Since I was around 12-years old, I’ve been a wrestling fan; closely following the storylines, watching the matches and reading up about the business online. There are two things which I have always found to be integral to the business, things on which the business is based – kayfabe and the heel-face dynamic. As a matter of fact, the internet has destroyed both of these, consequently affecting the business I used to know and love adversely.
Kayfabe, or the attempt to portray events within the business as real and true, has always been an essential part of the business. Creating characters and feuds, aligning faces and heels, and then creating a paying audience (one which invests in these characters and storylines, and watches the product regularly).
It is actually pretty self-explanatory as to how this aspect of the business has been destroyed by the Internet. Particularly, with the numerous wrestling interviews and “shoots” by various members of the business revealing insider secrets, and the advent of social media websites -- often used by the wrestlers themselves to break character and interact with their fans.
While the argument can be made that these wrestlers interacting more closely with their fans may help build their connection with the fans, thus causing them to be interested -- it is a fact that while such interaction with the fans does build wrestler’s connections with the fans -- but looking at the bigger picture, what people don’t seem to realize is, that such interaction weakens the suspension of disbelief, which is required by the fans so as to believe in the feuds and angles taking place in the business. As a result of this, the feuds are not taken seriously, causing long-term damage to the business.
While individual matches are often remembered as classics, more often than not, the feuds and angles are what become etched in the memories of the fans permanently.If the feuds containing the matches are not memorable, then the matches are also not likely to be remembered. However, if the feud is good overall, then fans are less likely to remember mediocre matches.
Hulk Hogan is a classic example of this. Perhaps one of the biggest if not THE biggest star in the history of the business, none of his matches can be considered technical masterpieces, but it was the stories and the messages they conveyed which stayed with the fans years later.
Even during the Attitude Era, with Austin and his iconic feud with Mr. McMahon, and all the epic moments which happened then. Imagine, if that feud took place now, with everybody knowing how the business works. It is simply not possible to portray an employee assaulting his Boss on network television to secure a spot in the main-event, or a pay-per-view after that. It would be a disaster. Crowds just wouldn’t buy into it.
This is the reason crowds have been so flat in the pay-per-views of the modern Era, not because “The Attitude Era was so much better than this Cena-Orton shit today” or whatever it is the idiots on the internet seem to say in the comments sections of videos online.
Feuds and championships have been devalued because of too much information to the fans, who now know everything about how the business works. Because of that, they are unable to invest in the storylines and angles any longer.
Another major gripe with the Internet and its effect on the business, is the manner in which it has completely overturned the heel-face dynamic. Every match is based on the good guy-bad guy story, and is structured in such a manner as to get the crowd behind the good guy and completely against the bad guy. The basic structure of each match is to get the heel to dominate the face and to get the crowd behind the face, let the tide of emotion rise and then reach its crescendo, when ultimately at the climax the face mounts his foe and wins.
Spots are structured to get exactly this reaction. Heroes are meant to be cheered and villains to be booed.
A good match is a combination of sound technical execution and the reaction of the crowd. Even if the execution is less than perfect, if the crowd reacts properly, then an ordinary match becomes great. But if the crowd doesn’t react, or reacts in a manner not in-sync with the way the match is structured, then even a great match can become mediocre.
The Internet has completely turned this heel-face dynamic on its head and has led to the phenomenon of cheering the heel and booing the face, which I find offensive, because not only have great matches been ruined because of this, but also because it is disrespectful to the wrestlers themselves.
The best way to show respect to talented workers is by respecting their efforts in the ring and letting them convey the story they plan to convey, instead of cheering them when they are working as heels and booing the faces, thus ruining the match. This is a view expressed by several of the greats in the business such as Chris Jericho, Triple H and Bret Hart, amongst others.
Another reason I find this offensive, is more often than not, the people booing the face are doing it just because it seems like the trend at the moment and not because they really have any problem with the faces, or their work.
My final gripe with the Internet, is the overwhelming negativity surrounding the business which is expressed on the Internet. Everybody being so over-analytical and critical all the time, criticizing feuds, matches and angles, oftentimes without them having even taken place yet.
Remember at the beginning of the year when Jericho returned and the Rock-Cena feud was taking place? It used to annoy me so much that one week the idiots on the Internet were like, “Jericho should return to face Punk” and when he did (just two weeks later), the same idiots said, “I’m sick of Punk and Jericho already”, and, “Rock-Cena is going to suck so bad”, and all the usual bullshit. It made me sick.
As Jericho said in response to this backlash, shortly after his return - "Funny how some of u never stop complaining and think u know it all. Just sit back and enjoy the ride...you'll have a lot more fun!”
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