Art is beauty. Art is creativity being poured out of someone and given life to be something tangible. There is no wrong way to create art, therefore there is no wrong way to wrestle. Specifically, there is no right or wrong style of wrestling. In the world today wrestling is at our fingertips of every moment of every single day. We can watch wrestling from around the world, yet fans, current talent, and past talent all seem to hate something different or new.
This past Saturday CZW put on “Once in a Lifetime” which was headlined by Matt Tremont facing off against Japanese legend Onita. This was truly a dream match as both men have made permanent imprints in the hardcore/deathmatch wrestling genre (which we will get to later). However, what seems to be on everyone’s minds and Twitter account is a single part of a different match, Lio Rush versus Joey Janela. These two athletes have been leading a wave of great talent going through the doors of Combat Zone Wrestling and independent wrestling as a whole. They’ve been able to have some of the best matches of the last few years which is saying something given the current indie wrestling renaissance we are currently experiencing. So why are so people upset? At one point in the match Janela powerbombs Rush off a ladder through a table to which Lio shoots up looking more intense than ever. I’m sure you’ve at least seen the gif at this point. Well, apparently this killed the believability of the match for some people. Seriously. At a CZW show people are complaining about someone getting up from a table spot. If you know anything about CZW and their history then you are aware that a table spot is pretty tame for the blood thirsty fans that attend their shows. So for a company that goes through barbed wire and lighter fluid quicker than most people buy new underwear it seems a little ridiculous to take a single moment from a single match from an extreme promotion out of context.
Context is everything in wrestling. Imagine being a life-long wrestling fan who falls into a coma in the 1980’s to wake up in 2017 and the first thing you turn on is Lucha Underground. You would absolutely lose your shit. And with good cause; you haven’t watched wrestling in decades and now there are spacemen, dragons, monsters, etc. on your television. That isn’t the case though. People like Jim Cornette have been around to see wrestling change. They just refuse to change with it. When people refuse to acknowledge change being good then they expose themselves as simply being a close-minded bastard. This isn’t simply a problem confined to the world of professional wrestling. How many times have you heard an ex-football player, or something of the like, say things were better when he/she played? We hear it ad nauseum to the point where it’s essentially white noise for some of us. Things weren’t better or worse. They were just different.
There are times I wonder how many times wrestling has been “killed” because something happened and those unwilling to evolve got angry. Thousands of times I’m sure. This kind of thing has been going on since the days of Gorgeous George. “My god! He’s coming out to music and not treating this as a sport! We’re all doomed!” If you don’t think wrestling has changed there are plenty of Lou Thesz or early Verne Gagne matches available to watch. Then watch a Ric Flair, Harley Race, or Dusty Rhodes match. Then watch Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels. Keep doing this for every decade and the changes are obvious. Are there any less fans today? Are we any less passionate about wrestling? No, of course not. Our passion is the REASON wrestling continues to change.
That same passion has been multiplied due to the internet where fans are welcome to show their “vast” array of reactions to whatever form of wrestling they are watching. (Vast is in quotations due to heavy sarcasm since the reaction is typically complaints and anger.) What has occurred over the last few decades has been that passion plus the accessibility of wrestling from around the world has given way to experimentation. Things have gotten to be so strange and cool that it’s impossible NOT to be a wrestling fan of something in 2017 that you couldn’t even have imagined when you were a kid. DDT Pro in Japan is a perfect example. They do some pretty outrageous things which are absolutely beloved. They have given opportunities to guys like Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi, and El Generico to do whatever they like. That includes Omega wrestling a 9-year-old girl or a blowup doll being an active competitor. These things aren’t meant to be taken seriously. DDT Pro isn’t attempting to fool anyone into thinking what they do is in the same vein as 1970’s NWA. It is simply meant to entertain you.
All wrestling is entertainment. Nothing more. Nothing less. Sorry to those who think differently, but it’s true. The illusion of reality in wrestling has been eroding since the 1940’s. We all understand that what we are watching is for our enjoyment and have all agreed to suspend disbelief for a few hours during a show. It doesn’t make what the competitors do in the ring any less spectacular. Some of us take wrestling and its stories more seriously than others. Hence the bitching and moaning from the same people every week. If you are able to make the conscious decision to allow wrestling to take you away from your normal day-to-day drudgery for a little bit by watching an Undertaker match then it is not really that far of a stretch that Joey Ryan’s dick can flip people.
Variety is required our lives. We need it to keep ourselves sane. It allows us to have favorite things of any kind. Wrestling is no different. You can only watch Dolph Ziggler wrestle the Miz so many times before you start to loathe WWE. If pepperoni pizza was your favorite food, but it was the only thing you could ever eat I’m willing to bet it wouldn’t be that long before you looked for a tall bridge to jump from. We need new and different things in wrestling. We need risk takers. People to take dynamite to the status quo just because they can. Fans, wrestlers, and former talent will all see things that we won’t like or don’t understand. Next time, instead of judging something based off a .gif go out of your way to broaden your mind. Otherwise, feel free to lump yourself in with guys like Jim Cornette and other grumpy old bastards because there is no wrong way in wrestling.
By Luke Raven (@ravenluke)