Grappler's Choice #30 - The Best Time To Be A Wrestling Fan
Getting back into wrestling
I got back into watching professional wrestling regularly sometime in early 2016. I can't remember exactly why, but I believe it had something to do with the fact that a friend I had met at university who liked wrestling too had gotten me keen to learn about all these new characters he mentioned who i'd never heard of before.
We began chatting about wrestling from time to time, and it made me intrigued as to what I had missed in the absence of not watching it for so many years. So I started to slowly start watching WWE Raw and its major PPVs (Wrestlemania, Royal Rumble, Money In the Bank etc). At that time, I was very busy with university and work, so I couldn't watch it as often as I would have liked, but to be honest, I didn't feel like I was missing out on much.
WWE Raw was perhaps the best show to watch at the time (because WWE Smackdown was essentially just a recap show for WWE RAW, with a few extra matches and an occasional continuation of a storyline or two) and I wasn't particularly interested in any other promotion, due to the differences in production value, presentation etc.
I grew up on WWF/WWE, and I always felt like it was just a bit better than the rest on offer. I lost interest somewhere around 2006-2008 due to the change in WWE's style, and because I was a teenager at the time - so I had many other interests and changes occurring in my life. However, the video games always kept me interested to some degree, so I think I was still engaging with WWE content till around 2009/2010 in that regard.
I feel like 2016 was the best year to be a returning fan, because while women's wrestling had been picking up a lot of traction already (both in WWE and in other promotions/independents), WWE began to put a lot of focus and attention into this division. For the next couple of years, I was hooked on the women's wrestling matches, together with, the reintroduction of the draft split between Raw and Smackdown.
There were plenty of hits and misses during that time, but overall the product was getting better year on year, and it was worth tuning in. I'll admit though, there were certain periods of those years where there were big slump periods (usually in the final 3-4 months of each year) and I would consequently tune out for awhile, but wrestling media helped to keep me up to date with what was happening and actually motivated me to start watching again.
Moreover, 2019 has been an absolutely fantastic year for WWE wrestling wise and storyline-wise for the most part. For the first time in a long time, I regularly keep up with RAW, Smackdown, and NXT. I feel like I can never miss an episode, because you never know what's gonna happen.
For instance, this past Smackdown (the invasion of NXT) turned out to be one of the best episodes of Smackdown for a long time, and it was apparently completely unplanned (a sort of last-minute change in the response to the recent issues with getting WWE wrestlers back home to the USA from their recent PPV in Saudi Arabia).
Wrestling Media & Alternative Promotions
Additionally, during this three year period I have become highly engaged with the IWC (internet wrestling community) with regards to following wrestlers on social media (and sometimes seeing storylines unfold online, or simply learning more about the business from various sources) as well as watching the content produced by online wrestling news outlets such as Cultaholic, Whatculture, WrestleTalk, PWInsider, and F4Wonline to name a few.
From all of this, I was inspired to give other promotions a try again. For instance, I can happily say that Impact wrestling has improved considerably in the past few years, and has become must-see television because of the improvement in the presentation of the product, together with the additions of fantastic wrestlers such as Tessa Blanchard and Sami Callihan.
The introduction of AEW has created even further diversity in terms of what is available on a week to week basis, and has created an interesting alternative to the WWE. On a side note, I would argue that it has caused WWE to step up its game in response, as all of their regular shows appear to have improved considerably in the last few months.
AEW vs NXT (The ''Wednesday Night War'') & More
On yet another side note, AEW and NXT are currently going to head-to-head each week on Wednesdays. Some people have jokingly referred to this as the ''Wednesday Night War'' due to the fact that WWE famously went head-to-head with WCW on Mondays back in the 1990s. It's still early days, but both shows seem to be producing excellent TV so far, and i'm curious to see what's coming in the future.
Furthermore, there are also shows such as MLW Fusion and NWA Powerrr that have been made free to view online via channels such as Youtube, enabling wrestling fans to discover even more unique wrestlers, as well as different styles of wrestling presentation. Right now, almost every day of every week has a wrestling show on it - there's so much wrestling!
But this is by no means a complaint from me. When you consider how media is consumed now (on demand, from anywhere, at anytime) coupled with the fact that so many wrestling promotions are doing their absolute best to showcase all of the world-class wrestlers that exist in the world today, it truly is the best time to be a wrestling fan. You have so much choice now!
While there have been plenty of 'firsts' for women's wrestling in the past 20 or so years, and all around the world. It has been particularly fantastic to see WWE, Impact Wrestling and AEW showcasing them to worldwide audiences.
We've see women headline a Wrestlemania, Hell In A Cell matches, Royal Rumble matches, wrestlers such as Tessa Blanchard and Jordynne Grace going to toe-to-toe with male wrestlers and stealing the show, as well as what I believe is the first ever women's wrestling match held in Saudi Arabia (when WWE wrestlers Natalya and Lacey Evans went head-to-head).
I happened to watch this particular moment live, and it was a pretty emotional thing to watch for everyone involved. I sincerely hope it helps towards pushing some sort of significant changes for women in Saudi Arabia - but for now, it's a great step in the right direction.
I'd argue women's wrestling is one of the hottest and most competitive aspects of professional wrestling right now. There are so many players in the game right now, and they've all achieved so much already (and they are all still very young and have long careers ahead of them!).
Anyways, if you're a professional wrestling fan and are reading this right now, let me know your thoughts on wrestling right now. Do you love it? Do you hate it? Whatever your thoughts might be, I wanna hear them!
Thanks for reading.
- Christian Reeve