I like to think of professional wrestling as a perfectly balanced, three-sided triangle. When all three sides are in sync and in perfect harmony, professional wrestling is the best it can be. It's the reason many of us started watching in the first place. It's the reasons some of our fathers watched, and their fathers before them. It was just the perfect blend of sports and entertainment that filled a void inside of us due to its creativity and its uniqueness.
Labeling all three sides is quite easy; you have your colorful, charismatic, larger-than-life characters, who are then pit-up against other colorful, charismatic, larger-than-life characters, in a unique, intriguing and compelling storyline. From there, those two perfect sides are met at the bottom with the characters, in the storylines, competing in an all-out fight that we buy 100% into.
That is the simplicity of professional wrestling. That is the way it was designed. That is the way it was meant to be. That is the way it was.
Today, we have what once was a perfect triangle, in a tangled, twisted, garbled, broken mess of who knows what! In today's "scripted show" none of the points of the triangle are standing -- not one. There are no characters--just normal looking guys in trunks; no storylines--they're mad wrestlers so they just fight for no apparent reason and the fights are now simply tumbling spots. Who can get their best shit in without selling anything.
When you look at it in those simple terms, is it a surprise to anyone that the TV wrestling audience has lost nearly 70% of its viewers in the last 16 years? Yeah, it's a "different time", yada-yada-yada. Has Monday Night Football lost 70% of its audience over the same time span? I would have to say I think not.
Professional wrestling has lost it's center. The truth is, it lost it a long time ago. The foundation that once brought 7.5 million casual television viewers to wrestling on Monday Nights is broken at it's very core. However, we all know that, so I'm not going to harp on it. My question is, can it be fixed? Can professional wrestling ever come back to center again?
As I look at the current landscape, where it is, and where it seems to be heading, unfortunately, I don't think the business will ever got back to center again. The fact that wrestling has substituted the psychology of the fight in favor of careless dives and no-selling, begs me to ask the question: How are casual fans to ever once again believe that the actual fights are real? That somebody actually wants to win. That one, single element, is going beyond the ability to ever be "fixed". Week, after week, irreversible damage is being done, that quite frankly I believe has now become "unfixable".
So, yeah, it's evolved. It's evolved itself right into a niche market that very few are now enjoying when compared to the MASSES of a decade and a half ago. Pro wrestling is the only sport that I know of that has actually "evolved" BACKWARDS.
Give it up for the tumblers!
By Vince Russo