clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Have we reached Peak Wrestling?

With all the talk of NFL ratings and the possibility of waning interest, maybe the same questions should be asked about pro wrestling.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m just not into the weekly pro wrestling grind the way I once was, and in all honesty, I’m searching for answers. I can’t point to growing out of it, because I’m 38 years old and it’s been a part of my life for at least 32 of those. If I was going to mature past wrestling, it would have happened already. I also can’t say that there’s not a lot of exceptional content to enjoy, because we live in a time where whatever style of pro wrestling you favor, it’s available to you.

Negative stories exist everywhere, so the headlines or the arrests or the firings or even a convoluted, nonsensically insane legal proceeding just a few miles from me in Nashville also don’t really qualify. You can find criminals and overall jack wagons on every street in America (or the world), so that’s not it. A few bad apples don’t really spoil the bunch. This isn’t John Calipari’s analogy of poop in the ice cream, where even one infinitesimal speck can ruin an entire truckload.

So, I’m all ears if you have ideas, but I do think in my specific case, I’m beginning to pinpoint at least one reason for why the fervor of my always existent fandom has been a little inconsistent this year. Many readers will say my reasoning is flawed, because nothing is mandatory, but the reality is I’ve just been rather water-logged, almost smothered by pro wrestling.

The WWE Network, as wondrous as it is, sometimes taunts me when I haven’t been on in a week. “C’mon man, just for a few minutes, the first hit is free.” I delve back into Halloween Havoc 1996 for the 17,000th time, then I stick around for a Legends of Wrestling episode, maybe a little NXT. That doesn’t generally happen to me, because I often don’t visit the Network these days, EXCEPT for the PPV events. But, I often feel as if I should be spending more time watching content, before not following through on the idea.

I do think there’s just too much current WWE, with five hours on USA, two PPV cards per month, weekly NXT, sometimes a Cruiserweight Classic or a Network house show event, not to mention the interviews or exclusive content. I’ve found myself watching RAW and SmackDown on DVR, so I can speed through matches and get to finishes. If it’s a great match, I’ll watch start to finish, but a random six man tag or some of this midcard dreck doesn’t have enough to hold my attention. I know I’m never missing a match of the year candidate, or something I’ll regret. Plus, if I hear something’s good, there’s always a way for me to go back and find it. I don’t even have to record it, even though I do. It’s streaming, or available in some other form.

Compare pro wrestling to football, and think about some of the arguments made to explain the declining ratings this season. The election has no doubt cost both the NFL and WWE, but the big one I’m focused on is the quality of play and bad match-ups, juxtaposed with the amount of football pushed on me each week. I don’t watch many Thursday Night Games anymore, and the Jason with the clicker during those events is the same Jason mauling the fast forward button during a Titus O’Neil and Darren Young mat classic. It may as well be Jaguars vs. Browns. There was a time I would watch any two teams play, but now it has to be a “main event” pairing, my team (Denver Broncos), or the local team I cover (Tennessee Titans).

While it’s always been true that we’ve had bad football games and terrible match-ups, this season it’s gotten worse, and then comes the kicker (On Sunday, LITERALLY here came the kickers): Football is EVERYWHERE. We’ve got it on Sunday (PPV), Monday (RAW), Thursday (IMPACT), Friday (NJPW on AXS, ROH), and Saturday (TakeOver on big show weekends, other shows). Sometimes there’s a game on Wednesday (Multiple first-run wrestling shows), and of course, there’s SmackDown Live on Tuesday night. I can’t turn around without another card someone is begging me to cover, watch, or talk about on the radio. It’s my job, so I do it, and as a result, very little impresses me.

WWE matches are WWE matches, and as I’ve written in the past, the formula becomes tiring. NJPW shows, when I have the time, I watch start to finish, but when I have to cherry pick, I know it’s worth the extra effort. NXT is not what it was in 2015 respective to depth, and I haven’t watched IMPACT since the original Final Deletion episode, which I felt obligated to see and understand. I can’t watch PWG live, or even in all that timely a fashion, though I probably would if it were available to me.

But, as the FloSports news broke this week, my initial reaction, without knowing all the details, was I’m already paying about as much for wrestling as I’m willing to pay in an a la carte world, where so many options vie for my entertainment minute, not to mention my entertainment dollar. How much more of this stuff do I need? How much does any of us need? There does come a time where it feels like I’ve seen almost everything pro wrestling has left to show me, from Ospreay and Ricochet to Strowman and Kane, and once I have that knowledge, I can pick and choose. I watch Vince’s stories, his best matches (I’d say I watch 75% of RAW and SmackDown, which is still awfully high, but it’s more habitual than anything else), and remain selective with the rest of his product. The PPV’s I watch live, and in their entirety. New Japan is the only promotion where I know I have to stay up to date with the matches themselves.

There’s just so much wrestling out there, which shouldn’t be a bad thing, but it occasionally becomes overwhelming and I just want to get away from some of it. I still love the wrestling business, but the quantity has enveloped the quality, in some respects. I gave up on Lucha Underground last season, and I could explain away any of my choices regarding any promotion at this point. For example, I watch ROH PPV cards, attend the house shows nearby along with my radio cohosts, and that’s really about it. That’s not to say the TV isn’t good, but I don’t find it essential.

The NFL no longer feels essential to me from 1-32, or certainly not in the way it used to for me as a sports fan. I will still kill to watch the best, but more often than not, I’ll now run from the worst. I’d rather review an episode of Westworld than take notes on the 49ers. It’s the same way with pro wrestling, and I wonder whether I’m alone, and if so, how many of you are rolling your eyes and telling me to either suck it up or get a life.

I usually don’t ask a direct question where I really am curious in a response, but I would love to know how much wrestling you watch now, whether your interest level has grown or fallen this year, and why it might be that way for you. I’m always going to love this business, but my time has become more important to me than my completionist desires.

However, nobody in WWE is kneeling during the national anthem, so that’s at least a touchdown advantage McMahon has over Goodell.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats