Dirt Sheets: Love Them or Loathe Them?

Paul AustinCorrespondent IJune 16, 2010

Boasting sensational scoops, exclusive news, and all the dirt on your favorite wrestlers and promotions, the dirt sheet has been with us almost as long as the sport of wrestling itself.

Early on, in the days of traveling side shows and carnivals, the gap in the market was spotted and exploited.

Why settle for admission money alone, when you can earn additional revenue from selling the heroic background of a face or the dirt on the heels?

The first dirt sheets exploited the eagerness of the audiences to have back stories for the wrestlers they were watching. In doing so, they duly filled in the blanks with colorful fictions, helping to sell the feuds and bouts that the audience was about to watch.

However it wasn't long before exploitative entrepreneurs and over-excitable fans noticed the popularity of these publications and decided to get in on the act too.

And the success of the dirt sheets has never waned, as they are still churned out in their thousands today, either in traditional printed form, or more often than not these days, in the form of wrestling websites.

However, despite being the architects of their inception, and often exploiting them for works, many inside the industry have long since developed a loathing for these publications, making no secret of this fact.

Some of the more vocal, and outspoken critics of the dirt sheet have included Shawn Michaels and Eric Bischof. The latter of the two has been particularly vociferous on the matter, feeling that some of the invented rumors are nothing but derogatory to some of the hard working people within the industry, and also because dirt sheets often ruin any chance working a good storyline by leaking insight into it.

Today there are really three kinds of dirt sheets. The first is the industry dirt sheet that serves the same purpose that the original did, to enhance and extend storylines and feuds. Perhaps the best example of this is the WWE website.

The second kind of dirt sheet is the fanzine. These are websites and printed newsletters, made by fans, for fans. Whilst certain promotions do occasional collaborate with some of these publications, they are also often wildly inaccurate and frequently viewed as the bane of the industry.

This is particularly true when an over excited fan gets behind the wheel of such a publication, turning it into a work of fan fiction which obsesses over his, or her, particular favorite wrestler(s), often with no regard for reality or the truth.

It was those sorts of dirt sheets that especially extracted the ire of Shawn Michaels, particularly after the infamous "Montreal Screw Job", when all sorts of baseless rumors and accusations were published, actually resulting in some real life death threats.

The third and final type of dirt sheet is that published by  exploitative entrepreneurs who will publish anything, and everything. They make wild claims and often pretend to have "inside sources", in an attempt to sell copy or to attract viewers to their website, helping them gain from advertising revenue. 

The men behind these publications often have absolutely no interest in the industry what-so-ever, but merely see wrestling fans as a lucrative source of income.

Some dirt sheets are interesting and informative, while some dirt sheets are scandalous and exploitative. Some are loved by the fans and some are hated by the industry. But what's your view?

Dirt Sheets: love them or loathe them?