Since the Rumble this past weekend, I’ve been thinking about how each WWE special event (or PPV) have either left me cold or at least partially confused. In terms of responses, my confusion is, in many cases, fairly mild when in comparison to some of the reactions you see from the fan community online. The more I think about that type of reaction, the more I realize that this has been fairly consistent since I’ve re entered the wrestling world in my post adolescence and pre teen years, and there’s something to be said about this.
We can lay blame on internet culture for this, but I firmly believe that there is a further reasoning for the ever prevalent smarky voice that occasionally overpowers the conversation. Don’t get me wrong, there are many cases where I’m a part of that voice, and you can make a further argument that this piece is a form of smarkiness itself. That said, I can’t help but notice certain voices that routinely come out against the product, and I’m speaking about WWE here, for various aspects; namely Roman Reigns/John Cena being Superman, or Triple H burying people. In fairness, there is also a huge voice that have been expressing glee over certain aspects of the product, so the idea that anyone is truly hate watching WWE is a bit of a stretch. Still, there has to be a source of the displeasure beyond that of reading dirt sheets and randomly (and in many cases justifiably) disliking certain workers.
To me, one of the biggest possible places of displeasure can be in viewing other companies products and being frustrated in WWE’s occasional conservatism. Having lived majority of my life on the east coast, I found myself fairly engrossed in some of the more indie wrestling promotions based there. Between the family friendly Chikara, the extreme CZW, and one of the pinnacles of technical indie wrestling in Ring of Honor, there was/is a huge amount of product excelling in various forms of storytelling. One fairly consistent fact, and I believe this to be true of PWG in California as well, is that the speed of the wrestling is much faster. While you lose some of the finer storytelling aspects that WWE excels in, you gain a bunch of high spots that is guaranteed to get the audience out of their seats. While characters are important (especially in Chikara), a huge amount of merit gets based on the technical product, which leads to fan favorites, such as a young Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) and Samoa Joe, becoming headliners and huge fan draws without a fully fleshed out character. The product is always exciting, but it’s different from WWE.
That’s the point I want to really focus on. These indie companies are a different product, with a completely different method of storytelling, and, more importantly, revenue base. I love a lot of those indie companies, but I also love WWE, and I truly believe it’s important to recognize the differences of the products to fully appreciate them. It is all professional wrestling, and there are certainly aspects of these other companies that put WWE to shame, namely the intergender wrestling that a lot of these promotions have. However, just like TV, it’s different flavors. Hell, even the other “larger” brands, like Lucha Underground and New Japan, are so vastly different in their product it’s almost impossible to compare. Outside of these two companies based in either an actual foreign market (New Japan in Japan) or a style of wrestling based on a foreign country (Lucha Underground), the storytelling methods are on near opposite ends of the spectrum. It’s all about the culture of wrestling in those specific markets, so, as much as we can dream, the chances of us getting an Okada v. Styles/Omega in WWE are slim to none. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it all.
The point I’m trying to make here is that products are different in wrestling, and trying to mold WWE into this larger profit version of Ring of Honor or PWG would change the make up to an unrecognizable product. It would be something, but definitely not WWE. When you put those preconceived notions we get from those other products aside, it’s much easier to enjoy the product. That said, this by no means should keep you from having strong emotional reactions to the product, especially if it’s frustration or anger. In many ways, those visceral reactions are exactly what wrestling is about.