There's a by-product of the latest TV boom in the wrestling
business, and it involves the opportunity to see your favorite
stars in person. It's the same mentality that drives lines
for book signings, mall appearances, memorabilia shows,
and dozens of other show-biz gatherings. We want to identify
with the people we see in the TV, at the movies, on the
It hit me a couple weeks ago watching Raw, when the New
Age Outlaws came out to defend their tag titles
against...well, I don't remember, since none of their other
tag teams have even a passing knowledge of the term "over."
The music started, and the arena went nuts. "Road
Dog" Brian Armstrong did his "Tag Team
Champions of the Woo-orld!" carnival barker routine,
and the crowd shouted along with every word. But during
the match, 18,000 people sat on their hands, regardless
of whether the champs were delivering or taking the punishment.
The fans weren't there to see the champs defend the titles,
or lose the titles, or even to go to a double count-out.
They were they to yell "Tag Team Champions of the Woo-oorld!"
Most bands out there don't sound any better when you see
them perform a concert than they do on the CD. The sound
isn't as good, the perform isn't as clean, and with a few
exceptions, the spectacle put on isn't worth the ticket
price and service charges you pay.
So why go? It's to see their heroes do in person what
they've only done through a 2-dimensional medium. In that
context, entrance music and finishing moves become far more
important to the presentation of a wrestling show than who
wins and who loses, and maybe even more important than the
booking of a solid angle and well-executed interviews. The
Diamond Cutter is "Layla," the Rock Bottom is
"Freebird," and Ric Flair's backhand
chops to the chest are the time-honored Chuck Berry covers
in every band's repetoire.
Interviews don't threaten an enemy or advance a story,
as much as get the audience to cheer you, like a band's
frontman yelling "Hello, Cleveland!" to prompt
the applause. Wrestling has evolved from sport, to sports
entertainment, to a rock concert
Is it a good thing? I don't think so. I like wrestling.
I like the martial arts related to wrestling, I like Greco-Roman,
I like the freestyle amateurs, and I've spent over 20 years
being a fan of the professional genre.
I like suplexes, body slams, high spots, false finishes
and a perfectly executed sunset flip for a pinfall. But
judging by the house shows I sit in, the TV tapings I've
attended, and all of the broadcasts every week, I believe
I'm in the minority. And then, what happens to the business
when it stops being cool to yell "Suck It" or
cheer every time Steve Austin says "ass?"
Every boom period is followed by a bust. The current boom
in professional wrestling is built almost solely on personalities,
and the promotion that is prepared to deal with that when
the bandwagon fans jump elsewhere will come out on top,
boom or bust.
Until next time, watch out for flying chairs...