EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.
Friday, September 03, 1999
Why we like what we like
This week, I'm going to present the theory that wrestling is a subjective thing, that people like a given show or organization because it suits their personal feelings and tastes.
Of course, before I go, I realize that it's very unlikely that the nature of professional wrestling belongs to any one theory I have outlined, am outlining, or will outline. More likely, it's a combination of the three. The reason I'm making a point of this, though, is that all three theories have something in common - they call for a live and let live attitude, as they all allow for different people to have a different point of view without anyone being wrong.
The point of this entire ordeal, I'd like to think, is to make at least one person realize that it's senseless to attack the opinions of others. I can step on my soap box here at SLAM! and tell you that Nitro sucks (which, sometimes, it does) or that Raw sucks (which, sometimes, it does) and I wouldn't be attacking your opinions. But if I were to respond to your opinion with an attack - ie "you're wrong, Nitro rocks, you idiot" - then I would be in the wrong, as sometimes people tend to be.
On that note, I begin.
This theory, the theory that some people like one organization because it appeals to them whilst other people prefer another organization for different reasons, is really easy to prove, or at least to demonstrate.
Let's start with demographics. It's clear, and it's been clear all along, that the WWF and WCW cater to very different demographics. For the sake or argument, let's throw in ECW and a local indy federation - International Wrestling 2000 - into the mix.
Now, we know that WCW caters to the middle-aged NASCAR crowd in the United States. They offer older wrestlers who said fans can remember well, and for the most part, they wrestle more than they talk.
The WWF, meanwhile, caters to teenaged fans and young men, two equally important, but nonetheless different, demographics than WCW's. They offer T&A, Attitude, hardcore wrestling, and a soap opera like story told by all sorts of strange and vulgar individuals.
ECW, for the purposes of this study, is basically WWF squared, offering more hardcore, more T&A, more Attitude, and more soap opera. Not to mention more strange and vulgar individuals.
The local fed I was talking about, IW2000, is run by Jacques Rougeau in Montreal and is, for the most part, simply a call out to the wrestling fans of old, beckoning them with memories of wrestlers long gone. Their demographic is probably even older than WCW's, from my impressions.
I think it's pretty clear that each federation, as well as all the others, each try to attract and please a certain segment of the audience, whether or not they do it on purpose. It's plain as day to me that younger fans will be more turned on by vulgarity and that older fans will be equally turned off. Similarly, the younger fans, with the shorter attention span this generation has accrued, will start the yawning much earlier than will older fans in a long, technical match.
Younger fans will like hardcore, older fans appreciate legends, men love T&A. This field isn't so complicated that I have to explain all of this to you.
If it's so simple, though, then I need something else to be my point, and my point is this: if it's so obvious that subjectivity has its place in wrestling, then why on earth would anyone attack anyone else'sbeliefs regarding wrestling?
It's like we operate under a different system of etiquette when we talk about wrestling, that is to say lacking etiquette completely. Why else would people be so rude about stating their opinions? Why, in the subjective world of professional wrestling, must someone else be "wrong" for you to make your point and be "right"?
It boggles my mind. In truth, I think it's more easily explainable than I'm letting on. However, since my up-coming column is going to tackle the strange and fascinating world of wrestling fan feuds, I'll save that for next week.
For those of you with a keen eye for detail, and judging by the email I get there are certainly a fair amount of you, you may have noted that I pointed out three possible reasons that some people prefer a given wrestling show over another: arbitrary, subjective, and objective. Why haven't I covered objective? Well, suggesting that one wrestling show is simply better than another probably undermines the whole point Iím trying to make, so it may be safe to stay away from that one.
Actually, maybe I should outline that theory next week. It's perhaps the most interesting of the bunch. To prepare you, just try to think about why Seinfeld, Home Improvement, and Frasier always scored monster ratings whilst Jesse, Suddenly Susan, and Veronica's Closet have never been able to do so. Consider, while you think about this, that while subjectivity has its place, there is a consistent hierarchy in these television shows, despite each of them changing significantly over its tenure.
Here's the mail.
Becky Hartley, from firstname.lastname@example.org, writes:
"The WWF is not wrestling."
Wow. Becky has stated in five words what it's taken pages and pages for others to say. She doesn't like the WWF. Well, Becky, I agree with you. You don't like the WWF.
In all seriousness, though, you are partly right, at least. The WWF has definitely strayed from its original roots in wrestling. But who cares? I like it. I think you're really arguing a semantic here because there aren't many other ways to argue that the WWF sucks, since in so many ways, they're out-performing WCW. So say it's not wrestling.
Here's my solution for you, Becky: forget about the WWF. If you don't like it, leave it. Ignore it. But if you're going to attack it, try to think of something true and relevant.
T. Downing, from email@example.com, writes:
"First off I enjoy your articles. Secondly the reason Sid is "wrestling" mid-carders is to build up his win loss record.
If I'm not mistaken he's undefeated in WCW. He's the new Goldberg! And just like Sid, Goldberg "wrestled" alot of mid-carders before stepping up into the main event. Look for Sid v. Goldberg at Starrcade (the Millennium match!). The winner will have the copyrights as The Millennium Man! That my LITTLE opinion :) So what do you think?"
If I'm not mistaken, Sid has fought maybe ten or fifteen matches since coming to WCW. That Iím not sure about. What I am sure about, though, is that his streak is total bull and thatís heís lost either two or three times, depending on how you want to call that Sid/Hogan match in which Hogan pinned Rick Steiner (?). He lost to Sting by disqualification, and to Hogan by disqualification, in two of his like ten matches in WCW. Heís not 73-0 and heís not undefeated.
That's all for this week. For those who've been asking, the way to maximize the chances of having an email published in the column is to (a) make it short and (b) make it of general interest, like a question. Thanks for reading, thanks especially for writing, and have a great week everyone.
That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, thanks for writing, and be sure to send me some feedback. See you next week everyone, have a great week!
Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.