ROH Ringside – Issue #10

ROH Ringside

I’m gonna change pace a bit (again), and in this article instead of writing directly about R.O.H. I want to talk about an issue I’ve thought about many times.

Day in and day out, I read columns or watch videos on how unsatisfied wrestling fans are, and how wrestling should be, could be and would be. Sure, Vince McMahon commits mistakes. Sure, T.N.A. might be W.C.W. all over again. Sure, R.O.H. may be bigger now than it ever was, but it’s not the excitement as the yesteryears of the promotion (2005-2006). Despite all that, there is one thing that has stood out to me as the main reason as to why wrestling is not as exciting as it was a few years back. THE FANS. You ask how the fans are to blame for something we have no control over?  Well, I think that the fans do have control. Let me explain.

Many people know that wrestling has evolved throughout the years, as do all forms of entertainment. There was the territory days, the W.W.F. –N.W.A. days, the WWF New Generation, the Monday Night Wars – Attitude Era – E.C.W., and finally today’s wrestling. Out of all the fans that are linked to all these different eras, it’s today’s fans that really bother me.

Today, the fans who watch wrestling, mostly don’t really care who wins (besides the fact that they are sick of seeing Cena win), as long as there’s good match, feud or storyline taking place. That’s fine and all, but at the same time it takes away the essence and point of why we watch professional wrestling. It takes away the real purpose of why two people are facing each other. There are very few times where the fans have really cared about who has won a match. Some examples are when Kevin Steen won the R.O.H. World Title or when C.M. Punk beat John Cena for the W.W.E. Title. Back in the old days, the fans always wanted a winner in a match. Bruno Sammartino held the WWWF Title for nearly eight years and was praised for it and fans almost rioted when he lost it. The fans went crazy when the Ultimate Warrior was able to defeat the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan. Fans would go nuts when a face wrestler would win by a simple Disqualification. Today, if a match ends in a Disqualification, we blame McMahon for screwing up a storyline or destroying a good match, and that’s why we hardly see Disqualifications anymore.

How many times have fans chanted “You screwed up”, when a wrestler might have botched his spot? Almost all the time. Have you never screwed up in life? Have you never committed an error at work? Again, that takes away the storytelling in matches, and we care more about a moonsault that is botched up, instead of a man who beat the Champion for a Title. Sure, wrestling is entertainment, but when you get on the wrestler’s back because he slipped or something like that, it ruins the entertainment value. How many of us knew back then, if a move was botched, or a match was choreographed? Nobody or hardly anybody, and that kept the excitement centered in the match. We would even cheer a mere punch leading to a start of a comeback, but now all we do is boo when we see nothing else but punches.

The fans have also turned wrestling into a parody. Every time a ref counts “two” the fans yell “TWOOOOOOOO”. Two is part of the match, just accept it. Fans will chant “boring” if a match is not full of “high spots”, blood or weapons. Back in the old days, the use of a weapon was seen as taboo, nowadays, without them, we seem to get bored. When a referee receives a bump, the fans will impulsively start to look at the dressing room to see who will come down and interfere in the match. Back in the old days, a referee would get yelled at if he didn’t catch a heel cheating or if he missed a face tag. The fans would yell at the referee, calling him “blind”, “dumb” or any other name in the book.

Pay-Per-Views themselves have become meaningless because the fans have destroyed their purpose. Back in the old days, Pay-Per-Views would hold matches that were rare to see, or a first time ever. Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart vs. H.B.K., Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat. Today, Pay-Per-Views are showing matches that we can easily see on RAW, Smackdown! Or Impact. Why are the fans to blame? Simple. Back then, fans would watch WWF Television and enjoy a Superstar beating on a jobber, thus a Pay-Per-View would be much more meaningful, especially since feuds were built up longer and better. Today, fans would turn off the TV if we were to see Randy Orton face Speedy Delivery Jones, or John Cena take on Iron Mike Sharpe. So, of course, if you’re Vince McMahon, you’re thinking “Man it’s hard to make good shows day in and day out with Pay-Per-View quality matches, because that’s what the fans want”. Quite simply, we want quality television, and this leads to Pay-Per-View matches that are repetitive and have no special meaning. That’s a main reason I love R.O.H. Since there are so few frequency of shows (although now there’s a weekly T.V. show), the matches usually are firsts, and/or mean something. At the moment I’m going to watch All-Star Extravaganza II which Joe vs. Punk III. The first two were time limit draws, and not on two straight shows, therefore that’s making this third one interesting for me, adding the stipulation of no-time limit.

Many people have blamed the Internet for the drop in entertainment. Well guess what? Wrestling Internet sites are made by THE FANS. We’re the ones who decide to post news and spoilers on websites. We’re the ones who decided to destroy kayfabe. We’re the ones who decide to read spoilers, making us know how a match will turn out when we watch it on TV. Are you obligated to read the news on a website? Are you obligated to read the spoilers on a website? NO. So why do it, and then complain that the wrestling show was not stunning, surprising, or even that it was boring?

Not only are Internet sites used for spoilers and news, but the fans also use it to make a lot of contradictions.  Yes, we are all entitled to state our opinion, but when we criticize one thing, then at the same time ask for the opposite to be done, it’s hard to really know what the fans want. We claim that Chris Benoit winning the World Title at Wrestlemania XX was so special, and made the World Title more meaningful because he was the best wrestler the WWE had at that time, yet at the same time, people criticize Batista for not having microphone skills, or Triple H for using the same promos over and over again. WHAT THE HECK DO YOU PEOPLE WANT?

Back in the good old days, wrestlers got more over because the fans would accept the fact that they needed to be pushed little by little with the help of jobbers. Back in the old days, almost every wrestler got cheered, even the jobbers who got in some shots on the heel that was being pushed, because the fans actually thought that the jobber had a chance to win. Today, all we do is criticize gimmicks without giving them a chance. Remember the debut of the Undertaker? How many people who saw that Pay-Per-View Live, can say that they not were impressed by the man himself, the way he looked and how big he was? Today, we see a gimmick and we’re already bashing it when it debuts.

Why can’t a match just have two opponents put together for the sake of seeing who the winner will be? Why not have a match to see who the best wrestler is to climb a step up the virtual ladder to the Championship? No, we have to nitpick about every match needing a storyline, but then as a contradiction, we wish for more wrestling in the shows.

The fans have the tendency to criticize a wrestler’s ability, without realizing the need of having variety in the mix. We constantly criticize wrestlers because they can’t “carry a match”, they can’t “put on a figure four” or whatever crazy thing we can come up with. But tell me this, is it really necessary? The Big Show is a 500 pound man, who uses his style to perfection. He’s there to use his size as an advantage. Sure, he can’t drop kick, but why would he want to, if he can step on your stomach and knock the wind out of you? Seriously though, it bothers me when people say that big men shouldn’t get pushes because they can’t wrestle, but tell me this, if you’re watching a wrestling match, as much wrestling is a way of escaping from reality, can you honestly think that a two hundred pound guy is going beat up a five hundred pound guy like it was nothing. Why was Andre the Giant so successful? Because people saw him as unbeatable, and he played the unbeatable character perfectly, but now we complain about Big Show, because he uses a slap on the chest, instead of a hurracarana.

We dictate who a World Champion should be, but then complain that his push was too quick. What do people want? It makes no sense at all. As I mentioned before, I’m watching R.O.H. from the start, starting with the first show, and currently I’m at All Star Extravaganza 2. Despite that, I will watch some hype videos and interviews on YouTube. I remember a few years back, people were saying that Davey Richards deserved the R.O.H. Title, and from what I saw I agreed. However, a few months after that, people were saying he was overrated, and they went nuts when Eddie Edwards won it from him. No consistency. Back in the old days, Hulk Hogan had no ability and only had charisma, yet the fans just loved him as World Champion and could never get enough of him. No one was thinking, “Why is this man holding the World Title for so long?”, “Why is this man not putting his opponents over?”, etc. etc.

Many people say that a face chasing a heel for the Title is more exciting than a heel chasing a face. Why? I don’t see the difference. Back in the old days, faces were the only wrestlers that held the World Title (mainly), and the fans still gave the Title prestige. Then when things started changing, with people like Sergeant Slaughter, Yokozuna etc., the fans didn’t stop watching. However, now more heels are holding it, and people are complaining about the product. HUH?

Another gripe is with types of pro wrestling fans. In my opinion there are two types of wrestling fans, whether people accept the fact or not. There’s pro wrestling fans and W.W.E. fans. Out of everyone who watches WWE, 95% of them are WWE fans, despite the fact that they claim to be a wrestling fan. Why? Because they never give any other wrestling promotion a chance, and claim other promotions are boring. Really? You can honestly say that a body slam in WWE is super exciting, yet when someone in T.N.A or R.O.H. does it, it’s not exciting? What’s the difference? C’mon, just because an independent promotion does not have the same production value or names as the WWE, does not mean that the wrestling is worse. It’s the same damn sport, we’re talking about. The same moves, the same action, so stop calling yourselves wrestling fans, when 95% of you are really WWE fans.

In summary, just sit back, and watch the product and take it for what it is. There’s no need to over analyze every single bit, and interpret every damn thing. It is what it is. In the 80s the fans didn’t do this and it was more fun to watch. In any case, if W.W.E. bores you watch T.N.A., R.O.H., P.W.G., Chikara, Japanese Wrestling, and Mexican Wrestling. There is a lot of offerings out there, you just have to have the need to watch it.

— Jose Perez

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