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Thread: {CFC Round 2}The Northern Star--Make Wrestling Great Again

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Sep 2013

    {CFC Round 2}The Northern Star--Make Wrestling Great Again

    ĒMy dear, find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain you of your all.Ē

    Thereís nothing wrong with professional wrestling, actually. Itís great as it is. I wonít say it has always been great, because there were certainly times in the early Ď90s I didnít feel it was exceptionally strong anywhere one could reasonably follow it. But right now, wrestling is pretty damn great and incredibly easy to follow. So whatís the issue? Whatís the worst thing about professional wrestling? The thing that holds it back? The internet--specifically what we so casually call the Internet Wrestling Community, or the IWC. So, if youíre reading this, chances are, as Shawn Michaels once said to Booker T after superkicking him in the face, ďYouíre the problem.Ē Yes, you, my passenger, and possibly fellow column writer, but not just you. People who watch professional wrestling and criticize every goddamn thing about it. People who canít wait to watch taped wrestling programs, so read up on the spoilers weeks in advance. Worse than those? People who send in the spoilers. The worst of the worst? The websites who give a home for these spoilers to live.

    I hate feeling this way; I really do, but all evidence points in our direction--the direction of the smart wrestling mark--as to being what is wrong with professional wrestling. Nobody sets out to be what we have become, I donít think, but being a professional wrestling fan is never easy. We are ridiculed by people for enjoying it. Even our friends and family just donít get it. So, we look elsewhere to find those that share the interest in the Sport of Kings that we have. The easiest and most productive place to find people we can discuss our love with is on the internet. And because we love our passion so much, we also want to consume all of the news and opinion possible about it. That is why we get into the IWC--to learn more about and discuss professional wrestling. What tends to happen, though, is that we get caught up in the wave of negativity out there. We have finally found others who love pro wrestling the way we do; we donít want to be alienated from them, as well, so we adopt what is almost a hive mindset and the cycle continues.

    What is really sad is that by the time we realize this has happened to us, it is too late. Even if we are able to right the ship; even if we are able to pull out of the swell before we are sunk and lost forever, we have still lost a part of ourselves. We have lost that innocent wrestling fan who watches to enjoy the stories, to see our heroes win and our villains be vanquished. Our eyes have been opened too far for us to ever be able to close them completely, and worse, we have become addicted to that which hurts us. Other people--those on the outside--might not understand, but if youíre reading this, you do. You know how hard it is not to click to at least once a day to see all the news and rumors. You know how your heart hurts and how shaky you get when you resist. You know that, as you once craved understanding and fellowship with other wrestling fans, you now crave to read the news about those in the industry, though it disheartens you and the rumors about whatís going to happen next, though each one that does deadens a little of your fandom.

    And why should it be this way? Why should the IWC exist in this manner? As far as I am aware, you donít see it with other forms of entertainment. I donít know of a Jack Reacher community intent on spoiling the next Lee Child literary creation. Iím unaware of people spoiling the result of a huge battle on Game of Thrones. I donít see people shouting at each other in an Online Shakespeare Group to avoid the next touring of Henry VIII because the wrong guy is in the lead role. What is there about professional wrestling that causes us to get so emotionally invested that we can end up hurting our own interests? Killing our own passions? Becoming completely jaded to the professional wrestling product? Is it simply that we tend to go from almost no empathetic relationships in our real lives to having way too much at our fingertips so quickly? I donít know, but it needs to stop, or we are just going to end up burning ourselves out.

    ĒLet it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you and let it devour your remains.Ē

    Professional wrestling is supposed to be enjoyable to watch. It isnít when--instead of losing ourselves in the story--we focus on the stuff that is happening backstage. Letís take everybodyís favorite punching bag, Roman Reigns, for example. Was I happy the night he won the 2015 Royal Rumble and a chance to challenge Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Title at Wrestlemania? No, I wasnít, but not because I donít like Roman Reigns. It was more because my guy, Daniel Bryan, didnít win it. That was amplified, however, by the fact that we had been fueled for months by rumors that WWE had chosen Reigns as their star of the future over somebody like Bryan, who fans had shown WWE for months was the guy we had chosen to be our champion. It was our guy vs WWEís guy and it wasnít a fair fight at all. And that isnít because WWE has the power to decide the issue; itís quite the opposite, actually. We had too much knowledge and knowledge is power.

    I think WWE messed up with Roman Reigns simply because they underestimated how much vitriol they were going to generate by kicking Bryan to the curb in favor of him. After returning following nearly a yearís absence due to injury, of course the fans were going to want Daniel Bryan to get his shot to hold again the title he never lost. To complicate matters, WWE decided to push Reigns to the main event after he had suffered an injury of his own that kept him out almost an entire quarter; and this after he was rushed into the World Title scene only months before. They had no time for the momentum Reigns would have needed to approach Bryanís popularity to occur organically, so tried to rush it, and this caused Reignsí push to fall flat. But, would this have happened if it were not for the existence of the IWC? If we didnít know Reigns had been ďchosen?Ē From the way a majority of the crowds were reacting to Reigns, I would say the answer is, ďNo.Ē

    Maybe the plan was always for Seth Rollins to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase and contract at Wrestlemania 31; maybe weíll never know; but with the way WWE had been building Roman Reigns it seems likely to me that the plan was to put the strap on him before the collective internet wrestling community rebelled at the idea. That made two straight Wrestlemania events in which we not only decided the outcome, but at least one of the participants in the match itself. Yes, WWE should listen to its fans, as any entertainment company should, but should we really have that much power? Itís certainly intoxicating to be part of the vocal minority of the audience that can invoke change and thrilling that we are no longer the ďvoicelessĒ that CM Punk decried WWE for ignoring 5 years ago, as change has obviously been wrought throughout the promotion since his pipebomb. If you donít want to give him credit for it, thatís your prerogative, but itís evident to me he began this revolution.

    But is this revolution really good for us? If it is, is it good for the WWE audience at large? And, if it is not, should we really continue to voice these opinions as loudly as we have? These are all difficult questions, but speaking for myself, I think the revolution is not good; or at least not perfect. Yes, itís great that John Cena is no longer dominating the main event, that we are getting an abundance of excellent indy style performers in WWE now, and that tag teams and actual technical wrestling are coming back into prominence. The return of the cruiserweights has so far been handled with aplomb and I hope that continues on RAW, though I donít expect it. But, on a personal level all of this pales in comparison to how jaded I became as a wrestling fan starting at SummerSlam 2011, continuing to SummerSlam 2013 and on. If I were able to divorce myself from news and rumors and simply watch the stories unfold as a fan, I feel I would have been much happier as a fan; the way I am now.

    ĒFor all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but itís much better to be killed by a lover. --Falsely yours.Ē

    I have been reborn as a professional wrestling fan. I have reached a more enlightened state as a member of the IWC now, where I am no longer a jaded wrestling fan; instead I am jaded about the merits of the IWC and sites like Lords of Pain. I have become disillusioned with being disillusioned. As much as I love reading columns about my then and now again passion, I hate the way a lot of people take what others say as gospel and become sheep. Instead of preferring to think for themselves, they go along to get along; and sadly this most often happens when the opinions are of the negative variety. And they donít just accept these negative beliefs, they further them, as well. If professional wrestling fandom is a religion, consider me not a heretic, but a reformist by example of championing always my own opinion and not giving into negative sway. I am energized as a wrestling fan again and I feel I have four columnists on this site to thank for that--along with my mostly continuing love of Ring of Honor.

    The first is Sigdwick. I donít know if that gentleman is still around, but it was his intense and conversant writing about the work of Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada that got me into NJPW, which I now adore. If it didnít light the fire of puroresu fanhood in me (I will give that credit to WCW/New Japan Supershow: Rumble in the Rising Sun) it did fan the flames and I have watched every Wrestle Kingdom since, a couple of the Dominions, and am now a regular subscriber to NJPW World. The second is YourAyatollah. We affectionately call him Steve around here, because thatís his name. I donít watch RAW or Smackdown anymore on a regular basis, so the way I follow the shows is by listening to The Late Shift With Steven Bell. While he is a WWE apologist, heís also a lifelong wrestling fan who can put the negative shit into perspective and put a positive spin on almost anything. I donít always agree with him, but I donít always agree with anybody. He also made the nice new banner for the Star, which is an homage to the original one sheepster made so long ago.

    The other two are the pair that do WCW: The Legacy Series on LOP Radio; Shane and Mizfan. They are so good. They are funny, they are insightful, and watching old WCW shows along with them has become a joy. The wrestling is great, but also hearing their takes on it is amazing. If you arenít listening to that show, you should be. This brings me to, perhaps, my final point. If you are an Internet Wrestling Community member who is part of the problem, or one who is becoming jaded due to those who are, or just canít stand what WWE is putting out on a week to week basis, find something in professional wrestling that you can enjoy. You might hear someone tell you the way to stop supporting WWE is to stop buying the Network each month. That is also a great way to cripple yourself as a wrestling fan, because when you pay that $9.99 (plus tax) each month, you arenít just paying for their monthly ďspecial events.Ē

    You are also paying for nXt, the Cruiserweight Classic, old WCW, ECW, WWE, WCCW, USWA, and AWA events. All kinds of classic professional wrestling is at your fingertips with that service. I could never imagine canceling it. If you can, more power to you, but I think youíre hurting yourself at least as much as youíre hurting WWE. Thatís an easy place to find professional wrestling you like, because there is such a variety, but there have truly never been more options. I have already mentioned NJPW World, which is a few cents a month cheaper than WWE Network and gives you access to their entire library, including house shows.. Then, there is the wonderful Fite TV app, which not only as all kinds of indy pro wrestling, but also has the weekly ROH shows on there for free. In addition to that, you can also use it to order their PPVs and the ones EVOLVE and House of Hardcore run monthly for $14.99 per show. You could watch one EVOLVE show and one HOH show and pay less than you used to pay each month to watch WWEís pay per views.

    There is so much professional wrestling now available at our fingertips that it is a wonderful time to be a fan of it. But, that starts with being a fan, not a jaded member of the IWC. Itís difficult to overcome--it is. I know, because being a member of this cult really is an addiction; one I have fought for years and am still fighting every day. I have not yet turned to the LOP Main Page today, but I did yesterday and found myself drawn to click on a link for backstage news about No Mercy. Why? I didnít really want to know what was going to happen, but I found myself doing the damn thing anyway and then regretting what I had done. Still, itís a battle I am determined to win. I have already won the battle over negativity thanks to such things as ROH and NJPW that are rumor-proof. I will win the one against reading news and rumors, as well. I shall overcome, because the only way I can stop the IWC from being the worst part about professional wrestling is to be a beacon of light that ignores such things and cuts through the darkness. Join your captain, my friends. Letís make wrestling fans great again. Even if it kills us.

    Long days, pleasant nights

    {Authorís Note: The quotes in teal above are by a letter by Charles Bukowski which is largely believed to be apocryphal. The sentiment in it is, nonetheless, far from it is. It is the essence of truth itself and beautiful to any artist.}

  2. #2
    im so torn on this. in a way, i hate wrestling fans in general not just the iwc, but to stay on topic, i hate them half the time. never wants to listen to reason even when you have facts supporting them(like when you tell.hbk is vastly overrated), intensely stubborn sometimes to their detriment, overdo shit like this is awesome you deserve it etc etc etc. i wish alot of them.would finally get fucked in the ass the way they dream about nightly but are too afraid to do so, so they stick to hentai.

    on the other hand, it can be marvelous. i was at an roh show when steen was wrestling, and as he had (delirious?) in a headlock i yelled "kill em with your back fat steen" and the crowd started chanting back fat for a minute. i wouldve felt bad if it wasnt for the fact that it was church mouse quiet in the crowd cause the match sucked.

    i was in attendance for a raw in MSG around the "whos vinces kid" angle anad they trotted out balls mahoney and the crowd in immediate unison started chanting "vince got no balls vince got no balls" when he told mahoney he wasnt his dad.

    also, if it wasnt for the iwc, you, my, prime times, and others minds wouldnt have been expanded with other promotions and different eras. if it wasnt for the iwc, i wouldve never learned how amazing jerry lawler is, how great genrichu tenryu is, the fact that you can know 4 moves like stan hansen and still be a great wrestler.

    but above all, im glad youve been able to recognize the negative energy poisoning your mind and being, and trying on those rose tinted glasses on the counter. you know, the one right next to the Jergens and last years Hustler spread. great read dude, and good luck.

  3. #3
    Lamb of LOP anonymous's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    389 miles from Sheepster
    This isn't a column about why Darren Young should be World Heavyweight Champion? Bullshit. The title misled me.

    Also, I do not consider myself part of the IWC, despite my clear mingling with them. I agree with concept of the column wholeheartedly and it is the very reason I avoid the IWC a lot. Negativity is everywhere. I've said this before- by taking frequent breaks from the IWC and avoiding certain negative columnists (who I imagine most can name) , I feel all my views about wrestling tend to be my own. I also tend to read columns by guys who I know love wrestling, or who simply write for the job or writing, not the joy of moaning.

    We Brits love a good moan. Sports, the weather, queues, rudeness and all sorts of others things- we'll always find something to moan about. But the IWC are on a whole new level. They moan when the same faces are at the top, they moan when new guys are pushed. They moan when Wrestlers are stale, they moan when Wrestlers and rested. They moan simply because it's their norm.

    I love watching wrestling and I do love the WWE. Right now, Smackdown is one of my favourite shows on TV. I have a childlike anticipation which has come from avoiding the negativity and any sort of dirt sheet rubbish. And I can watch it from start to finish and love every moment.

    By moaning about them, I realise I probably am one. That disgusts me.

    The flip side is that because of my withdrawal from the IWC I missed the Bryan/Punk movements. That disgusts me equally.

    I love just watching obscure house shows these days. In a few weeks Melina is headlining at my local village hall. I will adore every second of it.

    Good stuff.

  4. #4
    I think there's a couple of things in there that I don't really see as being part of the same thing. The stuff about the IWC... well, I've said it in a number of columns, but I don't really think the IWC exists in any meaningful sense anymore. It's all become so accessible that there's just people on the internet now, rather than a specific subset with a specific mindset. The days when you had to have a top 10 Shinjiro Otani matches in order to be taken seriously are long gone. I've thought about it a lot and compared it to the people I know who don't have anything to do with wrestling on the internet, and so far as I can see there's no substantive difference. Skip back to the turn of the millennium and there was.

    But the bits about news and rumours? Yeah, I avoid those like the plague now. I'd really rather not know and, although I try not to show it, I'm genuinely a bit pissed off whenever anyone mentions them to me. But it's not just a wrestling thing. Some people actively skip ahead a few pages in a book to know what is coming before they get there. Some people really like being surprised and it works for them, but other people feel uncomfortable, like they've been wrong-footed by 'swerves' and plot diversions. So I guess at some level it's human nature.

  5. #5
    Remember me? Degenerate's Avatar
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    Jun 2016
    You mentioned in my column that we wrote about similar subjects, and that's pretty much accurate. As a matter of fact, the first outline I wrote for my column followed a similar path than yours, where I focused more on the IWC, the "fans" and the crowds of current times.

    I slightly disagree with your sentiment that it's too late to go back once we reach the point where we realize we're in this cycle. While it's true we can't go back to be the same, I still believe that we can recapture a different kind of enjoyment out of wrestling that can match what we once had. I feel like I'm currently going through that right now, thanks to being able to watch and actively seek out a lot more different wrestling shows than before and being able to go to smaller shows to feel that emotion in person. I'm not sure if this is just a phase and in the future I'll have a meltdown and write a column bitching about why Tanahashi is a cancer to Japanese wrestling. I doubt that will happen though, since I'm really focused on enjoying things for what they are and slowly moving away from the negative. It feels really good right now.

    In any case, I agree with the whole sentiment of this column. I really enjoyed your take on the topic. Hopefully someday I'll be included in your list of columnists that energize you with my writing. Best of luck in the tourney.

  6. #6
    Broken Kleck Kleckamania's Avatar
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    Sep 2013
    I think fans are also kind of taking out their frustrations within the profession, as a result of how everyone treats them outside of it- misplaced anger. It is stressful being a fan, and sometimes that frustration spills over, especially when the product you are defending does things that make you kind of look like a fool for carrying the torch. It's a bit of an abusive relationship on both sides.

    And at this point, the IWC is everyone. In 98 it was a few thousand, today it is everyone. So I think even within our own community hierarchies are attempted. People just need neatly defined societies it seems. The information makes it a drug, and it gives us too much power. It is one thing to have the power to look up when a show in your area will happen in 3 or 4 months, but to know the booking of that timespan? Way too much power at our disposal, but avoiding it is nearly impossible. We are addicts, truly.

    So having some moral compass can make all the difference in our enjoyment of wrestling these days. Enjoyable column. I thank you for the challenge.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by XanMan
    And why should it be this way? Why should the IWC exist in this manner? As far as I am aware, you don’t see it with other forms of entertainment. I don’t know of a Jack Reacher community intent on spoiling the next Lee Child literary creation. I’m unaware of people spoiling the result of a huge battle on Game of Thrones.
    I can't speak for every form of entertainment, but I have encountered multiple fandoms where this does exist. Briefly, I saw the "dark side" online for one of my favorite reality TV shows, and the level of analysis and projection that went into concluding who would win was staggering. (Consciously chose to avoid that, as it stained my enjoyment of it. I still try to avoid it largely with WWE, too, though the fact that I am here means I'm not 100% avoiding it!) Spoilers definitely existed in the fanbases I've seen. From the ones I'm familiar with, I don't think it's as rampant as it may be with the IWC, but it definitely exists with at least some other forms of entertainment, and I would guess with very many. Extreme corners of fanbases can get very involved.

    Quote Originally Posted by XanMan
    Yes, WWE should listen to its fans, as any entertainment company should, but should we really have that much power?
    In general, though, I think you raise a good question here, and based on your conclusion, I largely agree.

  8. #8
    The Brain
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Maybe a little touch of the old “hell is other people”, here? I can certainly understand the position. One thing that has really spoken to me while doing the Heenan series is that AWA fans were, by and large, phenomenal, they would invest in just about anything provided it was done well, and would damn near literally tear the house down when they got excited about some aspect of the story unfolding. Fans today can be just as passionate, but they do have a tendency to be very annoying sometimes. Part of the reason I came into LOP back in the day with a “positivity gimmick” is I was put off by how many people only seemed to want to talk about the negatives. Spoilers are, as you say, the bane of entertainment, and it does boggle my mind that people willingly seek these out, even though it’s right there in the word, you are SPOILING your own potential enjoyment! Maddening. I was going to post a partial disagreement on your point that knowing backstage information decreases your ability to enjoy the product, but honestly I couldn’t really think of a single time when it enhanced it. Man, the Reality Era is some conceptual bullcrap!

    One point I will disagree on somewhat, however, is that you put so much blame on the fans. I think you can trace almost all of these issues back to the industry itself. The name Russo comes to mind as the worst offender of course, but it must be said that the likes of Heyman and other big minds of that era bear their share of the blame. Nowadays WWE seems to attempt to feed these very kinds of fans more than ever, perhaps even intentionally jerking them around in an attempt to create a more “real” reaction. It makes mincemeat of their storytelling ability at times, but they often soldier on regardless. So is it fair to put this on the shoulders of the fans first and foremost, or are they just following where the industry lead them?

    I also feel that, if you dig down deep enough into any fandom, you do get basically the same thing. My brother was a huge fan of the show “Survivor” at one point, and on a hunch I one day asked him whether the diehard fans complained about the direction of the show, and how it was produced, and the decisions made by the creators, and how it used to be better, and he pretty much confirmed every stereotype of the hardcore wrestling fan exists if you go deep enough into that fandom as well. I think it’s just more noticeable in wrestling because A. the fans are all gathered in a huge live group and can do whatever they want, and B. like I mentioned before, WWE all but gives them engraved invitations to become part of the show. Also, as a theater enthusiast, I can absolutely confirm there are some fans who will avoid certain shows or tours if they think the wrong people have been cast (or at least they will complain bitterly about them!).

    But regardless, your statement that fans are responsible to find something they actually ENJOY, if they are not happy, is near and dear to my heart. If it was inscribed on a banner, I would loft that banner high. It’s a watchword of my entire philosophy and I very much dig seeing you on the same page. Touched that TLS has played such a positive role in revitalizing your fandom, it was a hell of a day for me when I realized that wrestling not only stretches far and wide across the modern day, but there is also an incredible history of stuff that can be watched and enjoyed with fresh eyes at any given moment.

    This is very nicely done Xan, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw you were “going negative”, so to speak, but you pulled it off extremely well in my book and made some phenomenal points.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Unc--You and I agree HBK is overrated; you just think he's more overrated than I do. Yeah, the rose tinted glasses are better for my soul.

    Nony--Nor is it a column about The Cabinet.

    Melina and head in the same sentence is always good. I think I'm just completely over the way WWE's philosophy of booking wrestlers. They have broken my heart too many times. Now they are doing it again with American Alpha and Enzo Amore. My favorite guys are never going to be the guys WWE wants to be my favorite guys, so I'm going to continue to not watch them entirely on a weekly basis; whether I read dirt sheets or not. They need to embrace the popularity one of these times and not take a step back from it if they are ever going to hook me fully again. Until they do, they won't. Ironically, the guy they did try it with I have never been able to get into.

    Pete--Maybe my mindset, then, is that I have not been able to fully transition to social media. Sure, I use Twitter and Facebook, but they have not (likely cannot) replace what I used to get with LOP. Either way, I'm turning away from those negative attitudes. It's much easier to enjoy what I want to watch than bitch about stuff I feel compelled to watch just because it's tehre.

    Deg--I am appreciating Tanahashi more now that he isn't constantly battling Okada for the World Title. I like him better in smaller doses, too. I agree we can get energized by focusing on other promotions and can get most of the way back; my point is we can never get ALL the way back, which you agreed with.

    Kleck--You're welcome. Yes, a moral compass is a good way to look at it.

    Skul--Actually, to my perpetual chagrin, I read a shot-for-shot description of the series finale of Angel, so I know it is out there, but I haven't come across it since, so didn't know it was still somewhat prevalent; maybe because I have chosen not to. Sometimes I think we have too much power, sometimes I don't think we have enough. Sometimes I want to slap Vince McMahon in the face and say, "How can you not hear what the crowd is saying?" But, that's the negative side. I don't have to watch WWE to enjoy professional wrestling. I'd like to; it's what hooked me originally, it's what I grew up on, but I don't have to and I love that part about the tiny size of the world today.

    Mizzie--Yeah, the nostalgia of going back to the WCW days--even ones I missed--is extremely enjoyable. You're right, WWE is partly to blame, and what's worse, they sucked us into it and then keep ruining the fucking payoffs! I'm going to go watch some Destruction in Hiroshima now.

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