Does Pro Wrestling Have a Future?

Tim ListAnalyst IMay 28, 2009

A powerful blogger on UPPER DECK's hot sports blog has asked the question "Does Pro Wrestling Have A Future?"
Toby Wachter notes, "Without getting into all the messy details (if you think the politics in your office are bad, you should see what goes on behind the scenes at a pro wrestling company), somehow this plan got derailed a bit. While TNA prides itself on being an alternative (its company motto is “Cross the Line”), the talented roster has been weighed down by a less-than-creative creative team (redundancy intentional). Fans are generally intrigued by their roster but frustrated with the storylines and characters. Though admittedly, there is some loyalty there due to lack of any other alternative to McMahon’s product."
Wachter also takes aim at a blog posted by legendary professional wrestling manager and script writer Jim Cornette, in which the Louisville legend posted a look at the history of hardcore wrestling.
Wachter writes, "Formats always need to evolve or die, and Cornette has attached himself to a romanticized “old school” mentality towards the business, with its roots firmly placed in the “carny” culture of years gone by. When the carnival came to town, wrestlers would put on matches and “work” the “marks”, convincing them it was real while maximizing profits. He mentions this mentality often in the piece, thinking old carny strategies are the way to go to keep profits up today.
"But look, it’s 2009. And in the age of instant communication, online “tribes”, Twitter, Facebook and blogging, everyone has a platform (coming from me, the irony here is staggering), and almost all information is open and available. And like many businesses in this era, in this economy, you evolve or become extinct. So for all his accomplishments, Mr. Cornette does not understand that his audience has become smarter, and demands something that professional wrestling simply isn’t giving them in this day and age. That’s why they’re leaving: not because they got burned out on the violence in the matches, but because they got burned out on the same old, stale ideas. If you insist on still “working” the audience like an old school carny who gives them no credit (futile as it may be), you should at least start by understanding who your audience is."
Don’t believe me? Check out this excerpt, “Additionally, just who is it that ENJOYS this sideshow garbage? The same type of people who go to rock concerts to punch and bash each other in the face and beat each other up in the “mosh pit”–lower class, mentally challenged college-age (but not attending) guys who piss and moan about their depression and lot in life because they have neither the drive and determination nor mental acumen to change it. Any normal fans who see this type of show or attend one with these type of fans NEVER want to go to wrestling again.”

Wachter brings up many of Cornette's rather insulting comments about the hardcore fans themselves, which is surprising on Cornette's part because the hardcore fan base seems to be a big proponent of Cornette's work. Wachter also brings up the cultural significance of Paul Heyman's original ECW product, which was responsible for the cultural shift in pro wrestling in the 1990s. Heyman's concepts took wrestling from the Doink The Clown and rather teen-oriented story lines to a harder edge, more mature, contemporary version of the presentation of professional wrestling.

Wachter's must-read blog is available here.