I’ve been doing columns for quite some time now and a question I often get asked from readers and friends alike is how do you get into this kind of work? The answer is usually it’s very easy, there is so many people with websites these days and for that matter creating your own website have become very easy and cost efficient. To me the more important question is how do you go about handling this kind of work? Let’s face it people there are hundreds of wrestling websites out there and of course that means hundreds of columnists, reporters and internet radio show hosts but just because you can get into this kind of a field very easily doesn’t mean that everyone can handle this gig. Over the years I have seen many things that have made me sort of embarrassed to be associated with wrestling media by some of my would be colleagues. Actions that I would label immature and unprofessional, I have often said in private how there should be a code of etiquette amongst those that would consider themselves to be members of the wrestling media. So without further ado here are the dos and don’ts of wrestling media according to yours truly…you’re reading “Wrestling Rumblings.”
In writing this column I realize I am probably going to offend some people, maybe even some people here at Wrestleview, so I want to point out that this column is MY OPINION and doesn’t reflect upon anyone else associated with this website. These are rules that I try to hold myself to and it would be nice if those who you go to for news, opinions and entertainment would do their best to follow them as I believe it would help more to raise the standings of everyone else who covers professional wrestling. The wrestling industry has a bum rap as it is without its writers further embarrassing the industry so I think everyone should take heed to this list.
1. Watch wrestling: This is a rule that I shouldn’t even have to write but far too often there are writers and radio guys out there who criticize and talk about angles and matches but don’t even watch the show where the angles and matches took place. I recognize that there can be as much as 12 hours of wrestling every week between WWE, TNA and ROH alone and that not everyone has the free time to watch everything all the time but I know of people out there that don’t watch Raw, Smackdown, Impact or ROH on HD Net but yet have running commentary on these shows every week. How can you have an opinion based on spoilers? It’s best to watch the show even if you don’t necessarily enjoy the product before devoting a column or a segment of your show to something on the show. Doing anything less damages not just your credibility but that of the show you are on or the site you write for. Remember most readers/listeners are looking to hear from those that they feel are more informed than they are. They can go to chat rooms and message boards to hear from ordinary or casual fans. If you want to be taken seriously take your time to watch and digest what you see on TV before you decide to discuss or write about it.
2. Stay away from message boards and chat rooms: Unless you are running a radio show and have to monitor a chat room I don’t understand the logic of hanging out in a chat room if you have your own show and/or column to discuss your views. I’m all for being interactive with readers/listeners but do that through email. Same thing with message boards, why write a column if you are going to hang out in a message board ranting all week long? It is the feeling of this writer that those who want to take this seriously have to hold themselves to a bit of a higher standard than a normal fan and ranting and raving in a chat and/or message board is doing just the opposite of that. I often like to think of what print media would do in certain situations and I am a fan of several sports writers I don’t think Mike Lupica or Bob Ryan would spend time in a chat room or on a message board. That’s what there multiple forums are for. If you are always running your mouth (or keyboard in this instance) why should anyone pay attention to your columns and/or shows when they are posted?
3. Don’t call into other shows: When you appear on a show it should be as a guest. If you call into a show and a host has to ask who is this guess what? You are no longer a guest you are a caller and if you make a habit of doing this routinely you are just a fan who posts. You want to be more than that or at least give the appearance that you are more than that. Remember readers/listeners want to hear/read from those that they feel are better informed than them, if you have to call into a show just like anyone else then there is really nothing special about your opinions. Also take into consideration that you have a show/column that you do every week, do you really like the sound of your own voice that you feel the need to not just do your show/column but call into everyone else’s as well? Again using the print media analogy that I used before you do not see Mike Lupica and Bob Ryan call into shows at random when they are on they are guests and it is treated totally different from a random caller. If you just like doing this stuff and you are trying to just have fun by all means keep doing what you are doing but if you want to actually be taken seriously and get your name out make readers/listeners want to hear from you, not grow tired of hearing from you. Shows are for casual fans, you shouldn’t cut into their time when you have a forum at your disposal every week.
4. Have thick skin: Just because you have a forum does not mean every listener/reader is going to take your word as the gospel. The truth of the matter is you are not going to please everyone every week and you will get your share of negative feedback. Handle this in stride and don’t let it rile you up. It doesn’t matter how intelligent you feel this feedback is or for that matter how respectful it was given to you. The same way you take your forum to criticize wrestling; there will those that will take whatever is available to criticize you. If every public figure was to publicly throw a fit or acknowledge every negative thing thrown their way they probably wouldn’t be able to do whatever made them a public figure in the first place. If you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen.
5. Be professional with your viewpoints: I’d really like to say watch your bias but I think that is almost impossible to do when covering wrestling because covering wrestling pretty much involves saying what and who you like and dislike but bear in mind there is a right and wrong way to criticize things. I used to participate on a podcast that’s host would routinely refer to Dave Batista as “That moron Batista”. That’s pretty strong, I remember asking him why Batista was a moron and his reply was “because I just don’t like him”. My reply to him then was “do you know him?” needless to say he didn’t. Truth of the matter is if Batista was in front of him he’d probably wet his pants before ever referring to him as a moron. If he was just a fan on a board or in a chat it would be one thing but a guy on a radio show that is trying to use his platform to springboard onto better endeavors, well that is something else. If something happens and you don’t like it by all means write about it but be considerate, don’t make bold outlandish statements because you are behind a keyboard or a microphone. That’s cowardly and quite honestly bush league. Plus what you may not realize is you alienate part of your audience that may like what you dislike not because you dislike it but because you unintelligently went about professing that dislike.
6. Watch your public statements: This should go without saying, you have a show or a column so you are somewhat of a public figure now. You should not just go on your social networking sites and shoot off whenever you see fit. Your public image will reflect on your professional one so if you are going to put your facebook, myspace or twitter pages out there than you should be responsible in what you post. To put it more bluntly: Don’t show your ass out there.
7. No one cares about your feuds: It seems the hip thing to do these days is to feud with other personalities, websites, radio shows etc. I personally don’t understand that practice of telling your readers/listeners through your shows/columns or even your public pages how you feel about your colleagues in the wrestling media world. Remember you are not wrestlers; no one should care about your gripes but the gripes that take place inside of a squared circle. Every word spoken or written about your personal feuds take away from what you should be discussing: professional wrestling. If you have a personal beef with someone you s should probably handle it in private and if it can’t be handled in private you should leave it out of your public persona. I never understood the practice of sites bashing other sites or shows bashing other shows, that’s free publicity since if you still have an audience it is only those who care about the beef and because it takes two to beef all they will do is go back and check out said site or said show to see what the rebuttal is. Don’t give your enemies the free publicity and well instead of telling your readers/listeners how bad your competition is you should focus on how good you can be.
8. Admit when you are wrong: You’re not perfect and you are going to make mistakes and most readers/listeners will understand it if you own up to it. If you don’t well than you are the guy who either writes or says false statements and even when proven wrong has too much of an ego to retract the statement. It is my strongest opinion that if you are incorrect about something you should own up to it as soon as you are made aware that you have been proven wrong. No one likes a know it all, especially one that doesn’t know anything.
9. Wrestlers work gimmicks: Too many guys have nicknames just for the sake of having nicknames. There is nothing wrong with a gimmick column like Anthony “Mr. V.” Valvo’s but there is something wrong with a guy who calls himself “The Franchise” or “The Superstar” just because he can(don’t get me started on some of the goofier names I have heard over the years). This is not wrestling in your basement but the World Wide Web. If you are legitimately trying to protect your identity than maybe I can understand that but most of you give yourselves these nicknames and still make your real name common knowledge. I don’t understand that practice at all; I don’t really think it’s cool and I have yet to encounter a reader/listener who said they thought a nickname would further entice them to read or listen to a show. I suppose it’s a matter of personal taste but personally I could do without it.
10. Think for yourself: Far too often I hear from guys who just quote what is being told to them on the internet if you are going to be a columnist or a radio personality you should have your own opinion. I want to use our very own Josh Boutwell as an example of how you should all be. For those who do not know Josh recaps TNA for Wrestleview and well he is legitimately a TNA fan and rather than go by what he reads and hears on a daily basis he will defend the TNA product with his dying breath because it is what he believes in. I am not saying that I agree with his views towards TNA but I can respect the fact that he has his own unique opinion and is not just jumping on a bandwagon. Remember there is really no right or wrong with an opinion, it’s all subjective and while you can have a really strong opinion based on facts it is still an opinion. You should have your own, not Dave Meltzers.
11. Don’t play favorites: Just because you like a guy if you critique a wrestler you don’t like for something and the guy you like follows up and happens to commit the same blunder you just criticized. You have to give him the same treatment. I will be the first person to admit that there is a little bit of room for bias in this line of work but not total outright prejudice.
12. Do your research: Far too often I hear of those who just make statements that are often incorrect and it’s because they didn’t take the time out to do their research on something before talking about it and/or writing about it. In this era of internet it only takes but a little bit of time to research some of the points you are making to make sure they are correct. Remember there are many listeners/readers that take your words as the truth and to give them misinformation is to do them a disservice.
13. Protect your brand: I don’t care what you write for or where you do your radio show you have to protect your name first and foremost. If a tree falls in the Forrest and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound? Sure but no one is there to hear it so who cares? Do your best to present your viewpoints to the biggest audience available and try to make sure that the show/site you work for conducts itself in a way that is professional and respectful because well if it doesn’t you’re not going to get many readers/listeners no matter how much you may know on your subject matter. I say this with utmost respect but I would openly tell everyone that I am not pro Wrestleview or anti anything else for that matter but pro Jose Marrero.
I could keep going on and on but I think I have given you all enough to chew on for this week. I hope that anyone who actually does any form of wrestling media does not take this column as an attack but as suggestions for improvement to the entire field. I hope those that are reading this that are thinking about getting involved in wrestling media takes these words to heart as well as I feel this (amongst other things) is the appropriate way to conduct your business. I’ll be the first to admit that I am all about being number one but what good is number one at anything if everything under number one is just plain sad?
It’s time to wrap this week up but not before I give you all something to do for the weekend. NYWC will present there “Going the Distance” show this weekend here at Deer Park NY for those of you in the area. While it’s not going to be big on national names there will be some strong independent mainstays such as Danny Demanto ,Azrieal, Quiet Storm, Tony Mamaluke from the Original ECW, and Traci Brooks. If you are looking to have a good night out check it out this Saturday night for more information checks out www.nywcwrestling.com. I want to take this time out to extend a big thank you to anyone that donated to march for babies or just helped by posting information on their sites/pages. My friend who initially turned to me for help has exceeded her goal but she still has teammates who are short on their goals so if you haven’t donated or checked it out please do so at http://www.marchforbabies.org/s_team_page.asp?seid=1330422 it’s a great cause and they can use all the money they can get.
Of course if anyone out there has a show that you think would be worthy of plugging in this column, a question, complaint, etc. please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and well that’s it for this week, next week I will try to do better and until then I am out.