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
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
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.
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.
Brooks Davis, Victoria, BC