When Daniel Bryan retired, he said that he was worried about wanting to do so much that he ends up doing nothing. That is how I feel about this blog. I have so much to say about wrestling, but because the blog is not widely read (to say the least yet), I also want whatever I write to be evergreen at least until/if it gets popular. Moreover, I have a job as a freelance writer which means not only am I in a situation where I make fewer posts than I would like, I am also in a situation where I have plans for a framework for a series of posts and I can’t do that either because when I do write it is because I am inspired by something that is different than the framework.
That long introduction aside-one of the things that I want to try is a discussion on my fundamental beliefs about wrestling. I usually write a lot so I can’t discuss more than one in any post, but I thought anyone who reads this blog should know what I believe about wrestling and how it shapes my opinions.
Fundamental Belief #1-The Art is in the Take
Bruce Mitchell and Mark Madden have both said this in recent podcasts and it has always been my approach to analyzing wrestling which is the most important thing in wrestling is making people pay to see something. It’s not in having a “great match” (although that is very important to the experience and can be important in terms of making people come back). There is an art to manipulating crowd reaction, but it is more important to get the people in the building.
Television is interesting in that it is dependent on the situation. Certainly television is the gateway to everything for every promotion. For WWE its important in and of itself because not only is it a way to promote the WWE network, it also is a way to create stars that people want to pay to see on house shows and stars who people want to buy merchandise of. Moreover, the ratings are also important when it comes to a future television deal (at least it seems important now, it is hard to say what will happen with cable television by the time WWE’s cable deal is up). For TNA, ratings are everything because it is a television product. Without knowing what (if any reward) TNA gets for higher ratings, it is the only metric it can be judged by. Television is important for ROH, but it is probably less important for them in terms of numbers…I’m not even sure how ROH measures its television audience. ROH is more about house shows and they seem to be doing well there. The point of this discussion is to make it clear that no matter what the most important metric or metrics are for a company, the most important thing is to get people to want to either pay to see something or to watch something on free television.
When I say the art is in the take, I am essentially saying that anything else is subjective things that people can disagree on. I am also saying that pro wrestling is a business and ultimately it doesn’t matter what any individual fan likes. I love reading message board posts and columns discussing what makes a match great or a match bad or a match overrated-especially when I respect the opinion of the writer. At the same time, it is just that…an opinion. There are objective measurements that can tell us the success of a wrestling promotion at a given time and doing well in those objective measurements is the best reflection of the art because (as I just said) everything else is subjective. I might think John Cena versus CM Punk from Money in the Bank 2011 was the best match in five years, someone else might think it was the third best match of that show…neither of us is right and more to the point the reason for the angle and the match was to draw interest so that should be the judge of its success.
One thing that is objective, but can be overrated is crowd reaction. I am not saying that crowd reaction is not important. I think I said this on an earlier post, but crowd reaction is very, very, very, very important-but there are people who get great crowd reactions who don’t move numbers like those who get lesser and/or mixed crowd reactions. Certainly, there are mitigating factors like who gets pushed in a way that the casual fan would go out of their way to go see them or buy their merchandise. With that said, ultimately I want the guy that gets people to watch or to pay their money as opposed to the guy that a certain type of fan chants loudly for. To coin a phrase, everything else is conversation.