CANOE SLAM! HOCKEY SLAM! FOOTBALL SLAM! BASEBALL SLAM! BASKETBALL SLAM! SKATING SLAM! SKIING SLAM! SPORT-BY-SPORT SLAM! SPORTS SLAM! GLOBAL NAVIGATION
SLAM! WRESTLING

SLAM! Sports
SLAM! Wrestling







Thursday, December 10, 1998

SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column

TSN has no respect for wrestling fans

By "HARDCORE" CHRIS GRAMLICH -- For SLAM! Wrestling

Being a fan of wrestling has always come with a price. For the majority of the eighties and nineties we were viewed as having some sort of mental deficiency and disrespected for loving wrestling.

In the past couple of years (mainly this one), wrestling has broken into the mainstream garnering some sort of grudging respect by its critics.

Mainstream publications such as Spin and Rolling Stone have done stories on the sport. Wrestlers frequently appear on non-wrestling programs. The number of viewers who watch wrestling in a given week is huge. However, it seems as wrestling continues to grow so does the criticism by pundits who continually attack wrestling and belittle the fans in the process.

Wrestling fans have grown used to having their intellect insulted by condescending journalists, major television networks (out for a quick buck) and all manner of traditional sports purists. If that isn't enough, it has become quite obvious that one of the main companies involved in broadcasting wrestling in Canada is also guilty of these prejudices.

The Sports Network (or TSN as it is more commonly referred to), has been broadcasting both Nitro and Raw for few years now. Long time fans have had to put up with these shows being shown at absurd hours and with little continuity.

Raw and Nitro were both previously played at midnight (or later) and their next day repeats were more often than not poorly edited. In the past, the shows have suffered with no regular time-slot each week or on occasion, they aren't even shown at all with no explanation. TSN has constantly pre-empted wrestling for sports that do not even do half the ratings. TSN has little regard for wrestling fans.

Recently TSN signed an agreement with the WWF to carry Raw live on TSN but they should have worded the agreement to say "TSN will carry Raw only when we think something better isn't on" because that has been more the rule than the exception. Obviously TSN will gladly take the advertising dollars and the ratings it receives from wrestling but they don't really give a sh-t about their viewers or the hard work that goes into producing Raw and Nitro.

TSN's hypocrisy isn't limited to its broadcasting philosophies either. Their major discussion show - Off The Record - constantly brings in wrestlers and federation owners to strengthen their ratings. If I'm not mistaken, OTR has had its highest ratings when wrestlers were on. It's evident to even the casual viewer that host Michael Landsberg doesn't show wrestlers the same amount of respect or courtesy when they appear on his show as he does "real" sports stars. In Landsberg's mind, wrestling is not a true sport...but regular TSN staples of billiards, darts and bowling are? Don't even get me started on curling. This of course doesn't stop OTR from continually bringing in wrestlers to revive its dull concepts or whenever the ratings are dropping.

Nevermind OTR's disrespect. It wasn't until the December ninth edition of Raw that TSN really exposed its true colors. Breaking from tradition, TSN actually decided to carry Raw live. All was fine and dandy but TSN's history of unwarranted editing was about to strike. TSN edited out the last couple minutes of the show. When Austin was about to be attached to a giant cross-like symbol of the Undertaker, Canadian viewers lost the feed about the time Undertaker picked-up Austin and started to make his way up the ramp.

TSN will probably cite the fact that this act resembling THE crucifixion was the reason for editing it out. The two problems with that argument are one: the REAL crucifixion involved nails and a crown of thorns and two: the Undertaker's insignia resembles more an Egyptian symbol than a cross.

If TSN was really worried about offending viewers than I could understand them cutting it out of the live feed and replaying it with the unedited version at midnight. After all, the offensive scene would not have occurred until almost two o'clock a.m. How many impressionable youths are awake at that hour? But..surprise..surprise...TSN didn't. They censored a program which the rest of the world saw intact. Funny how Canadians often seem so morally superior to the States when it comes to issues of censorship and the like but more often than not fail to stand behind their own beliefs.

The biggest problem Canadians and wrestling fans in general should have with this bit of fascist censorship, is the fact that about two months ago the show "Xena, Warrior Princess", broadcast an episode were both Xena and her sidekick were crucified by Romans, complete with blood, nails and the cross. It was shown on a Canadian channel at about two or three in the afternoon on a Saturday and was not edited for the protection of impressionable youth or the easily offended. Yet there was no public outcry, no calls to ban or censor Xena and no death-threats to Global Television. TSN's Canadian Broadcasting Code excuse doesn't wash especially when other Canadian channels are broadcasting shows with similar themes without editing them at all.

So the question I pose to TSN is this: How come it is acceptable for one television show to depict the crucifixion of its main character, in the middle of the afternoon and unacceptable for you to depict a wrestler being tied to a symbol resembling a cross, which was shown late at night?

The answer is simple or at least it should have been. If TSN were that morally concerned then they should have simply aired the unedited version of Raw at midnight and no one would have cared or have been the wiser. Yet in this display of censorship they have shown to all that they no regard for their loyal wrestling viewers. They won't gives us enough credit to make-up own minds as to what is right and wrong. They've have shown they have no heart or interest in defending their programs. TSN are the worst kind of hypocrite, the kind that smiles to your face and stabs you in the back.




Chris Gramlich originally hails from "anywhere he damn well pleases" (a.k.a. Vancouver, BC). His hobbies include: wrestling, piercing various body parts, aggressive music, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Star Trek related programs, good animation, any all shark programs, video games, wrestling and walking his dog. Gramlich plays in a jazz/metal/punk/noise band called Association Area, being previous associated with bands such as Bad Blood and Tchort. Also a respected music writer based out of Toronto, "Hardcore" writes for the Exclaim and Doomhauled magazines.

Discuss this topic in our Wrestle Talk. It is a moderated chat group because of problems in the past, and will only stay active if people behave themselves.


Previous guest columns



SLAM! Sports   Search   Help   CANOE