March 21, 2003
The return of SLAM! Wrestling
By JOHN POWELL - SLAM! Wrestling
In a world where wrestlers retire only to re-appear a month later, where absolute fiction can become historical fact if repeated enough by a promoter, where Eric Bischoff is employed by the WWE and where The Big Show still gets a push, anything is possible.
Even the return of SLAM! Wrestling.
A short time ago, the former producers of SLAM! Wrestling got together in a downtown Toronto bar to entertain the notion of resurrecting the site through a partnership with CANOE and SLAM! Sports. The food was okay. The booze was good. The discussion was beyond excellent.
After months and months of intricate planning, discussions with our reliable team of contributors and good faith wheeling and dealing with CANOE, I am pleased to announce today that the original staff is back and to steal a line...you can bet that business is about to pick up. Some things may have changed since we've been gone but our commitment to providing you with accurate and responsible reporting to the best of our ability has not. We are beginning anew right where we left off.
Some thanks is in order. To my partner in crime~Greg Oliver -- for his support and willingness to tackle this beast again. To CANOE head honcho, Jose Leal, managing editor Tim Kraan and head marketing wiz Dave Watkins for giving us and the site a second chance. To Pejman Ramezanpour, CANOE's HTML designer, for his continued assistance and solid friendship. To our long list of invaluable contributors who are without a doubt the backbone of this site. You'll be seeing some familiar names returning to the site in the coming weeks, and some new faces. Take the time to email them and give them your thoughts.
Though I can't speak for anyone else, it was nice to be away from the business for awhile. For me, it was a relief to send the wrestling journalist part of me away on a sabbatical of sorts and be nothing more than a regular fan again. It is not that I had forgotten about that part of me. It is just that when you are reporting on a particular "beat" like wrestling, you are always working. You can't just relax and enjoy what's before you because most of the time you are there to do a job. In stepping away from SLAM! Wrestling for almost a year, I had a lot to think about.
Briefly, here are some of the issues that I have pondered.
WWE's Internet Policy
In testing the current climate before our magnanimous return, I was stunned to learn that the WWE is still shunning online wrestling reporters. Instead of forming mutually beneficial relationships with a media that at least respects the business they are involved in, they have closed down the lines of communication and in doing so are directly responsible for much of the unverified gossip that's out there as the people who report it.
The WWE still doesn't understand that it is far more productive if they work with Internet reporters rather than against them. Though it may gall them to no end, the WWE will never be able to control the news media or what is written about them. From a business point of view, they should do exactly what music, book, television and movie companies do. That is, co-operate with people through an efficient, professional and pro-active public relations department.
I fear though that as long as Vince McMahon is at the helm, the WWE will view the mainstream press as marks who can be easily snowed and the wrestling media as the enemy because they are better educated and can see through any bull that is propagated...like the "official" attendance for WrestleMania III for example.
The real WWE "attitude" has always been suspicion and paranoia. One wonders why in a day and age where Kayfabe is dead and buried, why the WWE wagons remain permanently circled. Hmmmm.
The resurrection of Kayfabe
Speaking of Kayfabe...when I heard that some ass clown at the WWE was thinking about winding the company clock back to the seventies, I thought it must be a joke but after I read several WWE interviews with the mainstream media, I knew it wasn't. After all that was revealed about the business in the nineties, how could you possibly go back to a time when wrestlers remained in character in public and never openly admitted that the tussles they have are choreographed? That's like a magician revealing how he does his tricks and then asking his fans to forget everything he just told them. It is ludicrous. It is ridiculous. There is no going back...not now, not ever. Anyone who attempts to is just being foolish and making others look equally so in the eyes of the media and fans alike.
The wrestling industry
It is heartening to see TNA picking up steam. Fans need a choice. Fan need an alternative to the WWE. The success of TNA and other such promotions can only strengthen the business as a whole. I wish them all the best.
The WWE brand split
Another debacle by the WWE. Unswayed by the mediocre television ratings and house show ticket sales since the split, the WWE is still pressing ahead with the idea. Just another example of good business sense at the WWE taking a backseat to someone's pride and ego. Smackdown! versus Raw? Bischoff versus Stephanie? It is sad that so much effort is being put into an angle that fans couldn't care less about and won't warm up to...ever.
Enough of my blithering. There is plenty of time for that later. To those dedicated readers who continued to visit the site despite our absence, there are no words that could possibly express our appreciation. You alone kept our dream alive. For that we will always be grateful. To the new readers, welcome aboard and buckle up. It is going to be a wild and wicked ride.
To bring SLAM! Wrestling back to its former glory is going to take time. There is a ton of work that is going on behind the scenes each and every day that is not visible to you, the reader. Please be patient with us as we move forward together and complete our "house cleaning" on this musty mansion.
So go shout it from the mountaintops, through email, ICQ, newsboards and text messaging, that SLAM! Wrestling is back. And we will once again prove that good wrestling journalism does not have to be an oxymoron.