As we have seen over the past ten weeks or so, wrestling just isn’t the same without the biggest part of the show, the fans.
Professional wrestling has the power to bring people together that share in a passion for the drama, the entertainment, and the spectacle of the business we all love. With the global pandemic throwing a wrench into our everyday lives, we have seen a drastic difference in the current product.
A show without fans hammers home the fact that in many ways, we all add to the drama, to the excitement, to what makes the action playing out in front of us so great.
As fans, we are lucky to be living in a time where there are dozens of options when it comes to wrestling content we can enjoy. Unfortunately, we are also living in a time where it seems there is a false narrative that we need to choose sides. If every company was the same, the business would sit in neutral and nobody would prosper.
Growing up, I was introduced to wrestling basically at birth because my father was a fan of Bret “The Hitman” Hart. He enjoyed the fact that Bret made everything look real, and how great of a technician he was in the ring. So my first memories of wrestling were the “sports entertainment” offerings of the World Wrestling Federation. My grandparents were from the south, so all my memories of spending time with them always involved sitting on the living room floor watching WCW Saturday night.
I loved both companies, and for different reasons.
The WWF had larger than life characters, the pageantry, the theatrics. The WCW had the athleticism, the feeling of a real competitive sport to it, and the old school presentation. I fell in love with the Ultimate Warrior due to his energy, the facepaint, and the intensity. I loved Ric Flair for the charisma, the stylin’ and profilin,’ and for the performer he was in the ring.
Fast forward a few years to when the Monday night wars started heating up. I would watch Raw live and record Nitro and watch it Tuesday afternoons after school. This was long before the days of everything being spoiled on the internet. I would always hear how the WWF was better, or how WCW is all I should watch. I’ve never understood that logic. It is like saying you could only eat McDonald’s for the rest of your life and never have Burger King because it’s different.
We have no reason to try and impose our will on the opinions of others when it comes to the type of entertainment that they enjoy and want to consume and support. When AEW was first getting off the ground, they created a huge buzz and a massive following by being different. It is not WWE, and although they have grown to employ a large number of former WWE stars, the product is a completely different presentation. This too is a good thing. For some reason however, you would see people hoping for the downfall of AEW, making predictions that they would be out of business within five years, which in reality is asinine.
We should want more wrestling companies, as not only provides more opportunity for performers to work and display their abilities, but it also provides competition.
Competition brings out the best in everyone and as a result, we as fans will be rewarded with everyone bringing their best shot week in and week out. The beautiful business that is professional wrestling has the ability to bring people together unlike any other form of entertainment, but it also can bring with it a toxic culture of negativity and mudslinging between fans. This does not need to be the case.
So in closing, it is absolutely your right and your opinion to love whatever wrestling it is that moves you. Watch WWE, watch AEW, or Impact, ROH, NWA, New Japan, whatever your cup of tea may be. The possibilities are literally endless. It is okay to disagree with the opinions of others and what they enjoy. It does not mean that we need to try and change other’s opinions. Have an open mind, give a promotion a chance that you’ve never seen, you may just fall in love with it. Be engaged, be passionate, but understand that wrestling is subjective and things that you enjoy may not be the same as what others do. At the end of the day we all love the same thing, albeit different variations. Just be a fan.
Drew Vencill is a lifelong wrestling fan and proud member of the Ohio Players. Follow him on Twitter @DrewVencill