Same Shit, New Day

I was lurking about on Reddit the other night, when I came across a then-recent thread about the then-recent comments made by Xavier Woods regarding internet wrestling fans and critics. Specifically, how he shared the popular office–approved message that the fans who complain about the product should just get over it, appreciate what they do get, and maybe just move on if they don’t.

In this thread, I came across a comment from user Nighthawk_Black_, which was this:

“It is possible to have a great show on Saturday night and then put on a not so good show on Sunday.”

To which I replied with this:

“It’s also possible for people to be critical of a product they’ve not only spent time on, but money. They buy the tickets, merchandise, subscriptions.

I spent most of my twenties in the business. I’m all for shit-talking the marks who think they’ve got a clue how anything works, but only regurgitate the same old shit they read on the internet. That’s all fine. Fuck’em for thinking they’ve got it more sorted out than the professionals involved. Especially those fans who think they’re entitled to things like impromptu photo and autograph sessions at all possible times.

That said. I also know how the business works, and it’s no different than any other form of entertainment. Doesn’t matter if you’re the booker, promoter, or the talent. You respect your paying fans as much as possible. They buy the tickets and all your goofy shit. Your hard work may get you in the WWE or anywhere else (or maybe just a shitty bingo hall in front of 50 people), but you still need your audience. No audience, no show. No show, no nothin’. So long as they’re (relatively) respectful in the way they go about voicing their opinions, they’re free to speak with their voice and money. In fact, they should be very vocal about it. Because wrestling, more than just about any other form of entertainment, is all about those live crowds. Because it’s still carnie shit. It hurts. It’s dangerous. But it’s still goofy carnie shit at the end of the day.

The biggest issue I have had with the WWE (aside from the flagrant racism, sexism, nationalism, and other assorted stupid shit they do for money at the expense of their talent’s well-being and self-respect), is the way select members of their talent pool absolutely, positively have to be “company guys”. The WWE can do no wrong in their eyes so long as those checks keep coming in. I didn’t think Woods would be such a guy given his background and geek-centric hobbies, which always include the same sort of criticism from people such as himself. The WWE has a dark history and suspect business practices that continue on to this day, and is often ignored. This is a company that has openly and actively mocked its audience and talent for daring to enjoy or even want to be a part of the business. This is a company that thinks a business driven solely on their ability to tap into the populist zeitgeist (or whatever) should instead tell their audience what is or isn’t good, and how wrong they are for thinking what they’re getting for their time and money isn’t satisfactory (or outright garbage). And far too many members of the WWE locker room and office, likely because there are so few places to go to make real, big money in the business these days, are quick to throw their audience under the bus for clearly political reasons.

Again, carnie shit.

Their product has been increasingly awful for the better part of a decade, though admittedly with a lot of bright spots (especially the talent). The talent deserves better. The fans deserve better. But fuck anyone who isn’t towing the company line, I guess.

Roddy Piper used to say, ‘Don’t Trust the P.’ The ‘P’ being the Promoter. Because that’s the business. The promoter is looking to make a buck off you as much as the guy buying a ticket. He doesn’t give a shit about you, your family, or your well-being so long as it’ll make him an extra nickle. It was true in his time. It was true in my time. And it’s definitely true about the WWE. And Xavier and company don’t just trust the P, they’re putting the P before the business and the audience.

The only people who don’t want you complaining that a shit show was shit are the ones trying to convince everyone else to trade their good, hard-earned money for more manure.”

This got a little bit of traction in the form of upvotes, but only one comment. However, the comment (from user TheIronPope) was also worth replying to.

“As Mark Madden put it in one of his columns on wrestlezone ‘The Boys Are The Marks Now.’ A lot of the current WWE wrestlers never worked in the days when you could go to another company or another territory and still make decent money. Thus they’ll say anything to kiss up to management and when the writers are basically shitting allover their heads they’ll say “Thanks for the hat.”

My reply:

“Oh, it’s even worse than that.

The indies are overstuffed with “workers” who will happily and eagerly “eat shit and like it” if it means they’ll get booked on some shit-tier show where they’ll take bumps and dives in front of functionally nobody for literally no money. They’re now trained that way. Hell, I was partially trained (and taken advantage of) that way. But I was lucky to have had at least a few decent people take a liking to me, and made damn sure to drill it into my head that “professionals get paid.” And I’ll keep that Cornette-styled “fuck you, pay me” attitude to my grave. It cost me some friends, and it definitely cost me any love I had for the business out here. But it’s made me more money overall, a happier man, and a generally healthier survivor of the business as a result.

And I really do have to emphasize the quotation marks around “workers,” too. Because the boys these days are hardly that. There are some, sure. Even among those that will never, ever see the light of day on anything resembling a competently constructed event or promotion. Unfortunately. But exceptions to the rule aside, way too many are simply out-of-shape, mal-trained marks who paid good money to other out-of-shape, mal-trained marks. Of course, others are being trained by out-of-shape, ill-intending “workers” with minimal experience (and often zero competency when it comes to, ya know, teaching people). “The blind leading the blind,” as Cornette likes to put it.

The indies should be thriving with all the untapped potential in the available talent pool, the increased visibility and public love for the product, and the insane low-cost entry to reach a literal global audience at the push of a button. But, instead, it’s been left to fester in a sea of it’s own droppings. There are more marks in the ring and training people than there are competent, caring talent wanting to pass on knowledge to a new generation. Namely due to the good ones going where the money is, which is far away from the wrestling business. A handful of promotions aside (globally, at that), pro wrestling is a hobby. The guys running the shows treat it like a hobby, not a business. The guys on the shows treat it like a hobby, not a business. And the fans have been conditioned, by and large, to see it as a cheap, uninspired form of entertainment that doesn’t require any effort on the part of the people looking to sell you tickets.

That’s the business. That’s why the ones going to the WWE have that sort of attitude.

Then again, we are millennials. The same thing that happened there, happened in the industries my wife and I are in (arts, graphics, writing). We should be making some great money. We’ve been fortunate to have made some good money, now and in the past. But the great is gone, cuz now nobody wants to pay us what we’re worth. They want to get graphics for free, or dirt cheap. Even businesses worth lots of money have stiffed both of us on bills and low-balled us on pay (I’m used to groundballs, but now they’re coming at me subterranean-like). So, I’m not really surprised to see my real professional life woes have long seeped into something like the WWE. I saw it a decade ago at the lowest levels. And wrestling is about the only business I know of where, somehow, someway, they made it so shit also flows uphill.”

Steve Arviso
A former professional hugger, Steve Arviso is now a semi-pro writer with a love for pop culture and a face made for radio. He often spends what money he does have on penny whistles and moonpies.

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