Tuesday, April 27, 1999
SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column
Simply the 'WF'?
All hail the new age of wrestling! We have now entered a land with provocative story lines, entertaining side-shows and a plethora of fireworks, both literal and figurative. The re-introduction of pro wrestling into the mass media has been characterized by an explosion of columns and articles, as well as television interviews and segments.
As I was getting ready to go to the house show for Edmonton, I was flipping through a local newspaper's coverage of the event. For the first time in recent memory, there was entire pages dedicated to the event, spanning several sections of the paper. As I was delving into the information, I read something that shook me awake. The article mentioned how Vince McMahon wants to ride this new wave of publicity for the WWF and transform his multi-million dollar company into a new vision: one without the word 'wrestling' attached. I had read this before on several websites but had hoped it was a typo. The architect of the first and second comings of wrestling wants to remove it from the realm of entertainment? I became disillusioned by the notion and realized that the more I thought about it, the closer to possible reality it became.
There has been much coverage about the transformation of wrestling in the last few years, as it has been geared towards entertainment than merely a sporting event. The interviews have become longer, more pyrotechnics than ever are involved, and the showmanship of the wrestlers has increased tenfold. And the section of the business that sacrifices its timeshare for these sweeping reforms is none other than the wrestling itself.
Now don't get me wrong, I love the new angles that has brought wrestling to new heights. I am more interested now in the storylines than ever, and can't wait to see what happens in the long run with my favourite personas. However, the appeal of wrestling that has since my childhood captured my attention has been the athletic maneuvers performed by the wrestlers. This has kept me watching for so many years, and it is specific matches that I remember from the past two decades, not the glitzy made-for-suspense thrill actions that protrude every broadcast these days. A few years ago a local television station used to air Monday Night RAW. In its entirety. Without any editing jobs. And for the most part, it was dominated by well-planned matches by hard working wrestlers who advanced their own personas and storylines by the wrestling in the ring, not but the smack that they talked to the announcer or interviewer. Those segments were far and few in-between, but that made them special to watch and cherish. The hour was jam-packed with all the excitement they could deliver, and each week I left satsified about the advancing storylines.
In today's market, I feel a little betrayed by Vince's 'entertainment'. I have watched for many years and now I am at a point where I find little interest in the shock value any more, as turncoats are aplenty and deceiving is everywhere. I am no longer pleased with the quality of wrestling either, as the matches are either abruptly cut short by some interference or else the match ends without a clear victor. And I won't even get started on the value of any of the titles anymore. Yes, Vince's image of the 'World ___ Federation' is becoming clearer every day, and it's getting more popular by the minute.
After reflecting on all this, I for one am now pleased to be going to see a house show and not a televised event, for I will get to see actual wrestling. And its quality will dictate my future attendance. As for the rest of the shows, I have come to the conclusion that when the second coming's transformation is complete, I will be turning off the t.v. and go downstairs and play the old video games so I can see some actual wrestling. Until then, "La vie continue".
Jarett Hailes is from Edmonton, AB, and can be emailed at email@example.com.