AS I SEE IT
Pro Wrestling Between the Sheets
Tribalism, in the dictionary, can be defined as being a part
of a group and attacking other groups besides your own. We
see it between nations. We see it within our own country.
Tribalism in professional wrestling has been rearing its
ugly head a lot lately.
It's not a new phenomenon.
I've written about and seen plenty of how it showed itself
in independent wrestling in certain cities and regions (aka
wrestling wars, especially in Philadelphia and South Jersey)
years ago. in this blog. Promotions ran head-to-head against
other promotions, trying to sabotage shows, tearing down
posters of other companies, telling talent they couldn't
work for the other companies, contacting local athletic
commissions, police, and anyone else they could use to screw
with competitors. Fans of one promotion would dislike fans
Then came the Monday Night Wars between WCW and WWF. At the
same time, came a new phenomenon called the Internet and IRC
online chat groups. It allowed WCW fans in particular to get
together on their computers and talk endlessly about how
they hated the WWF of the day and talked about WCW (along
with picking apart their product too). Then the Internet as
an everyday part of life came into being. That metastasized
with the dawning of social media.
Fast forward years later. Independent promotions still war
against each other. Social media has multiplied the ways to
screw with another company by a factor of 100,000.
But the most recent example, of course, is the tribalism
between fans of AEW and WWE. It started with the Wednesday
night wars of 2019-2021 as WWE put their NXT show on USA
Network Wednesday nights directly to compete with AEW's
Wednesday's Dynamite on TNT. At the same time as WWE went to
war with AEW (while denying they were competition), WWE fans
went to war on Twitter. Anyone, including wrestling websites
and podcasts, that is the least bit positive towards AEW,
get told "they're on Tony Khan's payroll" (still waiting for
my first check, just like I'm waiting for my first paycheck
"from the Russians" I was supposed to get during my [peace
activist days), or if saying anything positive about
WWE...they are "in the bag for WWE".
Then, there is the ridiculous amount of tribalistic trolling
done toward AEW in particular. Each and every Thursday (and
now Tuesday with Collision) ratings report is greeted with
criticism, and any count of viewership that is less than
RAW or Smackdown, and a Dynamite that doesn't see a million
total viewers is somehow "proof" that AEW is "going out of
Bloomberg Businessweek ran an article indicating AEW's
revenue in 2022 was $110 million, and these same people
claimed the data was made up.,..actually demanded Bloomberg,
a respected business publication "prove it". Another article
by Mike Ozanban of Forbes Media and co-host/Managing Editor
of Forbes SportsMoney stated the company's worth to be $2
billion, and got even more "demand" from people hiding
behind keyboards that longtime business publications "prove"
It spiraled to a ridiculous extent during the recent free
agent frenzy, descending to its lowest when Sean Ross Sapp
and Andrew Zarian were viciously attacked by hundreds if not
thousands , with vicious attacks by E-stans and trolls,
including actual online death threats to Zarian...for the
simple act of reporting Mercedes Varnado was going to sign
with AEW. Then, of course, TD Garden (where the "Big
Bu$iness" show is scheduled for March 13...was dismissed as
a "shithole", even though it's where the Boston Celtics and
Boston Bruins play...oh, and WWE does its OWN shows.
Ask yourself this: why the hell would a wrestling fan want
another promotion to go out of business? Why would someone
attack TV shows of a promotion that employs wrestlers, some
of who were once their favorites in WWE? And damn it to
hell, why would ANYONE attack someone for reporting a story
to the point that they threatened a writer and his family,
Tribalism isn't new, but the blessing and curse of social
media, mixed with the general tendency in society and
politics to treat those who think, act, or even like
something different than someone as an enemy that must be
attacked and done away with.
I guess I shouldn't be shocked in a world where everything
from whether or not someone is vaccinated, to if certain
books should be banned in schools to gas stoves are
opportunities for tribalistic conflict. Hell, Dwayne
Johnson's daughter got death threats over the whole
Rock/Roman Reigns/Cody Rhodes PR fiasco...because her FATHER
was (almost put into a match he shouldn't have been, IMO.
I miss the days where wrestling fans were fans of
WRESTLING...where they grabbed each and every chance to view
a new and different wrestling show when it showed up on an
off hour on a local TV station on a weekend or late night,
or toured in their local areas.
I miss those days long ago when going to a wrestling show
could take you far away ..and even now when you hear a
certain wrestling entrance song, it could touch a certain
spot in your heart because of the memories it brought back;
and when we went to a show together...it was to have FUN,
rather than have it be just another forum for conflict.