Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Need Your Help, I Want to Quit Wrestling

Like any non-wrestling fan, I had the same criticisms about this form of sports entertainment that anyone else would before I started watching. I wondered how people could love something so obviously fake, how people could want to watch grown men run around in their underwear, and more importantly why people would waste their money to watch it as a pay-per-view. Wrestling was stupid, as it was something for young kids and losers that lived in their parents' basement.

But then something happened to me. I left my job, moved back home, and wound up in my parents basement. I had a lot of time to kill for awhile, as I was working part-time shifts at best and needed something to capture my imagination for awhile. Slowly but surely, mainly because I was looking for something to watch on Monday nights, I began to follow the storylines and action on Monday Night RAW. Nothing major, I just spent two hours every week watching wrestling. In reality, it wasn't because of the whole parents' basement scenario, but more because I started watching a product and I enjoyed it. And that's all that really matters.

I soon found out that the WWE had a show on Tuesday nights. And Friday nights. And then they debuted a fourth show on Thursday nights. Sooner or later, I was watching six hours of WWE programming across four days, per week. My innocent following turned into a full fledged obsession. I scoured the internet for spoilers and backstage news. I started my own storylines on the PlayStation 3 game. I began to make references to wrestling in everything I did, both on the blog and in real life.

But now, more than a full year after this habit began, I need to stop. I want to quit on wrestling. I don't regret anything I've done, and honestly I have enjoyed myself during this period of my life. But I can't do it anymore. The reasons I want to give up on wrestling though aren't the obvious ones. It's not hurting my chances with women (already bad to begin with), it's not keeping me away from doing other things, and I'm not getting made fun of for it too badly. I want to give up because I'm finding that I care too much about it. I root for guys, sure, but overall I root for the product. I root that the product is entertaining and well-off, and when things go poorly, I honestly get frustrated to the point where I can't watch it anymore.

There have been so many great moments in this past year that I'm glad I witnessed. The Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker matches. Anything involving The Miz or Chris Jericho. The NXT Invasion on Monday Night Raw. But for every one of those moments, there are ten terrible ones. Mid-card wrestlers being forced into dance-offs. A guy turned from a badass to a babyface just because he can jiggle his pecs. Lame guest hosts that are used to get the WWE publicity on ESPN and E!. Storylines that don't reach their full potential. The fact that John Cena could probably pin Superman in less than three minutes. But it was the moment that happened last week that made me realize it's time to go.

One of the shows right now in WWE is called "NXT", which is a cute way to abbreviate the word next. Eight "rookies" competed on this show, with the winner earning a pay-per-view contract. One of those wrestlers was Bryan Danielson, who for the past ten years has made a living becoming the best wrestler on the independent scene. Well, Danielson (or Daniel Bryan, as the WWE refers to him), didn't win the competition, but he still made an impact. Two weeks ago on Monday Night Raw, Danielson and the seven other rookies came into the ring unannounced and attacked everyone in sight. For those of you familiar with the NWO Invasion, it was similar to that. John Cena was destroyed. The announcers were attacked. The ring was ripped apart. And the ring announcer, Justin Roberts, was briefly choked with a tie, with the Daniel Bryan character doing the damage.

At first, it was confusing, the whole chain of events that I had just witnessed. The WWE has been trying to push a PG product in an effort to win over young kids, and while they have done that they have really gone away from the Attitude Era type stuff, the stuff that made people (adults) become wrestling fans in the first place. But with this invasion storyline, it seemed like the WWE was serious about giving the true fans, the adults, the fans that have been with them for the last ten to twenty years, it seemed like the WWE was giving them something to finally rally around. But then they took that away.

The storyline is still in tact two weeks later, sure, but Bryan Danielson is no longer employed with the WWE. The word is that there was either someone in upper management, or one of the sponsors, or someone affiliated with the Senate campaign of Vince McMahon's wife Linda, no one is sure who, but someone wanted a member of the WWE to take the fall for the choking incident. Maybe it's because it brought of memories of the Chris Benoit death, maybe it's because that image didn't fit the "PG TV" bill, but someone had to take the fall. And even though Justin Roberts was in on it, even though the director and the cameraman were ready for it, even though Vince McMahon would have had to sign off on something like this, it was Daniel Bryan that took the blame, and was promptly fired.

But my desire to quit watching is as much that decision as it is how much I care about that decision. Honestly, at this point, I'm more mad about the firing about because it all but kills the storyline rather than that a guy was canned. Danielson was the best wrestler in the group, and he, along with the winner of NXT Wade Barrett, could have brought some title belts to this newfound NXT stable. But with the firing, the storyline won't be as good as it could have been, and because of that I'm frustrated.

That's the thing I can't handle anymore, because I feel as if I'm getting way too invested in the results of these "matches" and the results of these storylines, especially when they don't go how they should go. Too often, WWE opts for the cheap finish. Like this current storyline they have right now, where Kane is searching for the attacker of his brother, The Undertaker, that will keep Taker out for weeks. Word right now is that Kane is going to end up being said attacker, which would serve as a vey weak payoff. Other instances include a guy I root for named Kofi Kingston. If he wins, I'm happy because I like him. But then again, I don't mind if he loses, as long as it's in the best interest of WWE and their storylines at that time. This particular wrestler got a huge push back in the fall, only to get buried again and moved from RAW (the moneymaker) to Smackdown (the afterthought), and it bothered me how poorly executed his push was, for whatever the reason. It's instances like this, and like random dance-offs instead of wrestling matches, and unjust firings, that have gotten me to the point where I just can't take it anymore.

The sad part of all this is, I want to like wrestling. I want to spend six hours a week watching their programming, and countless hours more reading sites like Prowrestling.net and Ring Posts, but at this point I just don't feel like I'm getting a return on my investment. So help me out non-wrestling fans, because I'm coming back over to your side. I'd rather not, but for all that I've invested time wise in the product, I just don't feel like I'm getting the payoff. Maybe my expectations are too high, maybe I'm just not the target demographic anymore, but for whatever the reason, I think I'm ready to move away from wrestling.

It's not stupid, it's not something only for people that live with their parents, and it's not a waste of time.

It's just not for me.

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