Reality From Ringside #89
November 15, 2010
By: Doug Lackey of

Why “Smackdown vs. Raw” is the Worst Thing to Happen to Professional Wrestling

Like CM Punk slinging a lifeless Rey Mysterio into the barricade in front of the paying attendance, I can feel the hatred. Reading a headline like that would send any stereotypical professional wrestling fan into a vile display of vulgarity and vehemence.

“Hey! I like ‘Smackdown vs. Raw’! It’s *bleep*ing awesome!”

“You have no idea what you’re talking about, Lackey! You goddamned hack!”

“No! Wrong! Wrong! *raspberries* Wrong!”

Before my mailbox is flooded with replies about how awful a person I am and how I have no right to consider myself a professional wrestling fan, let alone a member of this entity made to resemble ‘media’ or a ‘community’, hear me out. I know it sounds harsh, “the worst thing to happen to professional wrestling”, but I honestly believe it. I am not making this claim just to start a firestorm or become a character that everyone can despise; I’ve already achieved that according to many.

While I’m sure many will try to stake this claim as their own, it does not offend me at all. I am a firm believer in the adage “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Nothing makes me happier than knowing that other websites, columnists, and podcasters cannot survive without my material… regardless or not if they give credit where it is due. Creation and time-stamping establish the opinion-makers; regurgitation and plagiarizing establish the opinion-takers.

To the subject at hand, I wholeheartedly believe that a video game is the worst thing to happen to professional wrestling. I can definitely think of other events, products, and figures that could be considered more diabolical to the industry, but in its current state the “Smackdown vs. Raw” video game series is to blame for many of the debates and stereotypes you read and listen to amongst professional fans and websites.

With over ten years under its belt, what began as the ‘Smackdown’ series of WWE video games twelve installments later has become ‘Smackdown vs. Raw’. It has incorporated everything professional wrestling fans have known and loved about their form of entertainment, from jaw-dropping maneuvers and attacks to stipulation-laced and multi-superstar matches. The series has supplied a starving mass of professional wrestling enthusiasts with enough fantasy booking and superstar creating power to make them overweight with unrealistic joy.

There is no other video game based on a television show where someone can assume the role as a co-star and make them the main attraction.

There is no other product based on professional wrestling where someone can create their own performer and have them ‘compete’ against other performers from the most popular and polarizing company in the industry.

There is no other piece of merchandise that has reduced an industry’s creative and imaginative power into nothing more than a display of athletic feats and inhuman strength.

There is no other toy… you heard me, TOY… that has wrought about more destruction, isolation, and alienation to the professional wrestling community, internet-based or not, than ‘Smackdown vs. Raw’.

I firmly believe that without this video game, we would not have Ring of Honor, Dragon Gate, or TNA’s X-Division. If it weren’t for ‘Smackdown vs. Raw’, we would not have performers who solely rely on feats of athleticism, aerial irrelevancy, and other occurrences of dumbassery in order to call themselves ‘wrestlers’.

That’s right. I firmly believe a video game as led many young wrestlers to believe that all you need to be is a vessel that moves rather than be a character that acts. This video game has taken everything that I have known and loved about professional wrestling and reduced it to nothing more than an afterthought. No character… no personalities… no storylines… no plot development.

Before you start screaming that there are stories and plots in the new installment of the series, convince me that it is for that reason that you have played the video game in the first place. It isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not generalizing everyone who plays this video game as a contributing factor to the decay of professional wrestling and the community within; I am however saying that many who do play it go a little too far with their opinions and philosophies of what ‘wrestling’ is.

Professional wrestling is theater, always has been and always will be. When you place more emphasis on the action inside the ring and virtually eliminate the reasons behind the action inside said ring, all you are left with is choreographed combat… synchronized struggle… in some cases, gymnastics.

There are wrestling fans within chat rooms, forums, and message boards all over the interwebs who actually think that WWE’s creative team can be derived from a character’s storyline on a video game! There are wrestling fans who firmly believe that a performer’s finishing maneuver is only as strong as how it is dictated from a video game, thus creating the need for ‘finisher-counter-finisher’ endings in matches!

This video game is eliminating everything I have grown to know and love about professional wrestling, not just from the enjoyment of the industry itself but also the community that it nurtures.

There is no denying that almost every professional wrestling fan has been waiting for ‘Smackdown vs. Raw 2011’ to be released, I’m sure many pre-ordered it. What about the people who have never watched an episode of Raw or Smackdown in their lifetime? I’m sure those who have never watched either show will sooner or later rent or play the game. I’m also willing to bet that some of who have never watched a minute of professional wrestling in their lifetime might be swayed to check it out through the action of the video game.

Of all of the methods for the indoctrination of a professional wrestling fan, this is the worst. Attracted only by the maneuvers, athleticism, and hollowness of the performers’ actions instead of the performers themselves, these newly-baptized fans will be led to believe that is the very definition of professional wrestling.

I have played the video games, albeit sparingly. I have enjoyed them myself, but not to the point to where it has programmed me into believing it is what the entertainment should be.

If you enjoy playing them, have at it! I’m not one to tell you that you shouldn’t.

Just thank Yuke’s and THQ for assisting in the birth of the ‘moves-for-the-sake-of-moves’ mentality, the ‘random mid-card needs a world title or else he is a failure’ philosophy, & the ever-popular ‘it’s been 2 weeks, end the angle now!’ belief system.

Until next time, mouth-breathers!

Annoy me with your assumptions and affronts… adore me with your adulations and acknowledgements:

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