show centered around athletes who play fight in tight, colorful clothing.
Having great conversations with fellow wrestling fans is great. So why can’t we go back to that time and just enjoy wrestling without the influence of so much negativity and unneeded overanalysis?
Practice cautious optimism and positivity. You might be surprised.