SLAM! WRESTLING: And Nothing but the Truth

SLAM! Sports
SLAM! Wrestling

EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.

Friday, September 10, 1999

Explaining the masses

Eric Benner
Special to SLAM! Sports

A weekly
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Two weeks ago, I started a sequence of columns theorizing about the nature of professional wrestling, and I set forth to answer three questions. Why do people watch professional wrestling? Why do people prefer a given wrestling program over another? And finally - as well as most importantly - why must people be such God-awful jerks about it and whine and complain endlessly about each other's preferences.

In short, this is the third time I've written this particular intro.

To complete my triad of triads, this column marks the third and final prospective theory of mine about why people like what they like.

I've already given you the arbitrary approach, I've even topped it with the subjective approach, now I'm going to wash it down with the most simple approach of all: the objective approach.

For those still wondering why I'm addressing all three possibilities, it's because I don't know which it is, they all make sense, and I gather it's some combination of the three. However, there's an underlying similarity between all three theories, that being that all of them support the idea that people can just stop harassing each other about their wrestling preferences, and they can do so immediately.

Objectivity, as it is known, is a state in which fair judgement is passed over one thing or another, and its constants are discovered. That is to say, it is the recognition of all things which stay the same. Most people can agree that the sky is blue. That breathing is important. That Baywatch probably isn't. The major difference between this and subjectivity is that it does not allow for personal differences. Using this approach, it's not fair to say that because you're tired today, the sky has a kind of a green tinge. It's just not left to opinion. The sky is blue and that's the end of it.

Can the same thing be said about wrestling? Is it perhaps possible, at one point or another, to say WWF sucks or WCW tanks or ECW bites and be right?

It's certainly a possibility. To discover whether there's any truth to this possibility, we'd have to first pick out criteria on which to evaluate wrestling. Well, maybe that's where the subjectiveness comes in, I suppose, but frankly, there are only so many ways you can form opinions about our beloved sport. Here they are:

- Athleticism or technical skills of the participants
- Effort shown by the participants
- Productive values of the show
- Creativity of the story-lines
- Overall entertainment value

There are more, of course, but I really think that these five just about cover it, and that even if I were to add a sixth, it wouldn't change my position. Let's say that these five are the be all and end all of wrestling judging criteria. And let's say we were to judge this past Monday's television shows on these criteria.

Athleticism or technical skills of the participants: clearly, the WWF held the edge on this one. Their talent is so much better and so much more athletic than WCW's, this one isn't even close.

Effort shown by participants: no question. Clearly, WCW athletes, if you can call them that, are disillusioned with management, and are taking it out in the ring. Benoit and Malenko can't even last three minutes anymore.

Production values of the show: you saw Kane and Jericho's entrances, didn't you?

Creativity of the story-lines: even when WCW bested the WWF in the ratings game five million, four hundred thousand times in a row, the WWF was on top here. Obviously, they still are.

Overall entertainment value: WWF.

So, I think I've proven that the five criteria I've suggested here (be all and end all, remember) support my case that the WWF simply presents better programming than WCW, and you can't argue with it.

Oh, what's that? I'm starting to sound a little too sure of myself? My narrow- and single-minded "facts" are simply opinions of my own, stated as facts? I'm an idiot and the WWF sucks?

Well, then, if you read this far, you should understand my point. Despite the fact that it's certainly a worthy theory to go on, there's no way anyone could ever prove to everyone the objective superiority of a given organization. Simply, no one would ever agree on any criteria set, let alone their application. And, in theory, that leads to today's conclusion:

Wrestling is subjective. You like what you like, and so does everybody else. Don't judge them.

I don't mean to preach, but I honestly think it would do everyone online some good to think about this a bit. I get so much single-minded email stating opinions as fact that it's starting to get to me, and I'd much rather have an intelligent discussion going on with the readers.

Sid sucks? No, he doesn't. You think he sucks, and as it happens, so do I. Or at least, I think WCW's application of Sid sucks. Benoit rules? No, he doesn't. You think he rules...etc.

I'm not suggesting you start putting "I think" and "it is my opinion that" before everything you write. That would be foolhardy of me, as not only is it not good style, but I don't really do it myself - at least not all the time. But there's a tone that some people set in their correspondence that clearly indicates they consider their very subjective opinions to be factual in nature, which they of course aren't.

Think about people's opinions a little bit, or at least mine when you read it. It'll make this whole process (I write a column, you read it, sometimes you write me an email, sometimes I respond or post that) so much nicer.



Hawkeye, from, writes:

"I like both WWF and WCW. If I had a choice of either, I would pick the WWF. Luckily I don't have to because here in Australia, wrestling is shown on cable TV and the shows are on different nights. There is room for both companies for those who truly love professional (sports entertainment) wrestling. George Ljultasi Darwin, Australia."

Amen, George. Is it just me, or do all the smart people live in Australia? Okay, a lot of the smart people. There are admittedly plenty of smart people here too. Hmmm, maybe all the nice and congenial people live in Australia? I've never gotten a harsh email from anyone down under - disagreement, sometimes, but always polite.

Corhern Family, from, writes:

"What if, back at Bash at the Beach, 1996, Hulk Hogan was NOT the third man? What if like someone else came out? Would there have a big an impact as with Hogan? And who would have been the third man?"

Funny you should ask that, Mr. or Mrs. Cohern. There actually was an alternate plan for BatB 1996. In fact, Hogan was the alternate plan. The original plan, to my knowledge, was actually to have Bret Hart be the third member of the former-WWF champion trio. Hart, however, who allegedly did speak with WCW members, instead elected to remain loyal to the WWF and sign a twenty-year contract. I wonder what he'd have done then, knowing what he does now?

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, thanks for writing. Have a great week, everyone.

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