Posted in: Column of the Month September 2011 COTM - The Bright Side: 5 Tips For A Healthier Wrestling Life
Oct 25, 2011 - 1:00:26 AM
Greetings, mizfan fans! Your friendly neighborhood mizfan here, and I’m back on the main page! And it’s all thanks to a little novel I just so happen to be writing in the CF. What's that? You're intrigued by the concept of a novel starring all your favorite wrestlers? Then check out the latest chapter here..
But I’m not here to tickle you with flights of fantasy today. That sounds gayer than a CM Punk fan with a vagina, right? I’m looking to do something a bit more practical today. Friends, wrestling is in a bit of a tough spot right now. I think, for the most part, we can all agree that Raw has been disappointing in the last few weeks. Even people like me, who didn’t declare the death of wrestling after the walkout ending, have to admit that the WWE has missed some pretty sizeable opportunities in the past few months. And as for TNA… well, I’ll get to TNA a little later on. Bottom line, it’s a tough time to be a wrestling fan. Perhaps not 1995 bad, but still.
Obviously, most of the blame for this rests with the wrestling companies. It’s supposed to be WWE and TNA’s job to provide an entertaining product for us to enjoy, and we shouldn't have to work at it. God knows we’re not under any sort of obligation to praise a substandard product, or to force ourselves to like something that we don’t. I’m not here to try to tell you that the product right now is great and if you don’t like it it’s actually because you’re a joyless jaded prick, because that’s hardly the case (for most of you). But I think there is something to the thinking that that we diehard fans sometimes ruin things for ourselves before they even have a chance to go wrong. So how can we, as diehard wrestling fans, start that journey back towards a happy and healthy wrestling fandom? How can we take that first step towards recapturing that magic we used to know? Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I do have a one long tip and four short ones on things that you can give up, as a wrestling fan. These are some of the things that help keep me personally looking… The Bright Side (see what I did there?).
#1 Take “Insider” News In Context
How many times have you had your hopes raised by a misleading headline, only to click on it and have those hopes dashed to the ground? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read that Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, or whoever is certain to return at such and such a PPV. The rumor mill in the wrestling world has always been working overtime, but now that we’re in the information (misinformation?) age, every time Vince McMahon sneezes it becomes headlines. For the longest time, I was an avid devourer of every piece of backstage news that came down the pipe, but did it make me any happier? Every once in a while it would tip me off to some interesting situation, but more and more it seemed like I was just getting disappointed.
The problem with these usually-unnamed sources is just that, they’re unnamed. Now obviously a legitimate source of inside information might want to have their name withheld, for job security purposes, but that also instantly gives license to pretty much any half wit who sets up the ring before the show or helps with catering backstage to be an “insider”. We usually have no idea where these “hot tips” are coming from. How many times were we told that Alberto Del Rio was a lock to win the WWE title before it actually happened? We had at least 6 months of false reports before they finally got it right. And remember Chris Masters’ push in January? Whoops, guess not. And I heard more than once that the Undertaker was sure to be wrestling at match at Vengeance. Never happened. By getting my hopes up with these unsubstantiated rumors, I was only setting myself up for a fall and distracting myself from the storylines that were actually going on.
For example, the rumor mill has begun spinning these reports about CM Punk facing Steve Austin at Wrestlemania. Now I’d love for that to happen, but step back and think about it for a minute. Seems like a hell of a long shot, right? The problem is, now if CM Punk ends up in an interesting, compelling storyline with the Miz, or Alberto Del Rio, or whoever, it won’t be the same because it won’t be that dream feud. Austin has had a few interviews saying he feels good enough physically to be in the ring at some point if he wants to, and that if he did he’d be interested in working with Punk. Pretty vague, right? But because of how this information was presented, if it doesn’t happen at Wrestlemania XXVIII people are only going to talk about how stupid WWE is, even if whatever Punk does it pure gold. It doesn’t matter, because we’ve had a diamond dangled under our noses now.
And that’s a report that actually had some basis in fact. I read reports about Jim Ross being so upset about being fired on air, or Vince McMahon supposedly throwing a tantrum because Del Rio mentioned his name. Who is dropping these stories? What’s their agenda? It’s no secret that the diehard fan enjoys picking on McMahon’s allegedly bizarre backstage habits. Is it so hard to imagine that some lowly backstage minion might exaggerate or distort the things he does? I’m not saying McMahon isn’t a crazy bastard, he certainly seems to be. But these ridiculous minute-by-minute reports of what goes on inside his head are just that – ridiculous. People read this stuff and form opinions, and they form the wrong ones. And it never, ever helps anyone enjoy the product more. It’ll just make you mad, most of the time.
And that’s not even touching on spoilers. I still can’t for the life of me understand why people read spoilers ahead of time. Do you know why they’re called spoilers? Because they SPOIL the show. Half the fun is not knowing what happens next. If a show like House or NCIS (or whatever the hell you watch when you’re not watching wrestling) posted their complete scripts online before new episodes aired, would you read them? I hope not, because then you probably wouldn’t get any enjoyment from watching. It’s all old news. Do people have no self control? It’s something I just don’t understand. Smackdown is probably the best wrestling show on TV right now, but it’s ratings are relatively low. Some of that is the terrible timeslot it has, but another part of it is wrestling fans who have read the results don’t tune in. It’s a damn shame.
The bottom line is this: I’ll still click the links on the main page here at LoP, but I always take everything I read with a huge grain of salt. If something’s really important, there will surely be concrete confirmation, usually just by watching the show. And since I started reading with a very skeptical eye, I’ve been enjoying what I watch more. When I first got into wrestling, it wasn’t by reading headlines and possibly fictitious “news” items. It was by simply suspending my disbelief and watching the show. I’m not saying not to analyze the show at all, but easing off the throttle can really bolster your viewing pleasure.
#2 Give Up Hope on TNA
Now before my good friend Crow bursts into tears, note that I did not say “stop watching” TNA. If you enjoy the product or truly believe in the company and feel loyal, by all means keep watching. But, to be happy, you need to stop hoping that it’s going to suddenly get better. All you need to do is take a quick look at who’s running the company to know that it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon. As I alluded to before, TNA has recently made a couple of really terrible decisions, both from a booking and a business perspective. The team in charge has a terrible track record, and to get overly excited about TNA’s immediate prospect is a recipe for a big letdown. I'm not saying that TNA is totally worthless by any stretch, but my tip is to adjust your expectations in accordance with what is likely to occur. If they ever have a major shift in power or policy I’ll be happy to get back on board, but until then my Thursday nights are probably going to be spent elsewhere.
#3 Don’t Succumb To “That’s Not What I Would Have Done!” Syndrome
Diehard fans will always fantasy book. I’ve personally got a frankly embarrassing number of word documents saved on my laptop as I type this, featuring pages and pages of imagined storylines, from the realistic to the farfetched to the just plain silly. There’s nothing wrong with it, even if it is a bit fanboyish and nerdy.
The problem starts when a fan becomes so enamored with his own ideas that he ceases to accept whatever actually ends up happening. I’ll refer again to the rumored Austin/Punk match at this coming Wrestlemania. I think many fans have become so attached to this idea that no matter what Punk actually does, if he’s not going toe-to-toe with an invigorated Texas Rattlesnake in exactly the feud they've imagined, they simply aren’t going to fully appreciate it.
A more concrete example of TNWIWHD syndrome is the controversial first world title reign of Christian. Many diehard fans became extremely invested in a storyline that featured Christian holding the world title. But, as we all know, that didn’t happen. Randy Orton quickly took the title off of Captain Charisma, and what resulted was one of the finest in ring feuds the company has seen in the past decade. But because people didn’t get the Christian world title reign they wanted, it was hard for them to accept. That’s not to say that the story didn’t have other problems, and there were many valid criticisms made against some of the booking decisions. But there were some people out there who simply wouldn’t stand for the feud on principle, right from the word go, simply because it didn’t match their conception of what the feud should have been.
The tip hidden in this mass of rhetoric is a deceptively simple one: don’t get so carried away doing the job of WWE creative that you can’t appreciate it when they actually make a good move. Fantasy booking and creative criticism is fine (in fact, it’s almost required to maintain your sanity sometimes) but there’s a certain line where expectation becomes a rather petulant demand. Watch that you don’t cross over it.
#4 Beware the Blogs
This may not apply to everyone, but it’s helped me immensely. This isn’t a slam on Mr Tito, or even necessarily anyone posting in the blog section of LoP. But, as Hustle has pointed out more than once, there does seem something amiss with the system in that area. I used to slog through all the blogs, but I’ve recently given most of them up and I’ve been much happier for it. Tito is a great writer and often makes good points, but reading him only usually made me angry or sad. So I’ve stopped.
This tip isn’t really about the blogs on LoP. It’s more of a warning in general, and one that should really be obvious if you think about it: don’t read things that piss you off. I tried to get into the blog world, and it wasn't for me, so if there’s something that is negatively affecting your view of the wrestling product, then maybe it’s time to consider not reading it anymore. Don’t feed trolls. Don’t engage with mindless fanboys. Don’t get worked up fighting with Youtube commenters. Stick to the positive (or at least the constructive) things that work for you.
#5 For the Love of God, Stop Fighting with the “IWC”
Ah, the “internet wrestling community”. Talking about “them” never gets old, does it? The problem is that they don’t exist anymore. Or if they do, it’s a group that now includes everybody. Look at you, you’re reading this column about wrestling on the internet right now. You ARE the internet wrestling community.
Recently in the columns section of Lop Forums, there has been a lot of drama over calling out this perceived IWC, and I have to say that to me it’s just not worth it. Diehard fans on the internet area always going to find something to complain about, and a lot of them are going to make a very big deal about their complaints. That’s what the privacy of the internet affords you, the ability to make a fool out of yourself without anyone actually see you looking like a fool. So why go to war with these people? Why expend all your energy on them? It’s like slamming your head into a brick wall. Actually, it’s like slamming your head into an IMAGINARY brick wall. You get all the brain damage but you don’t even make the tiny bit of progress you would on a real wall. At least with a real wall you’d be knocking off microscopic bits and pieces as you bludgeon yourself to a bloody pulp. But people who are railing against the IWC are fighting against a group that doesn’t even exist. The IWC has become a catch-all term for “those people on the internet who disagree with me and it really annoys me”. It’s frankly quite silly to keep using such a ridiculous term where it doesn’t apply, and since I stopped acknowledging them (and especially since I stopped fighting with them) I’ve been a lot happier in my wrestling life. There’s nothing wrong with spirited debate, it’s very much encouraged actually. But when it starts getting contentious, it’s just not worth it. Just walk away.
So if you follow these five easy tips, will wrestling suddenly snap back into focus and seem amazing and wonderful again? Of course not. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done on the other side of the fence too. The powers-that-be in wrestling are someday going to have to answer for a trend of declining viewership and revenue that has nothing to do with how we as fans view the product. But in the meantime, if you find yourself constantly frustrated and disappointed with wrestling but really want to stick it out (because I believe, in my heart, that it will get better), give some of these tips a try and see if it doesn’t help a little. Things just might seem a little brighter.
Agree? Disagree? Got more tips? Wanna fight? I’m always game to hear any and all feedback, so feel free to engage. Until next time, mizfan fans, remember to always look on the bright side of life, and stay safe, healthy, & AWWWWWWWWESOME!