I've been watching a lot of wrestling lately. With SmackDown being added to my watch list since it went live, and me trying to keep one eye on Impact simply because TNA has earned my viewership being that they are making a gallant effort to improve their product and are indeed both currently better than both RAW and SmackDown, I'm watching about 7 hours of wrestling a week. Now, granted, I'm not nuts, most of that time is being spent watching in fast-forward mode on my DVR, as I will never in my adult life be interested in watching fake fights that rarely actually appear to be "real", but nonetheless---I'm watching much more programming than usual.
With that being said, here's my issue: Why does professional wrestling have to come across as so "hokey" in 2016? Why can't the product mature and be more than two guys just wanting to fight for fight's sake? Why can't wrestling ever seem to want to "grow up"? Man, having made a living in the wrestling business going on some 25 years now come October, it is clear to anybody who has ever worked behind the scenes--the money is actually in what's happening BEHIND the curtain, and what the fans have been cheated out of seeing since the first wrestling match ever took place. The actual business of the wrestling business is far and away the most entertaining aspect OF THE BUSINESS that any wrestling company can offer to their customers.
The politics, the positioning, the independent contractors, the bad business decisions, the relationship with the network, the drama between the boys, the girls, the boys and the girls, the cryptic messages on social media, the massive egos of those running the place, and on, and on, and on. The comedy, the drama, the romance, the suspense, the mystery---all present themselves. The greatest writers in the world couldn't pen these tales, so the question is why doesn't any wrestling company go there?
I remember when all the news on the world-wide-interweb a few years ago was the question of whether or not Spike TV was going to renew the contract of TNA Wrestling. The rumors were flying everywhere as the Spike decision would have a major impact on the future of the second largest wrestling company in the United States. It was during that time that I was "secretly" consulting for TNA, so I went to management and explained to them that this was the story that needed to be on TV. The absolute real-life drama of the situation was better than any Bobby Lashley-EC3 scripted wrestling match than they could ever imagine. The decision made by Spike would clearly not only affect TNA, and everybody who worked for the company, but in fact it would have an impact on the very foundation of the business. As I laid out an elaborate plan that was to include ROH, GFW and Zero-1 in Japan, I was told, "Let me think about it and get back to you." Without even having to be said -- obviously no one ever did.
So the question continues to loom large, why can't the wrestling business mature, and use the business of the business as the basis of its storylines? Well, the answer is two-fold. For starters, nobody really understands how to do that. With some in charge having spent the last five decades living inside the "wrestling bubble", they actually have lost all sense of the reality of the situation they're in, and only know and understand the hokey, sometimes embarrassing world of fictional professional wrestling. They literally have no idea of how to place the foundation of what is actually happening at the time and turn that into compelling TV while still working what may still need to be worked. The second problem is---the fear of the unknown. What would happen if we took such a drastic step. Well, my question is---what will happen if you don't? This past week on RAW, all three hours dipped below the 3 million viewer mark. That is absurd when you acknowledge the fact that 15 years ago 10 million people were watching wrestling on Monday Nights. How far do you have to let the genre fall before you realize that changes do indeed need to be made?!!!
Listen, man, life is all about taking chances. There is no other way to grow. If Ed Ferrara and myself were afraid of the unknown---there never would have been an Attitude Era, that is plain . . . and simple. But, at the time we knew that professional wrestling was rapidly losing its luster, and a major overhaul needed to take place in order to bring it back to prominence. So, we took our balls in our hands, confident in our abilities and we went for it.
Bottom line---the wrestling business needs to GO FOR IT. They need to be proactive instead of reactive. Great things happen with chance and change and if you don't roll the dice on either---there is only one direction to go----and that is the current direction that the business has been heading in for years.
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