You are here /wrestling
Guest Columns

Jim Raggi



Subject: 'allo.

Lucky you.

I've had it up to here with professional wrestling, and you're going to get my rant.


You're the *ONLY* person on any of the top websites that makes any sense. Well, Herb Kunze (are ya scared by that comparison?) but he comes across as that kindly old professor more than an actual wrestling fan. Which suits me fine, I'm a nerd, I can hang.

I cannot believe Sports Entertainment has finally won. Professional wrestling in North America is DEAD.

I started watching wrestling when Mr T and Hulk Hogan did the hosting spot on SNL before Wrestlemania I. I didn't know a thing about it, but very soon I liked two groups- the heels, and what I would later find out are the 'good workers.' Hulk Hogan's superman routine was instantly hated by me. But things like Roddy Piper's shit talking, RICKY STEAMBOAT v RANDY SAVAGE, the whole feud!, kept me watching every Saturday morning. I had my mother order every single PPV I knew about from 1986 - 1992, when I left home for college.

I discovered that there was more to wrestling than the WWF in 1989. Yes, it took me from 85-89, and all I knew about wrestling was WWF and World Class reruns on ESPN. But one day skimming through the channels, there was the June 89 Clash of Champions. Who's this Midnight Express tag team? Road Warriors? Hey, there's Terry Funk! etc etc. The Great American Bash PPV was coming up, just $14.95, so I convinced my mother to buy that one.

Needless to say, I became a diehard WRESTLING fan on that night. From there I discovered PWI (uggghh... but actually better than NOTHING which is what I had). In the coming years online BBS' were just starting and I was there. Learning about the sheets followed, and then the Japanese and Mexican videos. History.

The idea that professional wrestling can actually be an art form, something to be PROUD of. Liger-Casas, Liger-Pegasus, Hiro Hase, KAWADA!!!, and suddenly I was very proud to be a wrestling fan. I thought the Watts reign of WCW was awesome. No, it wasn't the most exciting thing, but it was credible and didn't reek of maximum bullshit.

I stuck by wrestling during the lean years of 93-96. I was down at Center Stage every two weeks in Atlanta watching WCW's flagship show. I got on TV as a member of The Bob Cook Fan Club. I saw Flair For The Old, live. I saw Cactus Jack's face get broken in by Vader, live, and I was there the next week, sitting 15 feet away, when Vader scrambled his brains on the floor. The moments of hilarity, from Charlie Norris to Rocky Mountain Thunder v Jim Duggan to the 'triple twins' feud of the Harris' vs Coles v Blackhearts. Awesome, unsung matches like Bagwell/Patriot v Sierra/Santana. Cactus v Rip Rogers. Dean Malenko v Eddie Guerrero in their VERY first WCW matches of 1995. Benoit's debut in 93, taped two days BEFORE his Clash appearance with Benoit. Flair taking on Sting and Steamboat in 40 minute affairs at CENTER STAGE (capacity 700, tickets free, the place was often half full). The goofiness of cheering on Tex Slazenger and Shanghai Pierce (future Godwinns) like they were the greatest babyfaces EVER.

The Whiff had it's moments. I never liked Shawn Michaels. EVER. But Hart? From day one, I loved him. Hart v Hart at Wrestlemania X remains the greatest North American match I have EVER seen. Japanese match would have to be Kawada v Misawa, June 95. Yeah, the Japanese, watching Otani, Kobashi, Hashimoto, all the rest.

Steven Regal is THE most awesome technical wrestler ever, you do know that? I recently sat down and watched a 'best-of' Regal tape, from 93-96. He was a perennial TV champ, and he was always booked for time limit draws, and Regal was always Mr. Psychology. Watch a few prime Regal matches. Watch him flow from move to move, with everything making perfect logical sense. Davey Boy Smith's 2nd greatest match ever was Halloween Havoc 93 vs Regal. Regal's feud with Finlay was state of the art brutality. Remember when Regal's nose got all mashed up at Superbrawl 96? The Zbyszko feud was awesome, not for nonstop action, but the interplay between the CHARACTERS of Zbyszko and Regal in the context of a WRESTLING MATCH was awe inspiring. Too bad 2/3 of their feud took place on TV where I don't have the tapes.

1997 was the beginning of the end of it all. Pillman's death did mess with my head. The screwing of Bret Hart pretty much finished me off. I've kept up on things since, but by the time mid 1998 rolled around, that was it. I don't have cable, I don't order the PPVs. US wrestling has always had a problem taking itself seriously, and when it smells money it's just godawful.

There are no professional wrestling promotions today. None. Promoting WRESTLING? Oh, wrestling's passe. Wrestling doesn't sell. Wrestling's a farce, so why not present it as such?

It makes me sick. I WANT to believe. And nobody will let me.

Piper has been useless for 10 years as a wrestler, about 3 as a speaker. But rolling around in mud? Luger's been a useless shit since 89 (and before that credit Steamboat, Pillman, Sting, Windham, and Flair for making him seem impressive) and he doesn't deserve that shit either.

Liger better go home and call somebody because I don't want to see any more Japanese WRESTLERS in a US Sports Entertainment ring again. I feel sorry for Malenko, for Guerrero, and the rest who are now clowns. Benoit is getting a serious shot at it all, MAYBE when this fad period ends he'll be in the same position Bret Hart was in in 92 when the scandals brought the business back to its core audience who wanted WRESTLING. That day is coming again. Maybe not too soon, but when you're a fad, a popular trend, when you're a prime time TV entertainment series, eventually you get canceled.

We'll be back to 2.7 v 2.5 Nitro v Raw ratings. *Wrestling* matches on TV and PPV. My prime memories of getting into WRESTLING were things like Savage taking out Steamboat's throat. Then when I found the NWA, here's Flair and Steamboat going an hour in New Orleans (hey, that Steamboat guy, pretty talented... hehehe). Today? 'Hey, remember when Steve Austin hit McMahon with a bedpan? Or how Val Venis talks about his dick? THAT'S what I call Sports Entertainment!' Yeah, wrestling has ALWAYS had major bullshit, but today, but today all the major bullshit is missing the wrestling.

There is NO SUCH THING as a good wrestling match under 7 minnutes. PERIOD. Good angles in a match, yes. But not a match itself.

Benoit vs Hart doing that 'Owen Memorial' thing was awesome, wasn't it? The best (only?) wrestling match in this country all year (I haven't seen the ladder match from a couple months back though... but again, I gave Michaels-Ramon ***1/2 for their WMX ladder match... too gimmicky).

So I'm out of touch. I hate it. And the Russoized wrestling world is destroying the foundations of what's going to keep the industry afloat in the next lean period. Winning a match DOESN'T MATTER ANYMORE? Remember the uproar a couple years back when Russo said 'Who cares about Eddie Guerrero wrestling Rey Jr in a 15 minute 5 star match?' Now even people who should know better, LIKE WRESTLELINE BIGSHOTS, say ass backwards things like 'It should be a good match, but where's the issue?' 'Good matches aren't as important as entertaining, compelling storylines.'

Was it you a few weeks ago that said 'The scriptwriters realize if the wrestlers can get over with wrestling, there will be no need for scriptwriters.'? That was pure poetry.

I'm sure I'm rambling and you've already deleted this, but tough, I'm going on.

This is one of the reasons I love Mick Foley. He was a nutso FAN, who because of his love of wrestling and his willingness to do ANYTHING to be successful (and tell me he hasn't done every goddamn thing to himself a human being can!) was in Time magazine. On the cover of TV Guide. He's a fucking best selling author for chrissakes! Sports Entertainment got him that exposure, granted, but it was his brand of wrestling (call him a stuntman style worker if you want, he did what he was best at, and his genuine love for what he was doing means more anyway Foley is the real thing) that put him on top.

Flair's ovation at the end of Starrcade '93 wasn't given to him for all the years he sports entertained them. For 20 years he busted his ass in that ring for those people, and even though promoters throughout those 20 years try to train people to not care, THEY CAN SEE.

But again, today's 'Sports Entertainment' has tricked even the people who should know better into believing bullshit is wrestling.

Ron Simmons beating Vader for the world title... tears in the stand. Misawa making JumboTsuruta submit to a facelock, and the crowd was crying with true emotion. THAT is wrestling, THAT is something to be proud of. All the characters, all the storylines, they lead to that third slap of the mat that makes a crowd go nuts.

Conflicts with the 'Gee, show them tits and they will watch' philosophy, doesn't it?

In the 80s boom, even when the WWF was the land of Hulk, there were still workers given a chance to shine, even if they were unimportant promotional timewasters. Wrestling fans could still see wrestling. Flip the dial and there were Flair, Ricky Morton, Tully Blanchard, etc etc etc.

The kids today who are inspired to become wrestlers, all they see is the same shit. Hos and weed, 4 minute matches, 'sports entertainment' from the big 3. Psychology is dead, the PPV of the month, shock of the week has killed truly building a match, a feud. Tomorrow's new talent will SUCK. Wasn't one of the problems after the crash of 92 that there just wasn't any new talent to keep things fresh?

Fuck them all.

Dean Malenko, an AWESOME worker, might as well show up dressed as Doink, because he's a clown. The Rock isn't a wrestler, he's a parrot who mocks HIMSELF every time.

I used to think wrestlers who wouldn't do jobs, who would bitch with management, I thought they were assholes. Now I'm thinking we need more of them. Can you imagine a top name wrestler demanding no screw jobs, win or lose, and at least 5 minutes every match?

Give me a boring WRESTLER over a flashy SPORTS ENTERTAINER any day.

All the hours I've given to wrestling, from ripping myself off playing IWA, to the hours spent on Champions of the Galaxy, the hundreds of hours programming my Promoter's game, watching the matches, losing friends who thought I was 'too into that stupid shit.' I loved it. Throughout all the stupid shit, I still loved what wrestling could be. I want to believe.

But fuck. Vince McMahon booking himself as champ, mud pits for everyone. Gawd.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!!!!!

When Naoya Ogawa toured the US last summer defending the NWA title, I went to the nearest show, just because it's the NWA title. Silly, huh?

Again, I don't know why I feel the need to bitch like this to you, I know you're going to think I'm crazy, but I liked it better when they at least tried to kayfabe us. Now we have Sid Vicious coming out 'I'm a babyface!' Fuck. FUCK. FUCK! Why don't they have a disclaimer? 'THIS SHOW IS BULLSHIT. WE KNOW IT'S BULLSHIT, YOU KNOW IT'S BULLSHIT, SO WHY DON'T WE, DURING THE SHOW, JUST HAVE FUN WITH BEING BULLSHIT. IF YOU HAVE ANY TRUE FEELINGS FOR THE PRODUCT OR ITS PERFORMERS, WE THINK YOU'RE STUPID, SO FUCK OFF.'

It is embarassing that the head news guys for a wrestling site (like, hmmm, Wrestlemaniacs, and, hmmm, Scaia and Samuda) admit that they have little knowledge of overseas wrestling, and are obviously doing ZERO about it. They are information providers yet they do not ATTEMPT to keep themselves informed. Fuck them. Them little Japs and spics obviously don't mean anything, I mean Russo doesn't care about them and won't ever push them, so who cares? Our readers are so fucking stupid that they don't won't ever be curious as to what a Akiyama might be, ever, so why bother informing them when we can conduct an interview with some bimbo who has marginal relevance to wrestling and ask her about the loss of her virginity? THAT will make our site #1 in quality!

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

I still take all this shit seriously. I'm stupid for it, I know. But SOMEBODY has to be.

I know the hate mail must be ridiculous sometimes, but PLEASE never stop calling the sports entertainment promotions on all the stupid garbage shit that they do.

Maybe someday, somebody will notice.

And someday, when somebody raises their newly won world title over their head after an exhausting, long, quality bout, that will again mean something all by itself.

Jim Raggi

Mail the Author



Design copyright (C) 1999 Christopher Robin Zimmerman & KZiM Communications
Guest column text copyright (C) 1999 by the individual author and used with permission