Until fans get to a certain age, wrestling is real. Sweet Chin music knocks you out, the RKO does the same, and the tombstone, well it certainly puts you down for a three count.
The first moment I recall of this reality was the mauling of Ahmed Johnson by Faarooq (Ron Simmons) and the Nation of Domination. Then came Stone Cold's legendary match with Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13 which I am sure made many fans point at the screen in disbelief.
In essence, we watch what is happening and believe it to be real.
Maybe its because we get older and more cynical, but the magic of wrestling begins to fade a little. We look for kayfabe being broken; we look to see how the moves are done, or where the blading might occur. We no longer are enthralled by interviews and shoots because we know that is it not on the level.
And yet we continue to watch.
The answer, as to why this is the case, is the same as why anyone watches any programme or film: because they want to be entertained. Marlon Brando was not a mafia godfather in real life but we accept the premise that he was one for the sake of the film. Nor is George Clooney too handy with a scalpel but we still saw him as a doctor in ER.
Wrestling provides us with entertainment - we immerse ourselves in the spectacle and we demand our few hours a week. As one who has watched wrestling since the 1990s, I suppose what I ask for is for wrestling to become real again.
For older fans, there needs to be a focus on match quality as well as believeable shoots and promos. There is no need for Wolfe/Abyss style storylines because we dont accept them.
The Undertaker and Shawn matches at Wrestlemanias 25 and 26 were real because it was two legends fighting monumental matches with stunning effect.
Rey fighting CM Punk was real because the result was Punk losing his 'pure' hair, so too was Batista's I Quit and Retirement; it was real, it was believable.
As ratings continue to drop for both major wrestling organisations, one eye may begin to look at the rising stock of UFC and other MMA companies.
These may be relatively brutal but they are real. There is no need for gimmicks here.
Wrestling can prosper in the PG era as long as they balance the market so as to provide for both younger viewers and for those that have followed it for years.
With a focus on proper storylines, quality matches and strong characters, wrestling can succeed again. The odd gimmick similar to that of an Undertaker, Mankind or Stone Cold will add layers and dimensions.
But in essence, wrestling needs to remove anything that makes fans question why they continue to watch.
As the Hot Rod, Roddy Piper would put it., it's time for a reality check!
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