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Discussion Starter #1
Many times I’ve checked out wrestling message boards and seen wrestling fans arguing that one wrestler is better than another, or that a certain wrestler is or is not deserving of a bigger push. Whether they’re saying that The Miz should be back in the main event scene, Kofi Kingston’s WWE Title reign lasted too long, who was better between Stone Cold and The Rock, or whatever, they’re constantly arguing points about wrestling. And often times I will see people use criteria such as crowd reactions, ratings, and merchandise and ticket sales to back up their points.

And every once in a while, I hear someone say something to the effect of “Why should I care about ratings or merchandise sales? Why should it matter to me individually how many other people enjoy a certain wrestler or how much money he makes for WWE?” And they’re right, how much money a certain wrestler draws should not affect how much they enjoy their work. But every wrestling fan should accept that they are just one person, and WWE is trying to entertain a mass audience of millions of people on a weekly basis. What I or any other one person wants to see means very little in the grand scheme of things.

I was always a big fan of Tommy Dreamer’s work in ECW and WWE. He excelled in a no holds barred environment and I really respected him for all the physical punishment he was willing to take. However, I realize that he was never a big star in WWE, and even in the original ECW there were plenty of wrestlers more over than he was. I never once suggested that Tommy Dreamer should main event WrestleMania. I personally would have liked to see it, but I accepted that most fans would not have wanted it to happen and it would not have been in the best interest of WWE from a financial perspective. I can accept that Dreamer should not be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame because he was never that popular in WWE. Wrestling fans should recognize that the best wrestlers and their favorite wrestlers aren’t always going to be the same wrestlers.

That being said, a lot of people will try to use criteria such as ratings, tickets sales, etc. to explain who they think should win certain matches or titles. That’s perfectly fine. A lot of sports fans like to analyze different sports teams and athletes, using many different statistics to do so. And many times when discussing a team that is not their favorite team, they will have no rooting interest one way or the other. It’s ok to analyze wrestling in this fashion too. Instead of statistics like touch downs or total yards, pro wrestling revolves around statistics like who’s bringing in the highest quarterly hour rating and who the top sellers of merchandise are. If someone wanted to justify Cena’s mega push for so many years, they can say he was always the top or one of the top merchandise movers in the company for so long.

If people have a hard time being unbiased when they make arguments on wrestling message boards, that’s ok too. We’re all human, we all have a tendency to argue in favor of things we like. You just should come up with a better argument than “I like this wrestler so he should be champion.” On the FS1 talk show “Undisputed”, Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe often times will have contrasting opinions on sports topics, and both of them use statistics in order to make it seem like their respective opinion is right. I’m sure there are times each of them know deep down that their favorite team played poorly or whatever, but will still argue in favor of them, using stats to explain how they played well or better than most people thought. It’s perfectly fine for wrestling fans to do this too. If you’re a fan of Bray Wyatt and you didn’t like that he lost to Goldberg, even if you think it was the right decision, there’s nothing wrong with trying to argue why it wasn’t.

To be fair, you can’t always simply look at ratings, ticket sales, or whatever and get the entire picture just from that. When someone buys a ticket to a WWE show, they are expecting a 2 to 3 hour show, and there’s plenty more matches and segments than just the main event. If a card was advertised to only have one match on it, even if it did involve someone who was a proven draw, then that event would have a considerably smaller attendance or they’d have to charge much less money for tickets. The lower card wrestlers might not mean much to the fans, but they’ll look forward to seeing everyone upper mid card and above. There are exceptions to this, as I’m sure Hulk Hogan was popular enough in the 80’s to draw a big crowd even if his match was the only one on the card. That never happened, but if it did I think Hogan could have pulled it off. Shawn Michaels should not be blamed for drawing low ratings as champion in 1996 because the roster had very few stars on it, and he had incredibly tough competition in the n.W.o.

When someone is considered for the Hall of Fame, how well they drew should be a factor but it shouldn’t be the only factor. Again, it matters what kind of undercard they had wrestling before them at shows they main evented. I agree with Jackie Moore and Ivory being inducted into the Hall of Fame. It wasn’t their fault they weren’t stars. Women’s wrestling was not taken seriously during their era and most women who were stars back then got over based on sex appeal. They can’t be blamed for women not being appreciated for their in ring skill back then.

And there is always the argument that certain wrestlers never drew well because they never got a strong enough push, and therefore never had the opportunity to be a draw. It’s acceptable for wrestling fans to make arguments like this. I personally thought Damien Sandow could have been a decent draw if he got a bigger push. But for wrestlers who get multiple lengthy World Title reigns or get several opportunities to main event pay per views and tv shows in different years, if they are truly a draw the numbers will usually reflect it in time. In most cases, people can’t say forever that they don’t have a good undercard, or that the Raw they main evented was competing with a big football game, or whatever, If a wrestler gets enough opportunities, and if they really are capable of drawing, it will usually be reflected in the ratings in time. When Bret Hart became champion, he had to deal with the stench of the steroid trial and a complete overhaul of the product with the “New Generation” being ushered in. Vince still had an outdated mindset, and in 1996 and 1997 they had to compete with the red hot New World Order on Nitro. The WWE wrestlers of the New Generation have an excuse for not drawing, and sometimes the era a wrestler competes in has a factor in how many fans will watch them. But if a wrestler is capable of drawing and they get the opportunities then in most cases they will move the needle to some degree.

Wrestling fans should enjoy whoever they want without regards to how high of a rating they draw. But they should be realistic and not expect their favorite wrestler to be champion if they are proven to not be a draw. It’s ok for fans to use statistics like ticket sales to analyze who is best for business, whether they want to be objective or not. Everyone should realize that those statistics don’t tell the entire story, but if a wrestler is given enough chances, then eventually the stats will reflect if they are a draw or not.
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