Saturday, February 22, 2014

Lost Somewhere In The Danger Zone

I have been struggling with my fandom for a lot of things and that includes wrestling. There are a great many things that I am just questioning about the wrestling product these days. Before anyone accuses me of being some part of the IWC (Internet Wrestling Community) I have been a fan before there was an IWC. Which by the way the fact we class fans as that is pretty silly isn’t it. How many people do you know that do not have access or use the internet?  While are levels of consumption of Wrestling news and information is varied I hate to break it to everyone we are all part of the IWC. More to the point the term and the suggestion of this group is as outdated as some of the ideas wrestling is presenting to us as fans.

CM Punk gave a lot of wrestling’s most hardcore fans hope that wrestling could be fun again. He had his now famous promo in Las Vegas that had everyone stand up and say hell yeah. Now that guy has tried his butt off for three years and not a lot has changed. We still have a WWE that is even more corporate than ever before. It is set to launch the WWE Network in the U.S and has big T.V deals at stake for all its television content.

That might be the best reason to explain the total disconnect WWE has had with its fan base that they like to call the WWE Universe.  I hate that expression we are people not aliens from some other planet we are just people that want to be entertained. I think there is something seriously wrong with the product when I look forward to podcasts about it or about Wrestling’s past rather than its future.

The Daniel Bryan rise has been a grass root fan made thing from almost the start. Bryan Danielson like CM Punk was a star on the Indy scene and came with a fan base already. What he has been able to do just like Punk is grow that fan base to include the majority of wrestling fans. From the point Sheamus won in like 11 seconds at Wrestlemania a few years ago it has grown to this Yes Movement that is the most over thing in wrestling since Stone Cold Steve Austin.

For whatever reason the WWE has not gotten fully behind this and remains locked in the past with guys like Randy Orton, Big Show and John Cena. The fans in act the likes we have never seen before have literally hi-jacked shows and went into business for themselves. Fans are not buying what the WWE is selling.

This comes at a time that the WWE is taking a huge risk and counting on its fans to buy in on the WWE Network. There is some irony in there somewhere but point is people want something new that is more like what they loved from what is old. What’s old is new again applies in many world’s and wrestling is one where that expression most applies.

The new is a group of hunger young stars being held down in this WWE system. There is a reason a lot of fans love NXT more than Raw a lot of the time. It is much more looser format and it is it’s own little world that people have embraced. It also is only one hour as opposed to the three hour investment of time that Raw has become.

I am more invested in watching the Wyatt’s and Shield square off than I am the WWE World Championship. I am also more interested in watching Ronda Rousey in the UFC than I am that match as well. Rousey and her 4 horsewomen are more over with me than 75% of the WWE Roster. It is all in how they are booked and treated. WWE points to poor PPV numbers for the failure of Summerslam and their lack of faith in Bryan. I say their flawed booking is just as much to blame. Also isn’t this the company that is claiming that PPV industry is dying? It seems to be sending two different messages at the same time here. 

Even if now that Punk has left and I have lost faith in the WWE as a whole, what am I suppose to do as a fan? Go watch TNA? The company that is cutting costs at an alarming rate and constantly trying to use WWE former attractions to boost them up? MVP you’re the latest Ex-WWE star to try and save TNA good luck with that you will need it. I have just never been into this company for years. They buried their home grown talent at expense of big names and draws. They had perhaps the biggest star ROH produced in Samoa Joe. He was as big as it gets and on the level with Punk in terms of his stardom in ROH. What this man must think when he looks at what has become of other ROH Alums in the WWE. The roster of WWE is full of them.  TNA has shown more love to Sting than their self made Sting in A.J Styles.

TNA gambled on Hulk Hogan and lost big time. On the verge of his return to WWE Hogan is saying how it is good to be home. TNA for Hogan and a laundry list of other former WWE Talents was a pay check and not a home. The lone exception to that might be Kurt Angle. However Angle was such a loose cannon even the WWE wasn’t willing to gamble on him. History has proven that to be a wise choice. TNA the company that once claimed to want to be different from the WWE has become a cheap low budget imitation of it. Nothing more illustrated that then the final angle of A.J Styles TNA run being a complete rip off of the Punk angle that began with the pipe bomb promo. It was an utter failure as is TNA to a larger extent.

Where I find myself entertained the most of late is by ROH and PWG. It is nothing ground breaking in either promotion. What is though at the end of the day is fun. More like wrestling is suppose to be. The best example of that fun is a guy that WWE would never likely consider in Kevin Steen. He is a big guy that looks more like me than he does a bodybuilder. WWE sees that as a negative where I see it as a positive. While I am not stupid enough to think I could do all Steen does. It does allow me to live through him and relate to him.

I also am a huge fan of Adam Cole the current Champion of both PWG and ROH. He is going to be a star and likely makes it to the WWE System and than it will be on them if he is the next HBK or the next Dolph Ziggler. He has that kind of potential to me. I also love the Young Bucks tag-team who are full of HBK Super Kicks and just incredible workers but also funny as hell. 

ROH in contrast to TNA and how they use people is night and day. Let’s take two examples of former WWE Talents and how ROH has used them. First you have Maria who is the valet for her in real life boyfriend Michael Bennett. She is there to enhance him and does it as true heel female valet. She is not concerned with herself getting over as much as she is her man getting ahead. They play off her real life relationship with CM Punk in fun cool ways as well. They also have a pretty fun podcast that I have become a big fan of.

They also have use Matt Hardy and he has been a big part of getting Adam Cole over to the next level as well as feuding with Steen as part of the Scum angle. He is not there to get himself over and plays to the fans legit hate for him. Again this is brilliant and how you use a big star to get over your talent. Even a returning Chris Hero and A.J Styles have not walked in the door and been given the moon.

This takes us back to the WWE and how they totally over estimated the fans love for Batista and gave him the Rock treatment and fans rejected that in a big way. I guess at the end of the day you hope things will get better on all fronts but you have to allow yourself to explore and give other things a chance is the lesson I have learned.

Wrestling is an addiction that for many of us is impossible to fully get out of our system. Funny that was what CM Punk said that his addiction was wrestling which is all of our addiction. What Punk did though was said despite that he was not satisfied and he had enough and went home. I don’t think it is the same as Austin back in the day. This is deeper and about something larger than just Punk and his own career but about the industry as a whole and where it is heading.

The only thing I can say for sure is wrestling a year from now is going look much different than it does from today. It maybe for the good or for the bad but it is changing make no mistake about that.