Killing the business?
Killing the business doesn't have to mean the crowds are small. It doesn't have to mean ticket sales are down. It doesn't have to mean no one watches wrestling on TV, PPV, DVD, etc. When I argue that many of today's workers are killing the business I get ticket sale stats, and pictures of full venues for wrestling shows. What those of you sending me that stuff don't realize is that those things don't prove that the business isn't being killed by today's performers.
Since no one teaches about protecting the business in all these wrestling schools anymore, and the only thing guys that SHOULD be protecting the business do is kiss ass, and tell wannabe wrestlers to go make money, to go "get yours," we are left with guys that are selfish bastards, flipping people with their penis, shooting opponents with bullets from their finger gun, doing killer finishing type moves 2 minutes into a match, performing moves on the ring apron that are kicked out of, etc. etc. and then bragging about all the money they are making. Well isn't that special?
No one stops to consider the most important question of all. That question being..."What's next?" Seriously, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to consider that question. After all these insane moves, after the penis flip, and invisible bullets, what the hell is next? Since wrestling stopped being about stories, since it stopped being about psychology, and selling more simple moves, since so few can cut a decent promo anymore, or even begin to understand why they should be able to, everyone has had to top each other with their move set. A splash became a frog splash. A frog splash became a swanton, a swanton became a moonsault, a moonsault became a 360, a 360 became a 540, and a 540 became a 720. Then all of those dives became moves done from inside the ring, to outside the ring.
Before someone one bitches, and gives me dates on when those moves were first used, I know that isn't the exact way those moves came into being, but my point is still the same. The more wrestling becomes about the "moves" the more over the top moves have to become. Even though spinning three times as you dive from the top shouldn't really make a top rope splash hurt anymore, we have to put on a bigger show to keep the audience's attention! Now we see moves getting goofy, and silly, because they can't be taken any more over the top unless man learns how to legitimately fly. So instead of guys taking bumps off the top of buildings (well, except for idiotic Joey Janela) they are resorting to silly things like penis flips, invisible hand grenades, and bullets. Silliness also keeps you from bumping as much, like trying to find more over the top moves, causes you to do more of. The audience, now having seen every kind of dangerous, wild, and insane flip and dive, are awoken to how "fake" wrestling is, so hey...why not just laugh at it? The workers (performers really, because nobody really "works" anymore) have exposed it all so badly, the curtain's been pulled back so far, that now they create a slapstick variety show to entertain those that supposedly "love" professional wrestling, but are willing to laugh at how fake it all is.
I don't have much hope left anymore, but I am holding some out for places like USA Championship Wrestling, and All Japan Pro Wrestling, and even Stardom, as these companies are all business between the ropes, and don't rely on insane moves, or over the top "comedy" stuff to maintain their audience. Companies such as these still rely on selling "regular" wrestling holds, and moves, while telling stories in the ring. I believe this can still be done. Sadly though, I also believe most performers today are killing the business they claim to love by taking it somewhere that can't be topped. I believe most performers today are killing the business because soon there will be nowhere left to take it, so it will either stagnate and die, or get goofier than ever. I already barely recognize the sport I grew up watching, and fell in love with. Please don't tell me you love it too, while slowly strangling it to death.
I’ve told my story more than once. How I grew up watching wrestling, mostly the old NWA shows on Superstation WTBS along with World Class, and the UWF (Mid South). I discovered the “WWF” when Hulkamania was born, and while I thought it was okay, it never compared to my southern wrestling (and I’m a Pennsylvania guy!). Back then I didn’t care about “work rate” or who was “getting a push” or who they “put the title on.” Sure, I had my favorites, and I got frustrated when someone I didn’t like defeated them, or beat them for their championship, but I never once even thought someone was being “held back.”
For example, I hated Jimmy Valiant, even as a kid he was too silly for me. Yet I recognized that he was good, or a threat, because of how he was presented. I didn’t really like that he was a threat, because I wanted my favorite guys to beat this silly man up, and be done with him, but I realized they would have a “fight” on their hands against him, whether I liked it or not. Today, like nearly all other fans, I get angry when someone I don’t like puts up a fight against my favorite guys because they aren’t as good, or their work rate is so much lower, or they don’t have the moves, or skill set that my favorite guy has. Today I get angry that better “wrestlers” (based on my perception of what a good wrestler is) aren’t placed higher on the card than worse wrestlers. Wrestling today isn’t about the perceived competition, even to those of us willing to “suspend disbelief” and forget that kayfabe is dead. Wrestling fans view wrestling much like they view fantasy football, or those less popular fantasy wrestling booking games. Wrestling fans today worry about who is “best used” and who needs or deserves a “push” over who doesn’t. As such, professional wrestling today has turned into an argument of best placement on the card/show than anything else. I’m writing this article to say that I’m sick of it. I’m writing this to make a pledge that I’m going to stop doing those things, and to ask anyone reading this to commit to the same.
As a fan of the old school era, I at one time stopped watching professional wrestling because it wasn’t the same. I wound up missing it, and returned. Upon my return I decided that I was going to fully embrace the “new era” of wrestling. I was going to accept the fast paced, less selling, modern professional wrestling. I’m pretty sure I even have articles on this site where I defend “flips and dives” and talk about why wrestling is new, and different today. At one time I was absolutely “All in!” During that trip down the rabbit hole, to “Wrestling Wonderland” I came to realize that anything went. There were no rules, no guidelines, nothing. In this “new era” anything goes! You see, in Wrestling Wonderland, since kayfabe is dead, there is nothing that can’t be done. From children winning championships from full grown men, after getting choke slammed, to men using their penis to put wrestling hold on their opponents, literally ANYTHING goes. In Wrestling Wonderland, of this “new era” nothing hurts in a wrestling match. There are all these amazing moves, flips, dives, etc. but few of them do any damage. DDT’s on the cement floor, multiple pile drivers, and burning hammers on the apron all bring ewwwwwwws and ahhhhhhhhs from the crowd, but they don’t end matches. Instead, matches often end with random roll ups out of nowhere.
Thankfully a return to watching the old 1980’s NWA shows from Superstation WTBS brought me out of the rabbit hole. Now I fully believe the only real “cure” to doing wrestling “right” again, at least in the United States, is to take it back old school. It’s time for a return to studio wrestling where top guys in the company work a lot of squash style matches, with an occasional match between two of the top guys promoting an upcoming major show. A studio show where wrestlers are interviewed between matches so we can get to know who they are, and what they stand for. In this company the heels and the faces will be clearly defined, and the wrestling will be psychologically driven. This means we won’t see spot fest matches with 8 false finishes, we won’t see insane moves that are kicked out of, and we won’t see a bunch of video game type of no selling nonsense. We will see wrestlers that you’ll come to love, or at least appreciate or maybe even hate, or at least want to see have their ass kicked. You’ll see good story lines that make sense, and aren’t so dumb that they make you want to denounce professional wrestling for life, and deny that you were ever a fan. This show won’t be able to bring in primadonna’s that will hijack the company, or hold them up, because they are “too big” to do what they’re told. This company will be filled with workers (wrestlers) that are all about doing business.
Is this company some “fantasy” of mine? No, it’s not. This company has been around for a long, long, time. They are taking the rest of 2018 to get better in style and presentation. My good friend Matt Riviera is a player in this company, and he’s the man that was behind TCW, Traditional Championship Wrestling, and as such I fully trust him. This company is “USA Championship Wrestling”, headed by long time, and well respected wrestling promoter Bert Prentice. Mr. Prentice is known for his knowledge and old school style. USACW is absolutely old school, studio, southern style wrestling. I don’t expect many of you to get into it. It’s not Ring of Honor, or New Japan. It’s not a spot fest show, it’s not full of fancy pyro and catch phrases, it’s wrestling how it used to be. If I can get a selection of my audience to give it a chance I’ll be happy. There are some of us that crave what we consider legitimate wrestling again and I hope USACW brings that to us. If this doesn’t work out, it will be my last foray into wrestling in the United States. If this doesn’t work out, I’ll walk away from wrestling in this Country forever, legitimately handing it over the “dick lovers” out there. I’ll be rooting for USACW to help me not do that, and to give a place in this Country for “Wrestling Done Right!”
You can watch USACW's weekly 30 minute TV show below:
USA Championship Wrestling TV