Smart Wrestling Fans
July 28, 2006 by L.D. Grant
Those three words have become, perhaps, the worst words in all of wrestling. The term implies a greater understanding of wrestling as a whole than the average fan supposedly has, and allegedly gives the fan a wiser, more insightful introspect for critique and, eventually, judgment. The "smart wrestling fan" prides him/herself on knowing all that there is to know about backstage politics, proper booking and what constitutes good match quality, yet there seems to be one downfall plaguing the vast majority of "smart" wrestling fans: they are never satisfied.
During the Kayfabe era of professional wrestling, even once we were all well aware of how scripted and choreographed professional wrestling was, we still allowed ourselves to be fully immersed in the storylines and character development that we were given. If someone didn't like a particular wrestler, the most likely reason was because that wrestler was "heel", and was not supposed to be liked. When we cheered our asses off for someone, it was most likely because that was exactly what we were supposed to do. That was the way it was, because that was the way is was supposed to be, and nobody seemed to have a problem with it.
With the advent of the Internet as a "reliable" source of news and information, wrestling fans began to take their fandom to another level. They began to read behind-the-scenes information about their favorite stars. Unlike the "behind the scenes" information that one could get from "PWI" or any of the other wrestling magazines, this information was based far more on what happened out of character. We began to judge wrestlers based not only on what happened in the ring and on camera, but what happened when we were not looking, because in a way, we were always watching them. It seems that not a single event backstage can escape the grasp of Internet media, and the impact on professional wrestling cannot be missed.
WWE.com has taken it upon itself to get into the mix and begin bringing us information that, prior to recent times, they would most likely have never divulged. The suspension or Randy Orton, the arrests of Sabu and Rob Van Dam and numerous other incidences of "backstage reporting" have lead to WWE's concession to the "smart" Internet fan. The most blatant use of the "smart" Internet fan would have to be the entire storyline between Kane, Edge, Lita and Matt Hardy. A vast majority of the Internet wrestling fan base, myself included, were less than pleased with the loss of Matt Hardy in WWE, and the circumstances surrounding his departure. The Internet wrestling community, for the most part, was turned on its head by Hardy's surprise appearance on RAW, and at that moment, we had to admit that, as a whole, we had been duped. With that storyline in place, the "smart" Internet wrestling fans had been acknowledged, and their seemingly infinite knowledge of backstage politics had been exploited.
This, of course, has lead to the idea of planting false seeds of information on the Internet, in the hopes of keeping the "smart" Internet wrestling fans on their heels. While this theory could certainly be looked upon with admiration as a near-brilliant ploy, it can also be easily misconstrued as a sad, desperate ploy, attempting to gain the attention of fans who are otherwise sick of the WWE product. The question that remains throughout all of this is one that is inherently difficult to answer: why are they sick of the WWE product"
It seems that the Internet fan base feels that an exceptionally few WWE wrestlers are worthy of main event status of championship reigns. More so, it seems that such gripes only come forth once said superstar is a champion. Whether it is Triple H (In my opinion one of the finest WWE champions in history), John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Chris Benoit, Batista, Rey Mysterio, Edge, Rob Van Dam, Randy Orton, John Bradshaw Layfield, Booker T... okay, you get the point. It seems as if the Internet fan base is reluctant to welcome any champion, and that being crowned a champion in WWE is a catalyst for immense criticism across the Internet. Whether the champion is too small to be a legitimate champion, someone who should just be a transitional champion, someone who has held the championship for too long, someone who isn't ready to be a champion, or any of the numerous other reasons for criticism... there never seems to be a champion with whom the majority of Internet wrestling fans are happy, or even content.
I know that many fans long for the "Attitude" era of the then-WWF to return, but it's time to face the simple fact that those days have passed. Shawn Michaels, The Rock, Undertaker, Mankind, Stone Cold... their times have come and gone. Yes, many of us, myself included, miss Kane's mask. We miss the New age Outlaws, the Dudleys, Edge & Christian and the Hardys. We miss Stone Cold and The Rock. We miss the wrestlers who made us love wrestling, and it seems as if many of us are reluctant to accept what wrestling has become. If you ask three generations of fans who the greatest wrestler of all time is, you may get a list that includes Bruno Sammartino, Vern Gagne, Kerry Von Erich, Nick Bockwinkel, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Ricky Steamboat, Chris Benoit, Undertaker and Kurt Angle. Each generation will certainly stand a good chance of saying that their generation of wrestling was the best, but that's how it goes. For people in their teens to their mid-twenties, the "Attitude" era was what really defined wrestling for us. Either that or the N.W.O. era. Either way, those eras are gone.
The only reason we think wrestling is getting worse by the minute is because we won't give it a chance. We bicker about backstage politics and why certain people deserve more than others, when we should just be sitting back, cheering for our favorites and booing the hell out of their enemies.
by L.D. Grant..
Jon Rosaler wrote: Don't get me started. I've been against these type of people for years.
I wanted to applaud you L.D. on a great article. I agree with everything you said especially the way that everybody critizes whomever the current champion is at the time. Now, I didn't like Rey Mysterio being champion as long as he was, or even John Cena's first reign, but what people seem to be missing is that it is the story lines that make a good champion (I mean id does help to be able to wrestle a little bit and have some charisma). Look at Hulk Hogan, at 10 years old, I knew more wrestling moves that he did but he is one of the greatest wrestling champions of all times because of the story lines they built up before every major title defense. Same thing with Ric Flair (The Greatest World Champion ever in my opinion), his feuds with Ricky Steamboat, and Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, and Sting took months to build up and in some cases, took years to end. The unhappiness that people have for the "current" champion at the time is the same reason, many wrestling fans are disliking the WWE product now, Bad Script Writing. If your going to have Cena vs Edge at your next pay-per-view, don't have them wrestle ever week on Raw, that takes away from the entire build up that you want to create. Why am I going to spend $50 to watch the same match I just say on Raw the week before" Quite frankly, I could go on about what is wrong with the WWE right now, but that will be another day. But I just wanted to type in and say great article man.
I agree 110%! I am glad that I am not the only one that feels this way about wrestling! This is how I am, I dont care who's "more deserving" or who's "a better wrestler" whatever, if I am a fan of theirs then I am happy to cheer for them and see them as a champion. It seems that everyone of the "smart"
wrestling fans want to see all the wrestlers wrestle like Kurt Angle. All real amatuer wrestlers. Now thats just what it seems like to me, and I think that would be boring plus if thats the only kind of wrestling you want to watch then turn on the olympics. Great article L.D. glad to see someone is on the same page as me. Keep up the good work!
Brandon Buckner wrote:
I enjoyed the article by L.D. Grant and thought the points made were insightful and very well made, however, having said that, I must disagree with a few things in the article. The first is the first line of the last paragraph which says "The only reason we think wrestling is getting worse by the minute is because we won't give it a chance." I hate to disagree, but I'm afraid that statement to be totally false, actually right opposite of what is stated. Wrestling IS getting worse by the minute, and the smart fan recognizes this yet keeps on giving it chance after chance. If you think about it for a moment what has been the most exciting thing to happen to wrestling the past few years, it is an idea created back in the mid-90's, the regrouping, somewhat, of DX. Also I must state just because the avid fan, like myself, has actually gotten more in touch with the backstage dealings, that really does not effect the product we watch in the ring. Sure, knowing why Orton was suspended was interesting, but it did nothing to effect the outcome of my decision to watch WWE programming when it happened, the product does that. Fans are longing not for the past, but for the future stars to shine. There will never be another Rock, or Stone Cold, but on the flip side of that where are the next set of superstars to grab our attention like they did 10 years ago" Right now I am just watching and waiting. Thanks,
Chris Pennison wrote:
Insightful article, and in some ways, you are correct. Maybe us "smarks" are too hard to impress, and maybe having too much inside information can take the fun out of wrestling. Unlike the "regular" wrestling fan, we know about the backstage politics, and the real reasons champions are champions. We all long for the magic when we were kids, and one wrestler beat another one simply because he was the superior athlete. Not because he was the boss' son in law, or he refused to lay down and do the job. Becoming a smark in wrestling is almost comparable to experiencing the Christmas holidays after finding out about Santa. The beauty of simply believing in something is gone. But with this new found knowledge, comes a new beauty. Now, we have the upper hand. We don't believe whatever they throw at us, we can't be duped any longer. We can now see right through a superstar, and we can judge him based off the person he is outside of the ring. Sure, it wasn't meant to be that way, but now, that's the way it is. And with sorry state the WWE as a whole is in right now, I can't really say that it's completely our faults we don't feel the same way about the WWE that we used to.
I agree with your column, even though I am at fault at times to some of the situations. I usually cheer my favorites, not the "favorites" WWE wants you to have. For example, Mysterio. I think he's the worst WWE Champion ever, and I have lost respect for him as a person for the unbelievable storylines he's agreed to take part in. I know anything can happen in wrestling, but wrestling for "custody of your child" is insane. Then, allowing your best friend, who just passed away, to be disrespected for sympathy for yourself, that's inexcusable.
One idea you mention I agree with. The fans don't appreciate any of the champions these days.
Triple H: He is the best damn wrestler on RAW, and deserved his reign as World Heavyweight Champion. He was the best heel, best worker, and best damn interview on RAW, while he was carrying the brand.
John Cena: A great superstar who deserved the WWE Championship. He was way over as a face, he respected pro wrestling, and could always entertain the crowd.
Brock Lesnar: I was a huge fan of his, but I feel he betrayed wrestling when he quit. He was, however, a great WWE Champion.
Chris Benoit: The "Rabid Wolverine" deserved the World Heavyweight Championship more than anyone else. His reign was overshadowed by Evolution, Shawn Michaels, and Eric Bischoff. However, he was always giving his best effort, and brought prestige back to the title.
Batista: He actually never lost the World Heavyweight Championship, I hope that is acknowledged one day. He is incredibly over, and truly is the "Animal."
Edge: My highlight of RAW. The "Rated-R Superstar" is everything he says he is. He's not a "transitional" champion, he's the most exciting WWE Champion in recent history. I know his days on top are numbered, but he will always be right up there, waiting to get his gold back.
RVD: I think he blew it. He deserved the WWE Championship, but he blew it. Enough said.
Randy Orton: His 28 day reign as a wimpy face was pathetic. You couldn't pay people to cheer him as a face, just not possible.
JBL: My favorite WWE Champion ever. He carried Smackdown while he was the greatest heel in 2004. I will always be a fan of his.
King Booker: The most deserving World Heavyweight Champion in Smackdown history. The pure highlight of Smackdown, he is outstanding.
Overall, I enjoyed your column.
Andrew Riordan wrote:
I'm really getting sick of reading columns based on smarks. Smarks arn't the bad wrestling fans, the sheep are. Most internet fans don't actually gain their own opinion, they just agree with whatever has been said. For example, many don't like Jeff Hardy becuase he is a drug abusing 'no-show', most people on wrestling forums would have this opinion of him. Why" Becuase everyone else says it, it must be true.
Same can even be said for smarks. Everyone seems to bitch and complain about arrogent smarks, but you'll never see anyone reply defend themselves and call themselves a smark. I am something of a smark. I have my own forum, and occasionally read wrestling news. I am also well educated on the history of wrestling. But becuase I do that, that makes me an arrogent ass right" Of course not, I just like wrestling.
I am getting sick of getting told on the columns here, if I arrogent for knowing my stuff on wrestling. Traes column a while back, he called those who watch ROH, arrogent, smarks. Judging peoples personalities on what they watch or do is wrong.
Do smarks ruin the sport for themselves" Yeah most of us. Those of us who constantly think of the politcs of wrestling do ruin it for ourselves, although that I don't do. Consider the WCW/ECW vs. WWF angle in 2001. How many internet fans complain and moan about how much better that could have been" I agree it could have been better, but who cares, it was still awesome. Not enough people look at WWE like that.
However WWE is crap at the moment. Us smarks can make it worse for ourselves if we think negativly, but the fact is, there ain't alot of positives in WWE at the moment anyway.
187 Big Daddy wrote:
BEST ARTICLE THIS MONTH!! Man, I'd Give you a lot of respect for writing this article. Everything in pro wrestling is predictable today. Also I agreed 200% about Johnny's comment. Benoit Does Deserve more World Gold!
Jesco Brodersen (Hamburg Germany) wrote:
First of all a well structured article though I have to admit I disagree on most of your points.
It's true what you say about people not being satisfied and that the internet being a big part of the problem.
But I also think this goes in the direction Andrew Riordan mentioned above.
There's nothing wrong with people telling their opinion on wrestling but there are just too many out there. I can understand when somebody who has some knowledge about professional wrestling argues with the way the show goes down. Everybody is entitled his or her opinion.
But there are so many "sheep" out there as Andrew calls him. People who are just sitting in front of the internet 24/7 and just nagging about anything and anybody.
Like trekies or the people who were bragging about the third matrix movie even before it was out or those kids from the Jay and Silent Bob movie.
There are just so many people out there who don't have a clue but act like they had their doctor in wrestlioligy.
They use terms like "face" or "heel" or spot. Can't they just say bad or good guy or move. Those people most likely never ever so sports but brag about the athleticism of others.
Those people got democracy all wrong:you may have an opinion you don't have to.
When you got no clue shut your mouth.
I can understand that people don't take the bullcrap Vince McMahon does these days but you don't need to post something every week by the name of "the worst show ever" because most of these people themselves would suck in any of these positions whether it would be booker or performer.
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