Wrestling fans hate wrestling. No, really.
Don’t believe me? Google any combination of “John Cena/Brock Lesnar/Night of Champions” and mark all the negative adjectives wrestling fans use. Or read reactions of the John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar title match from SummerSlam. Yes, some people didn’t like it. They hated the one-thousand-and-one german suplexes, or the fact that it wasn’t an “instant classic.”
And now those same people are mad that WWE is revisiting Cena and Lesnar so soon after SummerSlam. Even though rematches for defeated champions are logical booking. They’re the bread and butter of multi-month feuds which, in best case scenarios, elevate both the superstars and the gold straps.
John Cena got walloped at SummerSlam – it’s the exact thing wrestling fans have wanted for years. A chink in the armor. For Superman to finally confront enough kryptonite that his overblown, bombastic, limitless source of powers are pegged down a notch, to make him mildly human again. At the very least, make him relatable.
But not only have I seen fans talk smack about Night of Champions (still weeks before the event), they can’t stop criticizing John Cena. They’re blaming him for vowing to win the rematch, or saying that his one promo since the event shows that WWE hasn’t learned anything. They’re mad he beat Bray Wyatt (even though Wyatt just went over on a multi-time world champion Chris Jericho), mad that he’s still in the company, and mad that Dolph Ziggler/Damien Sandow/Adam Rose aren’t carrying the big gold strap for 52 weeks a year.
But what these critics – these “wrestling fans” – really hate is storytelling.
I’ll probably get flack for saying this, but I have yet to hear one good criticism of The Miz’s recent character reinvention. He’s the “anti-Rock,” the anti-Hollywood, and he’s pretty damn entertaining. His in ring skills have improved tremendously – just look at his series with Dolph Ziggler. He’s a performer that completely embodies his on-screen persona, and people are still mad simply because he starred on ‘The Real World’ over a decade ago. Meanwhile, he’s working a program with Ziggler that proves both men are main-event material. They’ve traded victories, they’re fighting for a prestigious championship, and they have consistently put out entertaining promos. What else do you want from a wrestling program?
And that’s not all. The WWE mid-card is experiencing a resurgence the likes of which hasn’t been seen since pre-PG. Guys aren’t just experiencing one-off matches; wrestlers are being strategically placed in programs that carry across all WWE TV.
An entire segment of Seth Rollins paying his respects to a missing Dean Ambrose? Pitch perfect. The Usos trading blows with Star/Goldust? An intriguing program. Most importantly, WWE creative is smartly mixing in-ring action with enough entertainment to reach all fans.
Along the way, RAW has become an entertaining Monday night romp. I understand that it isn’t a product which suits every wrestling fan – that’s why TNA, Ring of Honor, and New Japan still exist – but it’s the best face for a national wrestling promotion. And amazingly, WWE has thrived without top talents like Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett, CM Punk, and Alberto Del Rio, and is seemingly benefiting from a part-time champion.
Is it perfect? Nope, and it never will be. For everything fans loved about the Attitude Era, they seem to have selective memory loss about the less favorable aspects. The WWF tried a number of things that didn’t quite click or outright failed from 1996 until 2001. Similarly, WCW grew stale halfway through the Monday Night War whenever NWO turned, black, white, and red all over. Professional Wrestling is a live-action show and, like any live-action show (or sport, or entertainment), it’s going to suffer from creative highs and lows.
And with all due respect, WWE is a business that runs non-stop all year long. Maintaining any high level of production under those stringent circumstances is an obstacle unto itself. An obstacle which I’d argue the company rises to meet more days than not.
Also, don’t mistake this for somebody saying that WWE is without reprieve. It isn’t. Fans always need to make their voice count. It’s just that, in order to really be heard, you should offer up succinct criticism rather than just blathering on about people you hate without any supportive rationale.
Recognize what’s good: like the fantastic UFC Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman shoot-style promos. Hold WWE to task for missteps: like Adam Rose, or those horrendous built-in Twisted Tea adverts.
But most importantly, remove the asterisk at the end of all your wrestling chatter. It’s like you’re just sitting around looking for an excuse to be ticked-off.
I apologize if this sounds too similar to my slam against the internet wrestling community. Wrestling fans apparently need wake up calls to appreciate the product they devote hours of their lives to each and every week.
But tell me what YOU think in the comments below!