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SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: It's easy to lose interest today
By ALEX RISTIC -- SLAM! Wrestling

Cat-call, holler, yell 'sell-out.' I don't really care. I'm losing interest in wrestling.

To be honest, there are no outside reasons. My job isn't taking me away from the TV, my family responsibilities don't stop me from watching Pay-Per-Views. When it comes right down to it, the product is starting to get stale and boring.

Indulge me for a minute. I'm going to go through a similar experience I had a few years ago, involving wrestling, which requires a trip down memory lane.

I've been watching wrestling since the late '70s. My mom used to work on weekends, so I was baby-sat at my aunt's place, and my cousins would always watch it. And this was the heyday when you could watch several wrestling promotions on Toronto television, where hourly programming even rivaled that of today. In all that time from between 1979 to say 1993, I never missed any of it.

But then, as circumstances are wont to do, things changed. By 1993 most of the mid-level promotions disappeared from TV. If you were lucky you would find some of the recently-renamed WCW, but the WWF pretty much had a strangle hold, at least in Southern Ontario. To be honest, I don't think we were unique in that either. From the product the WWF was spewing forth it seemed the booking and ideas of Vince McMahon had become lazy. Bret Hart was wasting his talent wrestling the likes of Yokozuna for the title; Jacques Rougeau, God bless him, was one of the top heels, which he clearly was not capable of pulling off even though it was entertaining; the WWF brought Bob Backlund out of mothballs -- the list goes on.

There was just nothing to compel me to watch anymore. The stories weren't interesting, and a lot of the characters weren't convincing. Yes, there were exceptions to rule; Razor Ramon was kind of cool, and Curt Hennig was still around, but not much else.

I still watched, but sporadically. Before, wrestling was a must see event -- it didn't matter if J.R. got shot, or if it was the season finale of Family Ties, or whatever the networks were pushing at the moment -- you had to catch your "soap opera for men" fix. But in 1993, I actually found programming that was better.

And Vinnie Mac didn't prove me wrong either. When I would tune in I was treated to slop matches, a crappy tag team division and Skip and Zip -- hardly must see TV. I still caught the PPVs, the occasional show, but that was it.

That all changed in 1996. After three years I once again had reason to watch, nay absorb the weekly content into my being. Eric Bischoff made a masterful stroke with the creation of the nWo, and the true blue fan was once again awakened within.

Fast forward to today, and the reasons why I'm losing interest are ironically similar to the first time. It's not the smash mouth style of wrestling that I dislike -- I do kind of like it, and have been watching it for the last few years. It's not the more adult angles and gimmicks; I don't think they're for kids and I stand by that, but as a 26-year-old man I enjoy them just a much as the next Monday night jockey. What it is, once again, is lazy booking, lack of competition, and un-compelling storylines and feuds.

I'll start with lack of competition first, as I can envision many of you scratching your heads over that one. Let's go with ECW first. I'll be the first one to admit that I enjoy the style, the raciness, and several of the performers, but quite frankly ECW almost lacks in some areas as much as it excels in others.

Rob Van Dam makes a great hero, but Justin Credible should not be the guy who's the flagship of the company -- I'm sorry, it's more than my opinion, it's the truth. While Credible is a great wrestler, and has lots of heel, to paraphrase Bischoff's comments on Steve Austin, he wouldn't be more than a mid-carder anywhere else. There are some wrestlers that transcend their companies, such as Hogan, Austin, The Rock, Ric Flair, Kevin Nash, etc. Credible is not one of these. Knowing this, I can't in good conscience be compelled to watch any feud he's in because I know most of the matches he comes into he should be losing. The only reason he's in the position he's in is because he's the top heel in the company, which also says a lot about ECW's roster.

Credible is only one example, and I can use others, but I still have two others feds to get to in a limited space so I'll use him as the primary example for now. But I'm not done with ECW yet. I have one more point, which is no less valid, but quicker to get out.

Part of me losing interest in ECW is that after September it'll be a while before I ever see it again, simply because it's being dropped by TNN, and if you're a normal cable subscriber, you don't get USA network. While it's not confirmed that ECW will end up there, they seem to be the front runner. How can you keep interest in something when you may possibly never see it again? The storylines they're plugging this week will be totally different than those we'll see if they ever come to Canadian TV again.

As for WCW, it's a few things. While I agree with Vinnie Russo on the fact that older guys should make way for the younger, I don't think wholesale dumping of talent is what's required. What better way to elevate Booker T's status as champ by pitting him against former legends such as Flair and Lex Luger? He can still feud with Goldberg, Nash and Jeff Jarrett, but if you throw in some legends it spices it up, and elevates your younger guys -- much the same as Flair boosted Sting into the stratosphere where they wrestled. I'm not an idiot, or a champion for the older wrestlers. But quite frankly, some of them are more compelling, better talkers, and have good ring generalship on how to build up a match to get the best out of a crowd. I think WCW is missing that ingredient.

And, while WCW isn't the powerhouse that it once was, they can still become the victim of lazy booking. I've seen a minimum of four titles defences for Booker T involving Jeff Jarrett already and they don't even have a real feud. Goldberg vs. Nash was already done almost two years ago. And the Harris Brothers? Give me a break!

Also, I love Lance Storm. I've been watching him for awhile now and I think he's great. But I'm torn on his gimmick. While I cheer and holler for him, I can't help but think 'What a rip off? Can't Russo think of anything other than to copy a gimmick he already did, FOR ANOTHER PROMOTION, three years ago?' To me, laziness of that nature isn't good, as well, if I'm an exec at Turner I'm thinking 'We paid this guy how many millions of dollars for some original ideas?'

To be fair though, I feel WCW has the most potential to keep my interest. They're actually farming out their own talent from the Power Plant, some of the younger guys may be tomorrow's Flair, and they're going through "growing pains" of a sort in that they are trying to create and solidify a new identity. Plus, they have a proven track record for pulling me out of a slump already.

Which brings us to the WWF. Let's see now. Without the competition, the WWF is the laziest promotion for creating interesting storylines bar none. Why bother? ECW is basically in a niche market -- more extreme wrestling. While they compete, it's almost a friendly competition. Fans do cross over, but core ECW fans aren't core WWF fans, and vice versa. As for WCW, while I may not like it, the WWF is more than doubling the competition in the ratings. Vince has nothing to worry about. People are coming to his shows anyway, so why do anything exciting for us. There's no reason to impress if you almost have a monopoly.

And because of its dominance, the WWF has resorted to lazy booking. I don't even want to watch Summe Slam -- I'm telling you right now I'm skipping it. I've seen Kane vs. the Underbiker already. I've seen HHH vs. Rock, for the WWF title, for the number one contendership, for the Intercontinental title. I don't want to see it anymore.

You want more proof? What's with all the tag team action lately? Mixed tags, six-man tags, tag matches for single belts where your partner or opponent can earn the title. Enough already. Just because you have an over abundance of talent doesn't give you license to bore the viewers. If you feel you need to utilize the talent so you don't waste it, you should have thought of that before you signed them and already had too many guys on your roster. The WWF has no one to blame but themselves for the pickle they're in, in terms of too much talent.

And what compelling stories is the WWF telling us lately? Let's see: Tazz starting something with Jim Ross because he badmouthed him on TV. Wow, oh my God. That means Chris Benoit is going to attack good ol' JR next week. And then, Shane and Stephanie will want him in a handicap match, and right after that, those Damn Dudleys are going to put him through a table. Please don't insult our intelligence. JR bad mouths wrestlers every week -- why is Tazz the exception? I know it was to set up a feud with Jerry Lawler, but all this fuss for one match? Lawler doesn't really wrestle for the WWF anymore, and at 50 he's not about to enter a prolonged feud.

I'm out of space, but I think I explain myself pretty clearly. And I also think someone needs to step up and maybe make it become more compelling again somehow. It's not a secret that wrestling cycles in popularity. Right now it's at a really high swing, which means a low one is not too far ahead -- I predict a year or two at the most. Maybe then someone will be forced to do something that will make me want to watch wrestling some more. As for now, I'll still watch, but if there's something better on I'll have no problems changing the channel.


Reader Feedback

  • Aug. 17:The Canadian Conspiracy revealed



  • What a fantastic article! I haven't read such a well thought out piece of wrestling satire in quite a while. Well said indeed.

    Paul Nielson
    Traitor!

    Brooks Davis, Victoria, BC

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