Wrestling Rumblings #16
May 23, 2009
By: Jose Marrero of WrestleView.com
As some of you may or may not know I used to do this column for an independent wrestling website. While my column was a bit more mainstream every so often I would cover an independent event in a separate column or would even have a tidbit about an independent news story in this regular feature. Of course in my short time with Wrestleview that has not been the case. It's something that has been addressed here in the past but even still I get emails all the time from people who have followed the column before I arrived here who want to hear something independent wrestling related. You see the Indies are very important to the future of the wrestling business. Without them you wouldn?t have guys like CM Punk, Samoa Joe, MVP or AJ Styles. It is indeed the breeding ground for the stars of tomorrow. However in my opinion and I have said it here in the past the state of the independents is horrible right now. Rather than just state that I will go into what I think is missing from independent wrestling as well as what all independent wrestlers need to do to help save not just Indy wrestling but the industry in general?. You?re reading ?Wrestling Rumblings?.
The first and most glaringly obvious problem with independent wrestling is lack of strong promoters. There used to be a plethora of strong, knowledgeable and experienced wrestling promoters back in the day. However it would seem that the same boom period that inspired many of today's young up and coming wrestlers in the attitude era to become wrestlers has also inspired those that were less athletically gifted to become promoters. In theory anyone can?t be a wrestler (I say in theory because every show I go to these days I see more and more ?wrestlers in the ring who don?t belong there) but anyone with a decent amount of money can play wrestling promoter. Don?t get me wrong it is great to live your dream but most of these guys don?t have the slightest clue about how the wrestling business works because well they just really aren?t that smart to it. They don?t know what sells tickets, how to structure a card, how to develop angles and help elevate talent. All they know is the type of matches that they enjoy and that's fine but being a wrestling promoter is kind of like owning and running a Baskin Robbins in that I may like Vanilla but I have to have 30 other flavors for my consumers or I am cutting my revenue stream. The most glaring weakness of these promoters is that they themselves are such fans that they are not in a position to give feedback to wrestlers. One of the things that made the territories as successful as they were was that the men who ran them were so smart to the business that a wrestler didn?t dare question an idea (at least not publicly) and for the most part listened to any advice that was solicited. This was usually because the promoter was a successful ex wrestler himself or had decades of experience unfortunately that is not the case anymore as there are not that many experienced, elite wrestling people involved in independent wrestling to dispense wrestling knowledge and what you are left with is John the insurance salesmen who had nothing better to do with his money so he said ?Hey I should be a wrestling promoter? and of course at that point you have what is commonly referred to in this business as a money mark. I don?t care what any wrestler says there is no talent that I have ever spoken to who has been devoted to helping a money mark's promotion succeed because at the end of the day all they see is a mark who they are trying to bleed dry.
While the promoters are a big problem they are just one problem and while one iceberg sank the Titanic numerous problems plague Indy wrestling another of which is us ?the fans. Fans are just so knowledgeable these days that they don?t just sit down and enjoy the show. Instead they try to dictate what the product is and what fans don?t understand is that they are in fact not wrestlers and not in the wrestling business. While they think they can run a successful promotion the truth of the matter is many of them can?t or they would be. While fans are knowledgeable to the business they are not smart as they think they are. I don?t care how many websites they read or how many Dave Meltzer newsletters they own that's just the truth. Half the people actually involved in the wrestling business are not smart to it so for a fan to say he/she is smart is asinine. We are all marks; I don?t mean that to be insulting that's just a fact. Hell while I respect him immensely for all his contributions to wrestling Dave Meltzer is a mark. When you start grading matches instead of realizing that the show as a collective is building to something that shows you are not smart to wrestling. The true formula that has always made wrestling successful until recent history is that fans always had one match they specifically were looking forward to and that was the main event. Of course thanks to Dave and his star system that logic has went out the window and now look at what we have. Everyone trying to steal the show when instead of trying to steal the show they should all in fact be trying to help add to it to make it the best show possible. That's not counting the fans who are trying to relive the ECW days and be a part of the show. ECW was special I will admit that and the fan involvement is definitely something that helped them take the steps that they did however now every fan wants to feel like he/she is in the show. Look at all of the ROH fans I can?t go to an ROH show without hearing 50 chants and that's just the opening match. Why do they chant all the time? Well because they want to be a part of the show and because of that wanting to be a part of the show they don?t take the time to truly sit and enjoy the show. This nonsense20with signs is a whole other deal altogether I mean I see signs at shows that are not being taped and yes this includes WWE house shows and no I am not talking about the signs of children but of grown adults who don?t get the simple truth of they are there to watch the show the show is not there to watch them.
Of course when I say the fans don?t help Indy wrestling I would definitely have to include the internet in my assertion. Whether it is fan sites, message boards or even sites like this I don?t think people realize the power of the internet to influence opinions. How many fans base their opinions of a wrestler or an angle based on what the internet thinks? All of us and if you think I am wrong how many of you thought that Jeff Hardy was going to lose the main event at Judgment Day simply because he hasn?t signed a WWE deal as of yet? See my point the internet not only changes your opinions of angles and people but it fails to let you suspend disbelief as there have been many angles and storylines in the past where fans have not been able to just watch it come to completion without having some sort of prediction based on the internet. Now with Indy wrestling the situation with the internet is getting out of hand. How many statements have you seen released by wrestlers or reporters at these shows telling you things you don?t need to know like who is sleeping around, who sold tickets to be on the show, who didn?t want to do the job and so much more. These may seem like small things but when you talk about the mystique to the territories part of it was that no one knew anything and granted Kayfabe in wrestling is indeed dead but it should be resurrected at least on a smaller scale in the Indies. If I am a worker I shouldn?t have to worry about a conversation I had about a finish winding up on the internet. Things like that should be irrelevant to a fan. You should always want to be amazed and surprised.
Now the last problem with Indy wrestling is well the wrestlers themselves. Where should I begin? I am not going to give the soliloquy that so many give about these little chicken chested guys on the independent scene because well in my opinion wrestlers come in all shapes and sizes although I will admit you should always look the part what I will say though is wrestlers should look like wrestlers. Unless your name is John Cena and you make millions of dollars a year you should probably invest in some ring gear. It would seem these days that every Indy show has at least one guy wrestling in shorts and sneakers and well if you can?t invest in a pair of tights or at least a pair of wrestling boots than you really shouldn?t be in the wrestling ring. If you show up looking like a fan than that just tells me that you are one and I came to see wrestlers not fans.
Another thing about the wrestlers is that it seems like no one in the Indies can cut a promo. I laugh when I hear people complain about WWE wrestlers cutting scripted promos but then they praise there local Indy when Joe Indy wrestler is basically doing the same thing the only difference is he curses all over the place when he cuts the promo that he scripted for himself over a month ago. I?m sorry but if there is one thing that I am bothered with as far as the next generation of wrestlers that have come out of the Indies and into mainstream wrestling it's that as athletic as they are very few can cut a good promo. CM Punk really hasn?t cut a good promo since he has been bought up to WWE, Homicide can?t cut a decent promo without cursing and don?t get me started on AJ Styles. While it is different in WWE and you don?t have to talk them into the building? anymore but rather convince them to buy the PPV on the Indies you still have to be able to talk them into the building at times. While you don?t have TV you have to be able to convince those that are already attending your shows or even watching the DVD's that they shouldn?t miss out on the live experience of seeing the show. You should try to be smart and creative not vulgar. Truth of the matter is as much as I loved the Franchise Shane Douglas in ECW one of the main reasons he was unable to catch on anywhere else was the he couldn?t cut a decent promo without cursing. All of you guys need to take the time and look at yourself in the mirror and cut your promos?maybe even record them and watch them again and again so that when you actually go out there it makes sense.
I don?t want to feel like I am picking on wrestlers but they are obviously the lifeblood to any promotion and well as much as you could complain about the business the in ring product is the thing you are a fan of and that is all down to the wrestlers. Today's Indy wrestler has absolutely zero ring psychology. Everything is a spot fest and even when it isn?t the move set of a match is not strung together where it makes sense. If I have a match where I did 30 high spots for near falls and none of them won the match for me why should a hadoken fireball motion from Street Fighter win the match? Before you say that I am exaggerating with that this is a finish I have seen from Kenny Omega who seems to be today's Indy darling after multiple spot fests at Indy shows. Take a look at a tag team like the Briscoes in ROH. Those 2 guys have without argument the best tandem offense of any team in wrestling bar none. However there psychology stinks and as a result of it they are probably not going to have the best quality of life when they hit their golden years and probably still not going to make the money that they should have in wrestling. Of course I am not just down on the high spots it's also the little things in wrestling that go a long way towards making a match believable. I had a conversation with someone involved in wrestling and I asked them the other day if there is such a thing as a rest hold? His answer was yes and he followed it up explaining how you use a headlock as a rest hold to catch your breath and see where you want the match to go. Now I want everyone to take notice of this next statement THERE ARE NO REST HOLDS!!!! No such thing the true psychology of a match just doesn?t allow it. In theor y you should always be trying to win the match and while I understand what this wrestler was saying even still a headlock is not a rest hold. Do you catch your breath? Sure but you shouldn?t stop working in the ring. Which means the guy in the headlock should still look like he is trying to get out of the headlock because after all in theory I can pin you on a headlock and if you are pinned you lose the match. The most basic principle of wrestling psychology is to look like you are trying to win the match and if you just sit there it shows me not only that you are not trying to win the match but that there is not match and it's all a performance and well once you realize that in a wrestling match there is no reason to watch because you can?t suspend disbelief. Stop letting the crowd dictate to you and dictate to the crowd. I am not saying a wrestler shouldn?t pay attention to the fans because well they should but you shouldn?t let them tell you what to do out there. After all you are the worker in the ring and you should know where it is you need to take your match and if you don?t well then you don?t belong in wrestling. It's pure and simple.
Wrestlers need to pay attention to the other matches on the card. Case in point there was a show here in NY with Jake the Snake Roberts on the card and a guy in the mid card used the DDT as a transitional move. I mean all he had to do was be a wrestling fan to realize that the DDT is Jake's finish and him using it as a transitional move took away from the value of Jake's finish. Opening guys should talk to the mid card and the main event and vice versa to be truly unique and build to a truly good show. The opening match should never try to outshine the main event because well the main event is what's selling the show and as much as guys don?t want to hear this there can only be one main event on a show not seven. Can you still have a good match? Sure absolutely that's where the psychology part comes into play which again is something that wrestlers on the Indies lack. One of the big things that separate WWE from an Indy is that in theory when you are in WWE it is all about having a great show when you are in the Indies everyone on that show is just trying to get themselves over. If you can get your promotion over than don?t worry you will get over in time if you are that talented. You shouldn?t have to do a million flips on the opening match because you feel that you are the most talented guy on the show. No one can ho ld true talent down except themselves which is why Teddy Hart is dodging swine flu in Mexico instead of main eventing Wrestlemania right now even though he has all the potential in the world.
The last thing that I think is hurting the Indies (at least for the sake of this column I could probably write a book on this if I wanted to) is the lack of veteran stars to offer advice. There are just not that many credible veterans on the Indy circuit that are around month in and month out to help groom some of these guys. You have guys do occasional shots but in actuality they are just there for a payday and don?t really observe and help some of these guys out and let them know what they are doing wrong so the only feedback they get is from the small crowd that is there every month. Not to knock those people because they are the foundation of any company but the goal is to grow that crowd month in and month out and when you are green and on the Indies you have no idea how to do that so it would be nice if you had a guy who was passing through and did little more than just do his match and collect his check. The flip side to this is the wrestlers in these organizations need to ask advice. There are just too many know it all wrestl ers who think they know everything and in actuality they know nothing because if they did they wouldn?t be working in front of 20 people every month. When a veteran shows up and works a show you should not just ask their advice but watch their match and look at what they did and ask them about that too. See why they did something and why it worked and why they didn?t do the million high spots that you do and got the same reaction if not better. It will not only prolong your career but will help further develop you as a worker.
I could go on and on forever about this as there is just so much more but these are a few key things that I think is definitely hurting Independent wrestling and well if Independent wrestling is not strong how can we expect the future of our industry to be strong? We can?t so I hope anyone who is affiliated with the business that may be reading this column is heeding what I am saying. On that note I have to wrap this week's column up. To everyone who wrote me offering their support last week I really appreciate it and while things have not improved every day is an opportunity and I expect to make the most of mine. I can?t even tell you how many positive emails I got regarding this an d well while it is not a paycheck it definitely felt good to have the support of the readers. Of course I know there was at least 1 person out there who wanted me to ?get over myself? and you know what that is fine also as I am open to criticism and feedback both positive and negative. How can you give me feedback on this week's column? Well you can go ahead and send me a email at [email protected]
and well that's it for this week next week I will try to do better and until then I am out.