Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Reborn Wrestling Fan: Those Weren't The Good Old Days

Back when I wrote my first post on wrestling here, where I decried modern wrestling for not having the fun that wrestling from the Rock N Wrestling era had... the era of wrestling I grew up on, and the one which informed my entire perception of that form of entertainment for decades. I looked upon it fondly, and believed it to be of a superior to what followed it.

But in retrospect, I can now admit that I was wrong. Dead wrong.

I recently found some WWE collections at a discount store in my neighborhood, and I watched some of the pay-per-view and Saturday Night Main Event matches they contained from that era and earlier, and I was astonished at a) how short the matches were and b) how seemingly amateurish they seem now (not all of them mind you because there are indeed some great matches from later in that era... Savage/Steamboat at WM 3 comes to mind). Maybe it was because at time, the company hadn't fully embraced the entertainment aspect of the experience and was trying to maintain the veneer that it was a sporting event rather than a scripted collaborative work, or maybe the formula they were using at the time was not as sophisticated as it is today, but in watching those matches, it just felt so lightweight and insubstantial. I was especially disappointed by the Hulk Hogan-Iron Sheik title match I saw because I recently read about the build up to that match, and the in-ring payoff was almost non-existent based on the build up. It should have been epic, and instead it was just sort of boring with some definite pacing problems.

Put it this way, in any given week, the 5 major televised wrestling programs (the WWE's Raw, Smackdown, Superstars and ECW along with TNA Impact) put on better and more satisfying matches than what was generally available from the WWF in the mid-1980's, even on some of their pay-per-views. At times, the worst match on the above five shows is still of a higher quality than the better matches people were paying good money to see on closed circuit television, video tape and pay-per-view. And back in the 1980's the weekly shows were filled with a lot of squash matches, something which I didn't really appreciate at the time, but in retrospect, I can see them for what they were.

I know that Raw and TNA Impact both have their problems at the moment (especially with a Monday Night Raw feud that just will not end), but for the most part, the matches and story lines they present are light years ahead of the average match you'd get as main events back in the mid-1980's in the WWF. I think having to generate heat for so many Pay-per-view events along with some of the lessons learned during the Monday Night Wars and the Attitude Era likely led to the move away from those cavalcades of squash matches and less than stellar wrestling towards a lot more matches that mean something and more performers showcasing a greater variety of styles and move sets. Today's wrestling isn't perfect, but when held up in comparison to the era which spawned it as a national phenomenon, well, it is pretty good stuff indeed.

And again, don't get me wrong, there were still some great matches and feuds from that era, but in seeing some of the work I had previously praised and held as the gold standard for entertaining wrestling, I realized that I was looking back with rose-colored glasses. It was never a completely exemplary product and now I can finally admit it and get on with my life as a wrestling fan.


Mel said...

Okay, that's weird. I looked at your latest entry on Bloglines (lost my blogroll in the recent apocalypse) and it was for June 1. Weeeeeird.

MC said...

If it is any consolation, I missed your last blog post myself.