The new year is here and just like every year, the wrestling world is buzzing with rumors about what might happen in the next three months. Why? Because the period from January to April is officially known as WrestleMania season to fans all over the world. It should be the best time of the year, but in a lot of ways it's also hard to enjoy because of all the rumors that are out there. Sometimes it doesn't make it fun for me, but I try my best to be positive.
I enjoy what I do. I wrote over 160 times on this website in 2013 and I plan on coming close to that or topping it in 2014. What bothers me is when some fans would rather spend their time asking me about some rumor they read on some website (even a credible one) instead of actually watching the shows to come to their own conclusions.
I don't consider it a "news story" when CM Punk tweets that his match on Monday was "garbage." It's CM Punk. I love the guy, but he's a sarcastic asshole a lot of the time and he'll tell you that. Did he really feel the match was garbage? I doubt it. But he'll tweet it to entertain himself and his friends. The next day I see it on many wrestling sites as if it is news.
Twitter is something that I enjoy. The fact that I've tweeted (@johnreport) over 65,000 times in 4.5 years is proof of that. What I also know from following WWE performers on there is a lot of them joke a lot. They also tweet in character a lot. That's ingrained in them. It's their job to play a character on television and they're encouraged by WWE to be that character outside the ring too. Don't most fans or "news sites" see it that way? They should.
I never really understood the fascination with people clamoring over finding out the WrestleMania card in January. It's three months away. Who cares what it looks like now? Chances are if you're going to WrestleMania you already bought the ticket two months ago. If you're going to order it on PPV you already know that by now or you'll wait until the week of the show when the full card is out.
In the interest of full disclosure, I subscribe to F4WOnline.com and have done so for about seven years now. In addition to Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter and Bryan Alvarez' Figure Four Weekly Newsletter, they have audio shows up pretty much every day. I'm listening to their interview with AJ Styles as I write this actually. I don't believe everything I read in the newsletter, but a lot of their info is good. Along with F4W, PWInsider.com breaks a lot of news as well. I don't subscribe to their elite service, but if you check out any "news" site out there they will post info from them. Other sites like PWTorch.com and Prowrestling.net have news too. Most of the other websites on the internet basically get their info from the "big guys" so to speak.
The "dirt sheets" as some like to call them operate like many different kind of web sites in different fields as well. Want info on movies? You can go to bigger sites like Variety.com, but chances are the more independent sites will have more "insider" info. The same goes for the television or music industries. Obviously sports sites are the same way. If you go to NFL.com, you'll read news items or opinion pieces about the sport, but they won't criticize too much. Why? Because they're the site that is about the league. Other independent sports sites would be more open to fairly critiquing the league or saying "how can you give Jay Cutler a 7 year deal" among other things.
The problem is other wrestling websites will often times present things as facts when they are merely a rumor. Take the "John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania" rumor as an example. Meltzer mentioned it was being discussed at one point, but may not be anymore. PWInsider then came out to say it was only being discussed before they decided to unify the WWE & World Titles. So what's the truth? I have no idea. And unless you're Vince McMahon reading this, neither do you. He's still the final decision maker on everything WWE does.
As I said before, I love what I do. It's still fun for me even after starting this "write about wrestling on the internet" thing began 15 years ago. Trust me when I say it's not hard to be consistent. I retired about 7 times in the mid 2000s before coming back in 2009 and I haven't stopped since. It gets difficult at times. The older I get, though, the more I realize it's pretty cool that I'm able to do it at this level. I never take it for granted.
I didn't write this because I hate when people ask me what's going to happen at WrestleMania. Far from it. I know how bored some fans are from September to December when the product isn't as good and once the new year hits we get that excitement back. It's merely my way of telling you, my fellow wrestling fan, that you need to find a way to enjoy the shows despite all of the rumors out there.
Look at Monday's angle with Daniel Bryan and The Wyatt Family. Did Bryan really go heel to become a member of The Wyatt Family? Personally, I don't think so. I think it's just a part of the story to get Bryan even more popular with the fans by overcoming the forces of evil so to speak. I haven't read online about will happen. There are just theories. If you want to know more, watch Raw on Monday. Don't rely on what somebody else wrote. Base your feelings and decisions on what you feel. That's how it should be.
Here's my advice on how to enjoy WWE programming week after week without having negative thoughts because you feel like you "know too much" about what's going to happen: Watch the shows. Watch the stories progress. You decide what you like or don't like. Obviously I want you to read everything at TJRWrestling because I'm proud of the team we have here. Keep in mind that we're not here to tell you what to do. We're here to add to the enjoyment of the product.
Nobody should tell you what you should or shouldn't watch. That's up to you. Being a fan of the product means you enjoy what you watch. If you don't enjoy what you watch, then why watch it? I have quit watching shows that I used to enjoy. I'm sure you have too. I remember watching The Amazing Race in the first five or six seasons. It got too repetitive, so I stopped.
With all of that said, I admit that I am critical of WWE's product because it's better than being a fan that loves everything. It's important to be objective. I think the booking of the top storylines from September to December was really bad. I also remember back to years like 2009 and 2010 that were not very good at all. I think that Michael Cole/Jerry Lawler feud was one of the worst in WWE history and I really had a tough time finding positives about it because it sucked so much. In 2011 and 2012 things got better because guys like CM Punk & Daniel Bryan played bigger roles. Most of 2013 was pretty good until the final third of the year. In terms of great matches on television, 2013 was outstanding.
I always liken WWE to my favorite sports teams. I love the Rams, Raptors, Jays and Leafs, but generally they've been pretty bad for well over a decade and it frustrates the hell out of me. I still support them. I still buy merch, go to games and watch as much as I possibly can while arguing about it online or with buddies in the bar. I watch because I care. I complain once in a while because I care too.
I'll probably write my annual "Rumbling to Mania" column later this month because I have thoughts on things just like you, but I won't get wrapped up in all the rumors that are out there. Don't let something that somebody else wrote affect how you enjoy the product. That's up to you, wrestling fan.
Don't get too up or too down because of anything you see in wrestling. There's always going to be another show next week. All we can hope is that there's a plan for the story. Sometimes there's not (what happened to Big Show vs. Triple H?) and sometimes things happen organically (like the rise of Daniel Bryan).
If you really need to get angry about something and let out a scream, here's an excellent Brock Lesnar video to help you with that. The footage is from Monday's Raw. There was one from earlier in the year too, but I like this one because it's fresher.
I don't know if that's considered an excitable yell or if it's more comparable to a bird saying "caw" but I loved it.
Thanks for reading this column that wasn't very hard hitting, but they don't all have to be. I hope it was insightful in some way. I look forward to what WWE has in store for us in 2014 and thank you for visiting TJRWrestling.com. We hope to continue to deliver the goods this year and beyond.
Have a happy freakin' New Year. Or don't. It's up to you after all.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org