There once was a time where wrestling was shielded from the public.
Faces were faces and heels were heels, never would the two sides be caught out together, nor would they break their character under any circumstances.
Fans were emotionally invested and really bought into the story lines. They looked at wrestling as a sport similar to boxing, except with a story line. In fact, newspapers left a spot for results in their sports section, allowing fans to follow their favorite wrestler, like they would their hometown team.
Even in the mid-to-late 90's fans were still all in, as during an nWo takeover segment, fans called police as they believed Kevin Nash and company were assaulting WCW wrestlers in real life. Let's not forget the Austin/McMahon feud, this was when wrestling was at an all-time high as fans bought into the idea of being able to take down their boss.
Enter the turn of the century, the Internet was still in it's infancy and just about everyone had a web-site to blog about what they wished. This was a huge phenomenon, as wrestling fans clambered to read their favorite web-site and learn of the latest backstage news.
Some of it was accurate, while most never came to fruition. A few years down the line Myspace was created and fans created pages for their favorite wrestlers. These pages usually consisted of match, injury updates and rumors of what was in store for this wrestler.
Once Facebook became mainstream and bigger than MySpace, wrestlers being human bought into the social media aspect. As they created pages for friends and fans to follow along. These pages gave a some insight to the wrestlers private lives, but was mostly used to promote upcoming appearances.
Then in 2006, Twitter was created, allowing anyone to give instant updates about anything the please. Only a few years would pass and Twitter would become the next big thing for social media. Everyone from A-list celebrities to truck drivers were tweeting and the wrestling world noticed.
By and by, one wrestler after the other flocked to the site and created their account. Some have used it to stay in touch with fans while others have abused it and it's cost them dearly.
2010 and 2011, were big years for wrestlers to join Twitter. Guys like Jeremy Borash, use it to promote TNA and give fans news direct from TNA. While Matt Hardy used it to not only get his release from WWE, but also to land his new gig at TNA.
Both of these examples have proved to be attractive for fans. As they enjoy hearing things direct from the people they follow.
Enter TNA mid-carder Jesse Neal, the former military man, is an active tweeter and recently let his fans in on his financial situation. This caused quite a stir on the Internet as many people criticized his employer TNA for not taking care of him.
Neal quickly took to the defense by deleting the tweet and claiming that he was not in as bad of shape as he previously mentioned.
A new trend that has been starting is the twitter war, many wrestlers have been following that trend. Recently, Gail Kim and Melina took to Twitter to bash each other publicly. The verdict is out if this is real or a publicity stunt. Joining the twitter war ranks are legends Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior. Warrior lately has had it in for Hogan and is looking to set the record straight.
Many fans have also become jaded, which is another issue with having so much access to wrestlers. In some cases, the fans loathe the wrestlers they once cheered. As they have been let in so much to that persons life, they found the wrestlers real persona appalling.
However, their is definitely an upside for wrestlers and social media. Most fans, have never been this close to their favorite wrestlers. In some cases, they get to find out things that have never been revealed or hear stories directly from the source.
Which has definitely opened up the backstage curtain, revealing a whole new side that fans have never seen. Now fans get to see both "faces" and "heels" hanging out with each other and cross-promote events.
So the question here is, has social media helped or hindered the state of wrestling as we know it?
Personally, as an old-school wrestling fan, I am a bit torn on the situation. The 2000's has ushered in a new form of wrestling that involves shorter matches, more talking, less production pieces, and story-telling overall has taken a hit.
I honestly, don't remember the last time I watched a match and was emotionally invested. I feel fans have been let in way too much and now know more than they should.
This knowledge has affecting programming, as the WWE has changed story-lines, because they were leaked. Most of the time the rewritten version is not well planned or thought out, due to the last minute change.
I am not against social media, I just feel that certain things need to be reeled in a bit so we as fans can use our imagination again and enjoy the product.
What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy the social media aspect? Or do you wish you knew less about some of your favorite wrestlers?