Why Everyone Needs to Calm Down About WWE Using Ringers

The Doctor Chris MuellerFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 16: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson attends a press conference to announce that MetLife Stadium will host WWE Wrestlemania 29 in 2013 at MetLife Stadium on February 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images)
Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images

The Rock is a major reason why WrestleMania 29 was as commercially successful as it was, but there are still people who complain about his involvement.

Bringing in part-time wrestlers has been somewhat of a hot button issue with the wrestling community in the past few years, and there are a few specific names that spark the debate.

The Rock and Brock Lesnar were both brought in to bolster ratting with high-salary contracts that covered limited dates.

While neither man has been in a 5-star match since returning to WWE, they have both been valuable assets.

Some people feel like the guys who work all year get screwed when part of their spotlight is taken up by someone who comes in, gets paid a lot of money and doesn't put in time on the road.

If you have a problem with the way they have performed, then that is your opinion, but there have been haters who didn't even wait for a match before dismissing both men as glory-hogs.

This might be a generational issue, because this practice is nothing new. It has been happening in wrestling, sports and even movies and television for years.

It's called "Bringing in a ringer." It is a fairly simple concept. You bring in someone who can raise the quality of the entire organization for a short period of time, giving the full-time guys a chance to grow and learn from them.

Here is a great example that spans both sports and entertainment, just like WWE.

Dick Ebersol served as executive producer for Saturday Night Live from 1981-1985 after Lorne Michaels briefly left the show.

Ebersol came from a sports background, and because of that he understood the value of a ringer.

So what did he do to save the falling ratings? He brought in Hollywood heavyweights like Billy Crystal and talented young comedians like Eddie Murphy to raise the profile of the show. The strategy worked, and the show's ratings began to rise.

Ebersol left SNL in 1985 when Michaels returned, going on to help produce WWE's Saturday Night's Main Event with Vince McMahon on NBC.

Dick Ebersol knew that the common practice in sports of bringing in a ringer would work in entertainment, and since wrestling counts as both, it works even better when they do it.

What a lot of people seem to forget is that Hulk Hogan was a part-timer for a long time before going to TNA and all but retiring from the ring.

Hogan was brought in plenty of times for short feuds, and nobody seemed to think it was a problem back then, but part of that may be due to the fact that he was never looked at as "abandoning" the business like Rocky.

By some accounts you would think The Rock just woke up one day and packed his bags for Hollywood. It wasn't a snap decision. It was a long process that began with his role in The Scorpion King.

The Rock made $5 million for his role in that movie, setting a Guinness World Record for highest pay for a first-time starring actor in history.

That kind of money was probably a few years of bumps and concussions in WWE made in just a few months, and all he had to do was look menacing and wear a ridiculous outfit. Do you honestly blame him for going to greener pastures?

The Rock came in, became the biggest thing in wrestling in less than 10 years, and then he moved on to another career that would allow him to stay healthy for the rest of his life. What's wrong with that?

He didn't have to come back. He could have continued to make movies and live a life most people only dream of, but he didn't. He came back and he gave us matches we never thought we would see.

For those who believe he came back to WWE just to promote a few movies, I would like to point out that he does not need the extra marketing WWE can give him, so that is likely not a very big reason for his return.

The name "The Rock" will bring in viewers whether he has wrestled recently or not. Five years ago, wrestling sites were littered with articles begging The Rock to come back for one more match, but when he decides to actually do it he is met with backlash for taking someone else's spot.

A "spot" is earned, and Rocky has earned his spot. The fact that he can come in and pretty much single-handedly raised ratings and PPV buys means he earned it.

The fact that he can get on a mic and make an arena shake to its foundation with a few simple words means he earned it. The fact that someone is willing to pay him to do it means he earned it.

Some wrestlers have the right idea. They think The Rock bringing more eyes to the product will benefit everyone in the end. That is exactly what it does.

Everyone is welcome to their opinion, and I have been just as critical of The Rock as anyone, but the criticisms were about specific matches or promos, not his involvement with the company as a whole.

Guys like The Rock, Brock Lesnar and Triple H are valuable because they can bring back some people who used to watch while also entertaining the current crop of fans who still appreciate what they do.

When wrestling was a territory-based system, it almost ran entirely on the use of ringers. Major stars would make their way from territory to territory to fight the top guys in promotions, and increase the attendance in the process.

Chris Jericho comes and goes as he pleases and people love him for it. They should, too. He has earned the right to pursue whatever goals he has outside the ring.

Why is The Rock different? Is it because he is the most successful wrestler to end up having an even more successful career in Hollywood? Is it jealousy that drives the haters, or do these people have valid reasons for disliking Rocky?

Wrestling is part of the entertainment business, and they should not be punished for using the same tactics as other sports or other genres of entertainment.

I for one hope we have not seen the last of The Rock in a WWE ring.

Thank you for reading this rant and please feel free to share your thoughts on the subject of WWE using part-time "ringers" like The Rock. 


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