One thing that pushed this “Wrestling Snob” away from modern professional wrestling is the total lack of selling. I understand that “wrestling has evolved,” and all, but all the cool moves, flips, and dives, aren’t nearly as cool as they could be because they just don’t seem to do much damage at all. Now calm down, this isn’t another rant from yours truly. What I am going to do is try to EXPLAIN why wrestlers take such a beating and keep going.
Since the 1980’s and 90’s, the focus on what you need to “make it” in professional wrestling has changed. Out are the hard bodied, overly large, muscle heads, and in are the smaller, but far more fit, flexible, and agile, CrossFit style of athletes. Sure, you’ll see a few body builder types here and there, but with the exposure of steroids years ago, much of the fitness industry now focuses on lean muscle mass and conditioning. The modern athlete also focuses much more on his or her mind as well, learning to overcome pain, injury, and exhaustion, not only physically, but mentally, to accomplish goals thought to be impossible in the past.
Today’s pro wrestler do the same, but on a larger scale. For example, why do you think it’s such an honor, and privilege to wrestle and work in Japan? With their “strong style,” and “Kings Road” philosophies, comes a mental toughness like seldom seen in the United States. Pro wrestlers go to Japan to not only “apply their craft,” but to learn the secretes of mental conditioning, taught in Japanese Dojo’s. One look at a guy like Juice Robinson, and you can see what I’m writing about here. Japanese wrestling has exploded onto the American scene, and with it came all of the teachings that normally were only found in that Country. Today, just about any wrestler that applies him or herself can learn the secrete arts of Puroresu, and this has been a large contributing factor to wrestlers overcoming moves that ended matches in the past.
Many “old school” wrestlers have opened wrestling school. These wrestlers developed strategies, training methods, and psychological methods, that have taught, trained, and inspired the current generation. These older wrestlers spent their days developing ways to withstand the moves the pain, and defeat, that many of the old school moves, styles, and methods, used assure. Today’s wrestlers, after having trained the bodies, and minds, to withstand more than the average athlete, now take up training classes with veterans that add to their knowledge. These things combined lead to wrestlers that no longer are instantly defeated with DDT’s, Super Kicks, and brainbusters. No, it doesn’t make sense to fans like you and I, but those who have the strength and ability to withstand the training that the modern professional wrestlers endures can learn the secrets. Why do you think it is that many wrestlers today get so insulted by fans critiquing their performance? They have suffered through immense pain, and pressure, to be allowed to step into the ring! No Timmy, you couldn’t get up after a super kick, but you’re not a professional wrestler that has trained his body, and mind for years to withstand such physical punishment and abuse. You’ve not delved deep into the psyche in order to tell yourself to keep going after taking a DDT, or a piledriver! The business isn’t just for anyone, it’s for the physically, and mentally strong. Have you not seen the quotes from NFL football players, and MMA fighters about wrestling being the most difficult thing they’ve ever done in their life? There is a reason for that!
If there is one thing about today’s pro wrestling that is legitimately easier, it’s the schedule. Yes, WWE performers still have insane schedules, but most other companies have a much easier schedule. AEW wrestlers have a much nicer, and more comfortable schedule than “stars” had back in the old days. As such, they can rest their bodies, and minds more. If you combine that rest, along with the new conditioning, and training, it makes a little more sense as to how they can take more damage. Finally, today’s rings, while not “trampolines” are much more comfortably built, allowing wrestlers to work a harder/stronger style more comfortably than the rings of old. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt to bump around, but technology has improved in this way as well, adding to the “less selling” you see in today’s product.
It is my feeling, and belief, that wrestling journalists, and commentators need to start focusing far more on the modern athletic professional wrestler, and his or her training methods. If you listen to podcasts, like Arn Anderson’s, you will hear this much respected “old school” great talk about this. You will hear him say how athletic, how fit, how drilled in mentally, etc. today’s wrestlers are. You will hear him say how a team like “The Revival” are “worlds better” than he and Tully Blanchard, and folks, this guy isn’t getting paid by WWE anymore, and he hasn’t lost confidence in how amazing he and Tully were. Guys like Arn, Tully, and Jake Roberts realize everything that I’ve written here is true, and they’ve signed on to be teachers, trainers, and coaches, to take the AEW wrestlers even further in these directions. Once again you rely on “The Wrestling Snob” to help you enjoy today’s AEW, even when no one else is doing so. The uneducated fan may not need these things explained, or talked about, but I am here to try and help my fellow intelligent, wrestling snobs, understand the story of today’s in ring product. Next time we’ll discuss Kristen Stadtlander’s insistence that she’s “from another planet” and why that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and why I am the ONLY “journalist” out there capable of presenting such a case that isn’t insulting to your intelligence. Now if only Cody Rhodes were reading my material!