I used to watch Another World (a soap opera on NBC) and my favorite character was Jake McKinnon. After Another World was cancelled, I was very pleased to find out that not only was Tom Eplin (the actor who played Jake) going to As the World Turns-but the character was moving to As the World Turns. I started watching ATWT to follow Jake’s character and I got hooked on the show even after Jake was killed off. I watched the show just about every day until it was cancelled in 2010.
Jake McKinnon is to As the World Turns what A.J Styles was/is to New Japan for me. I always used to skip the audio and the parts of the newsletter when Meltzer used to talk or write about New Japan…until A.J Styles got there. I enjoyed his work in TNA and ROH so I wanted to know how he was doing. There is one difference, I did not start watching New Japan when A.J got there, but I started following it. I became intrigued by what this Bullet Club thing was and while I did not watch it, I always made sure I knew what was going on. I actually did not start watching New Japan until A.J Styles left. The only A.J Styles match in New Japan I have seen was his match with Nakamura at WrestleKingdom. Now I watch New Japan regularly because A.J being there got me to become interested in the product and just reading and hearing about the Bullet Club and Naito and Okada and many other aspects of the promotion made me very interested so I had some background going in. Now I have NJPW World and I am very pleased with the membership (even though I wish it was easier to navigate) and am excited about the big events coming up.
I am a big fan of NJPW. I am not sure I enjoy it more than WWE, it’s close. Even though I never saw A.J’s work in NJPW (or 99 percent of it anyway), I am very glad that he ended up in the promotion. I look forward to seeing some of A.J Styles’ work there and more importantly NJPW going forward.
I should do a correct PWTorch entry every day. There are so many things that they get factually wrong. I admit that I am someone who remembers a lot and I watch the WWE Network often and Wade Keller and Bruce Mitchell don’t. Moreover, the things they do not remember are not that important for analysis of today (or the past in many cases)-but still…
For instance, I believe that Bruce Mitchell (who I am a fan of) said that Vince Russo booked the Bagwell turn in July 0f 1998 (which was a big deal or could have been because after the neck injury-Bagwell had babyface potential). Russo wasn’t booking WCW until late 1999.
Wade Keller often speaks about how Edge and Christian were just stunt guys and Edge did not really get a chance to talk until the Matt Hardy situation. Edge and Christian talked just about every week in 2000 once they turned heel. What Keller said is factually wrong.
I have a PWtorch.com subscription so if I committed to it-I could probably do a correction article every day.
As far as the Torch goes, I want to talk about this more another time-but I would say it is worth the money. If you are only willing to pay for one between the Torch and the Observer-I would still say that latter. Meltzer has too much information-both historically and in terms of today’s wrestling.
If this blog were more popular, I would have a poll and ask readers how much money they spend on wrestling per month. With that in mind, if we take away merchandise (I buy t-shirts or other merchandise that “speak to me”-I’ll actually list that one day), I spent more than $50 per month.
$10 for WWE Network
$10 for PWTorch
$10 for Wrestling Observer
$7 for ROH Ringside Membership
$8 for New Japan World
$7.50 for Prowrestling.net
For a freelance writer (which I am) who may go a while without any assignments, $50 is a lot, but I could not imagine going without any of the above memberships or subscriptions. I do not go to wrestling shows. I could say that my cable bill is part of the money I spend on wrestling, but I have cable (or DISH to be more specific) for more than just wrestling. With that said, I am not sure I would pay for DISH or any cable/satellite if it was not for wrestling so it certainly could be included, which would make it $150 per month (I watch just enough non-wrestling television that I won’t for the sake of this article).
As far as order of importance (since I’m here)
PWTorch (because of Todd Martin and Bruce Mitchell)
New Japan World
ROH Ringside membership (it’s last because I can follow ROH easily with the free membership. I only have a subscription because I get discounts on Pay per Views and there are times where I want to watch the ROH show early in the week)
This next fundamental belief is something that is more for analysts than it is for promoters because the latter should know what they are doing, but they should still adjust to this belief.
Fundamental Belief: Analysts and stakeholders should work to find out why things get over or don’t get over after the fact.
This belief goes to one of my annoyances when I listen to podcasts or read articles and forum posts online. There is too much discussion of why something that is not over should be over and even worse there is discussion of why something is over should not be over. If something is over, people should learn from it-not question it. We can question how long it will last (is it a fad) and we can question why fans are cheering something that historically they wouldn’t (which I don’t really like because I believe fans can do whatever they want), but the best and most objective analysis is when people try to understand why something is over instead of fighting against the reality that it is over.
One thing that I should say is that fans don’t have to be objective because they are fans. In other words, if the Young Bucks are really over and a person does not like them for whatever reason-then that is their prerogative. At the same time, any analysis that has the vibe of “I don’t like this so it should be like this” is flawed analysis. Personally speaking, I am much more likely to tune out a person whose posts about wrestling are all about personal taste as opposed to what the majority wants. I am more forgiving when it comes to match quality, but even then when wrestlers give fans what they want (without taking unnecessary risks) and it gets bashed because of nuances that most of those fans do not see-then the fans doing the bashing make the mistake of making themselves the “center of the universe.”
As far as working backwards specifically goes, because all kinds of wrestlers get over, my philosophy is figure out who is over and who is not…and then figure out why. Thinking about it the other way is a sign of arrogance and stubbornness that taints analysis. The one caveat is that promoters should not throw out just anything and hope that a few things stick-there does need to be a plan. The key for the promoters is to adjust when the plan does not work or more to the point when there is something good going on that is not planned. No matter what perspective (booker or fan), wrestling discussion is best when we are trying to figure out why something is working or not working, instead of dismissing the reality.
seem to have a lot in common. Am I the only one who has noticed this? They are both more facilitators of discussion on their respective podcasts as opposed to being people relied on for their wrestling knowledge. They both disrupt great wrestling discussion (especially by Todd Martin who I am a big fan of when he is serious) by interjecting lame attempts at humor (subjective of course). Going back to the first point, neither of them are what I would call wrestling people. They are people who talk about wrestling, but they are not historians. They basically use their real-life beliefs to push their wrestling beliefs and narratives. They are also both relatively close-minded in a business where it is much better to be open-minded as an analyst because all kinds of things can be effective or ineffective (my next post is actually going to be about the fact that wrestling should be analyzed backwards in this era-I’ll explain in that post). They also do not watch as much wrestling as they should considering their jobs.
I hesitate to talk about this again, but Wade Keller and Travis Bryant have really annoyed me by telling fans that they are wrong for liking who they like. The best responses in wrestling are organic. I don’t think that people cheering for heels like A.J Styles or Kevin Owens are necessarily trying to prove how smart they are. There is a chance that those fans just like them. There are reasons to boo heels that you like, but it is not a necessity. More importantly, to me it doesn’t put the company in the best position to draw money and ratings because it is a fake response.
If I was psychic and knew that every fan was simply playing along with the storyline, I would be disappointed because I want to know how fans really feel. Let the promotion adjust, not the fans. I am not saying I like heels getting cheered, I’m saying it’s fine either way as long as it is a passionate and organic (there’s that word again) response. If someone is not emotionally invested in the characters or the storylines, who cares how they respond? The last thing I want are fans who are robots.
Keller actually said that people have always known that wrestling was a “show” and people still booed heels. To me that means you have to look at what changed, since it wasn’t the knowledge of the fans (generally speaking, the volume of knowledge has obviously changed), then it must be the product not getting people to react appropriately. I should make an aside (that is not really an aside) here, I am more into the economics (think Brandon Howard) than I am into crowd reaction. The crowd reaction is a signal that something is wrong (considering that many of their metrics are down), but it is possible to have a hot product without crowd reactions in line with face-heel dynamics. I love listening to engaged crowds, but the specific reaction doesn’t bother me either way.
Going back to crowd reaction-Dash and Dawson are perfect examples of two heels that get the desired reaction because the goal is to get people to forget it is a show. Booing the heel because he is a heel and to “honor him” is recognizing that is a show which means it is a flawed reaction. Keller says that people should have fun booing the heel. My answer to that is wrestling is supposed to be fun so I am sure that the fans (for the most part) who go to arenas are “having fun” cheering the people that they like. Organic and visceral is what I care about. It should also be what promotions care about.
I would say that as a wrestling fan that I am a positive fan. I find reasons to enjoy the show. The biggest reason for that is there is no wrestler that I actively dislike. I do like some more than others and I like some much more than others. At the same time, I can become invested in any act that is used properly or that I find entertaining. In other words, there is no wrestler that is inherently a waste of my time just by his or her appearance. That mentality is about 80 percent of the reason why I enjoy wrestling more often than not.
I mentioned in my last post that I think business before personal enjoyment when I discuss wrestling, but that doesn’t mean that in act that is designed to draw that doesn’t or isn’t designed to draw doesn’t entertain me. Steve Austin’s heel run in 2001 was a big business mistake, but I still enjoyed his matches and promos. I should have put this in the last post, but if fits here…I can enjoy Austin’s heel run at the moment and in retrospect and still acknowledge that (at least in hindsight) should not have been done. What I am saying is that I am inclined to like things that draw interest, but I also like things just because I like them.
I watch Raw, Smackdown, Impact, NXT, ROH television every week. I also watch every WWE and ROH PPV and I’ve always looked forward to the shows because wrestling is my favorite form of entertainment by far so I am not nearly as hard on the shows as most people are. That is not to say that I think every show is good. In fact, I wouldn’t call most Raws “good”, but I don’t think they are as bad as most people say. I also am a huge fan of ROH and NXT and enjoy the weekly shows just as much or more than either program’s biggest fans.
I could sum up this post by saying-I smile a lot when I am watching wrestling. I’m not going to put over that trite WWE saying, but if I am smiling and/or otherwise engaged in wrestling a good deal of the time-it means that I am a positive wrestling fan. Final note, I wonder what most fans who say this wrestler or this program or this company “sucks” would say in response to this question.
By the way, you can take this all with the proverbial grain of salt because I liked Elizabeth Rohm as Serena Southerlyn…I think that makes me an “easy fan”