It’s the one week of the year where everybody takes stock of what they’re thankful for. Writers write about it so they can get done early in the week & go eat turkey. That’s why we’re here, I ain’t gonna lie.
Here are the top 5 things that pro wrestling fans are thankful for in 2017.
5. Social Media
How did we watch wrestling without Twitter? As much as we make mockery of WWE for making everything about hashtags, the social media is a godsend during these television shows. The life of a wrestling fan could be lonely back in the day. It still can be if you live with people that don’t share your obsession. Now, all you have to do to find people to talk with during wrestling events is turn on your smartphone.
Sure, there are plenty of evils with social media. Our political process has been pretty much ruined by Twitter. People spend way too much time in other people’s business. But the positive of having a collective wrestlegasm a couple of times a week makes the other stuff worthwhile.
4. Liking Wrestling Has Rarely Been Less of a Stigma
I was a happy kid in elementary school. I had no cares in the world. Everybody seemed to like me. Then middle school came and I met new people that didn’t like me at all. One of the main reasons was the fact I was a professional wrestling fan in 1995–96. I was made fun of and ignored for the entirety of my 6th grade year. In years afterward I gained a certain level of acceptance among my peers. There were even a couple of years there where the same people that made fun of me then got all excited about Stone Cold & the NWO. I never forgot how everyone tossed me aside that first year out of my comfort zone. I’ve never been the same happy trusting soul that I was in elementary school. It’s still inexplicably hard for me to get to know people & make lasting friendships.
Obviously, this is still a problem in our schools. Kids are ostracized & made to feel unwelcome, curtailing their development & ability to function within the norms of society. The good news for people whose weirdest attribute is watching wrestling is that sports entertainment has been accepted as part of nerd culture. Being a nerd isn’t the faux pas that it was twenty years ago. Wrestling fans are now known to be in on the joke. Whether it’s “fake” or whatever, it’s a television show just like anything else. The stigma is no longer there. You can wear your wrestling t-shirts out in public. It helps that the t-shirts are wider in variety & you can find ones that look cool.
3. Variety Is Back
There was a period of time where WWE was the only real outlet for wrestlers & wrestling fans. WWE was the only place for wrestlers to make money. WWE was the only wrestling that the majority of Internet wrestling fans wanted to talk about. I remember when Larry Csonka & I were the only two people on 411mania that wanted to talk about something other than WWE. Then Ari Berenstein became the only person on 411 that wanted to talk about Ring of Honor. Readers would complain because they only wanted to hear about the almighty WWE & HLA & the never-ending Triple H title run & all the wonderful things that were going on back then.
Now we have plenty of choices for our wrestling dollar. New Japan is making waves over here, along with their business partner Ring of Honor. Guys are making money there & on the indies. T-shirt sales are through the roof. Lucha Underground is pretty cool when it’s around and has increased exposure of key talent. And Impact Wrestling is still alive somehow.
Not to mention how WWE has convinced a lot of people that NXT is a different company.
2. Women’s Wrestling Is Legit
Back when I first started watching pro wrestling, it was easy to forget that women even competed. Sure, there were managers like Sensational Sherri & Madusa, but young me had no idea that they started out as accomplished wrestlers & got into managing simply because there weren’t opportunities for women in the ring in the main North American promotions. Once the Attitude Era came around, women were allowed to wrestle because it was hot. Sable wasn’t exactly a top-notch competitor, but she was popular with WWF crowds because of her assets.
WWE still pushed that aspect of women’s wrestling for a long time. I did it myself in my writing. It was what the people wanted at the time. Fortunately, women’s wrestling has evolved. It’s not a T & A sideshow. Sure, cosmetics still plays a role, but it always will to some degree. It plays a role with the men too. The main focus is on competition. As somebody that’s pushed women’s wrestling for years, I’m thankful that now when I do it people aren’t rolling their eyes at me.
1. Streaming Services
I can sit here all day and tell you about how much better pro wrestling was back in the day. Back when we had blood & guts. When we had guys that could call it in the ring. When we had bookers instead of writers, bullet points instead of scripted promos & crowds full of fans that believed & gave a damn about the wrestlers winning & losing instead of fans trying to get themselves over at the expense of the show.
You know what wasn’t better back then? Access. We had video tapes. We could trade them if we wanted more wrestling from a far-off location. We could go to Blockbuster & rent major releases for a few days. We had satellite dishes & VCRs. It had its charms, but wrestling addicts only got their fix a couple days a week. Now, we can get it whenever we want it. WWE Network has a pretty good percentage of WWE’s library. New Japan has a service. Impact Wrestling has a service. ROH has their thing. Smart Mark Video has one. Pretty much any wrestling company you can think of has some service that will let you watch whatever you want whenever you want.
We’re spoiled. I, for one, am thankful that these companies figured out that their fans will fork out money to watch an excessive amount of wrestling. Can you believe that promoters used to tape over their old shows to save money? No wonder they all went out of business.