I Stopped Being a Wrestling Fan

Todd WashburnContributor IJanuary 12, 2011

I just don't see the entertainment value anymore.  I think they all ran out of ideas.  It's not the same anymore; people age, people die, the sport changes and the bosses add new things.

However, this time around I can't follow it.  I have a few bones to pick, and please take it easy on me because after all this is an opinion piece.

I have been watching professional wrestling for a very long time.  I remember the old NWA before WCW came into existence. I remember the WWF days when Billy Jack Haynes was squaring off with Hercules Hernandez while the WCW/NWA was having their Ric Flair/Harley Race feud, Black Scorpion/Sting, Vader and Rude were taking on Nikita Koloff, and Hulk Hogan was blossoming into a star in the WWF.  Those were the days.  I grew into the days where the divas did not participate in “bra and panties” matches because they were taboo and the women that wrestled were women like Madusa, Wendy Richter and The Fabulous Moolah.  They were also at least somewhat entertaining instead of a plastic Barbie doll screeching across my TV set. 

Wrestlers were supposed to be farfetched from reality.  They were like comic book characters, or your favorite Saturday morning cartoons.  Do they even have those anymore?  The more the 80's passed on, the more I saw my favorite hero take on an evil villain.  It was emotional as a kid to watch Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage turn on each other, hoping that one day they would come to their senses and once again become the Mega Powers that toppled the Twin Towers or the Heenan Family.  I remember watching probably one of the most epic matches since Hogan/Andre where Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior fought at WrestleMania VI for the Heavyweight Title.  I had no clue who to root for.  I was torn.  Do you have any idea what that does to a child?

The color commentators were also classics: Gorilla Monsoon, Vince McMahon, Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes (not a favorite) Bobby Heenan and, of course, later on the additions of the one of a kind duo of Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross.  In WCW, my favorites of course were Tony Shiavone, Bobby Heenan, Mike Tenay and Larry Zbyszko.  Also, don't forget the ring announcers – I have no idea why I remember David Penzer from WCW. I loved hearing Howard Finkle introduce my favorite stars and announcing the very line that many children have re-enacted over the years: "Here is your winner.....AND NEW WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION CHAMPION....."  (I just got goose bumps typing it.)

I miss the cameos they used to do for a feud building up for a pay-per-view.  They used to do a lot of the syndicated stage shows like Pipers Pit, The Snake Pit, the Brother Love Show, and The Barber Shop in WWE.  That was always kind of cool from a break in the action. I missed the cool vignettes too.  Remember the Mr. Perfect vignettes?  Those were absolutely “perfect.”

I miss the actual characters the writers used to come up with: Sting, Diesel, Razor Ramon, The Undertaker, The Dungeon of Doom, The Four Horsemen and The Freebirds. They were all really cool characters; love them or hate them.  Their entrance music was less about pyro and showtime and was actually tailored to that character.  For example, when Tugboat came out, the music began with a tugboat horn.  Undertaker had a funeral theme, Hulk Hogan was the Real American, Ultimate Warrior was crazy, The Rockers had rock and roll music, The Bushwhackers were marching to some weird bushwhacking music.  Now all it is is some random band music and a bunch of fireworks for entrance music to a guy who has no character.  It's just some dude with no identity and little personality. 

The stories have gotten ridiculous.  We went from wrestlers simply being competitive to dragging caskets of family members to sleeping with wives of dead wrestlers, elderly women having babies, and the boss getting personally involved in the show.  I don't buy it.

Today's shows have very little story anymore that don’t even makes sense.  Another thing that really burns me is every time a legend comes back on WWE Raw, they get beat up.  Not cool to watch for someone who grew up idolizing those stars.

Why so many shows? When Vince McMahon bought out WCW, a lot of wrestlers jumped ship to fill in another show on SmackDown.  ECW was great in its early days, but Vince killed it with his WWE-style. I used to love waiting an entire week for a major TV event because it made things interesting.  I think there is entirely too many people on the roster. It makes it hard to push young talent and develop long lasting stories.  Remember when Honky Tonk man was the Intercontinental Champion what seemed like forever? Remember when Demolition were Tag Team Champions for what seemed like forever? So now you have two shows with two sets of belts and it's terrible.  Keep it simple.

Why are there so many belts?  Once upon a time, it was just the World, Tag and IC belts.  That was it.  WCW had an interesting spin with the Cruiserweight Title later on, and the TV Title for the undercard and midcard wrestlers.  The belts used to mean so much when someone held it.  It was epic. On a side note, the spinner belt is ridiculous.  After the "attitude era,” the belt designs went downhill.

The “Monday Night Wars” were probably the height of wrestling as we knew it.  Every single week, I was flipping the channel between both Raw is War and Nitro to see what was happening.  It was fun.  Friends made every Monday night a party event that was talked about in school the next day, and what was to happen the following Monday to preclude the next PPV and who was going to buy it.  The competition has been killed, and so has the drive and motivation to make a better product.

TNA needs to run their show a whole lot better than they do now.  They can't compete because the writing sucks. Everyone needs to go back to the drawing board and rebuild the formulas that used to make wrestling work.  Stop listening to the wallet and, instead, listen to the fans.  I think they have forgotten what it was like to be a fan rather than a business owner.   It should be run like any other league, cap space, roster limit all run by a wrestling players association.  They need a union.  They take entirely too much punishment for such a loosely written contract without any incentives or precautions to take care of these guys.  I know they're millionaires; I am not that short sighted.  However, someone has to have their backs. 

Mic skills: Nobody has them. Hogan, Flair, Sting, The Rock, Scott Hall, Stone Cold, Bret Hart, Arn Anderson, Michael Hayes, Iron Sheik, just to name a few could work a crowd to get you to love them or hate them very very quickly.  They knew how to hit your moral nerve and cheer or jeer.  I hate the new guys whiny little "why don't I get a title shot" speech.  Its old already.  Thats where gimmicks came into play.  They helped the persona of the character develop stories.  A plain old joe schmoe crying with his tiny little boy voice is really aggrivating and I hit the mute button.  Speaking of which, most of these guys don't even strike an emotion with me.  They just annoy me.  Santino makes me laugh, Orton kinda scares me, I ignore Cena, and there's really nobody left that I am either scared of or just really really hate. 

Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of times where I shunned wrestling for their idiocy, like the Shockmaster, Fake Razor and Diesel, TL Hopper, The Goon, The Shark, The Gobbledy Gooker, The Yetay, and countless other tasteless segments that writers had come up with that are too many to name. 

I honestly do not think wrestling will ever return to its glory because of the lack of competition.  For now, to me, it's dead.  I watch from time to time and get a laugh out of the only entertaining characters like Santino, or Alberto Del Rio, and then I flip back to whatever was more entertaining like The Office.  As for TNA, I flip the channel to watch the show, and quickly regret my decision and flip it back to whatever infomercial distracts me.