Wrestling doesn’t interest you because it’s fake. Well, you like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad. It doesn’t interest you because it’s just a bunch of topless, oiled-up men throwing each other around. Well, you like UFC, and you probably used to like boxing, too. Then there are those who claim it’s too childish, but they might be the people who are frantically scribbling down their answers at an Adventure Time pub quiz. Wrestling is an odd thing, and something which has survived (and thrived) through decades to become what it is today. A bit of a phenomenon, really.
Stone Cold and Hulk Hogan are all but gone from the scene, and The Rock only appears when he can be bothered, usually to refuel his ego, which he’s perfectly entitled to do. Stone Cold was the icon of the late 90s, just like Hogan was the icon of the 80s.
Stone Cold Steve Austin: One of the true legends of wrestling
This has a lot to do with wrestling’s success; there’s always a new star to take the baton and run with it. Sometimes it can take a while: the WWF(E) almost went out of business in the mid 1990s simply because they couldn’t find that new star after Hogan left. Sure, there were plenty of other reasons for this slump in business, but the lack of star power had a hugely negative impact, especially when you think about how they kept the WWF Championship on Kevin Nash (Diesel) for a year, it didn’t work.
Kevin Nash as WWF Champion (A.K.A. The Dark Years)
Anyway, back to it. Why should you watch wrestling? Well, i’ve already mentioned the likes of Game of Thrones. Really, if you like any show with an outlandish plot, then there’s something in wrestling for you. In my own experience, as a fan who has watched wrestling for just over 15 years, i’ve found that those who are most fervent in their criticism are usually the most narrow minded, maybe that’s a harsh thing to say, but the naysayers i’ve come across have always tended to be people who don’t like to broaden their horizons. If you want something new, then wrestling is worth a go, an athletic soap opera for you to indulge.
Before you rush for the remote or your laptop, there’s another thing: what if you watched wrestling in the late 90s/early 00s and abandoned it? Well, there have been a few changes. Well, a lot of changes. The (in)famous risqué content is all gone, as WWE, around 2003 or so, moved away from adult orientated programming to more PG-fare. That’s a good thing and a bad thing: there’s far less tasteless storylines nowadays, but the actual product is less violent (again, that’s probably a good thing), but it isn’t when you consider that the violence is something that drew many people into wrestling in the first place.
Quite the change since the 90’s
Brands such as WCW and ECW are gone, with both companies being swallowed up by WWE. The most high-profile competitor now is TNA, but they’re on the wane, going on a steady decline since their 2005/6 peak. However, there are smaller promotions such as ROH and Lucha Underground, and although they’re not as high profile as TNA, they have a far superior product. In the weird and wonderful world of WWE, John Cena is now the star, embodying the move to PG programming: adored by younger fans, but loathed by a sizeable proportion of the adult fanbase (only in the ring, he’s acknowledged by everyone as a gentleman outside it).
ROH and Lucha Underground
If Cena isn’t your thing, then never fear: NXT will be. If you’ve never heard of it before, just look it up now. Please. NXT is quite simply the best thing to happen to mainstream American wrestling in over a decade. To explain in as few words as possible, NXT is a weekly, hour long show which showcases the next generation of stars in an environment away from the main roster. The talent varies, with some being trained in the WWE environment, but many of them are hand-picked from promotions around the world, such as Kevin Owens (previously Steen), the current NXT Champion who shocked fans by cleanly defeating Cena last month on pay-per-view.
It’d be easy to go on and on, but there’s so much content out there that its’s probably best to go out and find what you like. Subscribing to the WWE Network would be a good start, with the full back catalogue of classic pay-per-views, alongside current programmes such as the all-important NXT. Wrestling is good, but if you don’t like it, sure that’s fine.
One of the Best Commercials Ever!
By Christopher McArdle