Arts & Entertainment

Corrigan: Is it time to tap-out on wrestling?

A rough week makes fans question if they should keep watching.

johncorriganI originally wrote a different piece for this week, but the Royal Rumble and its aftermath left such an impact that my editor, a non-wrestling fan, asked me to comment.

But I didn’t want to.

Since this column debuted last summer, I’ve covered local success stories, unearthed pearls of wisdom for students and shared sentimental moments from my fandom.

While many writers hone their craft by criticizing professional wrestling, complaining about my beloved pastime just isn’t my style.

However, I can’t escape the avalanche of disappointment swelling from last week.

Daniel Bryan, the most popular wrestler on the planet, not only didn’t win the Royal Rumble – he didn’t even enter the 30-man match.

Batista, the cocky grandpa who emerged victorious and will now headline WrestleMania XXX in New Orleans against WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton, hasn’t competed since 2010.

And for the proverbial third drop of the arm, various online reports indicate the “Best in the World,” CM Punk, has ditched the company to sit out the last few months of his contract at home.

With my favorite WWE Superstars either ignored or MIA, and a main event I’ll be driving 20 hours to sigh through, I’ve contemplated abandoning my passion for the first time in my life.

It might seem like an overreaction to quit watching wrestling because I disliked one result, but at least I’m not alone.

As each ring-filler dashed down the ramp, the Pittsburgh crowd drowned the Rumble with chants for Daniel Bryan despite their hero never arriving. When supposed fan-favorite Batista eliminated Roman Reigns to finally end the match, more than 15,000 people erupted with jeers, prompting “The Animal” to embrace his previous nastiness and flip the middle finger to several spectators off-air.

The outrage wasn’t limited to attendees. Social media exploded with frustration over Bryan’s absence and Batista’s prodigal son homecoming.

Even WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley tweeted, “Does WWE actually hate their own audience?”

Several days later, Foley smashed his daughter’s TV with a baseball bat in an act of protest, and probably in anticipation for spring training.

I don’t blame him – following baseball sure looks more promising right now. Although it’s a real sport with unpredictable outcomes, you can guarantee that the athletes who perform best will be rewarded rather than slotted to the bench.

Wrestling fans are often labeled as numbskulls without girlfriends. Well, perhaps we are fools for believing into the obvious charade, but maybe our commitment issues stem from our first love constantly breaking our heart.

We trusted Vince McMahon with our $45 last Sunday, and he stuffed it into Batista’s skinny jean pocket.

So I’m not sure I want to ride on the road to WrestleMania anymore. Sure, there is still time for change, and Bryan could possibly become champion at Elimination Chamber. And yes, CM Punk could potentially be tricking the public regarding his exit, as the pipe bomb master has done in the past.

Of course, this entire #YESMovement could end up as the latest blurring of reality by WWE’s brain trust, manipulating the fans’ preconceived notions of what lies behind the curtain through viral storylines and feigned aloofness.

We accept and enjoy sports-entertainment, but we’re always drawn to the real-life drama lurking behind the characters.

It’s too early to tell if McMahon and his associates actually hate their own audience, or if the maniacal owner is simply tugging the strings of Foley, Punk and Bryan as part of the show.

As a wrasslin’ diehard for 14 years, I know better than to believe this turmoil is an intricate production orchestrated by the same genius visionary responsible for neutering the WCW Invasion, Nexus, Summer of Punk and other botched revolutions of the millennium.

But I’ll inevitably stay tuned to the heartache, yearning for another hero to replace Punk,  rallying behind Bryan’s perpetual pursuit of the gold, fueling the corporate machine whose stranglehold is the only submission we diehards can’t escape.

John Corrigan can be reached at john.corrigan@temple.edu.

One Response to “Corrigan: Is it time to tap-out on wrestling?”

  1. Brahma

    I was just having a conversation with Humza about this exact topic. The first thing he said to me was, “I wonder how much ass-kissing Batista did to walk back into the WWE and win the Rumble.”

    I did not watch the Rumble, but I shared his sentiments. Batista, in my eyes, has always been a wrestler best suited to stay in his role as the Brute Enforcer in a stable of more charismatic performers ala Evolution. His in-ring repertoire contains nothing more than a few power slams and his mic skills hardly warrant any title besides the tag-team championship alongside another wrestler that can make up for his inability to work a crowd (Ric Flair).

    I keep hoping that the WWE has something big in store for DB. As you’ve stated, he’s the most popular wrestler on the planet and his effect on a crowd is simply amazing. He is the only reason I began watching wrestling again after years of just not caring (coincidentally, Batista was one of the reasons I stopped).

    Reply

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