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5.17.2009

I Want My Pro Wrestling Back!

I've been wanting to write this for a long time now, however I was waiting for the right motivation, or inspiration to tackle this topic. A spark to light the fire under my ass to put my thoughts to paper, and I've stumbled across it.

For those who may or may not know, I'll always and forever, and proudly tell people that my mentor in wrestling, as well as a very good friend, and in my own humble, one of the most talented pro wrestlers this country has ever seen, is Chi Chi Cruz.

Cheech recently decided to upload a bunch of his old tapes online and added them to his Facebook. After watching quite a few of them, I had to get in touch with him right away.

First thing I said was something to the effect of "Thank you. I've been watching sports entertainment for so long, I almost forgot what professional wrestling looked like."

That statement right there is what is wrong with "the business". I say "the business" because I refuse to say "the wrestling business" anymore. Why, you ask?

The pro wrestling business is dead. Gone. It was dead years ago. I hear people say things like "the business won't be around in 10 years" or 20 years, or whatever. The pro wrestling business IS dead (currently), folks. At the rate it's been going, I'm not even sure if we can get it back. I hope to God, I'm wrong.

Now I'm sure your saying to yourself, "This guy is retarded. I watch pro wrestling every week!"

No you don't. You watch Sports Entertainment. These two things are not even remotely the same thing. Let me elaborate.

If your a "wrestling fan" and haven't complained about the product in the last few years, then there is something wrong with you. Seriously. Professional wrestling is a BEAUTIFUL thing. Pro wrestling, to me, is two men, or two teams, going out to the ring and having a physically believable contest, and telling a story, and hooking the audience.

At the same time, the men in the ring need to establish an emotional connection, or attachment to the audience BEFORE even locking up. How is anyone going to get into a match when you don't know and/or don't give two flying fucks about the people in the ring? That emotional attachment is what's lost these days, and it seems that either a) nobody notices or b) nobody cares.

Sports entertainment is what you see today. Can anyone honestly watch an episode of "Raw" and then tell me "that's wrestling!"? I'm going to use the Shawn Michaels and Undertaker feud set up for their match at WrestleMania. I remember Shawn cutting a promo in the ring and thinking to myself "something isn't right here". It took me a few minutes to figure it out, and then it hit me! There was fucking background music! Mood music, if you will!

On top of that, I remember Shawn doing a promo in a graveyard calling Taker out, and the damn thing looked like it had a multi-million dollar budget to produce the thing with all the editing, special effects and whatnot. Shawn Michaels and Undertaker are some of the very few REAL pro wrestlers left, and I personally found it to be an absolute joke and completely insulting to those two mens skill giving those gentleman those completely un-necessary tools. They didn't need them!

Those two guys are so fucking good, you could hand them a mic and say "6 minute promo, sell the PPV, go", and you know what would happen? They would sell you the PPV! Poor Undertaker looked half retarded during his promos building that match up. Why? Because he lost track of his scripted promo! It wasn't from the heart, where it should have been the whole time. And that is no fault of the talent, at all.

Now I've shared my theories on this with a few others, and the most frequent response I got was "well...that's WWE...there's always the indy's to go watch REAL wrestling".

Really?

Now, this next part is probably going to catch me a ton of heat, but please believe me when I say I'm using this as an example only. That's it, that's all. People who are in charge of indy promotions and/or bookers are doing their part in killing the pro wrestling business too, and in the process they are glorifying it as sports entertainment, probably without even realizing they are doing it. What I mean by this is it honest to God seems that the Maritimes seem to be the only place who still operate with a formula that enables the boys to further their skills.

Unless things have changed, the formula they used was a 5-6 match card, TOPS, with anywhere from a 10-16 man crew. That's wrestlers, ref's, everybody! And these would be 2-3 hour shows. I can't remember specifically, but I don't think I was ever told I when I was out East there that I need to hit 5-6 minutes, and then have my job in jeopardy if I go over by a minute.

I understand the philosophy behind this, because WWE and TNA all have TV time constraints, but there's no such thing on the indy's. The indy's are where we should learn to work, and THEN learn how to wrestle on TV. Shouldn't young wrestlers understand the art of working and engaging the audience first and THEN figure out how to do it on TV? Just saying...

Wrestlers need ring time in order to get better, right? I don't care if your working Ric Flair, or Phun Fer, NOBODY can get themselves established, their opponent established, the story established AND pull off a good OR great match in 5-6mins. Not enough to ultimately accomplish our ultimate goal of a pro wrestling match, which is what? Draw money!!

In order for you to spend your hard earned money these days, especially on entertainment, you need what? An emotional attachment to the product your buying. Who is going to spend money to come back to a wrestling show when they can't even tell you five of the wrestlers names afterwards?!? There is a large skill involved in doing so, and I can understand why guys who have been around as long as say a Cheech, or a Johnny Devine can get easily frustrated with us younger talents.

In regards to the downfall of the "business", I've heard plenty of argument from wrestlers and fans a like that UFC, or MMA rather, is doing it's part in killing it as well. I'm a very large MMA advocate, and absolutely love the sport, so my curiosity usually gets the best of me when I hear this, and I ask these people, "why do you say that?". I've heard quite a few responses.

"UFC is real, sports entertainment isn't" is a popular response. I know some pro wrestlers that won't even bother to watch MMA because "it's killing the business". Has anyone actually sat down and REALLY thought about why this may be?

Here is my theory...

Dana White is beating Vince McMahon with Vince's own business formula. Now think back to when you fell in love with pro wrestling. Do you remember why? Myself personally, my first and pretty much only childhood memories revolved around Hulk Hogan. I was drawn in by Hulk Hogan. I had an emotional attachment to Hogan, among others as well.

When Hulk won, I won. When Hulk lost, I felt like I was there getting beat with him, and I would be devastated. I remember being legit scared when The Undertaker started messing with Hogan and was threatening to bury him. I would care about these guys like I had something personally invested in them. Now think about the big picture here...what was Hogan's only real move? Exactly. I didn't care about his arsenal. I cared about the character!

Now jump forward a tad when wrestling REALLY boomed. Everyone on the show had something going on. While Austin was messing with Vince, and DX was doing their thing, you also had Ken Shamrock snapping on everybody getting in his zone. You had Mick Foley doing some of the most dangerous, yet hokiest shit you've ever seen. You had The Rock electrifying the millions and millions of The Rock's fans.

You had The Ministry of Darkness crucifying people. You had The Acolytes playing poker, drinking beer and smoking cigars beating the holy piss out of people for money. You had Kaientai speaking in English subtitles and chopping off Val Venis' pee-pee! EVERYBODY was doing something that people cared about.

Why? Because the proper time was put into letting the audience get to know these stars. In my opinion - Mick Foley's biggest break had nothing to do with the Hell in a Cell. It was his interview with JR that made him go from "who's this nutbar?" to "woah...where the hell has this guy been all my life?!?"

Now on to my point... Ask any random person on the street (I've done this by the way) to name you 5 active pro wrestlers today. What my research has proven to me is I get "uhhh...The Rock, Stone Cold, Undertaker, Shawn Michaels...", and usually at this point I stop them and say "okay, Undertaker and Shawn Michaels are still active, the other guys aren't. So give me 3 more." I haven't been able to find one average person (not die hard wrestling fans) who can. Now, after they are done, ask them to name you 5 UFC fighters, and watch them ramble off names like a drunk guy talking about loving his best friend.

How can this be?

This is where Dana White is a genius. Before EVERY PPV event, he has UFC Countdown shows that usually hype the top 2 or 3 fights on the card. Anyone who has ever been on these shows has been made out to be a superstar. You see them train. You see all the hard work that goes into these gentleman learning and mastering their craft and disciplines. You get to know the fighters on a personal basis in a way, the same way Vince created his stars back in the Hogan and Austin era.

Even the guys who don't make the Countdown shows, ALL fights, including the prelims, have a 2-3 minute hype package that airs prior to the fight, allowing you to get to know the fighter, and where he has trained, and talking about his strategy on how he is going to beat the other guy, and whatever else to help create interest in the fight itself. UFC fighters also have the convenience and luxury of only having to fight 3-5 times a year, as to not make the product, or the fighters stale, and still keep that aura to them to make you wanna spend your hard earned money to watch them fight, and not get sick of them.

Again, speaking for myself, when I found out Brock Lesnar was getting into MMA, I damn near lost my mind! A) I'm a HUGE mark for Brock, always have been since he started wrestling. I actually remember reading about him and Shelton Benjamin getting signed due to their amateur accomplishments in some magazine, and remember being so drawn into Brock before he even made TV, and was training in OVW. Again, I had an emotional attachment there.

Every time I've seen Brock fight, I feel the exact same way I did when I used to watch Hulk Hogan. I feel excited like a little kid again! I remember watching Brock beat Randy Couture for the UFC Heavyweight title with "Dangerboy" Derek Wylde, and he can attest to this, I damn near lost my freakin' mind I was so excited!

I think I might have even scared him a little. But my point is, I haven't cared THAT much about ANYTHING since back in the Hogan days, or even the Austin era. It was a feeling that made me so alive! I miss and hate the fact that the largest "pro wrestling" company in the world can't provide me the same feeling. As a matter of fact, barely ANY pro wrestling can do that for me anymore. I only get that feeling watching a few wrestlers these days, and I'd say 95% of them aren't on TV.

Chi Chi Cruz, Tyson Dux, Johnny Devine, El Tornado, "Wildman" Gary Williams, "Kowboy" Mike Hughes, "Showtime" Eric Young, Derek Wylde, Cody Deaner, Scotty Mac, Jake O'Reilly, Crazzy Steve, Notorious TID, Josh Alexander. I'm leaving off a bunch of names here (and I apologize to those I've left out), but to me, THESE gentleman here ARE pro wrestling. All these guys have something in common. They make you give a shit about what you're seeing.

What makes this whole thing worse, is that because they (WWE) are a publicly traded company now, Vince has people to answer to now. For the life of me, I'll never be able to figure out why they've taken a TV/movie production approach to what they are doing. Clearly, that's not what made people fall in love with the SPORT of professional wrestling.

Yet, after numerous years of doing so, and watching the ratings and houses plummet, it's as if there's some type of ego involved where maybe in Vince's mind he thinks "people will like what I tell them to like! I'm Vince McMahon!". However, I don't even think Vince has realized that he has completely alienated his entire die hard audience that would have given their life to the spread the good word of pro wrestling. He is losing these fans...and rapidly! In a way, he kind of already has, to a degree.

Now to summarize this up, where am I going with this? I'm not even sure to be honest. All I know is that I'm frustrated with this sports entertainment bullshit and miss my pro wrestling, God damn it! I've recently heard that the WWE has asked talent to input ideas to create new stars. I can only hope to God this is the case!

On the flip side to that, how long will it take the writers to take a golden idea and drop a big fat diarrhea shit all over it and fuck that up too? I guess, I just wish I didn't have the men I admire, and who were kind enough to teach me the little that I do know about wrestling, be embarrassed and ashamed by the business that they helped build.

In other words...FUCK YOU SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT! I WANT MY PRO WRESTLING BACK!


14 comments: on "I Want My Pro Wrestling Back!"

Anonymous said...

Phenomenal article. Mr. Morgan, you are absolutely 155% right.

Anonymous said...

fuck you sports entertainment i want my pro wrestling back? its been sports entertainment for the longest its not some recent thing thats just came about.

if people did any type of angle like the ones done years ago people would shit on it. i wouldnt even bring up ufc on this because it has the shoot factor involved so people will believe it.

D. Ross said...

You're not saying anything that people haven't been bitching about for years. I would like to see some of your matches and see whether or not you practice what you are preaching. For a while people have been complaining but what can fans do?

All wrestling I watch (new wrestling) isn't bad. I love watching ROH. Even when I dont know who the fuck the guys are I am still entertained by what they do. What you want is what we used to get, but sorry, taht just isn't happening. When you were mentioning the shortness of matches I thought of the Oblivion show and how most of the matches were short. Does that make them bad? No. if you can "get your shit in" and keep the fans entertained I believe that's fine.

MMA and wrestling can no longer be compared. One is a work and one is a shoot (usually...). Everyone says that every storyline ends with Vince. Until he drops dead we just have to live with that. Everyone looks for someone to blame. Ed Ferrera. Vince Russo. Vince McMahon. Stephanie McMahon. Blah blah blah. No one person can be blamed for the shit we see. How about the wrestlers who cant come up with good ideas for their characters? How about saying no to a lame ass idea once in a while?

Fans hands are tied. Do like others and start your own promotion. Thats what I did (no matter how lame it is). We got tired of complaining. And fans need to be more constructive with their criticism. "HHH sucks!" Okay. "Vince McMahon killed wrestling!" Alright. And how would you fix it in your fantasy booker world? Realisticly?

Shawn Morgan said...

Mr. Ross, I believe you completely mis-understood the entire article based off your response.

Vince McMahon is the only one who can do anything about this. When people think wrestling in North America, they think WWE. When the average person on the street (you know, the people we are trying to market our product towards) sees a poster for an indy show and has the option to spend $10 or $15 on a ticket to go see "that crap on TV", or eat, chances are there probably going to eat. Times are tough these days.

The only thing that can even remotely possibly save the business is by going back to the formula that made them successful in the first place, which would be allowing the wrestlers to get themselves and their characters over, and not having some writter or douche who doesn't know anything about them, or wrestling for that matter, tell them what to do, and when and how to do it. There is no magical "booking formula" thats going to help. Let the magic happen on its own. You can't script heart. You can't script passion. You can't script desire.

It's those attributes which make an emotional attachment that enables you to draw interest, and more importantly, money. As far as your question about "what about the guys who can't come up with their own stuff?", fuck 'em! They shouldn't be there then. You can be happy with your 6 minute matches as a fan all you'd like, but I hope you like your product rushed and slopier than a Barton St./Hamilton whore. But no, your right, short and rushed matches are okay, and a great way to learn, as long as, as you say, "if you can "get your shit in" and keep the fans entertained I believe that's fine."... Sigh...

As well, at what point in time did I ever compare MMA to pro wrestling? I explained why MMA is taking pro wrestling audience. Your making me believe you didn't pay a lot of attention to this when you read this, with all due respect, Mr. Ross.

As for me practising what I preach, I have a few matches on YouTube your more then welcome to check out, as well as on any fine LLW DVD that Tha O Show sells on it's website. I'll never admit to being perfect. Personally I'd say my style is more of a storytelling type style and prefer building things up to make things mean something. However others may tell you I'm boring and that I suck. Either way, I'm okay with that, because everyone is entitled to their opinion. Maybe you'd be better off asking Donnie, as I'd worked for about a year under his booking, for a more un-biased answer for your question.

But then again...what do I know?

Thanks for your feedback! :-)

dragonzandshit said...

I agree with the last two.
You make it seem like sports entertainment only came about recently,and that when Hogan,Austin,Rock and Foley were around it was all about OMG PRO WRESSLIN WHAT AN ARMBAR!
All thats happened is the "sports entertainment" became less entertaining.
This article is generic as fuck.I feel like Ive read it 100 times before.

Anonymous said...

yes,i think 100% correct,my friend,i also watch a live show here in housto,tx the weekend of wrestlemania,and man did they have a they got the crowds attention,they where into it,and i was too,later during the late matches,the crowds saying fuck wrestlemania.

tna fan said...

tna and roh that's pro wrestling wwe that's crap how dare you put down pro wrestling like tna and roh

Curtis Y said...

Mr Ross,

Though short matches might not be concieved as bad matches they are far from memorable

Case in point the Oblivion show what will wrestling fans remember most from that night the 4 minute cage match or the near 30 minute clinic the Wylde/Dux put on ?

D. Ross said...

"Your making me believe you didn't pay a lot of attention to this when you read this, with all due respect, Mr. Ross."

Guess that's what I get for supporting a fellow writer for the show. Look, I disagree with your childish "FUCK YOU SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT! I WANT MY PRO WRESTLING BACK!" Watch an old match on youtube. Pop in a VHS. Because what you want is never coming back. Enjoy "sports entertainment". Just because Vince gave it a new name doesn't mean he changed what it was. Its been shit for quite some time and calling it by its new name doesn't make it any worse. Poop, shit, doodoo. Its all the same thing with different names. Get used to it or as Vince used to say "Get The F Out."

I have been a fan of wrestling since I was 3 (for 27 years). I dont give a fuck about taking polls of people and asking them who they know. I watch what is good and when it isn't I change the channel. It feels like I'm talking to some 15 year kid on a message board. People act like you are force fed wrestling. You're not. Chane the channel, play a video game, or watch any match you want for free on the internet. Because writing an article stating what millions of kids and disinfranchised adults have stated is a conversation that will never end because wrestling fans are never close to 100% satisfied with the product. Glad I could get my shit in.

Just A Mark? said...

In my opinion, you have to actually be in the business and be someone who is trying/has tried to make a living off wrestling to understand the topic at hand.

Nobody asked if YOU, Mr. Ross, enjoy the current product... Shawn Morgan's point (I think) is that guys don't know how to work nowadays from doing short, 3-4 min. matches. Curt Hennig, Ted DiBiasi, Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, those guys didn't learn from doing four minute matches and "getting their shit in"...

Some people, the ones in the business who need it to be a success for their livelyhood, actually WANT the general public to be able to name 5 wrestlers. They want the average person to be able to tell you what is going on on Monday Night Raw.

"Just because Vince gave it a new name doesn't mean he changed what it was."

Have you paid attention at ALL during your "27 years as a fan" ? There is a reason the WWF was huge in the late 80's, and not so much now.

srr said...

DANTE RAWWWSE * CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP* DANTE RAWWWSE * CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP*

OOOOOOOOOOOOO like you just saw fire, lighting up a table that be wrapped in barbed wire.

D. Ross said...

"In my opinion, you have to actually be in the business and be someone who is trying/has tried to make a living off wrestling to understand the topic at hand."

Okay. So are you saying that Mr. Morgan wrote an article meant only for people that wrestle to comment on or express their opinions? Thats seems rather odd. Also, if someone does not want comments posted on their articles there is an option that allows that. So get that weak ass paragraph out of here.

Who's fault is it if you cant get someones attention in a few minutes? This whole four-five minute match shit is not new unless you've been in a coma for close to two decades. And the next time you wanna use examples of wrestlers that people that dont watch wrestling may know, use names like Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Andre the Giant, or Macho Man. Out of the ones you mentioned the casual fans Morgan mentioned may know Piper and thats from "They Live." For as cool as Bret and Perfect were, they weren't "mainstream." And how many memorable matches has DiBiase had taht you can name without checking online?

And since wrestlers want everyone to know who the are and want wrestling more popular, why is it we only see them when someone gets killed or OD's? And I dont believe that many fans want everyone loving wrestling. Because in your heart of hearts you know that everyone will cry foul and say wrestling has sold out. How many guys got a Goldberg tattoo or an Austin shirt? Tons. We need to figure out why those guys were so popular and had such dedicated fans. It wasnt a hour long matches. Austin had three moves and Goldberg two (and his matches were less than a minute long).

"Have you paid attention at ALL during your '27 years as a fan'? There is a reason the WWF was huge in the late 80's, and not so much now."

Yeah, I have. Its because we didnt know it was fake. It was because we didnt know everyones real name and who they were fucking. It was because we didnt know the results of shows weeks in advance. Its because we were children.

tna and roh fan said...

shawn is a fucking prick tna roh and fip that's pro wrestling wwe that's crap.just like shawn's samoa moe gimmick

Anonymous said...

here we go with the "only wrestlers have valid opinions" standpoint. yeah, screw what the fans have to say, their opinions are useless, the wrestlers know whats best. hows that philosophy working for wwe and tna? i understand the casur bashing, that guy is just an idiot, but ross had a solid opinion based on what hes seen. hes not wrong just because hes not a wrestler, disregarding arguments on that merit wont get you far.