The tag-team of moving house and work has recently nailed me with a fearsome double-dropkick to the solar plexus with all the power of “The Rockers” back in the late 80’s. Needless to say, that awesome double-team move has left me struggling to make the hot tag to my partner – the Bored Wrestling Fan community. This, my friends, is why you’ve been let off the hook for the past few weeks when it comes to my Scottish ramblings! Alas, I am back! Best break out that bottle of Scotch you’ve been saving for a rainy day…
One of the biggest topics currently filling up many a conversation between many a wrestling fan is that of the over-exposure suffered by today’s professional wrestler, specifically those in TNA and WWE. Now, I’m not referring to the ‘over-exposure’ of one Juventud Guerrera on an ill-fated tour of Australia with WCW. No, there’s a real feeling nowadays that it’s harder than ever for any given performer to get over with the people the way they used to – given that they’re put in front of said people more often than before. What with weekly TV shows featuring the same select band of (genuinely talented, it has to be said) men and women and sometimes more than one Pay-Per-View event each calendar month, WWE and TNA wrestlers find themselves thrust into that beautiful spotlight a hell of a lot. However, with that said, isn’t this the way it’s always been? Hasn’t wrestling always been a ‘sink or swim’ kind of business where the old saying “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” comes to mind?
Despite the fact I’ve just drowned you in cliché, most wrestling fans are aware that the pressure to perform successfully night in and night out is simply a by-product of this form of entertainment. Nobody can really say, honestly, that the wrestler of today is under more scrutiny than those in the 1980’s or 1990’s. WWE, in particular, has always been a company producing a high volume of shows – both in the television and Pay-Per-View markets. The argument that there is less patience amongst the creative team and management/Vince McMahon than ever when it comes to superstars being given the time to hone their craft is perhaps valid however.
The breakneck speed with which the WWE product runs along these days must make it extremely hard for any young grappler to fully come to terms with the character he or she are expected to play, especially within the time frame they are expected to. Take Sheamus for example. The big Irishman is clearly one of the brightest young stars the “WWE Machine” has churned out since the last group of big names, such as John Cena, Randy Orton and Batista. He has a distinct look which sets him apart from the rest, can talk and put over the point of a promo, looks intimidating as hell and his in-ring skills have come a long way in such a short period of time. If what I’ve heard is correct, “The Celtic Warrior” has fallen behind Wade Barrett in the pecking order, due to management not feeling he is making the same progress as his highly-similar peer. This would make sense given the differing treatment of the pair on “Monday Night RAW” over the past little while. Sheamus appears to be killing time in a feud with John Morrison, waiting for HHH to make a glorious comeback and vanquish the man who put him on the shelf. By contrast, Wade Barrett is ear-marked for a high-profile title run and possibly even a match against The Undertaker at Wrestlemania.
This writer would really see it as a shame (no pun intended) if World Wrestling Entertainment decided to throw the towel in on the milky big devil at this point in time. I’m far, far from one to tell those folks at ‘Titan Towers’ how to do their jobs and I’m sure they have a plan for the guy but, it’s clear as day how much potential he has to be a head-liner for years to come. Sheamus has improved vastly compared to other WWE push-projects such as Vladimir Kozlov or The Great Khali, has shown a self-depreciating sense of humour and a real determination to be one of the best. Let’s face it, he’s not done himself any harm by hanging around with “The Game” either, whether intentionally planned or not. Fingers crossed this is merely a bump in a very long road and the company are biding their time and are actually giving the man some time to find himself. He has only been around for less than 2 years afterall, with only a year of that spent on ‘RAW’.
Another good example of how fickle a beast exposure can be would be the case of TNA wrestling. Ignoring the arguments of the cyclical nature of the pro wrestling business, let’s look at what TNA actually have in their favour. With the massive amounts of talent in the locker room, a weekly prime-time TV slot on a good network (who are 100% behind the company – something a certain ‘extreme’ promotion could have done with) and free from the shackles of the “PG” model, TNA really have a lot going for them. Their product, it could be said, isn’t all that much worse than the WWF/WWE product of the late 1990’s. The phrase “car crash television” comes to mind here.
What TNA seem to lack is probably one of the most important factors in what made WWF/WWE such a success in the latter years of the 20th Century – character development. There’s just nothing that keeps people tuning in week-to-week on TNA “iMPACT!”. The show is usually a confusing mess, full of irritatingly inconclusive story development and so many turns and swerves that it makes “The Matrix” series seem like the most simple movie trilogy of all time! Not to mention the companies Pay-Per-View shows which seem unimportant and frustrating when placed next to the WWE ones. Most of the time, the PPV’s just come across like a 3 hour TV show, which just happen to have a few more matches.
It is not my job to bash Total Non-Stop Action wrestling whatsoever, I’m actually a fan. A fan who has been conditioned to not expect to understand the storylines, care about the outcome of matches or really care about missing the next show. That, surely, is the fault of those with the power at TNA. If I don’t fit into the ‘bitter, hard-to-please fan’ category then the promotion must be to blame for my continued indifference towards what they are putting out there. It’s supposed to enjoyable afterall. I would pay to watch most WWE shows, but wouldn’t often stump up the cash to watch a TNA one – as much as I’d really love to say otherwise. I want to enjoy both products!
In the case of this particular wrestling company, it’s less about over-exposure of their superstars and more about the wrong kind of exposure. Why is it that I care less about Jeff Hardy now as TNA main eventer than I ever did while he was in WWE, even as a lower-midcarder?
So, what are YOUR thoughts on the topic of exposure. It’s now your turn to rant my friends! I’d love to hear your thoughts and views, whether on the topic at hand or on my writing. Any and all feedback is more than welcome. I’m writing these pieces for my own enjoyment, sure, but also hoping that it can spark debate and that you’ll have some fun reading them. So let loose and don’t hold anything back, as if you need telling twice! firstname.lastname@example.org
TAKE IT HOME!