It’s that time again for another hearty addition to my blog here on CamelClutchBlog.com. I’ve been a bit out of the loop between travelling from school to home, as well as being highly under the influence once AT home so wrestling was subdued over the holidays.
I did however catch the first thirty minutes of iMPACT Wrestling, which I for the most part regretted even seeing. Seriously, Thanksgiving Thong Thunder? The name alone sounds like Vince Russo if I’ve ever heard it and believe me folks, if you’ve not seen it you’re not missing much however I highly recommend watching for comedic value alone. The baffling opening brawl also made little to no sense, seeing as most of the guys in the 3 on 3 fight didn’t have anything to do with each other storyline wise however, it is TNA after all so surprise was not involved.
However, this isn’t a review column. There are plenty of great people on this site that do that for you and I will not attempt to take their places. One thing over the week that I did notice was a huge surge in many fans’ apparent holier-than-thou attitude to my article last week.
My article last week was simply pointing out the positives in wrestling today, the things I see that are very good with the pro wrestling business. In a climate of constant negative criticism, I’ve found myself wondering where the positivity in wrestling has gone. Surely not every single person that follows and reports on wrestling is a fickle individual right? It seems to unfortunately swing that way.
I know what many of you reading this are thinking: wrestling is in the shitter right now, what is there to be optimistic about? Granted, that’s half true. Wrestling today compared to ten years ago is like comparing a bicycle to a Greyhound bus. It’s a completely different industry, going from a predominantly pay-per-view/television business to a viable internet product quickly evolving.
Now you need more than just a website to be relevant; you need Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and all the countless other outlets of social media to keep both relevant and connected to your fan base. Most importantly however, the product has changed significantly. The days of one huge star dictating your business are pretty well extinct. These days you need several big names to keep people’s attention spans and even then, you need solid angles and high intensity action. In other words, having a boom period is more than just a strong product, it’s also strong marketing and key moves in your presentation of said product.
THAT more than anything is the key to success in pro wrestling. What I wrote last week was merely meant to get conversation started on when the next big boom in wrestling is going to come and the idea that has been floating around recently that said boom may happen sooner than once thought. Do I believe tomorrow wrestling will get huge again? No, because the business model isn’t where it needs to be for that to happen. People that aren’t in the wrestling bubble aren’t talking about wrestling and frankly, it’s because there aren’t gripping angles or strong characters yet to get their attention on a widespread stage.
It doesn’t help that the biggest television presence that helped bring in the last huge boom, Turner Broadcasting, not only merged with AOL but it’s wrestling promotion WCW has been dead and buried for a decade now. WWE’s television is strong indeed but the product isn’t as strong to counteract the loss in interest over the last decade. With tragedies such as the Eddie Guerrero death, as well as the well publicized Benoit family murders and suicide wrestling’s perception in the mainstream is as negative as I can remember in my time. It will take a lot to bring those casual fans back and a strong television presence isn’t enough.
Pay-per-view is also beginning to change. Cable and satellite pay-per-view service is dwindling dramatically and even the PPV darling UFC has seen significant losses in the buyrates in 2011. As much as TNA has been grilled for claiming pay-per-view is dead in spite of having horrid buyrates, there’s a bit of truth to that. TNA definitely doesn’t have any room to talk when their marketing is as god awful as any promotion perhaps ever, just recently they promoted their pay-per-view main event with literally the last 30 seconds of their weekly show’s time.
Even with TNA out of the way, everyone in combat sports can see it. Boxing, which has its own issues in the sport’s evolution were once a pay-per-view goldmine but with the decline of interest just as with wrestling as well as key stars either retiring or having no competition, buyrates are disappointing. What is the answer to this? Honestly who really knows but many of the independent wrestling promotions have begun to broadcast on the infant iPPV format, which has been said to have incredible benefits for many promotions that have gone that format route most notably Ring of Honor over the last year or so.
For me, I definitely believe that the Internet is the key to success. Saying that, I don’t believe that doing angles on twitter is going to get anyone further in that direction, because the fans already know it’s not a reality with the storylines. For me, wrestling needs to go back to being the barebones, realistic art that it was in decades prior. I realize that the magic of the 1970’s and early 1980’s can never be duplicated again with kayfabe being dead however, if given the right circumstances and proper marketing I do think that realism and wrestling can have a very beneficial association together. Wrestling isn’t a science however so nothing can be proven to work until it’s tried. Ring of Honor is going in that direction and I personally feel as though they produce the best wrestling television in years simply because they provide a realism rarely seen in WWE or TNA.