Tag Archives: Pro Wrestling

My Life as a Wrestling Fan-Part 2

Part 1

Q: Who is my favorite wrestler of all-time?

A: Bret Hart

Q:  Favorite Storyline?

A: Hart Foundation versus Steve Austin

Q: Favorite Event(s)

A: Wrestlemania 17, Canadian Stampede, Backlash 2000, Wrestlekingdom 11, WrestleKingdom 12, Dominion 2018

Q: Worst Moment?

A: This is tough, part of me just wants to go with something in the fictional universe so I don’t have to pick between real-life tragedies…I’ll pick from one of the real-life tragedies and say the Benoit murder-suicide because a child died.

Q: Why do you and what do you like (about) wrestling

A: In Part 1 I discussed my other entertainment interests (and my other interests in general). When it comes to wrestling, it has everything that I look for in entertainment in one place…especially drama and athleticism.

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Is What Works Always What’s Best?

First of all, before I get into this, I should say that what works is usually what’s best when it comes to wrestling. Indeed, whether it is booking or matches, if it gets over…then it is what should have been done. I have said this before and I am sure that I will say it again, pro wrestling should be analyzed more on a reactive than a proactive basis because the goal of wrestling is to get over. If something gets over than it’s good. If it does not get over, then it needs some tweaking at least and it should be overhauled at most.

With all of the above said, there is part of me that takes issue with Dave Meltzer’s claim that if it gets over, that’s all that matters. I want to point out that I am complete agreement with him if we are talking about drawing money, as long as it is not unethical…then if it draws money or ratings…then it is all that matters. I am not so sure about that position when it comes to a match. It is something that I would have to think more deeply about.

I’ve heard Meltzer debate this with Jim Cornette and there is part of me that agrees with the latter that making a mockery of wrestling is dangerous even if the match gets over. Of course, the Young Bucks in general, Joey Ryan’s penis gimmick and infamous matches featuring Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi are examples that go to the heart of the argument. I would argue that wrestling styles in general should be included when looking at this argument (ie: are there some styles that keep people from taking less seriously).

While I am not sure where I stand on this argument, one thing to keep in mind is that if wrestling styles get people booked and help them make money…then it is tough to argue with what the wrestlers are doing. On the other hand, another important thing to keep in mind is that some things can go too far. A prime example of that is Lio Rush no-selling a powerbomb off a ladder through a table. That is one of those things that whether “it worked” or not, probably should not be happening.

I’m all for throwing away wrestling conventions in the pursuit of getting over and making money, but there are some things that if they are encouraged keep wrestling from even being wrestling. As subjective as I think wrestling is (outside of acknowledging what works and what doesn’t), I do believe that we need to have some standards.

The Miz Test

I have to go back to this idea that fans have an obligation to boo the heels. I disagree with it so much that I have to say something even if it comes off as repetitive. For this I will use the Miz Test.

The Miz Test is simple (I should note that I named it after the Miz, but it could be any heel). The hypothetical example is if the Miz is wrestling Seth Rollins, Finn Balor or real. y any other babyface and you as a fan want the Miz to win, then you should not boo him. It’s not real heat if you are only booing him because you think you are supposed to. I hesitate to say “should not boo him,” because I believe fans should be able to do what they want. At the same time, booing a heel just because that is the role he or she plays is something that I would argue does not really help anything, which is especially true now.

In this era where WWE says any reaction is a good reaction, booing a heel just because he or she is a heel only hurts the performer in this sense….who knows what WWE could have on their hands if fans reacted viscerally at all times. WWE may be casting the next big babyface as a heel, when they could have the next merchandise-selling money drawing babyface.

I have made this argument before, booing a heel just because that performer is a heel is as meta as cheering a heel because you think he or she is a good performer. Any reaction where the fan has to think is meta, which is actually the basis for the flawed argument that heels should be booed.

Ultimately, it is like a PWTorch.com writer said (not Wade Keller, he is too close-minded and stuck in what wrestling was to see what I am about to say), heel heat that does not lead to drawing money is almost useless. I won’t say completely useless because the appearance of a strong heel-face dynamic does at least sound good. At the same time, it does not really help, especially today when fans are so dispassionate about heels. Indeed, heels today get boos because fans are trying to help (the point of this post) or because the fans do not want to see the wrestler and are booing to express their satisfaction or because the heel does something cheap that the fans are obviously going to boo. People are so concerned about cheers and boos that they are settling for boos that are not really heat.

My wish is for all fans to react naturally and then the company’s response to that will likely lead to better numbers. One thing, I am not saying that a really strong face-heel dynamic will not draw in wrestling. What I am saying is that people are confusing boos for heat and the former is not going to lead to uptick in business. In fact the former in today’s wrestling is more of a sign of indifference than emotional connection to the product.

Pro Wrestling Youtubers…and my opinion of them

There are several pro wrestling Youtubers on….YouTube. I would do it myself, but I am too shy, I would not do it unless I could grow an audience and I could barely afford the apartment I am living in so I certainly cannot afford equipment. The Youtube shows (and I do not listen to all of them) are a good way to pass the time. I am not here to recommend channels over others. This is just a good way to discuss how I feel about them without talking to myself.

JDfromNY: The biggest positive is that he is passionate about wrestling. I say that as someone who is not a fan of ranting and raving about wrestling (most rants do not entertain me). The biggest issue that I have with JD is that while it is better to prioritize WWE for maximum viewership and exposure, one has to wonder how big of a fan of wrestling he is if he does not watch other promotions (other than House of Glory which he does announcing for). It would be one thing if he enjoyed WWE, but it seems like he hates it. If you like (or love) wrestling and hate WWE (or at least most of their shows)…then try something else to see if it is for you.

(Edit: 1/16/18). I hated his headline in his video about Paige’s retirement. I could have listened to what he said, but the headline turned me off so much. He put “who cares” in the title. There are actually two problems with that. The first is that if Paige does indeed have to retire from something she loved, it is callous to say “who cares.” It’s not necessarily a “tragedy”. but it sucks for her. The second reason is it represents JD’s approach to wrestling which is a major negative from my perspective…it is the “center of the universe approach to fandom…if I don’t like it or I don’t care, then no one else should care. That is not how it works or should work.

Good Mic Work: Good Mic Work (or Goodmicwork) has an enjoyable show. I don’t have much else to say about it. I enjoy listening every week. One criticism I have is that he often will try to soften what he thinks will be an unpopular opinion in order to avoid dislikes. If people are going to dislike a video because they do not agree with Roman Reigns beating Cesaro (a most recent example), then they are not intelligent wrestling fans. I wish Good Mic Work would not soften a legitimate opinion because a Roman Reigns hater or a John Cena hater might be offended. I do not have the same criticism of Good Mic Work as I do of JD from NY in terms of not watching other promotions, because the former does not rant about WWE as much as the latter so there is not as much (in theory) reason for Good Mic Work to watch other promotions. I know I did not say much positive about Good Mic Work, but I do very much enjoy listening to him. I just thought of a specific positive…I like that he gets what WWE is trying to do from a business standpoint. He also accepts it, so that is a positive because many people criticize things they do not like without seeing the other side of it.

Velena: Velena is okay for me. I am a subscriber so I do know when her videos come out and watch most of them. It is not destination listening for me, but it’s not a turnoff by any means. She uses the word literally too much, but that’s fine I guess. I do not know what Velena is going for in terms of coming across as an expert on wrestling (she does seem passionate about it), but I put her somewhere between JD from NY and Good Mic Work, if she wants to come across as more knowledgeable, she could stand to watch more wrestling outside of WWE…at the same time she does not seem to hate WWE like JD so it is not a case of she should just try to watch something else.

Dalyxman: Dalyxman is fine…there is some “stereotypical smark” in him, but he is a good listen. I like that he cares about the content of his channel and always tries to keep things interesting in terms of discussions and talking points. He also dabbles in other promotions which is something I respect…yeah so he is okay. I don’t have any macro or even micro criticisms that come to mind (other than the stereotypical smark thing)

Wyza: Wyza is my favorite. He seems like a cool person and he is intellectual about wrestling. There is very little ranting and if there is it makes sense. He is both engaging and intelligent when talking about wrestling. It does not get much better than that. I even subscribed to his Twitch account so that I can watch his live viewing of wrestling shows (even though I don’t watch his live viewings…live). The only criticism is that he can get distracted at times, but that’s my personal hangup. He also dabbles in NJPW and other promotions, so that is another positive.

How to Fix 50/50 booking…if they insist

50/50 booking is going to be a constant theme of this blog because it may be the biggest problem that WWE has in terms of getting people over. Also, knowing their patterns makes things more predictable than they should be. I would say this, I think it works better in other promotions than in WWE, because the only issue with 50/50 booking in promotions like NJPW and ROH is that it makes things predictable, but in WWE it not only creates predictability, it makes it difficult for people to get over.

With the above in mind, if 50/50 booking is going to be a reality, then there are two things that WWE could do to make it easier to digest for those in the audience who do see it as a problem.

The first is acknowledge the parity. Acknowledging the parity has to be more than “anything can happen in WWE.” It has to be treated like a sport where it is outright said that the wrestlers’ records are relatively even for the most part. I see why they would not approach things in the manner I just suggested, but at this point it is almost insulting the intelligence of the audience not to discuss the reality that 90 percent of the company is around the .500 mark (at least it seems that way). I do not always agree with Wade Keller, but one thing he often preaches that I do agree with is that companies should “own their booking”. If they want to book 50/50, then they should address it just like any other sports announcer would address parity in a league where there is obviously parity.

The second one is a bit more difficult to explain in terms of reasoning. I’ll start by saying that one thing I feel wrestling promotions should avoid (for the most part), is giving people a reason to remember that this is a “show.” When people talk about that, they usually talk about wrestlers “laying their stuff in” or not writing or producing a “hokey” segment. I agree with those sentiments. I would expand it and say that when a promotion does a match one week and then does the same match the next week…there needs to be a storyline reason for it. If Wrestler A beats Wrestler B on November 1, if there is a rematch on November 8…give us a reason. Even if that reason is on the company’s website or YouTube page. When you don’t give a reason, it makes some members of the audience think…”oh, they just want to give Wrestler B his or her win back.”

If you don’t want to give a storyline reason, go back to what I wrote in the above paragraph, just have the announcers say that the management of the show in question wanted to see if last week was a fluke or that the promotion believes that there is parity, so one match does not prove that one is better than the other and the next match is to make sure. Of course that does not explain why there would not be a third match, but this post is to make 50/50 booking work. I think it’s a poor way to book, but there are ways to make it manageable.

Merchandise and the Calculated Risk

Is merchandise the best way to tell who is a draw in wrestling now? One thing that I will say is that I do believe it gets underrated by people who think Wrestler X should turn heel just because they are stale in those people’s opinions or  because “Wrestler X would make a great heel.”

The television rights fees are fixed and while WWE wants to stay the same or get higher ratings because they are going into negotiations for a new television deal, turning someone heel who is making money through merchandise is risky because the money is already there (for the television deal). The company has to replace that money somehow. I do not believe in turning someone because they will probably get booed….that means nothing in comparison to actually drawing money.

Yes, turning a person heel can potentially draw higher ratings which can be then leveraged for a comparable or maybe even a better television deal in the next negotiations. Yes, turning a person heel can help with network subscriptions. Yes, turning a person heel can help boost attendance. Yes, turning a person heel can lead to a program with a babyface who may do even better merchandise numbers. The key word is “can.” When someone is doing well in merchandise sales (someone like Enzo Amore or  New Day), then it is a calculated risk to turn them. The reason why Amore and the New Day stand out for the merchandise sales is because they are better than average. I don’t know if they are better than average for anyone on the card or for their spot on the card, but people would not be talking about anyone’s merchandise sales unless they were strong.  If they are strong, then it is making the company money and I would have a hard time messing with that.  If a company does make a change, they better be right.

A few things here. First of all, ideally the goal would be to catch something before it gets stale. At the same time, stale is a subjective and intangible measurement. When there is television every week, people are more likely to say something is stale…that does not mean the masses feel the same way. Even if many people feel an act is stale, that still may not be a good enough reason to take an entity that is making X amount of money on merchandise sales and making that X/2 or X/3 or X/10 by turning that entity heel.

Secondly, yes heels sell merchandise, but it seems to me that most of the heels that sell strong merchandise do so because they started as heels…not people who turn heel…at least in WWE.  I have no problem with “cool heels”, they could probably make more money in today’s climate than traditional heels. At the same time WWE markets to children and they script the wrestlers to say things that will make people think twice about buying their merchandise. Actually I want to stop there because that is a different discussion entirely.

Thirdly, I am not saying never turn anyone heel and I am not saying that anyone who has strong merchandise sales should not turn heel. I am saying if it is better than average for their spot on the card…there really should be a plan to make that money back before turning the person heel. The plan could be having a really strong storyline that would get people willing to go to the arenas or buy the Network. The plan could be to have someone else on the roster (whether they are going directly against the new heel or not) doing strong merchandise sales because they are going to get a bigger push. The specifics of the plan are less important than the idea of the plan drawing money to replace the money you are losing.

I am against turning someone because of potential crowd reaction (the heel may get booed) because crowd reaction is secondary to making money and going back to the beginning of this post…we may have reached the point where the only way that wrestlers in WWE can make a difference is buy selling a t-shirt.

One last thing…I have no problem wearing wrestling shirts in public. At the same time, it is a hangup for people who are big wrestling fans so it is better if wrestling shirts do not look like wrestling shirts…that is hardly profound, but I thought I would bring it up.

Babyfaces do not have to be good guys

When I say what is in the title, I do not mean universally. In fact, my point is not that babyfaces should not be good guys or heroes. It’s fine if they are. I just do not think they have to be good guys. I would say the idea should be to present babyfaces as good guys most of the time.

For instance, if I was starting a promotion from scratch, I do not think I would have anti-heroes. At the same time, if a heel got cheered to the point where I would have to turn him, I would keep the aspects of the heel that got cheered…even if those qualities are not heroic. As I have said before, I am much more reactive to crowd responses than proactive. When I say that, I mean that I do not look at something that is over and find reasons it should not be. Because of that I am much more willing to accept the fact that audiences just connect with some performers/acts no matter what they do. Besides, I do think there is a negative to being overly good, especially if it leads to preachy promos.