Is there any hope for professional wrestling in 2007 and beyond? I just don’t know what it would take to get me watching again. —David Hintz, Chinatown
There’s little hope for the fans who grew up watching in the ’80s. WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) has become the dominant organization, purchasing the competing United States-based brands. There are independent groups, but without media exposure, they’re invisible to the public.
Mixed martial arts (MMA), specifically Ultimate Fighting Championship, now draws a considerable portion of the wrestling audience. Annual WWE events like Wrestlemania get mainstream attention, but when people gather at bars to watch a fight on TV, it’s UFC or boxing. The MMA movement runs the risk of becoming diluted, though. It’s a delicate balance between much-needed weekly exposure and overexposure—which can foster a feeling that no fight is particularly special.
UFC was wise to create its reality show/infomercial, The Ultimate Fighter, in which two teams of fighters compete for a UFC contract while being coached by two star fighters who dislike each other. It’s an effective way to create new characters and enhance long-term storylines. In that sense, it’s the same premise as pro wrestling: creating and highlighting conflict, and selling tickets to see the resolution. The main difference is WWE is scripted from top to bottom, while UFC works with what it’s dealt.
Pro wrestling will survive but not as it once was. Even in the “old days,” when the legitimacy of pro wrestling was suspect, there were always two guys who “really hated” each other, who could make people believe (and buy tickets). These days, fans turn to UFC for that fix. —Bob Mould
Bob Mould, a former scriptwriter for World Championship Wrestling, DJs at Blowoff, June 9 at the 9:30 Club. Send questions to email@example.com.