What Fans May Not Understand About Wrestling Columnists
Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has them, and not everybody wants to see them. We see this in the comments section of any wrestling-related social media post. Wrestling Usenet’s and forums have carried the opinions of fans for decades. Much in the same, wrestling opinion writers have run along a similar timeline.
But in the current zeitgeist of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, what purpose do wrestling columnists even serve anymore? Is this a dying art, and if so, why isn’t this the last wrestling-related piece I ever write?
Simply put, there are things fans should know about the art of writing an op-ed. This, of course, is assuming they’re actually reading and not just commenting on the headline…
Anyway, let’s dig in.
Everyone is Famous Now
There was a time where a wrestling columnist was featured – even paid. I’ve written for many websites in the past, and we’re talking the golden age of the internet (before social media turned it into shit). It was a really fun time; but a lot has changed.
Unless you put yourself out there on YouTube or a Podcast, nobody really cares what you think. Even then, while the words of Simon Miller, Bryan Alvarez, Brian Zane, or even Aaron Rift may carry some weight — fans can still ignore them if they want. Instead, they can shout into the Twitter or Facebook void, or even start their own podcast and/or YouTube channel.
It’s incredibly easy and affordable to put yourself on YouTube with good production quality. I work in the field of media; and prices are low. You can setup an impressive podcast/video studio for less than $500 these days. Anyone can literally throw their opinion out there now, be it calculated, or in poor taste.
So unless you work for What Culture, where they are very picky about their writers (I would know, I was one of them), there’s very little (or no) money and little point to having your opinion published on the internet, right?
Everyone (Probably) Hates Us
My columns gain around a couple thousand views on average. Only a small percentage actually comment via social media. Studies have shown that most social media pages see their content clicked-through, but engaged on small percentage levels. Most of the comments are almost always negative.
An even larger percentage will comment negatively without even reading the article. This should surprise no one. There are lots of uninformed and quite frankly, stupid people out there.
The message sent here? Those who tend to comment, do so in spite of the article itself, sans a few good ones who actually want to engage in conversation. These are cool people.
But to review:
-Wrestling columnists go largely unheard these days.
-YouTube/Podcast personalities have taken over.
-Engagement is so low you don’t even know the impact of what you write.
That’s not to say there is never an impact. NoDQ columnists have had their material commented on by wrestlers before. I can also speak to the fact that a few of my ideas/criticisms regarding AEW has been addressed on television shortly after. This is a great thing — it means at least a few important people are reading, and it’s known that Tony Khan does actually listen to AEW fans.
Still, a void exists…
Everyone Doesn’t Know Why We Do It
Why do we do it?
The idea is to challenge the readers. That’s the entire point of an opinion piece.
I love AEW. I could just write about strictly that. My next piece could be “Top 10 Cool Things I Love About Jurassic Express” — but that’s a bit silly, right? And aside from poor takes that shouldn’t have been published in the first place, there’s not much left for people like me to do to either try and challenge others, or just quit entirely.
So instead I want to challenge the narrative.
I repeatedly call WWE a weekly sitcom that uses wrestling as a plot device. If you look at wrestling history as a whole, even through the WWF of the 80s, professional wrestling was built a certain way. Its 90’s popularity (Monday Night Wars) isn’t indicative of what the industry actually is. Hot take: In perspective, the Monday Night Wars really didn’t have a lot of great wrestling.
I’d even go as far to say that the last 25 years of pro wrestling as we know it in the mainstream (pre-AEW) really isn’t wrestling at the core. The closest we have come to that now is AEW, New Japan, Impact, Stardom, and NWA. These are shows that offer a large amount of ACTUAL WRESTLING.
But see? I’m challenging you. I’ve been a wrestling fan for 35 years. Been there, done that, I know my history and have seen a lot of it. Have you? If not, then my articles can be challenging.
Otherwise, what’s the point?
Nobody Wants to be Challenged
And this brings us to the final piece of this. When we take all of this into perspective, one damning aspect shines through: Nobody really wants to be challenged anymore.
We live in our social media bubbles (or not in them at all), and we reject what doesn’t fit into the narrative we have created for our own fandom. When something that we have not approved of temporarily pops the bubble, we lash out at it. Hence, the ongoing bickering of WWE and AEW fans online.
I could make a simple observations/challenges for those outside of my own bubble. But at the end of the day, does it all really matter? We shout into the void, and it’s quite cathartic, but we rarely hear nothing more than our own echoes.
Few, if any, will open the doors within themselves for reflection. This requires diminishing their own comfort levels and wading through years of careful branding.
On other words dust has settled, and has stuck to the ground.
This is usually the section where I conclude my articles, but I really have nothing left to say. When few will venture out to read the opinions of others, and comment constructively, then fewer real conversations are had.
If we were to openly challenge our narratives, be it through discussion or on video, some amazing ideas would come to light. As far as I know, there doesn’t even exist a far-reaching medium where fans from all sides can get together and have some legitimately good conversations about the sport that we all love. The comments section on an article or on social media can only push the needle so far, and usually, it aims in the other direction.
With all of that, take care.