For the past few months I have not watched any WWE or TNA shows live on television. Well, the fact that I don’t have cable or the strong desire to when I can just read the recaps and then find what I want to watch online helps with this. I used to talk trash to my brother when he would fast forward (remember VHS?) past all the parts when wrestlers were talking and just watch the matches. “You’re gonna miss something important!” I’d say in protest. Oh, how wrong I was.
All these years later I now know that my brother was ahead of the times. Now many fans skip right through all of the talking turning a two hour show into about a twenty minute special. We all know that wrestling has changed quite a bit over the last 10 years or so leaving some of us bitter at the current product. I’ve made a list of things that I just have to accept or force myself to get used to if I’m gonna continue watching this.
1. Everyone Has A Microphone.
This comes as no surprise to anyone. I miss the days of people stating their issues backstage with “Mean” Gene or in a video package and then using the ring to resolve the issue. Now most shows start off with talking which leads to a match which leads to even more talking. I’m surprised there isn’t a Talking Championship. Damn it. Better not give anyone any ideas…
2. Finishers Don’t Finish People Anymore.
There was once a time when someone would hit their finishing move and the match would be over. Of course there was the special occasion where a kick out happened and you would lose your mind. “No one kicks out of that!” It let you know that something special was about to happen. Nowadays The Undertaker has to Tombstone someone at least twice to get a win. DDT’s would end feuds. Now they signal commercial breaks.
3. Managers/Valets Are Gone.
There was nothing like the feeling I used to get when a evil manager finally got it. When Bobby “The Brain” Heenan would climb on the apron and someone would grab his shirt collar, raise his balled fist, and signal to the crowd I would go nuts. As much as I liked Heenan I wanted him to get punched and when he didn’t I would wait until the next time when he would get grabbed and nailed. Valets like Sherri, Miss Elizabeth, Sunny, and Woman (Jesus, three of those four are gone…) brought something special to even the most uninteresting wrestler. Valets became just eye candy before finally being phased out which is sad because they used to be important to wrestling.
4. Tag Teams Are Dead.
This one bothers me almost the most. Growing up I was a huge fan of tag teams. The Legion of Doom, The British Bulldogs, Harlem Heat, The Hart Foundation, The Rougeaus, The Wild Samoans, The Powers of Pain. I loved wrestling so tag teams were like getting two-for-one deals. My favorite part was seeing a tag team finisher. God, I miss hot tags! I cant even place exactly when tag teams started to die but when the belts are being won and loss by different teams in one night it’s a sure sign that times are a changing.
5. This Is Real Life.
Sadly, wrestling isn’t the fantasy world I thought it was growing up. When wrestlers die they stay dead. Mr. Perfect, Eddie Guerrero, Owen Hart, Bam Bam Bigelow, Big Boss Man, Hawk, and Davy Boy Smith aren’t off filming movies where they have to fake an injury to go and finish. There are problems in their real lives that happen that take these people away from fans far too early. I hate that I know so much about wrestlers personal lives. It’s the equivalent of me not being able to watch an actor on film because I know that in real life they’re batshit crazy (seriously, can you watch Lethal Weapon starring Mel Gibson the way you used to?).
As I’m writing this I am asking myself “Why do I still watch?” Every year its getting harder and harder to answer this question. I'm used to defending watching wrestling to people who aren't fans but now its getting hard to defend it to myself. I wonder why anyone who knows how most wrestlers end up even get into it. The injuries, the backstabbing, the addictions. Sometimes I feel like an enabler. I should never feel guilty for being entertained. That is saved for people who enjoy cockfights, dogfights, and bullfights. But when I see a wrestler come out bandaged, limping, or with that “look” in their eyes I just wonder to myself “Is he even enjoying this anymore…?”