And Another Thing: The Myth About Sportswriters
Posted by Hyatte on 01.01.2000
It takes just two lines of bile in a newspaper to make Wrestling Reporters get all pissy.
One of my favorite things to write about is stuff that no one really looks at. One of the things I never liked about Al Isaacs is that how every pounding wrestling took from a sports writer would throw him into a legitimate tantrum. This column came after Phil Mushnick did one of his semi-regular trashing of sports entertainment. Everyone had a conniption. I was inspired.
(originally presented July, 2000: Real Wrestling Show)
Nothing gets under a Wrestling fan’s skin more than a Sports Writer.
Really, all it takes is one sentence from Phil Mushnik to make Al Isaacs fume all over his News section. Someone from a Boston newspaper recently said that wrestling fans haven’t yet grasped the concept of standing upright, so Dave Scherer invited us to flame bomb his mailbox. Stuff like this happens all the time. A Sports Writer turns his nose down towards wrestling, and fans act like he just denounced the existence of God.
Sports writers are just losers with a College degree. Their entire life is devoted to watching other people play games and second-guessing every decision Owners, General Managers, and Coaches make. They either could not succeed on sports, or they were too lazy to even try. So they had to settle for being spectators. The only difference between Sports Writers and Wrestling Writers is that they play to a larger audience, and this is all they do. Wrestling Journalists, for the most part, have other jobs. We’re all essentially the same, deep down. We’re all just wannabes.
There are a few exceptions, of course. Sport’s Writers never break stories. They can only wait until after the Press Conference before commenting. Wrestling Writers break stories all the time. Not Kayfabe, on-air garbage... but behind the scenes action. If Derek Jeter had gotten sent home from the Yankees for a poor attitude, nobody would know until Steinbrenner issued a Press release. To this day, WCW has yet to officially comment on Lex Luger’s “paid vacation”, but thanks to Wrestling Writers, it’s common knowledge. No owner in any Sport will listen to what a Sports Writer thinks, but the WWF, WCW, and ECW routinely turn to the Internet to gauge fan reaction. Sports Writers have to gripe, gripe, gripe, and gripe in order to sell Papers. If something in Wrestling is working, Wrestling Writers celebrate it. Finally, and this is a big deal, there is a pecking order with Sports Writers. If a writer from the New York Times, NY Post, L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, or Washington Post say something… you can bet that their thoughts will be parroted by a great many Writers from small town newspapers everywhere. It’s the trickle effect. Mushnick hates Wrestling, so Mike Barnicle hates Wrestling, then someone from Buffalo hates Wrestling, then someone from Syracuse, Utica, Bumblestump, etc… etc… etc. Before long, the Sports Writer from your small town rag who primarily reports on the latest High School Swim Meets has an opinion on Pro Wrestling. He doesn’t like it. Guess how he came to this conclusion? Wrestling Writers rarely are influenced by anyone else. I’m a Wrestling Writer. Anyone who knows my work knows that I’d sooner stroll down Downtown Atlanta in full Nazi Regalia than to let myself be influenced by a Dave Scherer, a Rick Scaia, or a Scott Keith. Wrestling Writers have their own opinions and they stick with them fiercely.
Only Sports Illustrated seems to have taken a more kindly approach to Wrestling. They simply ignore it. Fifteen years ago, they caved in and put Hulk Hogan on the cover (no self respecting wrestling fan will ever forget that issue). The fact that it took so long for them to start acknowledging the presence of Vince McMahon again, and for Rick Reilly to do a fair, honest, downright loving piece of Goldberg speaks a lot for the massive popularity of the Sport. (Of course, SI is owned by AOL/Time Warner, which might help explaining what appears in their pages, and what doesn’t.)
And that’s what kills Sports Writers the most. Wrestling isn’t going away. I can’t say that Wrestling will remain such a thorn in Monday Night Football’s forever. History shows us that this sport is cyclical in nature. I can say that Wrestling will be a force for quite a while longer. Society today is conditioned for fast moving bits of data that last a few minutes, and then quickly jump to another story. This is why Baseball almost died a few years back. People were sick of long, boring games that ended 1-0 after 12. Then for the ball players to actually go out on strike and blow off the World Series… it almost buried our “National Pastime for good. It took the dedication of Cal Ripken, the power race between Marc McGwire and Sammy Sosa, and the new “Homer Friendly” ballparks to lure the fans back. Right now, Basketball is going through a similar situation. The loss of Michael Jordan, spoiled millionaires going on Strike and cutting a season in half, and whiny punks too young and too cocky to be playing the game all add up to diminishing box office and low ratings for their championship game.
Sports Writers know this, and hate it. They are outraged that people turn to Wrestling for “sports entertainment” instead of the “Entertaining sport” of watching 200 white guys chasing Tiger Woods in an all day game of Golf, (although “chasing” connoted a physical activity, which might get their Nike T-shirts sweaty. Let’s change “chasing” to “slowly walking”). “It’s fake!” Sports Writers cry. “It’s all a sham!!”
That argument might have worked right up until 6 years ago, but times change. Wrestling has changed. Sports, for better or worse, have stayed the same, but Wrestling has pulled back the frayed curtain and let us in on the fun. Nobody was really fooled to begin with. Only the existence of Santa was a slightly better kept secret.
This won’t stop Sports Writers from weighing in their all mighty, hardly-paid-attention-to-in-the-first-place, laced with some obligatory cynicism, opinions. This will also not stop wrestling fans from getting all bent out of shape for some silly reason. Out of misguided respect, Al Isaacs will usually urge some sort of e-mail campaign to a Sports Writer, advising us to be polite and pleasant, so as not to prove their point about how “primitive” we are. Then, maybe another Wrestling Writer will challenge this Sports Writer to a (sure to be ignored) “debate”, all to show that we are not as barbaric as they claim we are.
Remember, Phil Mushnick says we are barbaric. Everyone else is just following his lead. Don’t get upset over what a Sports Writer thinks. Feel bad for him. Who doesn’t have pity for the Seattle Sports Writer who each year has to try to find some way to sell the Seahawks as legitimate Superbowl contenders? The guy who made that crack about how we don’t walk erect? He’s from BOSTON. He’s still waiting for Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish to put the Green back on. He’s still bitching about how the Patriots let Bill Parcells go. He’s still whining about how Pedro can’t hold up the Sox on his own. This guy is planning to spend the next four years mourning the loss of Ray Bourque. This is pretty much what every Sports Writer in Beantown will write, which means that every Writer in Worcester, Providence, Springfield, Quincy, Woonsocket, Pawtucket, and select parts of Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont will be saying too. Welcome to the life a Sports Writer. They are almost like the Borg.
But, if you need justification, and you still want to prove these guys wrong, the next time Isaacs or Scherer invites you to e-mail them… you can defend the merits of Wrestling with many examples, such as:
There are no strikes in Wrestling.
Wrestlers will sign anything, for free. They won’t turn you down because you have a Fleer card instead of a Topps.
You don’t have to be a seven-foot tall black guy to succeed in Wrestling.
Wrestlers are not completely padded up.
Wrestling cards do not go for hours on end with no real payoff.
Wrestlers did not have to sacrifice their childhood and spend their teen years being traumatized by brutal coaches and greedy Parents who spend their kid’s money as fast as they earn it.
A good wrestler can have a shelf life of 30 years or better.
No Wrestler can sit out on an injury until he is traded.
No Wrestling fan froze his butt off in zero degree weather watching a live show.
There has never been a riot in Madison Square Garden after HHH punches the Rock in the balls.
The Rock won the WWF title in Boston. Two years ago, Austin did the same in the same place. To date, no riots have been reported in Boston.
Wrestling doesn’t have off-seasons.
Wrestlers have personality. They are not required to drone on about how their opponents “really came to play”, and how they “really have to step up their game and take it to the next level.” Wrestlers aren’t afraid to speak their minds, within reason.
I could continue, but if you really want to show up a snobby Sports Writer. Then bring up Boxing. Professional Boxing is a jumbled mess of divisions and promotions that all depend on Don King in one-way or another. Evander Holyfield hated Don King with a passion, but even he had to hook up with him. Boxing matches that go the distance are placed in the hands of three judges, and more times than not, these judges are living in someone’s pocket… someone with a gray crown for a hair style. Anyone who saw the first Lennox Lewis/Evander Holyfield fight can no longer doubt that Boxing is run by one ego, one man.
So is wrestling. Only now, Wrestling at least looks us in the face and admits that it’s pre-determined. Boxing still insists that it’s a fair deal. Boxing fans still insist that rematches are made because the fighters deserve it, not because the controversy from the first match was carefully orchestrated so that people will pay twice for essentially the same match.
In fact, with a little research, you can argue that Boxing is just as fake as Wrestling these days.
Go tell a Sports Writer that, or a Sports Fan, if you meet one on the street and he starts ragging you for your “Austin 3:16” shirt. Remind him that at least Wrestling lets you know ahead of time. Nobody gets screwed by surprise in a Wrestling match. Nobody.
And if this Sports Writer or Fan brings up 1997’s Survivor Series in Montreal? Call him a Mark.
Then haul ass out of there.
This is Hyatte too.