So I had started another column this week but it wasn’t something I could really get behind. Given that it was about a tag team comprised of Jimmy Wang Yang and Shannon Moore in late 2007, there was only so much that I was going to be able to get out of it. I needed something else to talk about and then I saw something that caught my eye, but not in the best of ways.
Last week, a fan complained about AEW only having one women’s match/segment. Dave Meltzer responded, asking if they were going to watch the pay per view tonight. What pay per view you ask? Well that would be a Stardom pay per view from Japan, which the fellow commenters pointed out over and over. They also pointed out that apparently the original fan, who said he cared about women’s wrestling, wasn’t a real fan because he didn’t know about Stardom.
This is the kind of thing that drives me absolutely nuts as a fan because it is the most condescending, rude and flat out obnoxious kind of take that you can have. Rather than considering what the person was saying or listening to his complaint, this was Meltzer and a bunch of others explaining how much smarter they were than the original fan and how little he knew compared to them. It wasn’t about women’s wrestling, but rather “erg, I’m SO much smarter than this idiot and I’m going to make fun of him because he doesn’t do things the way I do them”.
I cannot stand this kind of mentality from people, as they treat fandom as some kind of a purity test. It’s as if to say that if you don’t want X/Y/Z, you’re not a REAL fan. As if to say that unless you do certain things, the fun you have watching your favorite wrestling shows and stars don’t count. Heaven forbid that everyone isn’t just like you for a few minutes, because apparently that is the RIGHT way to watch wrestling. Get the heck out of here with that nonsense.
When I was a kid, wrestling was my life. My walls and ceiling were lined with wrestling posters, I had as many toys as I could find and my biggest fear was that there would be a pay per view that I couldn’t talk my parents into getting me. Every chance I could I watched WWF and WCW, from the TV shows to the tapes I rented to the tapes I recorded when it aired.
That being said, I would have had no idea who people like Riki Choshu or Antonio Inoki or Jumbo Tsuruta were, because I had barely heard of New Japan or All Japan (you know, because I was about four years old and lived in Kentucky). I knew about the Jumping Bomb Angels because I had seen the first Survivor Series and I knew about some Japanese wrestlers who came to WCW, but that was about it.
So was I not a fan? Did all of the time and effort and thinking that I put into watching wrestling not count because I wasn’t watching the right kind of wrestling or not thinking about it the right way? That is such utter elitist nonsense and it is the kind of thing that makes me not want to talk about wrestling as I might not meet some standard that fans have decided exists.
The same thing is true of more mainstream wrestling today. How many times have you seen someone saying “How can you watch that WWE stuff? It’s not real wrestling!” Well no, it isn’t two people in singlets on a mat in Greco-Roman or freestyle rules, so I’m not sure why you were expecting otherwise. Yeah WWE does some stupid stuff, but they have people in wrestling tights in wrestling rings having wrestling matches so….yeah I’d call it wrestling.
Or there’s “How can you watch that AEW garbage? It’s a bunch of flips and dives and fake looking stuff.” You mean a bunch of athleticism which we can’t do by people in over the top situations in outlandish costumes? Kind of like wrestling has been for the better part of ever? Yes AEW is very fast paced, but there have been all kinds of nuttiness in wrestling which gets a lot of praise over the years. How different was Randy Savage when he became one of the bigger villains in the WWF? I’m sure that certain wasn’t real wrestling either right?
This gate keeping stuff is part of the toxic fandom that wrestling has become. There are so many great things about wrestling and all of started somewhere. Now though, there is some kind of standard that you have to meet to be seen as a “real” fan. It is the case on Twitter and it is the case at various wrestling shows which build themselves up as REAL wrestling compared to the mainstream options.
If you want the biggest example, look at ECW. The company was supposed to be all about wrestling but how much time did they spend blasting the WWF and WCW (not including the time that Paul Heyman was getting paid by the WWF of course)? The point of ECW was a revolution against that kind of wrestling because it wasn’t good or didn’t count as wrestling or whatever else you want to call it.
So was watching the WWF/WCW around that time not being a wrestling fan? I was there every week for it and I stuck around through the New Generation and the rise of Hulk Hogan in WCW. Shouldn’t that show that I’m a bigger wrestling fan for sticking through the dark days to get to the good ones? According to this mentality it made me an idiot, because I wasn’t watching the right content.
This is the kind of thing that is going to turn fans off from wrestling in droves, because there is no reason to want to stick around. Why would I want to turn into some kind of fan who mocks others because I’m not as well versed as they are? I’m sure those people came out of the womb giving star ratings to Hansen and Brody matches while laughing at how bad Cena’s STF looked compared to Chono’s right? We all started as fans who had no idea what we were watching, but we knew it was cool and we wanted to see more of it. That’s how you become a fan and everyone starts there at some point.
There is a lot of wrestling to be seen and thanks to modern technology, we can see more of it than ever before. I have watched everything from WrestleMania to Wrestle Kingdom to Double Or Nothing to $5 Wrestling: Lucha Aboveground to Kansas Wrestling Revolution Pizza Party Wrestling: Camp Moonsault to Starrcade to the WrestleCon Supershow and a lot of points in between. Maybe I watch what you like or maybe I don’t, but that doesn’t make either of us any more or less of a fan and it is really stupid to suggest otherwise.
Wrestling is a great thing and it has changed my life for the better. Being a fan has given me a full time job, a wife and a son, which is probably a lot more than most people can say. I love wrestling, and there is little I love more about it than seeing a new fan getting into it for the first time. To shoot down any fan’s love of wrestling because they don’t like it the same way you do is horrible and the real thing that helps kill wrestling. As for that nonsense….yeah not a fan.
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You can find more from Thomas Hall at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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