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The Natural

FEBRUARY 2019 WRESTLING DISCUSSION.

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It’s a New Day...and Month, Yes it is!

IMHO, the RAW Elimination Chamber match between John Cena vs. Edge vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kane vs. Mike Knox at No Way Out is the best in the gimmick’s history. You get Edge taking out Kofi Kingston to enter the match as Edge lost his WWE Championship in the first Elimination Chamber that night, Rey Mysterio’s performance is amazing as was his year, John Cena is quickly eliminated with a memorable reaction by Edge to it and the final stretch between Edge/Rey Mysterio as Edge leaves with the World Heavyweight Championship.

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2 hours ago, thee Reverend Axl Future said:

So, the mistaken kayfabe (as opposed to the storyline kayfabe, which is itself a fictional version of a theatrical reality) of these hardcore fans is driving Mr. McMahon, HHH, the booking & writing committees to adjust angles, feuds and PPVs - nay WrestleMania itself! -  to this minority's perceptions? This is some wild and wooly through the looking glass stuff indeed...

Moving it to this thread...

It sounds like it's through the looking glass, but ultimately it ties to the same reason that it all originally started with the "everything is us vs. them":

It's not just that there's an Us vs. Them: It's that in all sides and all groups, there's a silent majority of good people...who get shouted down by a LOUD, ANGRY, ENTITLED minority who want the whole world to revolve around them, PERSONALLY.

Because this minority is so loud, and so angry, and so entitled, they will MAKE the debate focus on what they- and only they- want, and if you're not as loud as them, or as angry as them, or as entitled as them, then you're just as bad as THEM...and eventually, because they're this loud, and this angry, and this entitled, they will MAKE you drive things to their perceptions. (See also why Daniel Bryan is the bad guy- he's exactly this type of person.) 

...we just don't realize by and large, smarks ARE that minority, and it's starting to make wrestling a real drag for the casual fans who just want to see Roman Reigns punch people and just don't care about the other stuff.

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4 hours ago, The Natural said:

It’s a New Day...and Month, Yes it is!

IMHO, the RAW Elimination Chamber match between John Cena vs. Edge vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kane vs. Mike Knox at No Way Out is the best in the gimmick’s history. You get Edge taking out Kofi Kingston to enter the match as Edge lost his WWE Championship in the first Elimination Chamber that night, Rey Mysterio’s performance is amazing as was his year, John Cena is quickly eliminated with a memorable reaction by Edge to it and the final stretch between Edge/Rey Mysterio as Edge leaves with the World Heavyweight Championship.

I can't say I've watched them all, don't really agree with how diluted it became, but I'm one of the few people who think the Summerslam 03 one was booked to perfection

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5 hours ago, SorceressKnight said:

...we just don't realize by and large, smarks ARE that minority, and it's starting to make wrestling a real drag for the casual fans who just want to see Roman Reigns punch people and just don't care about the other stuff.

I'm not remotely sure about there being a silent majority of good people on/in "all sides and all groups", but that's a Pandora's box with cans of worms in it, so putting that aside...

I'm also not sure that this lines up. If a casual fan is casual, do they know about the smark backlash towards a given wrestler? Beyond the boos, I'd suggest not; and if the boos are really coming from a minority of fans, they would be easily drowned out. Unless we mean that most shows are mostly attended by smarks, which I would suggest means that smarks are not really a small minority; unless we mean that TV viewers are more likely to be casual fans, and they're turned away by an arena booing someone they like. That's possible, but I'm not convinced. I think it's much more likely that a smark who likes Roman would feel the brunt of other smarks' reactionary bias, and be driven to engage less, when compared to our hypothetical casual.

I also don't think the backlash/booing made Roman any less compelling, just as it didn't make Cena less compelling, and it won't (I think) make the next guy less compelling. I'd say the same of Charlotte and Rousey; that they're perceived as office favorites adds useful narrative tension if you care about those things; and if you don't care about those things, then you don't care. While there's tremendous value in having a beloved ace or hated heel champion, it's arguable that the ideal is to have someone who is capable of being both and neither, depending on the audience/opponent. That's a massive part of the reason New Japan kept the belt on Okada for so long; and I think WWE, running way more shows, needs that versatility even more.

We can dangerously extrapolate into broader fictional territory--the Thor movies made more money when they realized Loki was the most popular character, even if he's still evil and that sort of fandom villain fetishization annoys me a bit--but, despite the endless circles tread in January, wrestling is neither sports nor entertainment exactly, and yet both at once, so there's no perfect comparison.

Short version: Toxic fan behavior is toxic, bad, and should be erased from fan communities to whatever extent is possible; but I'm not sure how aware of that casual fans are; booing/cheering whomever you want is basically fine and not itself an example of toxic behavior. WWE itself has embraced that latter point, so it seems futile to fight it.

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The three Elimination Chambers after the first one are the best. 2, and 3 are the closest they ever get to matching the WarGames format of the faces out to get the Horsemen without the rules, and structure of those matches. Plus they had blood. Once they banned blade jobs, the matches went from a gruesome grudge match, into a gotta bump from high places highspot match.

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As someone whose ideas have been discussed on Chapo, let me be the first to say screw those centrist assholes.

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What the hell is Chapo?

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Chapo Trap House is a political podcast.

 

ETA: It was being discussed at the end of the January thread, for context.

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3 minutes ago, Betsy Zeidler said:

Chapo Trap House is a political podcast.

 

ETA: It was being discussed at the end of the January thread, for context.

For my own anxiety's sake, I won't seek it out, but I appreciate the answer.

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7 hours ago, SorceressKnight said:

Moving it to this thread...

It sounds like it's through the looking glass, but ultimately it ties to the same reason that it all originally started with the "everything is us vs. them":

It's not just that there's an Us vs. Them: It's that in all sides and all groups, there's a silent majority of good people...who get shouted down by a LOUD, ANGRY, ENTITLED minority who want the whole world to revolve around them, PERSONALLY.

Because this minority is so loud, and so angry, and so entitled, they will MAKE the debate focus on what they- and only they- want, and if you're not as loud as them, or as angry as them, or as entitled as them, then you're just as bad as THEM...and eventually, because they're this loud, and this angry, and this entitled, they will MAKE you drive things to their perceptions. (See also why Daniel Bryan is the bad guy- he's exactly this type of person.) 

...we just don't realize by and large, smarks ARE that minority, and it's starting to make wrestling a real drag for the casual fans who just want to see Roman Reigns punch people and just don't care about the other stuff.

I understand the argument, but why shouldn't wrestling be featuring the performers the diehards find the most compelling? A casual may just want to see Roman win, but Roman is only Roman because the company decided he was. He is a talented wrestler, but the majority of the roster is talented.  Someone the fans actually wanted to see could have had his spot. 

It is is interesting to see where the smark movement has gone. I remember the days when all we wanted was to get our favorites on tv and not have them treated like job guys.

 

 

 

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I would like to revisit the fact that @Brian Fowler apparent dream match is Becky Lynch vs. Tessa Blanchard

raw

 

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Becky cutting savage promos on social media about Magnum T.A. would be something.

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So apparently Vince owns a minority stake in Draft Kings

That... is probably not surprising

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2 hours ago, JohnnyJ said:

I understand the argument, but why shouldn't wrestling be featuring the performers the diehards find the most compelling? A casual may just want to see Roman win, but Roman is only Roman because the company decided he was. He is a talented wrestler, but the majority of the roster is talented.  Someone the fans actually wanted to see could have had his spot. 

It is is interesting to see where the smark movement has gone. I remember the days when all we wanted was to get our favorites on tv and not have them treated like job guys.

 

You can't make good stories on TV dealing with the performers the diehards find the most compelling, because the diehards don't buy into storylines. The diehard fans have made their choice and they're standing by it, and no storyline you could tell them will make them change their mind because they know it's just a story and not REALITY. And that's the bigger problem that ties to what @Beech27 said. It's not toxic fan behavior to cheer or boo who you want to, but saying "Your stories don't matter, all that matters is my headcanon for the storyline I'm seeing" absolutely IS toxic fan behavior. Using LaRue's example from the January thread- saying Kevin Owens "deserved it" when he was handed the title and didn't even cheat on his own because he was Kevin Steen (NOT! Kevin Owens!) may have been fans cheering one of their favorites, but it was also the WWE equivalent of a Supernatural fangirl saying "Boring, who cares about this story in the episode, have Sam and Dean make out now." 

It's also a problem because as you said: The majority of the roster is talented- and moreso, the majority of the roster has smark cred- either coming from the indies or through NXT. And as a result, the current smark movement hasn't quite gotten what happens when the playing field is narrowed for everyone and EVERYONE has some street cred. 

When people like Mick Foley or CM Punk was around, they were basically the ONLY guy on the roster with any serious indy cred, so the smark answer was clear: "Get behind THIS GUY and push him to the top." Same with Daniel Bryan- CM Punk was still there, but he got his time in the sun so it became "Okay, Punk had his time, let's make sure Bryan gets to the top."

By contrast...the people on the main roster who had a relevant big run outside of the WWE before signing with the company as of today:

AJ Styles, Akira Tozawa, Alexander Wolfe, Andrade, Apollo Crews, 
Asuka, Bayley, Becky Lynch, Billie Kay, Bobby Lashley, Bobby Roode,
Cedric Alexander, Cesaro, Curt Hawkins, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, 
Drake Maverick, Drew Gulak, Drew McIntyre, Ember Moon, Eric Young, 
Finn Balor, Jack Gallagher, Jeff Hardy, Gran Metalik, Harper, Kalisto,

Karl Anderson Kevin Owens, Killian Dain, Lince Dorado, Lio Rush, 
Luke Gallows, Maria Kanellis, Mark Andrews, Mickie James, Mike Kanellis, 
Mustafa Ali, Natalya, Noam Dar, R-Truth, Rey Mysterio, 
Ruby Riott, Sami Zayn, Samir Singh, Samoa Joe, Sarah Logan
Seth Rollins, Shinsuke Nakamura, Shelton Benjamin, Sunil Singh, TJP
The Brian Kendrick, Tony Nese, Xavier Woods, Zelina Vega 

This list does not even count the amount of people who were basically signed as unknowns and became beloved stars on NXT, which would only add MORE names to that list.

You will notice this is the vast majority of the WWE roster to date.

ARE ALL OF THESE PEOPLE SUPPOSED TO HOLD THE WWE WORLD/UNIVERSAL/RAW AND SMACKDOWN WOMEN'S TITLES AT THE EXACT SAME TIME?  Like, they all hold the title aloft in the main event of Wrestlemania and just...share it?

That's another big problem for the diehards: They can't murder their darlings. Make no mistake- just from that list, the smarks WON. There is no stone the WWE leaves unturned, and the cream will rise to the WWE and get to be stars. 

However, the diehards don't truly get what to do when the answer becomes:

"Yes. This wrestler is really talented. So is THIS wrestler.

Yes, this wrestler worked hard on the independent scene toiling for years to get their opportunity. So did THIS wrestler.

Yes, this wrestler deserves to see their hard work rewarded by getting to hold the top title. So did THIS wrestler.

BUT THERE'S ONLY ONE TITLE, AND THEY CAN'T SHARE IT.

For one of these people to succeed, the other one MUST FAIL. CHOOSE."

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Those situations are where the fans care about the storyline.  NJPW fans have their favorites, Kenny vs Tanahashi everyone loved both of them, but half my friends were rooting for Kenny hard, and the other half Tana.   The reason was the storyline, even if the storyline was a mix of kayfabe and reality.

A good enough storyline can do it.  I mean, Jay White seems like an awesome guy who deserves every bit the push he's getting, but cheering Juice against him is damn easy because Juice is that damn good at being likable.

 

I do think it's easier to cheer the babyfaces and boo the heels in a low-rent indie, where you don't know any of the guys at all outside of the main, than it is the WWE or a theoretical #2 fed where you do.  This is a big reason why I miss CHIKARA not coming down here anymore.  I don't know jack shit about the CHIKARA wrestlers for the most part- but it's a chance for me to enjoy some family-friendly wrestling where I can cheer the babyfaces and boo the heels.

 

 

 

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As they say, everyone is someone’s favorite, so there will always be people disappointed. 

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5 minutes ago, odessasteps said:

As they say, everyone is someone’s favorite, so there will always be people disappointed. 

And that ties to the "loud, entitled, angry minority" part- where it boils down to "make those OTHER people disappointed. I'm ME, I DESERVE to get everything I want, and honestly I don't care if anyone else in the whole wide world is happy with it- I'm the only human being in all of existence who matters, and everyone else will bow down to me!"

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1 minute ago, SorceressKnight said:

And that ties to the "loud, entitled, angry minority" part- where it boils down to "make those OTHER people disappointed. I'm ME, I DESERVE to get everything I want, and honestly I don't care if anyone else in the whole wide world is happy with it- I'm the only human being in all of existence who matters, and everyone else will bow down to me!"

Entitlement Culture at its finest.

Hashtag Abe Simpson

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3 hours ago, RIPPA said:

I would like to revisit the fact that @Brian Fowler apparent dream feud is Becky Lynch vs. Tessa Blanchard

 

You were close.

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Anyway, I just don't see this fan backlash against all but one person but it's a different person for everyone thing. The vast majority of the "smark" audience is perfectly fine with any of several people getting the big push. I.E. "my first choice is Samoa Joe but I'm fine with AJ, Bryan, Rey, Ali, or Andrande"

I keep seeing people suggest every hardcore fan lashes out against everyone except their first choice, but I've never actually seen that happening.

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1 hour ago, SorceressKnight said:

You can't make good stories on TV dealing with the performers the diehards find the most compelling, because the diehards don't buy into storylines. The diehard fans have made their choice and they're standing by it, and no storyline you could tell them will make them change their mind because they know it's just a story and not REALITY. And that's the bigger problem that ties to what @Beech27 said. It's not toxic fan behavior to cheer or boo who you want to, but saying "Your stories don't matter, all that matters is my headcanon for the storyline I'm seeing" absolutely IS toxic fan behavior.

There are a lot of good/interesting points in this entire post, though I don't agree with this bit at the end--I would draw the line for toxic behavior at that which harms other fans, often (but not always) with some degree of intent and/or malice. Not to go fully death of the author/s, but I think it's untenable to suggest fans should--much less have to--interpret certain narratives certain ways. I get that "Bryan Danielson is my favorite ROH champion so I will always cheer for him" isn't part of the current story WWE is telling, but it is part of his overall narrative; and in the quasi-fictional realm of wrestling, it's fair game to me, and harmless. It's certainly not toxic. Obviously there are more extreme examples of headcanons and fanon, but I still don't see how that is necessarily deleterious, however silly it often is.  

I also agree with @Brian Fowler that there isn't some epidemic of smark-driven fan backlash--certainly not to the dystopian extent you're depicting. Bryan could lose the title to several people to a massive pop and virtually no one would be furious that "their guy" was getting unfairly held down. If Ali--a guy 99% of the audience didn't know before 205Live--beat him for it, the crowd would be elated, and it would be because of a story WWE told on WWE programming. I don't think it's just Ali, or that the indie/in-house dichotomy is really terribly clear broadly speaking, regarding fan sentiment. So-called smark crowds love people like Velveteen Dream, Braun Strowman, and Alexa Bliss, who have little to no indie cred; and the most prominent "guy being held back" of the last few years is Rusev, an NXT product. Maybe there isn't a universally beloved corporately-ordained top guy, and maybe there can't be, but maybe that's ok.

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What is the spectrum of wrestling fans, from super hardcore to "casual," anyway?  Is "hardcore" an Observer subscriber?  Someone on this site?  Someone on /r/squaredcircle?  Someone who watches WWE and also New Japan and maybe some indies?  Is someone who watches every WWE show and knows it's fake "hardcore?" I don't even know what we're talking about here. 

Regardless, I think that as entertainment becomes more and more narrowcasted and niche, with so many choices, the "hardcores" are all any entertainment endeavor may have left.  What is a "casual" fan, anyway?  Wrestling has always been a super niche product.  Are there people who go from having zero interest in ever watching wrestling to actively watching, who then fall off later?  I don't get it.  With the stigma that comes from watching men in their underwear pretending to fight (Marty Sugar can only put me on ignore once for disrespecting fake fighting, so I don't care), does wrestling really create brand new fans that often?  I mean, I suppose it does, but I don't exactly know how.

If there's a point to this rambling (and, hopefully, entertaining) post, it's that wrestling companies should just cater to the people who actually like them instead of booking toward casuals.  If there are people who may become fans, they'll just find something cool you're doing and decide to watch.  To actively pursue an audience that most likely would never give you a chance is really dumb. 

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Ronnie Garvin of all people said in a recent interview said he believes Dusty Rhodes is overrated. 

What in the actual fuck? Who is Ronnie Garvin? I know who he is but really fuck him. Dusty wasn’t D-Bry in the ring but he could talk them into the seats for sure.

What did Ronnie Garvin ever do. He was only Champion cuz Crockett and Dusty decided they wanted to fuck with Flair.

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6 hours ago, SorceressKnight said:

AJ Styles, Akira Tozawa, Alexander Wolfe, Andrade, Apollo Crews, 
Asuka, Bayley, Becky Lynch, Billie Kay, Bobby Lashley, Bobby Roode,
Cedric Alexander, Cesaro, Curt Hawkins, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, 
Drake Maverick, Drew Gulak, Drew McIntyre, Ember Moon, Eric Young, 
Finn Balor, Jack Gallagher, Jeff Hardy, Gran Metalik, Harper, Kalisto,

Karl Anderson Kevin Owens, Killian Dain, Lince Dorado, Lio Rush, 
Luke Gallows, Maria Kanellis, Mark Andrews, Mickie James, Mike Kanellis, 
Mustafa Ali, Natalya, Noam Dar, R-Truth, Rey Mysterio, 
Ruby Riott, Sami Zayn, Samir Singh, Samoa Joe, Sarah Logan
Seth Rollins, Shinsuke Nakamura, Shelton Benjamin, Sunil Singh, TJP
The Brian Kendrick, Tony Nese, Xavier Woods, Zelina Vega 

You're really stretching to make your point a bit, aren't you? I don't know anyone who's dying for the big Tony Nese or Lince Dorado or Apollo Crews push. I'd argue it's disingenuous to describe a lot of those names as having "relevant big runs" outside WWE. 

Yes, people are spoiled and entitled. Yes, we live in a gilded age of smark riches. But Sunil Singh is really just you padding your list. 

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