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  June 1, 2000



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: Fair weather fans rain on our parade
By ALEX RISTIC -- SLAM! Wrestling

I love wrestling but I hate ignorant fans. In a world where there are literally hundreds of performers we each have our favourites. We all live on divided lines of loyalty following only those we like or the company that appeals to us the most. That's a given.

So why is that even though some watch most of the federations in action, they still shoot down one over the other? In other pro sports there's always that "love of the game" mentality. It doesn't matter if you have a favourite hockey, football or baseball team. It doesn't matter if you have a basketball player that you look up to. You'll catch that game Saturday night, Sunday afternoon or whenever.

But pro wrestling has the most divisive lines I have ever seen, anywhere. And don't give me that crap about it being "sports entertainment" either. That's just a cop out. These guys are athletes, pure and simple. The moves they do, even if they're as out of shape as Mick Foley, are sky high in comparison to any Michael Jordan slam dunk.

Yet, some make it their business to deride the competition at all costs. Some love ECW and think the other two major feds are sell-outs. Some enjoy the WWF and say the other two feds look like pikers. If you're a die-hard WCW loyalist then the other two don't have the same sense of tradition or actual wrestling acumen.

No one is saying that competition doesn't offer varying forms of product to keep the fans interested. Sure they do. But look at the core of each federation. What is it based on? Wrestling! And who, despite all the scriptwriters in the universe, provides all the in ring talent? Wrestlers!

Love The Rock as much as you want. Cheer the Sandman and his Singapore Cane on. Say "FUNB" along with Kevin Nash and Sting. Just treat everyone fairly.

The fact is, most of the major rosters have over 30 guys (obviously WCW and WWF having a few more than ECW). Can you honestly tell me there isn't ONE angle or wrestler in an opposing fed that you aren't following? Over 90 per cent of you would admit to it and the other 10 per cent would be lying.

I'm sick of seeing so-called "net reporters" with no journalistic experience telling us why last night's Nitro sucked and that it couldn't compare with the over-used catch phrases of The Rock. I'm sick of seeing fans call Lance Storm and other ECW alumni sell-outs because they have families to feed and actual career goals they're chasing after. Most of all, I'm sick of "federation cheerleaders" who exist everywhere (even on this fine web site) preaching to the converted and misrepresenting the state of the industry because the blinders they wear distort their outlook.

Touching a bit more on divisiveness, it's reflected everywhere, and has its consequences. I can no longer read certain other web sites because of their biased reporting, or certain writers on other sites for the same reason -- if you're covering ALL of wrestling, you should be covering all of it EQUALLY. No favouritism allowed, that is, if you're a real journalist.

The e-mail I get suggests many of you feel the same way I do. So why all the trash talking then? It's not constructive criticism, it's destructive. It's one thing to say that ECW isn't in the same league as its competitors because its product isn't polished and then suggest some solutions. It's quite another to suggest they suck just because of their stature.

Sticking with the ECW example, when people report that it's boring or uneventful, they're not looking at the facts. Fact: Vince MacMahon bought a company that was already established. Fact: Turner Broadcasting also bought a company, in WCW, that was already established. Paul Heyman, while working with the NWA, essentially started from the ground up. Yet no one mentions this in their anti-ECW tirades when comparing the products.

There is also another issue that needs addressing in this mess. Fan responsibility. Yes, responsibility. How many of you were there when Nitro was kicking RAW's ass for over a year straight only to turn around and now say it stinks. These millions of fans watching wrestling, at least according to the ratings, aren't manufactured. They were already there; they just switched when something got more interesting. That's okay, by all means, but isn't it hypocritical to pretend that one doesn't exist, or that you didn't like the OTHER product at some point. There is nothing worse than a spineless bandwagon-jumper.

How will these people feel when WCW starts winning the Monday night ratings again? Wrestling is cyclical so it will happen eventually. How many of you who tune into RAW now will say it's crap a couple of years down the road from now? While it may be true that it might not be as entertaining, it's astounding to see how short some people's memories are.

For the sake of the industry as a whole the mindset I've described has got to stop. People don't turn off American League baseball games because their favourite team is in the National League. Same goes for the XFL when and if it does launch. If someone were to grow fond of the product Vinnie Mac is producing would they stop tuning into the NFL? Of course not.

The bottom line is let's look at the core of the product and what made us fans in the first place. It's wrestling and the wrestlers. To consistently say that one is better than the other is simply not true, factually or otherwise.




Reader Feedback

  • May 25:What the ratings really mean


  • You're right about how wrestling show ratings being trivial when compared to shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. Millionaire actually averages about 18.0 rating points a show. I have a question, wrestling websites claim that RAW gets about 6.5-7.0 ratings while more credible non-wrestling sites have it closer to 4.4-5.0. Why the difference?

    I watch WCW, WWF and ECW and right now I like WCW the best. ECW shows have gone downhill lately. The storylines stink, and there aren't that many outrageous stunts which ECW is famous for. WWF has become boring. The Rock has not come up with new material for months, and all other story lines are not that interesting. WCW is picking up. I can actually now watch a taped Nitro show without fast-forwarding half of it. Even though WCW's ratings still suck, to me Nitro has been better than RAW for the past month.

    Harry Nads

    Well said. This was the best wrestling/ratings article I've ever read. Have you thought about forwarding it to the WWF? I'm sure Jim Ross would choke on his bar-be-que sauce reading this. (Nothing against the WWF, but they are falling in the same trap that WCW did a few years ago, and that is they are getting too cocky about these silly ratings!)

    Question? Can Nielsen ratings determine whether or not a program is being taped on a VCR to view at a later time? I'm not sure, but I highly doubt it. I have a feeling that a good portion of the people that tune into RAW probably tape Nitro to watch right after. I know that up here in Canada having TSN air the two shows on different nights allows us to watch both without the need for taping. How close are TSN's ratings for the two shows?

    As you stated, "ratings are an annoyance to me."....

    Amen, brother!

    Here's to being entertained, and who gives a !@#%@ about the numbers.........

    Nice job.

    Nick Niketopoulos

    Mr. Powell,

    I enjoyed your editorial concerning the never ending parade of ratings provided to wrestling fans on the Net. I agree wholeheartedly that fans should not be swayed by changes in these ratings. As a WWF mark, I am not going to turn around and watch Nitro because it did a 4.0 some night. My only real comment though would be the ratings relevance when it comes to trends.

    As a fan, if I see the ratings going up consistently, it is like watching a stock rise. As a fan I realize that the greater the ratings, the more that can be charged for advertising the more the producer of the show can make (read WWF) and hopefully, that much better the product can become. The ratings on their own mean nothing to me, 2.0, 4.1, red, purple, onion, whatever. What I do understand is that high is good, low is bad. If RAW (or Warzone) continues to improve it's ratings I believe that the WWF is in a better position financially to continue to hire the best and brightest stars, improve production quality and offer a host of other products. If the ratings for WWF programming was not so high, they certainly would not be pressing into other markets like home video.

    From the perspective of WCW the ratings might be critical to the fans. WCW is currently trying to pull themselves out of the gutter. Since they are produced by the station they air on, the higher ratings should mean more money going into the production of the show. If you have more money to invest in talent, production and marketing, your program in turn should generate more revenue.

    Maybe my theories are way off base here, I'm a wrestling fan, not an economist. Ultimately the ratings to the fans are very good as a gauge. If WWF is way down and WCW way up, you can expect WWF to do something to draw fans. If the WWF goes up and stays up, I as a fan, expect a better product because there is more money to put into it's production.

    My 2 cents and more. Thanks for listening (or reading) to me ramble.

    Shane Hutchinson

    Past editorials




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