Last week it was the bad news, this time it’s the overrated news. As you all know wrestling media or as we call it Wrestling Newz is known for a lot of hyped up speculation, opinion treated as fact, and often flat out wrong stories. Sometimes a thing that hits a nerve gets turned into MAJOR OUTRAGE because that’s good for traffic; 2019 was no exception. And while some of you guys love that stuff, which these people’s traffic numbers suggests is definitely the case, the rest of us are perpetually annoyed by the mere sight of these stories. Here are the ones that I thought were the biggest examples of this kind of hyperbole:
5. Mad About the Wildcard Rule
Go back to about a month after WrestleMania. There was a steep, abrupt ratings dip between Monday nights, which a lot of people used to validate their already existing takes about WWE programming. And before long we had the Wildcard Rule, where three people from each brand would be able to work the other show on any given Monday or Tuesday. Now in hindsight this was something to put a floor on the ratings dip and stabilize things, and it worked. But that didn’t stop a weekly flood of ‘WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS????’ on social media and on the websites. For the life of me I never quite understood being so pissed off about maybe seeing some of your favorite people twice a week instead of once, and I never knew that so many people were invested in the sanctity of the brand split. (And we got a reminder of that this past Monday when a few of our intrepid reporters felt Deanna Purazzo getting to work a match on RAW was a bridge too far) It really wasn’t that serious, folks.
4. The WWE Creative Process
The shot heard around the wrestling world came when John Moxley (formerly Dean Ambrose) did a round of interviews after leaving WWE where took a personal dump all over the WWE’s creative process. (I had my own takes here and here.) Now there have countless stories over the years of how Vince has final say on everything, of people disagreeing with him about lots of things, and those last minute rewrites of entire shows but the strawman arguments about scripted promos and produced segments/matches got some rocket fuel attached to them after those interviews Jon did. Looking at the big picture, Jon wanted to do some things that just aren’t getting on WWE TV like death matches and extra profane promos and his frustration over that and the grind that is the WWE schedule are perfectly acceptable. But for people to take that and act like we were getting some kind of revelations on how the WWE works on the inside was just a bunch of exaggerated nonsense. We been knew! And to act as if his personal story was a reflection on how everyone feels there, when Jon himself said that was not the case, was as disingenuous as you can get.
3. Seth Rollins is the best
Seth started out the year on a roll – winning the Royal Rumble and beating Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania – and then things got weird around June. He did an interview with Sports Illustrated where in the midst of WWE bashing on the internet he proclaimed his support for his employer as the best wrestling on the planet and himself as the best one doing it. Which is no different from what you’ll hear from the top champion in every wrestling company in the world, but because he said that about the perpetually maligned WWE it was somehow taken as a bridge too far and a sign that he’s a corporate shill. I mean come on folks, did y’all just start listening to wrestlers do interviews in 2019? I’m old enough to remember that even in the dying days of the AWA and WCW their guys would come out and say their place was the best. It’s not anything new or anything to get whipped into a frenzy about.
2. The Wrestling Boom
This one’s been simmering for a while. Between New Japan’s expansion, Ring of Honor’s record 2018, news of record revenues for WWE, new indie promotions popping up everywhere, All In, and then the start of AEW there was a lot of talk of there being a wrestling boom about to hit. But then reality hit. Crowd numbers have been below expectations all around, AEW’s numbers have been decent but not up to the hype, and professional wrestling hasn’t gotten any bigger in the mainstream than it was before. What it really looks like is that it’s easier to get into the business than ever before and thanks to streaming there’s a way to broadcast your shows so now everyone can get their stuff out there again for the first time in years. But that doesn’t mean the business as a whole is any more popular than it has been. At the end of the day it’s still a niche entertainment product that people can make good money off of in certain corners if things break right. And that’s fine! Stop trying to make it cool and just embrace that we like some weird stuff here.
And number one…..
1. The Wednesday Night Wars
I’ve talked about this already here. But to continue, the Wednesday Night Wars were hyped up in a lot of circles as the sequel to the famed Monday Night Wars and the thing that would shift the dynamic of wrestling on TV. And yet, they haven’t. NXT and AEW combined don’t pull in as many viewers as the third hour of Raw. Neither show is in danger of being cancelled but neither one is blowing the world away either. Raw is usually the highest rated show on basic cable when there’s no Monday Night Football; neither AEW Dynamite or NXT come close to that. Now is there good wrestling on both shows? Sure. But good, even great wrestling, does not equal big ratings or big money. The Wednesday Night Wars can essentially be boiled down to TNT wanting something, anything that could draw some kind of number and USA needing something to replace SmackDown. Now there is a separate mission for both shows – AEW needs some kind of money generator that isn’t ticket sales, merchandise or pay per view while NXT is there to keep AEW from getting big enough to get any real money for TV – but that’s a far cry from the NWO on one channel and Stone Cold on the other.
So that’s 2019 in hyperbole. I will have good news before the year’s over, I promise!