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So...where did everything go wrong?
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DDK



Joined: 22 Jan 2007
Posts: 18
Location: NJ

PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 6:48 pm    Post subject: So...where did everything go wrong? Reply with quote

I found myself thinking about this the past few days.

It started when I happened to flip on Raw for the first time in maybe 7 or 8 years. I know the WWF (sorry I really can't call it the WWE) shifted more towards the idiocy of entertainment in the late 1990s and it was inevitable that the wrestling aspect would become secondary to the storylines. But wow, I couldn't help but think of how absolutely horrible the current product is. The matches are like a quickie in bed, zero foreplay and a big rush to the finish. There is almost zero semblance of wrestling. Of course that could be attributed to the general short attention spans that seem to be running rampant in America these days. But the gist of this part is that 20 years ago, while American wrestling wasn't always superb, it was still better than what exists now.

Now jump over to the other side of the pond and I'm kind of at a loss for what is going on in Japan. I haven't actively followed the Japanese side of wrestling since June of 2000...ironically when Misawa & Co. cut and ran from All Japan, I sort of cut and ran from wrestling. I just didn't really think anything would be entirely the same again. I've gotten current stuff here and there from Lynch, but the most recent show I have is the 7/18/05 Dome show. I rewatched that just before, and it's funny how Tosh still could bring most of his A-Game to the table while Misawa looked like he had one foot in a casket. The execution in a few spots was just disappointing, but that was always Misawa's fault. :)

But the feeling I've gotten from a majority of the post June 2000 stuff in Japan is that it feels incredibly disjointed. Plus it just lacks a lot of the excitement that was evident in the 1970s, 1980s and for maybe 60-70% of the 1990s. It doesn't feel like there is any true upper tier in any promotions. I mean there is an upper tier, but not in the sense that you had in New Japan and All Japan 20 years ago.

The question that I have is how did everything get so screwed up over there? In the U.S. I can see how it happened quite easily. But now that 80% of this decade is done, we have yet to get anything out of Japan close to the level of what they were doing 25 years ago. Did everyone just somehow forget to plan for the future?

I'm just acquiring stuff to watch that is either 1999 or earlier these days. I think at times I might be jaded, but then I pop in Misawa/Kawada 6/3/94 or Yamada/Toyota vs. Kansai/Ozaki 11/26/92 and I think to myself, maybe not entirely.
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Jeremy Billones



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 523
Location: Alexandria, VA

PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:57 pm    Post subject: Re: So...where did everything go wrong? Reply with quote

They say the golden age of comics is when you were 12.

I think many of us think "good wrestling" is what we grew up on, and
that the wrestling today simply isn't as good. And by our standards,
it isn't. But by the standards of what the fans today want to see,
I don't know if that's necessarily true. When I look at a John Cena,
Randy Orton, Edge or Shelton Benjamin, I see wrestlers that
would have had no problem doing anything most of the wrestlers in the
80s did.

The flip side of that is that we tend to forget how much bad wrestling
there was back then, too. The first NWA TV show I ever saw featured
Pez Whatley turning on Boogie Woogie Valiant, and a featured
promo by Jimmy Garvin.
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jdw
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Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 17103

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Somewhere in between.

There is a combo of *we* the viewer changing, and the product changing.

I think wrestling has always had fans grow up and away from the business. Of course kids, but also adult fans getting bored and moving onto something else.

The product has always changed to a degree, even if it's something along the lines of talent: Bruno fans not liking Backlund, so losing interest in the promotion and business.

I still enjoy watching wrestling, probably as much as ever since things that wouldn't have gotten pops from me in the past (Tito vs. Savage) do now. The current product lost my interest increasingly over the years. Storylines, talent, style, my own time, my own interest in other things.

I don't think that's terribly different from a lot of fans not just currently, but over the course of the long history of the business.

One thing that does pop into my mind from time to time was the old cliche a lot of us would hear when we were critical of the product:

"If you hate it so much [or "don't like it"], why are you still watching?"

One of the responses we use to make was that while we are critical of it or complained about it, we did *care*. We cared enough to watch, to get frustrated, and to point out what our issues were with the product.

If you don't care, you don't complain... you don't watch or pay for it.

In hindsight, what is worse for the business: the fan that cares enough to complain, or the fan who doesn't care and stops watching/paying?

I don't think the business gets that, and rarely over the years has. Fans are marks, and there are always more of them.

I don't think people who rolled out the "Don't Like / Don't Watch" spot ever got that either.


John


Last edited by jdw on Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
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khawk20



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 234

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jdw wrote:
In hindsight, what is worse for the business: the fan that cares enough to complain, or the fan who doesn't care and stops watching/paying?

I think there are still lots of fans, just very few that have carried through from past incarations of wrestling. Old time wrestling and the 2008 version are like comparing apples and battleships: there is no way to make it really work so it makes sense.

I'm in the "stopped watching and paying" camp now. I never thought I'd get there, to be honest. It disappoints me that something I want to like and follow has become so inane that I can't be bothered to do any more than read about it online, here and there.
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eron



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 412

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know where I am when it comes to pro wrestling.

I still read Wrestlezone every day to see whats up. I even still check out the old Internet Wrestling forums though, and I haven't done anything in that actively since 2005. I'll check out a PPV... sometimes, but I don't go out of my way usually. It's more to hang out with friends. I seem to spend more time/money on shoots because they are entertaining in a trainwreck kind of way. The story of the business seems to be more interesting to me.

I don't have cable anymore but when I did, I watched Raw and Impact out of boredom, and I seemed to miss SD! a lot even when I enjoyed it more. I caught ECW when I remembered what time it was on, and usually liked it more than Raw or SD! because it tried new things. John Morrison may be a cocky heel but he isn't cocky just because, he is cocky because he thinks he is Jim Morrison. It's a bit different and I liked that. However, I don't watch a P2P video feed of Raw, SD!, ECW or Impact and I don't scout out ROH stuff anymore or anyones stuff because quite frankly, I just don't care.

WWE 24/7 was the only thing keeping me going, and for the most part, it was really the old stuff I never seen before, or the legends of wrestling roundtable, which like the shoots were just great stories and conversations.

When it comes to local stuff, I stopped going to the events because of the misogynist behaviour going on. Of course, that shit has always gone on in wrestling, but when its friends involved, you stop being complacent. If someone had the balls to set something up in Windsor against Scott D'Amore and Border City, I'd be first to volunteer.

To summarize, I don't know why I've been losing interest, but at the same time, my interest is the same. I guess just, other shit matters more, and I'd rather promote my own shows than watch a bunch of failures do it.
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goodhelmet



Joined: 02 Aug 2006
Posts: 488

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I took a different path in my viewing than most of you. I grew up watching wrestling in the 80s with 1986 being my peak viewing year. Around 1988, I stopped watching until 1997, when I was in my early 20s. I have been hooked ever since but there are times when my viewing was in jeapordy but some unforeseen event always pulls me back in.

In 1999, with WCW failing and WWE Russo-riffic, I was about to pull the plug for good but then I discovered the online wrestling community. I had no idea (for 12 years mind you) that other people had the same reaction to Steamboat-Savage that I had... or had the same fondness for luchadores that I had discovered on Nitro. It made me keep watching at a time when I had given up on it.

Then around 2003/2004, I was about to hang it up but then I started trading DVDs and that opened up my eyes to a bunch of new stuff I had never seen before.

Then after Eddie/Benoit, I was done again (even as I was making comps) but I got involved in the 80s project and it has once again renewed my interest in wrestling since I have discovered so many new matches to keep me interested.

As for the current product, I still enjoy select matches and I have seen some indy matches that I really enjoy. It isn't ground-breaking or anything but I still enjoy seeking out new shows.
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Mike Campbell



Joined: 25 Sep 2006
Posts: 62
Location: Syracuse, Ny

PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always loved wrestling, but over the last couple of years, I'm finding myself loving it in a different way. I haven't watched a full TV episode in months on end, probably since the summer. There's a scant few storylines going on that I genuinely have interest in, namely the whole Randy Orton Legacy storyline and the current Punk/Regal feud.

I'm more content with things like listening to old editions of WOL, the discussions here and at Pro Wrestling Only, and watching the Legends Round table discussions. I'm attributing it to just me growing up.
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DDK



Joined: 22 Jan 2007
Posts: 18
Location: NJ

PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jdw wrote:
Somewhere in between.

There is a combo of *we* the viewer changing, and the product changing.

I think wrestling has always had fans grow up and away from the business. Of course kids, but also adult fans getting bored and moving onto something else.

The product has always changed to a degree, even if it's something along the lines of talent: Bruno fans not liking Backlund, so losing interest in the promotion and business.

I still enjoy watching wrestling, probably as much as ever since things that wouldn't have gotten pops from me in the past (Tito vs. Savage) do now. The current product lost my interest increasingly over the years. Storylines, talent, style, my own time, my own interest in other things.

I don't think that's terribly different from a lot of fans not just currently, but over the course of the long history of the business.

One thing that does pop into my mind from time to time was the old cliche a lot of us would hear when we were critical of the product:

"If you hate it so much [or "don't like it"], why are you still watching?"

One of the responses we use to make was that while we are critical of it or complained about it, we did *care*. We cared enough to watch, to get frustrated, and to point out what our issues were with the product.

If you don't care, you don't complain... you don't watch or pay for it.

In hindsight, what is worse for the business: the fan that cares enough to complain, or the fan who doesn't care and stops watching/paying?

I don't think the business gets that, and rarely over the years has. Fans are marks, and there are always more of them.

I don't think people who rolled out the "Don't Like / Don't Watch" spot ever got that either.


John


John,

I'm always wary of taking the mentality that the past always seems "better" than the present. I know it's not always true and it can be an easy trap to fall into. The past few weeks I've been watching an assortment of things jumping from the matches/shows of 10 to 20 years ago to more recent things. Some of the older stuff I really liked at one time, I found to be the complete opposite now. The best example would be the 6/6/97 Triple Crown match. I jumped on the bandwagon with that one a decade ago and thought it was phenomenal. Upon re-watching it, I was just not digging it so much anymore. Somehow I was able to overlook the finish all this time till now. The finish just killed the match for me. It's not to say that I would have been giving it the "Meltzer 5 star Ric Flair Bong Special", but I would have maybe given it a 1/4 star higher.

On the flip side of things, as an example, the RWTL '96 finals have gotten better over time for me personally. So I do think over time opinions and expectations of the product like you mentioned change and can cause one to step away from following.

I have to say that I was in the corner of the "Don't like/Don't watch" crowd 10 years ago. But what I have to say is looking back, the critical evaluation of the product while seeming to be people opining for the days of yore, it's beneficial and serves a very good purpose. When I run into people who are fans of the current WWF product, it's interesting how complacent they are with it and how they don't care to make any evaluation of the product. They are ok with sitting in the passenger's seat and just going for the ride, and then getting out when they lose interest.

I couldn't agree more with you about the wrestling business losing sight of what fan base would be more important for the long run. Everything still seems to be focused on the short term and trying to leverage the ratings/money/etc. into short term boosts without ever looking ahead to the future. Of course it's not something that is mutually exclusive to the wrestling industry. I guess it's one of those things they'll never get, or they get it and just don't really care. I know MMA has played into it a little bit as well with people wanting to see "real fighting" instead without understanding or seeing what makes pro wrestling unique.

Of course I started developing a slight theory over the past few weeks with regards to the decline of pro wrestling in Japan. It's called, "How Nobuhiko Takada Murdered Pro Wrestling." ;)

To everyone else, thank you for sharing the thoughts. It's always interesting to see what other people think and feel about the way things have gone. I'm glad to see I'm not entirely alone with this! :)

Dave
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Steve Yohe



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 3047
Location: Wonderful Montebello CA

PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never really left, but 10 years ago I was taping all the TV shows & PPVs plus getting all the Japanese tapes. Had a large tape collection & was always playing with it.

But when it came to 5 hours of wrestling on Monday nights, it got to be too much and WCW was terrible to me when everyone was buying it. I got sick of watching shows with just talk and dumb ass storylines I didn't care about. Just got sick of being tied down on Mondays & watching just to be up to date. All the styles of wrestling just looked the same.

They created hardcore titles and made a movie star world champion, and that was them telling fans like me that they were stupid for watching the shit and they didn't want us. They wanted money but had no respect for true fans, past traditions, or even themselves. They were terrible people running it, who knew nothing about pro wrestling or booking. So I left.

Found I enjoyed the time away from it. Freed me to play with wrestling history, which I enjoyed. So fine.

The sport is now just one major company with less than 10 true main eventers...who seem to wrestle each other over & over...in matches that look the same. There are two minor companies, one is small time and the other wants to be WCW all over again. I feel dumb, when ever I watch TNA.

The only wrestling in town is WWE and that's 3 times a year & I don't know how to get tickets anymore. They sellout so you would have 16,000 people in front of you. Ticket prices are out of this world. The local wrestlers seem like kids playing to be wrestlers.

Japan has died after the death of Baba and all I watch is NOAH. But its far from the old days. No new stars have been created and the old ones are so beat up they can hardly walk..

None of my friends care & they want nothing to do with today's product. I get to see a few of them three times a year to watch tapes of old matches. The rest became insiders selling whatever they had to say and the others just walked away. A lot of them became hated enemies on the computer.

As for the VCR tapes...well they say its all going to DVD and the old tapes will have no machines to play on. Later the DVDs will go to HD DVDs or to the next gimmick they sell to the public (kids).

So...I'd watch again but why? It's over.

Steve Yohe
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jdw
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Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 17103

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think we get together more than 3 times a year. It must me at least 4-5 times a year. ;)


John
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Steve Yohe



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 3047
Location: Wonderful Montebello CA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe in 2008. You stoped posting on them,so we have no record. I'm lossing the ability to number them. I think were on 187.--Yohe
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jdw
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Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 17103

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We never numbered them correctly - it was just a joke number we came up with.

I suspect we've gotten together more than *9* times in 2006-2008, which is 3 times per year. We seem to have one every 2-3 months, probably 4-5 times a year.

If you were "sick" next Sunday, we'd be getting together. Don't blame me for you being "healthy". :P


John
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Steve Yohe



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 3047
Location: Wonderful Montebello CA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"We never numbered them correctly - it was just a joke number we came up with."

Your kidding....you mean my count was off...Damm.--Yohe
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DDK



Joined: 22 Jan 2007
Posts: 18
Location: NJ

PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess this sort of ties in with this topic so I'll just post it in this thread since the book got me thinking about this subject a bit more.

Well after putting it off for a bit, I finally sat down the with the Bret Hart autobiography the past 2 days. I'll be perfectly honest in that I'm kind of biased towards Bret in that I was always a huge fan of most of his stuff. I don't think he is quite as good as he would like to believe, but for the time and place he was definitely in the top 3 as far as North America goes IMO. I should probably clarify that I don't mean all time. ;)

It was very informative with regards to wrestling history and it was just overall a fascinating read. Tough at times especially towards the end because of all of the deaths and problems. The details about Owen's death was just extremely hard to get through.

I do agree with some of the opinions I read that he does come across as being bitter at times. I don't really want to say it is the wrong way for him to feel how he does since I can't exactly imagine how it would have felt to be on the receiving end of what happened in Montreal. It doesn't feel like he will ever let that go. But it's his right I suppose. He doesn't come across anywhere near as bitter as Dynamite came across in his book.

I've been thinking that perhaps the worst thing pro wrestling ever did to itself in this country was to I guess break down the whole idea of kayfabe. It took away a lot of the I guess mystique pro-wrestling had and made it a lot harder to connect with any of the current wrestlers. Maybe that's what really went wrong? The overall lack of connection to the wrestlers and just general lack of disregard to the history of the business as far as what wrestling is supposed to be...or rather the concept of what it is supposed to be.

I think that Vince McMahon never really had any respect for wrestling in general...or if he did, it took a backseat to the need to line his own pockets. Not really all that different from any promoter/snake oil salesman I suppose...I'll always remember hearing about how Baba suddenly didn't know the English language when any of the American wrestlers wanted to discuss money with him.

If anyone feels differently feel free to say so....
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jdw
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Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 17103

PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the business was always delusional about kayfabe. The overwhelming majority of the public knew it was fake. I'm willing to bet that the majority even of Wrestling Fandom also knew it was fake. It had been in the paper and TV and everywhere else forever that wrestling was fake. It's fun to read old articles during Frank Gotch's time about how wrestling was fake, and Gotch shrugging it off.

I don't think breaking kayfabe hurt. I have a feeling that wrestling wouldn't have been as big in the mid-to-late 90s if it was still working kayfabe.

John
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