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  Feb 17, 2000



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SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: What I hate about wrestling
By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling

Did the headline get your attention? I thought it might. I know what you're thinking. How can a proud pro-wrestling journalist vigorously defending the sport (Yeah, I said "sport", punks.) against the naysayers and snobbish media types have anything negative to say? Well, I do. Why? Because I strongly believe that you can only make something better by being open and honest. So without further ado, I'm stealing a page out of good old David Letterman's book and presenting my Top Ten things I hate about professional wrestling.

10. Finishing Moves That Aren't Finishing Moves

There once was a time when certain specified moves really damaged an opponent. If a DDT, piledriver or brain buster were applied, you were toast. It was part of the unwritten wrestling lore so that some sense of believability could be instilled. No human being can be fully functional right after having their head and neck spiked into the canvas. It's just not possible. The human body isn't capable of absorbing such a sudden impact. So, if Ric Flair piledrived Ricky Steamboat in the middle of the ring, he stayed down or at the very least was "dazed" for a large portion of the bout.

Today, a wrestler can be spiked, slammed, catapulted, shot through a cannon and they get up seconds later as if they were slapped by Mae Young. It may not be a big deal to some but for me such "no selling" chips away at the reality pro wrestling wants us to buy into. And, that's not the half of it. How can Vince McMahon execute a Stone Cold Stunner so that it has the same effect as if Austin had done it himself. That's laughable. What's the use of having a special finishing move if someone else can do it just as well as you can? It sorta defeats the purpose of a finishing move to begin with, don't you think?

9. Unwavering support

We would all agree that D-Generation X are heels. They abuse and kidnap women. They use their new-found authority to belittle others. They can't fight their own battles without the support of their pals. They've even mistreated "homeless people" on national television. According to current WWF angles, DX are scum. Why then do fans happily sing-a-long whenever they launch into their famous catch phrases? Same goes for the Outsiders and others. Either you support them or you don't. When I was a kid, the Iron Sheik could cut a promo saying all the coolest things in the world and people would still boo the living hell out of him. What he did in and outside of the ring meant more than what he babbled in a promo. I'm sorry. I just don't get it. Engaging in sing-a-longs with a wrestler you don't root for seems hypocritical to me.

8. Suits In The Ring

The worst thing to come out of pro-wrestling in the nineties was spotlight-hogging promoters putting themselves over. I'll admit it. I loved it when Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff were taken out of the "decision-making process" by Austin and Flair. McMahon, unable to meddle in federation business due to his loss to Austin. Bischoff, demoted to setting up rings by "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. What a glorious duration it was! The championships meant something again. Matches ended in clean finishes. No promoters interfering in the bouts, changing cards around on the fly and exerting their authority to manipulate the outcome of key title matches. I'm telling you. If I see the Bret Hart - Screw Job ending one more time I swear I'll personally resurrect the entire Dungeon Of Doom. That's not a threat, my friends. That's a promise! The Shark will surface again!

7. The Run-In Finish

Unimaginative. Tedious. Darn lazy booking. It's been done to death. For the sake of all that's holy, I am pleading with each and every booker out there, stop boring us with these catch-all finales. Did I mention that I have The Master's number on speed dial? Just one touch of a button and it's...Dungeon Of Doom Mania! Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.

6. Promos

Yap. Yap Yap. More yapping. Things are pretty bad when there's but 20 minutes of actual wrestling per television hour. Okay. It's not THAT bad but it's close. If it doesn't advance a storyline, I say shut the hell up already and wrestle. Unless you happen to be Rob Van Dam, Al Snow, The Rock, Chris Jericho, Steve Corino or Mankind. Then, you can flap your gums until they bleed.

5. Lucha Style Wrestling

Note this comment doesn't apply to all Mexican-born or trained wrestlers. What I am getting at is not what Super Crazy, Eddie Guerrero or Konnan do in the ring. It's those dumb-ass bouts we are subjected to. You know the ones. Guys trained in the Lucha style hitting nothing but high spots. The action has zero credibility as every maneuver would either...One, put a normal man away or Two, severely injure the attacker. Those fifty-man pile-ups outside the ring gotta go too. Come on, man. That move is worse than X-Pac's imbecilic Bronco Buster. The wrestlers picking their nose and flossing their teeth outside the ring while waiting for the next fly boy to launch himself over the top rope onto them? What a joke. High spot-only wrestlers are self-serving, egomaniacs whose primary desire is to get themselves over at the cost of every person they work with. You'll notice that these spotlight hogs can't produce a match that has some flow to it. It is common knowledge that every bout should "tell a story". Someone should tell these guys that.

4. Monthly Pay-Per-Views

You may think I've been spent too much time near the office photocopier or that I am closing in on The Fabulous Moolah as far as birthdays go (I swear to you, I'm not that old!) nevertheless I do recall a time when there were less than ten...count them TEN... pay-per-views per year. Imagine that. Feuds building-up for months and months then ultimately exploding in a thrilling showdown. Not so, any more. You may laugh (as I do sometimes) at eighties Rock 'n Wrestling but...you know what? There were more memorable matches and storylines then than there are now. The time, effort and thought put forth made for a superior product. You really did get your money's worth. You felt as if you were witnessing wrestling history in the making. Those days are long gone. Suspenseful programming has been cast aside for monster buyrates. Carefully constructed storylines for cold, hard cash. It's a darn shame.

3. Mature Themes

One thing that I look forward to is sharing my life-long passions with my son. Maybe he will appreciate heavy metal, pro-wrestling, motion pictures, video games and the art of cooking. Maybe he won't. That's cool. I promise I won't take it too hard if he scoffs at me sitting in front of the television and watching grown men (and women too!) beat themselves into a bloody pulp. However, I would've liked to have that chance. I wanted him to experience the wide-eyed wonder of attending his first live wrestling event like my grandfather did with me many years ago. To take in the sights and sounds that I love. To sit together at home and share in something special. Based on the shenanigans going on in the squared circle now, I don't know if that will be possible until he is much older.

As much as anyone else did, I hated a substantial amount of the cartoonish material pro wrestling dealt out in the eighties and early nineties. I longed for promoter to stop catering to children and realize there was young adults and adults watching too. I should've been more careful what I wished for.

In my opinion things have gone too far. Why do we need X-Pac telling his "Christmas story" in the ring when there's already a feud established with Kane? Why do we need ECW wrestlers using language that would make my grandmother blush when it's going to be bleeped out anyways? Why are women disrobing on pay-per-view? Why so many sexual references? It's not that I am against any of those things. I have watched my fair share of porno flicks and routinely use colourful language. But, not in front of my son or other children. Everything has its time and place. Wrestling is not the family-oriented entertainment it used to be. Something that mom, pop, sis and bro could enjoy together. More than anything else in pro-wrestling, I miss that aspect. In their quest to re-invent and draw attention to themselves, the promoters have alienated a large portion of the population. One day, I promise you, they will go so far there will be no way back. Their actions will come back to bite them. Mark my words.

2. The Status Of Women

Wrestling has never been an institution that has depicted women in a good light. Their persons have been the prize in many a contest. They are abused and forced to do humiliating things in countless storylines. You'd suppose that in the year 2000, their position would improve just as the subject of race is not a viable angle in our enlightened times. Not so. The state of the Women's Championships speaks to that end. Talented women who've trained hard and worked hard in a male-dominated business forced to rely on how fast they can unhook their bra rather than how fast they can counter a figure four to get themselves over. Be it known that in Japan, there are several flourishing women's wrestling federations that pack arenas to the rafters. They take bumps. They fight in cage matches. They are just as good as their male counterparts. Trust me. I've seen them in action. They're hardcore. We'd like to think of ourselves in North America as being more sophisticated. Yeah, right. Who are we kidding? Real wrestlers like Ivory, Luna and Madusa turned into second-rate strippers so that immature males can chant phrases that belong in strip clubs not live wrestling events? It's a deplorable situation.

1. Federation Marks

You know who you are. You're the ones who think that EVERYTHING and I mean EVERYTHING your favorite federation does is the best. Nothing they ever do is wrong, misguided or just plain stupid. Your chosen fed is perfect beyond compare and criticism will not be tolerated no matter how justified it is. These people are unquestionably the greatest blight upon the professional wrestling business. Their dishonesty does nothing to improve the sport and display their arrogance by demanding that others choose one federation over the other. In their minds, you can't expand horizons and like wrestling as a whole. You're either on their side or you're deemed the enemy. That's unfair and senseless. Every federation has their good and bad points. That's the reality. That's the truth. When someone is so blinded by their loyalty that they won't criticize or question things, then it can only be said that mind-set is the mark of a fool. You belong in the Dungeon Of Doom. Enough said.

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