SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: Cyrus is dead wrong
By JOHN F. MOLINARO -- SLAM! Wrestling
Fans and reporters can't possibly comment on how good a wrestler is
because we've never stepped inside the ring or received formal training
as a wrestler. Moreover, we don't even have the right to comment.
That's the gist of Don Callis's column this past week (reprinted at right).
I've heard this argument before from those within the industry and I
think, to an extent, they have a point. But while I appreciate where
he's coming from, the fact of the matter is Don Callis is dead wrong.
Callis was responding to the recent controversy over a ranking of the
top 500 wrestlers in the world by the Death Valley Driver
web site. Callis took exception
with the ranking, stating that the folks at Death Valley Driver "have
never been in a ring to work and therefore are in no position to rate
Top-500 lists are useless
Winnipeg Sun, Monday, May 21, 2001|
By DON 'Cyrus' CALLIS -- For SLAM! Wrestling
Lance Storm was busy stirring up wrestling fans on the Internet this week with the latest commentary on his Web site, www.stormwrestling.com.
In it Lance questions the ability of those industry experts who have never actually wrestled to assess who is and isn't a good performer, wrestler, worker, whatever.
Some well-meaning Internet guys decided to rank the top 500 workers and Lance took exception stating that the guys have never been in a ring to work and therefore are in no position to rate workers.
Further, Lance goes on to say that the task these chaps assigned themselves is an impossible one at any rate. For example, who is to say how much better No. 21 is from 22, etc? It seems what these non-workers have been doing is rating matches, not work.
CRITICAL FALSE FINISHES
In other words, what they watch on TV or videotape is the finished product, thus they cannot comment on what is actually going on in the ring.
Wrestler A and wrestler B might have a great match and both might carry their end of it, but perhaps wrestler B forgot two critical false finishes but wrestler A covered it for him. The only ones who know that are the wrestlers and the referee. Doesn't wrestler B look like a better performer because of it? No one is rating matches on that criteria.
Folks get upset because they feel that even though they have never wrestled, they have the ability to rate workers. Matches perhaps, workers no.
It reminds me of the time that an Internet newsletter and Web site described one of the guys in the ECW dressing room as "the worst worker in the company."
I won't repeat who the wrestler was because I am not in the habit of lending any credence to bogus reporting by talking about it. But firstly, the individual in question was not in any way shape or form the "worst worker in the company" and secondly, how is this reporter qualified to judge him at all. That was my point at the time and it is Lance's point now.
Rating workers is a highly subjective business to begin with and is, at best, an inaccurate, non-empirical business. Stop trying to figure out who is in your top 500 and just enjoy the work. That's the name of the game, after all.
I wonder if Callis sees the irony in that statement because I'm sure
there exists some reporters who graduated journalism school that might
have a problem with Callis writing a weekly column for the Winnipeg Sun
despite lacking any formal training in journalism. Some might argue
because Callis has never worked in a newsroom with demanding editors
hounding him for news copy and having to meet tight deadlines that he
has no right to pen a
In criticizing DVD's list, Callis writes "it seems what these
non-workers have been doing is rating matches, not work. In other
words, what they watch on TV or videotape is the finished product, thus
they cannot comment on what is
actually going on in the ring."
Fans of Callis and regular visitors to his web site know of his love for
the Cracker Barrel chain of restaurants in the U.S. Callis makes a
point of eating at the restaurant whenever he's on the road because
according to him the food and service is excellent.
What qualifies Callis to make such a critique? He's had no training as
a chef and has never worked in the food preparation industry. He wasn't
in the kitchen when his meal was prepared and didn't see the hard work
put into it so how can he possibly say whether or not a meal if good or
Callis writes "Folks get upset because they feel that even though they
have never wrestled, they have the ability to rate workers. Matches
perhaps, workers no."
Does Callis have a favourite movie director or actor or film? Because
unless he has a degree in film studies, has taken acting lessons or
directed a film himself, he can't possibly offer an opinion on whether a
movie is good or not. Or offer an opinion as to whether one actor or
director is better than another.
You see where I'm going with all of this?
While first hand experience in a certain field is one factor in
determining whether someone is "qualified" to speak on that subject, it
is not the only factor.
What bothers me most about his comments is the rather glib way Callis
summarily dismisses fans' opinions as not having any worth or value.
Callis thinks because fans have never been a part of the industry, they
can't possibly offer any constructive criticism.
And yet Callis himself, who is not a reporter, has had no problems in
the past commenting on the state of wrestling journalism. He's often
gone on tirades commentating on what he perceives to be the low standard
reportage by certain individuals and particular wrestling web sites.
It's a clear double standard.
If we use Callis's logic, we can argue that voters can't possibly
criticize politicians and the work they do because voters have never
been in politics and they don't know the pressure politicians are under.
Which of course is a bunch of bunk.
What gives voters the right to criticize politicians is the fact they
voted them into office in the first place.
What give Callis the right to pen a weekly column is that, although he's
not a reporter by trade, he's a gifted writer who has an intimate
knowledge of the wrestling business and can communicate it in a clear,
What give Callis the right to offer an opinion on The Cracker Barrel is
that he's a paying customer who's dined there on more than one occasion
and enjoys the food.
And what gives fans and reporters the right to rate and critique
wrestlers is the fact we buy the tickets, the pay-per-views and all the
merchandise that keeps the wrestling business afloat.
In essence, we pay the wrestlers' salaries. That give us every right
(repeat EVERY RIGHT) to criticize.
Callis writes "rating workers is a highly subjective business to begin
with and is, at best, an inaccurate, non-empirical business. Stop trying
to figure out who is your top 500 and just enjoy the work. That's the
name of the game, after all."
Part of "enjoying the work" for many of us is comprising such lists.
Lists like the one on the DVD web site spark and incite debate,
discourse and the exchange of ideas and view points. How that can be
conceived as anything but healthy for the business is a mystery to me.
While first hand experience has it merits, it also has its pitfalls.
I argue that in some cases fans and reporters who don't have first hand
experience are even more qualified to judge wrestlers than the wrestlers
themselves. Having interviewed hundreds of wrestlers, I've noticed that
each of them (no matter how down to earth or humble they are)
exaggerate, embelish or overstate their skills, drawing power and
general value to their respective wrestling company.
Q1: Following the columns by Cyrus and John Molinaro, do you think that it's fair for fans to rate wrestlers?
Total Votes for this Question: 966
48% voted for Yes, for sure
13% voted for Only sometimes
14% voted for No, not qualified
25% voted for It's stupid to rate people anyways
(Lord knows how many times I've had to listen to guys b.s. me about how
great of a draw they were or what a great worker they were when history
clearly remembers them differently.)
As fans, we have the perspective of an outsider and that allows us an
objectivity that wrestlers don't enjoy. This outsider perspective does
not preclude us from having a clear view of the wrestling business.
Quite the opposite is often true. We often can see things as they
really are, not as wrestlers, who are sometimes blinded by their own
self-interest, tend to see them.
Perhaps Callis, like many of his colleagues in the wrestling business,
is an insider who views the wrestling world through his own unique pair
of rose-tinted glasses.
May 3:Johnny Valentine deserved better
Unfortunately, you are right in your assessment of professional
wrestling's treatment of Johnny Valentine. The "sports entertainment"
aspect may have come a long way in the last twenty-five years, but the
bottom line reality of the business is seemingly stuck where it was in
1975 and prior.
Robert Muhammad, Robert_T_Muhammad@cpcc.cc.nc.us
I agree that it would have been nice if promoters had taken care of
Valentine after he was hurt, but is it any different than any sport of
that era? Look at how many hockey, baseball and football players that
were either hurt or just thrown aside when they weren't able to complete
anymore. It's just the way the game is. I feel badly that Mr. Valentine
died without a penny, but to blame promoters for not taking care of
someone who had worked for them isn't really going to help.
Tarun Suri, Tarun_Suri@aimfunds.ca
Your recent column on Johnny Valentine is right on the button. It is
obviously very hard to look at situations such as these and point the
finger at a specific person and say "For shame!" But it is difficult
to overlook how someone received so little in return from the business
to which he'd given so much from himself. Sadly, the wrestling
profession time and again proves itself to be a short-term dream for
most and never a long-term viability. Many see legends of yesteryear
and assume they are rich but forget that sometimes payoffs do not equal
what we think they may be and that there is no retirement fund to fall
back on. It requires a great deal of foresight and investment to
escape from the industry unscathed and only a select few will receive
the big riches, and even their fame and fortune may be fleeting.
Valentine appeared as a guest on Slamboree '93. It was nice to hear
his recollections being delivered to a new generation of fans. I truly
hope that in the future fans will be reminded of the legends of years
past such as Valentine, as wrestling often ventures further and further
from its roots.
Bryce Mcneil, Bryce_Mcneil@umit.maine.edu