Tag Archives: WWE Network

My Own PWP

 

 

There is a feature on the “Wrestling with Words” website titled “Pro Wrestling Punditry” where a wrestling fan of some regard and esteem is asked 10 questions about his (or her) wrestling fandom. I figured that since I am probably a long way of being interviewed for the site, that I would use my platform to answer the question.

Question1: How old are you?

Answer: I turned 35 in January

Question2:  When did you first start watching wrestling?

Answer: I don’t remember a specific time. My younger brother was a big fan. I used to look at the television when he was watching and remember being scared of Kamala. This must have been around 1986 and so every time Kamala came on, I ran into the other room. In fact, Kamala was the reason that I hated wrestling when I was first introduced to it because I was scared he would come on every time my brother had it on. I don’t know how I got over my fear, but eventually I did sometime in 1986 (so I was five years old) and have been watching ever since with no breaks. Once I started we watched WWF Superstars, Wrestling Challenge and the AWA. My relatives in Lynchburg, Virginia had cable and we did not (we lived/live in Brooklyn, New York) so we were really excited to watch the World Championship Wrestling show on TBS every summer and winter when we visited (we did not get cable until 1995).

Question3: When do you recall first thinking critically about wrestling?

Answer: I think this happened in stages (warning: I don’t know how I can keep this answer short). I always knew that it was a show because I have a relative who wrestled in the Southeast and my uncle was a fan so my brother and I knew it was a show well before we were even 10 years old. As far as match quality went, there was a big part of me that liked the NWA better than the WWF because the match quality of the former even though I had more access to the latter. Moreover, I always liked technical wrestling which is why I had the favorites that I had (more on that later). When it comes to thinking critically about match quality, I think even now that I don’t look at what works as deeply as those on the prowrestlingonly.com board. I just know what I like.

    My critical thinking about wrestling is more about booking than match quality. I started with that when I was around 12-13 years old. This is where my stages of thinking critically really took shape because even though I thought about booking a great deal, my first inclination was to think about it from my perspective. I remember once in 2003 (so I was 22), someone did a recap of Raw for the Wrestling Observer website and criticized WWE giving away the WM 19 rematch between Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho on Raw. He said that it was entertaining, but “wrestling is not about entertainment, it is about drawing money.” I was taken aback by that statement-“wrestling is not about entertainment? Isn’t that exactly what it is about? “Then I started getting the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and the more I read and heard Dave Meltzer…the more I began seeing wrestling as a business more than art. Right now, when I think about booking-I think about how it can increase, decrease or keep interest (i.e.: draw money). In fact generally speaking, I am most entertained by wrestling that works. When I say wrestling that works, I am talking about drawing money, drawing ratings and getting good crowd reactions. I never think about wrestling based on my personal preferences anymore, which is kind of weird for two reasons. The first is because wrestling is my favorite form of entertainment and secondly while I am relatively positive about the products that I watch-I am still critical. It’s just that if something works…I’ll put it this way if the Roman Reigns push was working-I would not be saying “push Cesaro” even if I like his work better than Reigns because the fans getting behind Reigns would be entertaining because it is always fun seeing a crowd engaged. I should also note that a big part of my analysis of any promotion is considering how it could do what it wants to do the right way. For instance, if WWE is going to take the approach it takes to its product, I want to figure out how they can make that approach work as opposed to living in the proverbial “fantasy world” where the company overhauls the way it promotes.

Question4: What is your favorite promotion of all time?

Answer: Despite what I said above-it’s WWE. Like I said, I grew up in the Northeast and my only regular access to wrestling was WWE. Moreover, my two favorite years watching wrestling was mostly because of WWE (even though I had cable by then and was watching WCW regularly). I always get defensive (even if it is in my own head) when people criticize WWE heavily and say it sucks. Let me change that a little, I get defensive when people suggest that anyone who watches WWE is an idiot and that Raw is the worst show on television (not just wrestling). I think that is a bit overboard…

    Also my favorite wrestlers of all-time are from WWE. I would say with the exception of Ric Flair, the other 9 of my top 10 favorite wrestlers of all time had their biggest success in WWE (notwithstanding what they did in other organizations or the independent scene). WWE encompasses a lot about what I like in wrestling. I like the music, I like the Titantron, I like the pageantry of Wrestlemania and now that the in-ring is very good-there is little not to like in the macro (it’s the specifics in how it is presented which is problematic).

   I should say that I am a huge fan of Jim Crockett promotions and WCW from 1995-early 1999. I like the serious/sports like approach to wrestling that the NWA had and I was/am a big fan of the New World Order.

Question5: Who is your favorite wrestler of all-time?

Answer: Bret Hart. As I said earlier, I was a big fan of technical wrestling growing up and Bret Hart was the master of that type of wrestling. I also enjoyed his heel run immensely (more on that below). In fact when Bret turned heel, it was the first time I ever rooted for the heel because I wanted to stay loyal to him. I used to appreciate heels, but I could not bring myself to root for them until Bret turned and reunited the Hart Foundation. As an aside, when I hear Hart Foundation-I think 1997, not 1987 even though I was a fan during both time periods.

      On the favorite wrestler discussion, there are two things that will draw me to a wrestler-tremendous in-ring skills or a personality similar to mine. Bret was my favorite in-ring worker so he was my favorite of all-time. At the same time, I am drawn to anti-heroes like Steve Austin, CM Punk, Eddie Kingston and the Undertaker. With that said, I am also a huge fan of “traditional babyfaces” such as Ricky Steamboat, Bayley and Sami Zayn…it just depends. Daniel Bryan was my favorite wrestler before he retired and while I appreciate the fact that he is seemingly a great person, honestly he was my favorite because I enjoyed watching his matches the most.

Question6: What is your favorite era of wrestling?

Answer: The Monday Night War. The reason I say that is because WWE 1997 and WWE 2000 are my two favorite years as a fan. Moreover, I am a fan of invasion angles done correctly and the New World Order was the best American invasion angle in history. I like the in-ring of the pre and post Monday Night War era better than the in-ring of the Monday Night War, but as you can see from my earlier answers a lot of the Monday Night War appealed to what I like as a fan. For instance, I think the fact that a pimp and a porn star (and a porn star whose treatment of women was questionable) were babyfaces is hilarious. I like the Godfather and Val Venis, but I was never huge fans of either (in comparison to others)-I just think about the fact that they were heroes and I chuckle. It’s too strange not to be funny. Those two are just small examples as to why I thought the Monday Night War/Attitude Era was so appealing. With that said, 1998 and 1999 were not my favorite years-even though I actually like the Wolfpac and was a fan of Goldberg’s streak.

     I like what is going on now because I like the in-ring product and I watch more wrestling now because I have WWE Network, I watch ROH every week, I have my ways of catching some New Japan, I do random searches on YouTube and watch some obscure stuff and I even enjoy TNA. I actually think the next 5-10 years could be my favorite era if the creative and star making processes of the companies that I watch become consistently good because the talent is there and the exposure is just going to become more prevalent.

      Question7: What is your favorite style of wrestling?

Answer: This again goes to several earlier answers. For the most part, I like what I like. In other words, I am not looking for a certain style of wrestling. At the same time, Bret Hart is my favorite wrestler of all-time primarily because of his in-ring work and to that end I would say that I like technical wrestling. I remember a message board poster who I have great respect for asking “what is technical wrestling?” I actually think that poster was right, but I would say that technical wrestling is whatever is pushed by announcers as technical wrestling (or at least has been, that term is not used often anymore). I would say that technical wrestling is what Bret Hart, Daniel Bryan, Ricky Steamboat, William Regal and Ric Flair did.

     As far as spotfests go, I am not opposed to them-I am more worried about how it affects the wrestlers’ health than I am my personal enjoyment. In other words, I can enjoy a match where there is a lot of as Steve Corino would say “crash and burn” if I was not worried about the health of the wrestlers. It’s not my favorite style, but the style in and of itself is not an inherent turnoff. My least favorite style is probably the walk and brawl…but those can be entertaining as well.

One more thing…I love watching the Young Bucks (I wanted to put this somewhere).

Question8: What are the elements that make up a talented pro wrestler?

Answer: This is tough because all wrestlers are talented in their own way. Some are big, some are highly athletic, some are technically sound and some are very strong. I don’t look for “talent” in terms of physical attributes or natural ability as much as I look for how the wrestlers use that ability. I would say that Dave Meltzer can be overly complimentary of someone who is a great athlete because I don’t equate that with great wrestling or being a great wrestler. This is not acrobatics, this is wrestling.

Question9: What is most important to you when it comes to spending time with a pro wrestling product?

Answer: Two things: access and context. I am single and I freelance…in other words I have a lot of time to watch wrestling. If I can access the content, then I am likely to watch it. When it comes to context, I really need to understand what is going on. For instance, I do not watch every New Japan show-but I always know what is going on so that when I do watch I have the context needed to appreciate it.  Actually New Japan goes to access as well, New Japan World is too annoying to sign up for so I have not as of yet. As far as older wrestling such as the Network or YouTube clips-I rarely watch entire matches. I watch more for moments that will make me smile and/or big angles. Most of the time, it is just because I have a few minutes to watch something and/or I am reminded of an angle and just want to watch it again. Honestly, there are other times where I just need to use or leverage wrestling just to get out of my own life like when (hypothetically speaking) I am crushing on a waitress who is flirting with her co-worker. To mess with the wording of this particular question, wrestling itself is very important to my life. It is by far my favorite form of entertainment so going back full circle, I will spend time with just about any pro wrestling that is accessible, but I am too set in my ways/routine to watch anything where I don’t have context.

Question10: What major changes do you see in the pro wrestling landscape 10 years from now?

Answer: Well, I think technology is going to be a big part of change. I am not sure where wrestling is going to fit in as a weekly cable television show. At the same time, I do not believe that WWE (and maybe they will be the only company) will be forced into a television situation that will compromise their business. Indeed, they may not make the same amount of money in television rights fees-but the only way that Raw and Smackdown will be network exclusive shows is if it makes financial sense for WWE. Other than that, I think that WWE will still be on television, but I am not ruling out that everything in WWE will be on the network. I’m just not entirely sure.

I think other companies are going to leverage technology to increase their visibility…I mean even more than they do know. I do not know about television because I am not sure how any of the secondary companies are going to convince television executives (major stations) that they deserve a prime time slot without a major star or stars and lesser production values. I still think that wrestling will be successful because I have a feeling that promoters are going to super serve the hardcore fans in a way that will draw those fans in to major events. In other words, what we see now is just going to increase with knowledge as to what ardent fans desire. Perhaps another way to say it is that the loyalty of wrestling fans to wrestling in combination with more delivery methods is going to help wrestling survive. The thing is I do not know that it will thrive unless these companies find a way to create major stars.

I also should say that while the in-ring style may slow down because of injuries, in-ring work is going to become the most important aspect of wrestling. In other words, the big draws (such as they will be) are going to be the best wrestlers or the best wrestling events. Charisma is still going to be important, in terms of separating the mechanics from the stars-but the thing that is going to draw the hardcore fans I discussed above is a product that they know is going to deliver quality in-ring action.

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Business or Pleasure

I wanted to discuss my approach to analyzing wrestling in terms of whether I approach something like this blog in terms of my personal enjoyment or in terms of what is best for a company’s business. For me it is the latter. I love wrestling, I am always going to watch and I like some things more than others-but ultimately I enjoy things that get crowds going crazy. Moreover, I have to look at wrestling in terms of what is “best for business” because anything else is makes any discussion I have more subjective than it is. Another way to put it is that everyone has an opinion. I will discuss aspects of things that I  personally enjoy, but I am not going to say “I don’t care about business” because I do, especially since it is more of an objective measurement.

While I am not into all of the minutia when it comes to things like WWE’s quarterly statements, I am very much interested in how the company is doing in general. There was a house show in Denver on 2/26 with Dean Ambrose in the main event and A.J Styles on the card where the correspondent who reported on the show said it was 1/4 full. My first thought when I saw that is that it may have done better if Roman Reigns was on the show. I’m not saying Reigns shouldn’t turn heel, but I do know that Dave Meltzer has reported that the house shows that Reigns is on do better than the alternative house show which is something to at least consider before making a decision on whether Reigns should be a babyface or heel.

The above is just one example. I think cheers and boos are very, very, very important-but they aren’t as important as business. None of this is to say that something that I liked while it happened is worse because it didn’t do good business (or it did good, but disappointing numbers). What I am saying is that my analysis is not based on my preference-because even though I don’t own stock in WWE nor do I have financial stake in any other company-my preference is what works in terms of crowd reaction, ratings, attendance and PPV buys/Network Subscriptions. I will read or listen to someone who sees the art of wrestling differently than I do-but their opinions are less valuable than someone who looks at what companies should do for the masses as opposed to what they should do for the individual fan.

 

 

My Favorite Wrestlers

 

 

This may be a bit self-indulgent, but I haven’t done this (or even thought about it) in a while. Here are my top 10 favorite wrestlers today (no order)

  1. A.J Styles
  2. Jay Briscoe
  3. Adam Cole (Bay Bay)
  4. Sami Zayn
  5. Sasha Banks
  6. Dalton Castle
  7. Ethan Carter III
  8. Chad Gable
  9. Dean Ambrose
  10. Brock Lesnar

 

Honorable Mentions: New Day, Bobby Fish, Bayley, Finn Baylor, ACH, Okada, Nakamura, Undertaker

NXT (is not) Overrated

 

I have another tentative plan for this blog. In this tentative plan, I take a discussion point that I have heard or read online and debate against that point. It does not have to be an overarching talking point. In fact most times, it is just going to be something I read or heard a few people say. Sometimes it will be what one person says, but it will be a person who I respect (but simply disagree with).

Today’s Topic: NXT is Overrated:

Problem#1: People can’t be wrong for liking (or disliking) something

This may be an argument of semantics, but I do believe in many cases (not all) that words matter. I have heard people (including Dave Meltzer and Bruce Mitchell) say that NXT is “overrated.” The terminology is wrong because if someone enjoys something in entertainment, then it’s good because entertainment is subjective. What people who say that NXT is overrated are saying is that people are wrong for enjoying the show. It’s okay if there isn’t a great match on every show or even most of the shows if people enjoy the shows.

If people like NXT for whatever reason, then that is a good thing. I will admit that I am a huge fan of NXT (which is why I am writing this article). I don’t think I am wrong for enjoying the show. It doesn’t seem like people realize this, but in entertainment what’s good and what’s bad is up to the person watching. Meltzer, Mitchell and anyone else who thinks that NXT is overrated are imposing their beliefs on others in terms of what makes a good wrestling show. I think the best way to put it is that we should not need permission to like NXT.

What someone who doesn’t understand the volume of praise that NXT gets could say is “I am glad that people like it, but it’s missing things that I value from a wrestling show” (it could be said better, but I made my point). A person can say that NXT is not as good as Lucha Underground from his or her perspective for whatever reason, but the idea that NXT is overrated is wrong because all people who like NXT are saying…is that they like NXT.

Problem#2: The praise is not overdone.

For the most part, all I read and hear people say about NXT is that they enjoy the show because they like the squash matches, the character development, the good matches (when they happen) and the atmosphere. I’ve never seen someone say that it is the greatest show of all-time or even close to it. I read people say that Raw should be more like NXT in terms of connecting characters to fans (and having squash matches to establish people for that matter). No one is comparing it in terms of quality to Watts’ Mid-South or Crockett’s Saturday Night show or World Class Championship Wrestling at its best. People are saying that “I like this show, why can’t Raw be more like this?” To me, that is a fair thought process to have. Certainly the idea that NXT is the best weekly wrestling show right now is not an outrageous statement.

Problem#3: It is a hot brand.

Despite what I said above about quality being subjective, I do believe that wrestling’s effectiveness is objective. In other words, people can like whatever they want, but the numbers and the crowd reaction speaks to the effectiveness of the promotion. NXT is successful in terms of getting people invested in the characters and the brand as a whole. While for the most part, NXT sellouts are in relatively small arenas, it was also very successful in bigger arenas in Brooklyn last summer and in the U.K a short while ago. The characters are over, the brand is over and there are objective metrics to prove it. There is no bigger evidence that the “NXT is overrated camp” is looking at things the wrong way than the success of the brand.

Problem#4: The criticism is wrong.

If someone wants to say that NXT is overrated, there are two arguments that can be made. The first is that what NXT does is designed for a niche audience and would not work on a grander scale. I agree with that argument. I’m not sure how well NXT would do on a cable network with the format that it has. It would not do as well as Raw or Smackdown, but I don’t see anyone saying that it would. If someone wants to say that NXT would be doing between 1 and 1.5 million viewers if it was on cable television, I would agree with that. At the same time, I don’t see anyone saying that NXT would be getting Raw numbers if it replaced Raw on USA-people are saying that they enjoy the show and the main brand could take things from NXT to incorporate into Raw and Smackdown.

The second legitimate criticism could be that NXT is overrated as a developmental territory. WWE has been ravaged by injuries and they have not gone to NXT to find wrestlers that can help them on the road to Wrestlemania. If NXT is legitimately a developmental territory, one can argue that they should have people ready to come up in times where the roster depth is shallow. There are several counterarguments to that. First and foremost, a wrestler only being called up to fill a gap may suffer in the long-term if the company was not ready to call the person up and only did so because of injuries. Secondly, the main NXT roster (the ones who do house shows outside of Florida) is for all intents and purposes a hybrid. Indeed, it’s developmental and many wrestlers that we see on NXT television now will end up on the main roster, but it has also become a show designed to draw interest in terms of attendance and network subscriptions. Should NXT be its own brand? That is an interesting question, but the fact is that NXT is its own brand. With all of that said, if someone wants to say that NXT is overrated because its purpose has been lost and it is a HHH vanity project, at least it is a better argument than NXT is overrated because people are wrong for liking it. For the last time (in this column)….

(pretend I used exclamation points and all caps)

People can like whatever they want when it comes to entertainment.

 

 

Who am I (as a wrestling fan)?

So who am I as a wrestling fan and why should you care? I’ll answer the second question first-you shouldn’t-I’m just another fan. What I have found is that I talk a lot about wrestling…to myself so since I am a writer, I figured that I would start to put these thoughts on the computer screen. Maybe I will get noticed, maybe I won’t-but wrestling is my favorite form of entertainment and I enjoy talking about it. With that in mind…to help with the content-I will provide some context.

(Paraphrasing Mike Francesa…what kind of fan am I?)

Question: How long have I been watching wrestling?

Answer: For 29 years (I am 34 years old)

Question: What or who got me involved with watching?

Answer: My brother. I don’t remember a moment where I started watching, I do remember being scared of Kamala and that keeping me from starting to watch. I got over that fear and now I am at the point where if it was a binary choice (and it won’t be), I would watch Wrestlemania over the Super Bowl.

Question: What is my favorite promotion of all time?

Answer: WWE. Even though I have never gone to a wrestling show-growing up in the Northeast (and we didn’t have cable until 1995)-I have always been partial to WWE.

Question: What did I watch growing up?

Answer: WWE, WCW, ECW, I watched the GWF when we used to visit our relatives in Virginia (they had cable), and the AWA before it went under.

Question: what do I watch now?

Answer: Raw every week, Smackdown every week, NXT every week, TNA Impact every week and I have subscription to WWE Network.

Question: Who is your favorite wrestler of all-time?

Answer: Bret Hart

Question: What was your favorite time period for a promotion?

Answer: Tie between WWE in 1997 and WWE in 2000.

Question: What about New Japan and ROH?

Answer: I don’t watch New Japan regularly-but I know who the champions are and what is going on with it in general. I have a Bullet Club t-shirt and a Bullet Club hoodie, if for no other reason than I am a big fan of factions and I like the Bullet Club concept in theory (and from what I have seen and heard in practice as well). That brings me to ROH, which I do watch every week.

Question: Any wrestling website subscriptions?

Answer: I subscribe to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Pro Wrestling Torch and Prowrestling.net. I would try pwinsider (and I might for a one month period instead of one of the above or if I want to reward myself), but $25 a month on wrestling subscriptions (actually $35 if we count the Network) is enough for now.

Question: Favorite current wrestler

Answer: Adam Cole Baybay and A.J Styles

Question: You know what stuff is fake, right?

Answer: Insert witty comeback.

Question: What wrestler do I most identify with personality wise?

Answer: I always say that I am CM Punk without the confidence (with that in mind I do another blog about my personal life). With Punk gone-I find that I agree with a lot of what Bray Wyatt says (especially last year during the Cena program). Also

Question: How am I different from the average fan?

Answer: I would say that I look at things from a “best for business” perspective. I am going to watch anyway, so promotions may as well do what is best for them. For example, if this Roman Reigns push was more effective-I would not say that Daniel Bryan should be in that spot because I like him more. More to the point-I would not even say that I would want Bryan in that spot. I just think that promotions should do what works for crowds and the box office and that’s what I want from them and for them. Also while I have my favorites-I don’t actually dislike any wrestler/character.

Question: Favorite shows of all-time?

Answer: Canadian Stampede (1997), Backlash 2000 and Wrestlemania 17

First Post

I have been watching wrestling for 30 years and since I already have two blogs on WordPress, I decided to create a blog on my favorite subject besides myself…which is wrestling (if the first five words didn’t give you a hint).

I look forward to sharing my thoughts on not only WWE storylines and wrestlers, but also concepts about wrestling and yes some “this is what I would do if I had the book” posts.