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The Fight Opinion Five: The Pro-Wrestling Connection

By Zach Arnold | December 25, 2009

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Throughout the past decade, we have looked through our site archives and all of the various notes written during the time period to come up with five of the most interesting and important stories that Zach Arnold and the Fight Opinion team have covered. This is an arbitrary list of themes, but each theme carries historical importance and also emotional importance to not only the fans but also the authors, too. This is not an article series meant to cover everything that happened over the past decade, but rather to highlight what were some of the most fascinating stories to cover.

The crazy old man wasn’t so crazy after all. Antonio Inoki sensed something that a lot of people in the professional wrestling world didn’t understand.

He understood that pro-wrestling fans could give up and move onto something else.

If you’re a lifer in the pro-wrestling business, that concept is impossible to understand. It doesn’t matter if you are a promoter, a hanger-on, a booker, or a wrestler, the idea of giving up on your passion is a hard thing to do. As Jim Cornette, famous pro-wrestling manager, recently said, pro-wrestling fans are some of the heartiest bunch of people in the world. It doesn’t matter how much awful product is thrown their way, they will always continue to hold out hope for that one day when the good times come back and the business is reinvigorated. What people inside wrestling didn’t count on was the fact that fans would find a substitute for their wrestling fix in Mixed Martial Arts.

One man did understand that concept and his name was Inoki. A crazy old man who had spent the 70s putting himself over in bizarre “mixed matches” involving guys like bus-pulling Great Antonio and karate guys like Willie Williams, Inoki saw trouble coming down the pike with New Japan Pro-Wrestling in the late 90s. The fans were getting bored with the product and Riki Choshu was losing his magic touch with the product. There was nothing offensive about New Japan (like, say, WWE is) but it wasn’t capturing anyone’s imagination. After the company had managed to kill off shoot-style promotion UWF International in 1996 (it died in 1997 and tried to come back as Kingdom), PRIDE was created with Takada as the ace in 1997. A couple of years after PRIDE’s launch, Inoki saw the writing on the wall and realized that New Japan needed to reinvent itself if it was going to keep its fans and try to gain some market share on the PRIDE fan base. There was the famous shoot program between Inoki’s top protégé, Naoya Ogawa (judoka), and Shin’ya Hashimoto who was the steadiest of the IWGP Heavyweight champions. Ogawa’s wins over Hashimoto hurt Hashimoto in the long-run but also made Hashimoto more famous in the process because his “retirement” match from New Japan aired on live television. Inoki’s program featuring the two men was a mixed bag because it led to him booking wrestlers like Yuji Nagata and Kendo Ka Shin (Tokimitsu Ishizawa) in shoot fights. It failed miserably. The one success he did have was Kazuyuki Fujita, who ended up becoming a full-fledged Inoki understudy and would soon get a big push. Inoki had turned the world of New Japan upside-down by pushing wrestlers based on whether or not they did well in shoot fights. The two biggest examples of this were Fujita and Shinsuke Nakamura, who was in a program with Alexey Ignashov (K-1 kick boxer). Tadao Yasuda, who had done nothing in wrestling (he a former Sumo wrestler converted to wrestling), soon found himself getting pushed as IWGP champion after he beat Jerome Le Banner on a New Year’s Eve event.

Inoki’s vision of the growing role of Mixed Martial Arts and the fight world was years ahead of anyone else in the wrestling business. The problem was his execution of his vision and also the frame of reference that he was relying upon to make his vision work.

His biggest achievement in the MMA world was creating an annual event on New Year’s Eve. In 2000, he along with DSE/PRIDE created the format for a concept that still lives on to this day. K-1 would soon become involved in the concept as well. The initial Osaka Dome show was a pure mix of wrestling and MMA. It was fun and easy to watch, but it would soon become the blueprint for the major MMA and K-1 shows that we would see down the road. The 2000 event aired on SkyPerfecTV and was not the big-money television event that it quickly became, starting a year later.

The New Year’s Eve concept would become so big that in 2003 it led to a major political split amongst the Inoki, PRIDE, and K-1 camps. More on that later.

Meanwhile, in the United States (circa mid-part of the decade), Spike TV was preparing to offer a new TV deal to WWE but for less money than the network had been paying the promotion due to declining ratings. WWE, which had been on the USA Network for many years, discussed going back “home” and left the door wide open for Spike TV to take a shot with UFC’s new reality show, The Ultimate Fighter. RAW, WWE’s flagship show on Monday nights, soon became the lead-in show for TUF. WWE’s audience was sticking around to watch UFC, something that UFC never had accomplished before in terms of gaining fan interest. Tito Oritz vs. Ken Shamrock III was living proof that UFC was starting to capture wrestling fans in a big way. The Ultimate Fighter soon became the ultimate Trojan horse for wrestling fans who decided to watch MMA along with their wrestling or use MMA as a substitute for wrestling until the wrestling product got better.

We’re coming up on 2010 and the wrestling product has gotten significantly worse.

Instead of becoming a substitute, UFC and MMA leagues like Strikeforce are now becoming a replacement for pro-wrestling fans who have thrown their hands up in the air about the state of wrestling in general.

Which is a very bad omen for professional wrestling. When you lose the fans, you lose money from declining PPV buy rates and ad revenue. When you lose money, you lose talent.

The story of the wrestling scene for decades has been that the business was able to attract athletes from amateur wrestling, American football, and other sports because it was a solid way to make money once their sporting careers were done. In addition to the amount of money that an athlete used to be able to make in pro-wrestling, athletes also knew that they had a chance to get a big push and become a somebody. Wrestling has always been a very political business, but up until recently it was athleticism that trumped all. That’s not the case any longer in a WWE-dominated professional wrestling world. The developmental system is a wreck right now for WWE and the amount of money being paid out to bring in new talent continues to shrink. Combine this with the insane politics inside of the WWE hierarchy of who gets pushed and who doesn’t based on silly reasons and you have the ingredients for chasing away people who would normally go into wrestling as a career.

Instead, many of these blue-chip prospects are trying their hand out in MMA training, hoping to make it to UFC or Strikeforce or other MMA promotions in order to make a decent living. We’ve also seen former pro-wrestlers, who became disillusioned in the industry that made them stars, dip their foot into the MMA waters. By far the biggest name to make the transition from pro-wrestling to MMA is Brock Lesnar.

There is great irony in the success of Brock Lesnar this past decade. Why? After Lesnar left WWE and got into a major legal dispute with the company, there was one man who had a big vision of pushing Lesnar to the top as a monster heel in the fight world — Antonio Inoki. For all of the mistakes that Inoki made in judgment about who to push, Inoki was spot-on in his assessment of which guys would end up becoming major money players. Lesnar was, by far, his best call. The problem with Inoki’s experiment with Lesnar? Lesnar hates to travel. It killed off any sort of money he could have generated in Japan, but the message was pretty clear to anyone who could sign Brock — sign him and you’ll make a lot of money. UFC signed him and Lesnar has, in a remarkably short period of time, become their biggest drawing card of all-time. With a PPV buy rate of over 1.6 million buys for UFC 100 last July, Brock Lesnar took UFC to new business levels the company had never seen before. In the process, he also elevated Frank Mir’s name into superstar status. Mir recently fought in a squash match against Cheick Kongo at UFC 107 in December 2009 in Memphis on a PPV headlined by BJ Penn vs. Diego Sanchez. Initial reports claim that the buy rate for that show was over 600,000 buys.

With Lesnar’s success comes more pro-wrestlers who are looking to abandon a business that they see as stagnating and not paying as well as it once used to. Bobby Lashley recently signed with Strikeforce and will split time between MMA and pro-wrestling. Shane McMahon, who left WWE, stirred up a hornet’s nest when it was revealed that he had a meeting with UFC management. UFC’s success has been fueled by a lot of disgruntled pro-wrestling fans who have shown a willingness to pay for the company’s PPVs and not pay for wrestling PPVs any more. UFC, in many ways, has become WWE’s biggest competitor — so much so that WWE has booked Mike Tyson for a RAW show in 2010 to compete with a UFC free TV show on Spike TV.

Antonio Inoki saw the oncoming MMA train at the beginning of the decade but didn’t know how to properly execute the right vision to take advantage of it. Vince McMahon let the Trojan horse in when he allowed RAW to promote The Ultimate Fighter. Brock Lesnar has shown other professional wrestlers that there is a lot of money to be made in “real fighting” and that the wrestling fans will follow what you are doing. Much in a similar vein to how PRIDE used professional wrestling-style marketing to suck away pro-wrestling fans from the Japanese wrestling business, the American wrestling scene is starting to see how the pro-wrestling connection has mutated and shaped the way Mixed Martial Arts is promoted, hyped, and marketed in the United States.

Topics: All Topics, Media, MMA, Pro-Wrestling, UFC, WWE, Zach Arnold | 35 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

35 Responses to “The Fight Opinion Five: The Pro-Wrestling Connection”

  1. PizzaChef says:

    Well, fuck. Had a typo in the e-mail and I just lost all I wrote. Going to recreate it.

    The article is very good and very true. I pretty much given up on the WWE in general with their terrible writing and not knowing how to build new stars. Hell they’re burying their new stars to Cena every night (ZOMGSUPERCENAOVERCAMETHEODDS AGAIN!)

    Even worse is that there is no good alternative that’s easy to find. Sure you can try to find stuff from Japan since puroresu is having a small boom period and the product is getting better (reportedly anyways) but it’s a pain to go through and can be expensive. It’s hard to find it on YouTube for one, and the public downloads are hard to find as well. But these days, I rarely have the patience to sit through the slow pace to high pace match styles that Japan is known for. I guess MMA spoiled me as well.

    Other than that, no good alternatives. TNA (the darling child of Botchamania) has been fucked for a while thanks to Russo and Spike TV, and Hogan and Bischoff are most likely going to end up finishing off the company instead of saving it. Especially since a lot of people these days know how much of an asshole Hogan is.

    Makes me wish I wasn’t trying to be a elitist fag when I got tired of seeing The Rock. Goddamn how wrong I was. I miss him and other things that made wrestling good and mainstream in the late 1990’s. Now we’re stuck with childish TV-PG shit with a goddamn Gooker Award winner as one of the main storylines of the show.

    I’m going to say this…If the wrestling business dies out, thank Stephanie, Vince, and HHH for it.

    Finally as for Bobby Lashley…I’m sure he left because of the treatment he and his girlfriend Krystal got. Especially from Michael Hayes. So I guess that’s the other aspect of the story. The WWE is scaring off talent one way or another (one of the others being the insanely heavy workload.)

    Thanks for killing wrestling for me Vince. Oh and Steph with your fucking dumb ideas.

  2. kobashi says:

    great article dude. although I have no interest in WWE or TNA for that matter I am a Puro and MMA fan.

    Regarding Puroesu and amateur wrestlers in japan, are they more likely to join puroresu promotions or MMA considering the MMA boom is now over in japan..

  3. Alan Conceicao says:

    My feelings on the Wrestling/MMA thing:

    -Inoki seemed cognitively aware that shoots were going to take over wrestling in Japan, but still tried to treat it like wrestling. When they tried to elevate guys, he completely lacked the awareness to grasp how talented his men were against actual fighters. It wasn’t really a choice he couldn’t make though. If it wasn’t him, it would be PRIDE or K-1 or Shooto putting on those same bouts between underskilled Japanese pro wrestlers and full fledged kickboxers and BJJ artists. History tells exactly that; Look at all the cans utilized by those organizations. Wanderlei Silva’s career record has loads of underprepared wrestlers, karate practitioners, and so on.

    -As far as America is concerned, there’s obviously a lot of wrestling fans who came over on the boat to MMA. There’s a ton of journos who have little experience covering or following actual sports but tons with wrestling (or at least, reading/writing the Observer). Its a double edged sword. On one hand, lots of them are very devoted to the top worldwide promotions. On the other hand, you see a lot (and I mean a lot) of writers who treat fights as if they deserve star ratings, who don’t care about actual structure for the sport, who are interested in promotions over fighters and fights, and so on.

    The argument for MMA’s long term growth is that 20 years from now, younger journalists will be more open to the sport and it will be all over ESPN/FSN/newspapers or their equivalents. I don’t believe that will happen until you see an influx of sportswriters who are interested primarily in *sports* and not performance art enter the MMA field. Until that point, publications and news services will treat it like a retarded stepchild because it will continue to be acting like one. What coverage will exist will do so because there is, unquestionably, popularity there that must be served on some level. But the kind of hard journalism that the sport needs is still a long ways off.

    The guys I talk to that write (since I really don’t blawg about MMA these days) I’ve told the same thing to over the years, and the more they do it, the more it pays off. Meltzer, Iole, and Helwani might have the absolute best inside connections at Zuffa and Strikeforce corporate, but they’re tied to them. They aren’t contacting camps, fighters, or management, and precious few others do. Its too dirty or plain difficult. Until journos go to the fighters and the camps instead of parroting the promoter’s info, we’re going to be stuck with endless variations on Dana White’s V-Blogs or Scott Coker’s doublespeak. That sort of activity does nothing for the sport.

    -Inoki knew that Lesnar was a big pro wrestler who needed work. I don’t think he saw him as a megastar who could save puroresu or Japanese MMA, otherwise he would have worked harder to try and get him connections with K-1. I don’t think Lesnar cared about wrestling and was concentrating on MMA, where he knew big paydays could come, along with the legitimacy he starved as an athlete. Lashley I don’t think fights for the same reasons as Lesnar. He also fights for the money (which everyone does), but that’s pretty much it. I don’t think he otherwise cares.

    The point about prospective pro wrestling talent not entering pro wrestling is something I predicted 3-4 years ago. Its been happening in Japan for close to a decade now. Pro wrestling is a harder business to break through on because its worked. The greatest physical talent may need to work for 20 years to be allowed a “big push” or whatever, and then he can end up dead from the painkillers and steroids required to get him to that level. MMA is purely talent. You win fights not on the basis of your ability to give a promo, but on your ability to compete as a professional fighter in a uncontrolled, unplanned enviroment. For people that come from actual sports like football, that will appeal. For amateur wrestlers, a group that’s always made up the bulk of MMA’s talent in the US, the increase in money makes it immediately more interesting than pro wrestling. Lesnar has been quoted multiple times as saying that if the UFC paid what it does now when he was back in college, he’d never have signed with Vince.

    -There’s an even more basic problem that not even the best story lines are going to be able to overcome. MMA is real. The “promos” are interviews with real people. The fights are real. The pain is real. The sense of accomplishment is real. People know this and react to it. For all of Meltzer’s quotes regarding wrestling needing to parrot the “true sports build” or whatever of MMA, its a ridiculous notion. They’ve shifted to a children’s product because they can’t match actual violence with worked moves.

    Pro wrestling is simply something that is culturally obsolete. Its no longer needed. Sometimes this happens. Things become cultural artifacts. Who listens to bluegrass? Who has weenie roasts on Friday Nights? Square dancing? Polka? Some of them have longer, more illustrious histories than pro wrestling. The point is that blaming “the product” is, to me, a cop out. All throughout this decade I’ve heard about “good wrestling”, whether its Ring of Honor or some random Japanese organization that runs high school gyms, which should go some distance in telling you how irrelevant pro wrestling in some more supposedly authentic form is. No matter how good pro wrestling could ever be, how would it compete? All the crazy shoot angles in the world can’t top what happens in a 100% shoot environment. The issue all along wasn’t that the UFC or PRIDE or whatever was “boring” or less interesting than the Monday Night Wars, it was an issue of distribution and exposure. When the sport finally had it again, its was off to the races. Vince and Eric Bischoff should kiss John McCain’s rings for giving them a reprieve in the 1990s.

  4. liger05 says:

    As someone who has had no interest in the US pro-wrestling scene since the last 90’s I wouldnt really know what the product is like and what they need to do to compete with MMA.

    Japan is a different story. For me Inoki got it all wrong in the sense he lost his own puroresu fans because of the BS way he treated them. killing hashimoto who was a huge huge draw was crazy. It wasnt a simple matter of feeding Nagata and others to MMA fighters it ran much deeper than that. Who can forget what was happening with the IWGP title. He gave the title to Yasuda which was absolute madness. We had Fujita (who could of been a monster) as a champ who didnt care about puroresu and treated his job at New Japan with no respect (granted Inoki was pulling the strings). He dropped the title to Kenuske in a BS match with a BS fast count finish which the fans in Tokyo didnt forgive New Japan for a long long time. We had Bob Sapp get the belt all because K-1 wanted it and then he couldnt even put someone over dropping the belt. There was far too many title changes for a belt which was always seen as prestigious where title change meant something. While the rise of MMA in Japan no doubt took away fans from puroresu there is no doubt that Inoki never really did anything to keep those fans on board. What about the dome shows where less than 4 weeks to the show under Inoki the card wouldnt even be finalised and then days before the show we would see changes. This type of things just alienated the fans.

    For me we never really got to see how a Puroresu promotion would of competed against the rise of K-1 and Pride as Baba was dead. If there was one guy who could of took on the rise of MMA it was him. His product was always strong and even when Hashimoto was selling out the dome, and the UWFI was hot Baba didnt alter All Japan. He kept giving the fans what they wanted to see.

    Going forward its good to see that New Japan has a real good product these days and they actually had a method behind the booking now. Remember we had UWF, UWFI, rings, Pride and New Japan is still there. They cant sell out the Dome anymore but hey who can? MMA and puroresu will always be linked. no doubt in the future another puro star will try mma. Nakajima probably the guy.

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    Pro Wrestling lost a lot of it’s meaning when MMA became popular. While it is a staged event, there was still an underlining belief amongst it’s fans that some of these guys were legit “shooters”. With the rise of MMA, that aspect of pro wrestling is completely gone and will never return. If a pro wrestler is legit, he has a real place he needs to prove it now. And I think that missing element certainly hurts the “sport”.

    The other thing that hurts Pro Wrestling is the talent it can attract. If you were a big guy who either wasn’t skilled enough or didn’t have the right skills for football or boxing…. you could enter Pro Wrestling. Those same athletes are much more likely to choose MMA now. Not all of them, but enough to hurt that available talent pool for Pro Wrestling.

  6. 45 Huddle says:

    ^ Looks like a repeated one of Zach’s themes talking about the available talent pool. Didn’t read his entire article before just putting my two cents in.

    Great article by the way. Definitely encompasses a lot of topics that are all related and have definitely changed multiple industries across multiple continents.

  7. AK says:

    Forgive me if this has been asked before, but the article suggests that the Japanese fans are either unaware or unwilling to see puro as a work. Almost all American fans at this point see things like the WWE as a work, but they accept it and suspend reality for a while. It doesn’t seem that the Japanese fans do. If I come off as ignorant, I’m sorry. I’m just curious.

  8. Alex Sean says:

    The growth of MMA in the United States is ultimately proving to be something that is going to force pro wrestling to adapt to this new market place or continue to decline. It’s hard to imagine that a company as profitable as the WWE could ever come close to going out of business, but if it continues to follow it’s current course it will become irrelevant in the same way we’re seeing with boxing.

    Pro Wrestling is an anomaly in that it shares the same sort of model as all other professional sports. The intent is to hook fans at a young age so they continue to be lifelong consumers. The problem is, with boxing and pro wrestling, they’re no longer getting the influx of the younger fans due in large to MMA. What’s fascinating about that is, you figure most sports are introduced to children through their parents, what’s going to happen when the 18-25 year olds of today start settling down and having kids? You’d have to imagine they’ll likely introduce their children to MMA rather than pro wrestling or other sports. Down the road that’s going to be a very big deal.

    The question for pro wrestling going into the new decade is what they are going to have to do to become culturally relevant again.

  9. liger05 says:

    Boxing isnt irrelevant. I thought the UFC getting buried by PBF v JMM threw that argument out of the window.

  10. jr says:

    Wrestling will always have the “embarassed to admit to your friends you watch it” vibe while admitting you watch MMA is like being a football or basketball fan, nothing to be ashamed of

  11. theYiffer says:

    A lot of spot-on points today. This article is one of the best overviews of the transition from the salad-days of pro-wrestling to the rise of MMA.

    I don’t really know very many people who currently watch US pro-wrestling, but I do know quite a few who used to watched back in the 90’s and have moved on to MMA or quit watching combat sports all together. That said, WWE and TNA had shortly tried and failed to recreate those days in some of worst ways possible. TNA was specifically created by Jeff Jarrett and his dad to recapture the portion of the WCW audience lost by WWF (WWE). Bishoff and the Huckster are remaking TNA into another WCW rehash, and they will fail and hopefully take TNA down with them. ROH rose up to fill the void left behind by ECW after it died, but given the business model it used over the past couple of years (live events that went straight to DVD and sold online) ROH has failed to capture it’s spark, in spite of its slow growth. Only the most dedicate of fans know of ROH’s existence.

    At this point, with a severely reduced audience, Vince an Co have decided to chase off most of the hard-core fans from their base and moved on to raising up a new generation of fans with much lower expectations. This has been in the works for the past couple of years. WWE has also been moving on to and cultivating new markets that have just recently began to soak in US pop-culture. These new fans have little or no memory of what pro-wrestling WAS like, so it’s very easy to get them to feed off of guys like Cena, Mysterio, Orton, etc. In fact, they can and have been able to easily recycle acts like the Undertaker, DX, and the Hart Foundation. It very much reminds me of how myself and other kids back in the 80’s got off to guys like Hogan, Warrior, Randy Savage, etc. We’ll see if this pans out and they can hold on to this new generation by the end of this decade. From my observation of TV and the previous PPV here in San Antonio, it’s generating money right now. Kids come in droves and parents buy up the merchandise. When I arrived 45 minutes early to the ATT Center, the place was PACKED! I will go so far as to say the audience majorly trumped the WEC show from October. Even with the often-times bad booking, I can easily see the WWE surviving into the next decade.

    How will the WWE look in the next decade? That’s tuff to say. Shortly after Obama became president, Vince became rightfully fearful of America’s future and the possibility of Obama turning a recession into a depression, which is still a very real possibility. This lead to a scheme of a massive global expansion (having the RAW brand tour the Americas and SMACKDOWN tour Eurasia) and lots of belt tightening. So if the US economy completely tanks, the WWE will still have emerging markets like China to fall back on. This scheme sort of came into being. They do tour more outside of North America, and they have shed a lot of talent. Also there’s rumors of of future cuts in talent in the new year. They also have a tougher road schedule, running off guys like Lesner, Lashley, and Goldberg. The major problem with this situation is talent. The WWE wears out the talent they do have, as they struggle to move up the ladder and end up dyeing an early death (google Umaga) or end up like Mick Folly and overwhelmed with the multiple injuries that compound over the years. The WWE still doesn’t scout for talent, they have talent come to them. Will they still be able to attract a health number of guys and gals to continue to inject new blood and create new stars into the next decade? I have my doubts. Especially when you can make more money and work only 4 to 5 dates (or less) a year in MMA compared to 4 to 5 dates a week in wrestling.

    Will the WWE ever become culturally relevant or a fad again? A blind squirrel every so often finds a nut. It’s always a possibility that the WWE and its wrestlers will stumble into main-stream pop-culture again. Hogan, Austin, and the Rock were able to pull it off. The WWE could do it again with guys like Cena and MVP. We’ll see…

  12. david m says:

    I used to watch pro wrestling when I was a kid and through most of high school. During those years I watched UFC videos from Blockbuster. When I got to college, I took up muay Thai and started downloading Pride events left and right. I think the combination of actually participating in fighting and getting more exposure to mma, really destroyed my interest in pro wrestling. It is one thing to know pro wrestling is fake, but it is an altogether other thing to see what real fights look like. You can’t fake someone getting KTFO by a kick to the head or a punch or getting choked unconscious. I just couldn’t go back to pro wrestling after I became an mma fan. I can still watch Raw for a few minutes without getting bored, but I can’t imagine how anyone could ever buy a WWE ppv knowing that it is all fake and real violence is also available.

  13. Black Dog says:

    Great article, and some very fine comments made here.

    As a longtime pro wrestling fan, I should explain that I gave up the American brand of it nearly 10 years ago. The WWE had long become unwatchable before this, and WCW was a recycled mess, and you could see where it was heading.

    In response to some earlier questions, in Japan puroresu is seen very differently. Fans I’m sure are aware that most of it is worked, but there is for the most part an emphasis on physical skill, fighting ability, and the ability to put over that this might just not be fake. It is a form of theater, as a friend once explained, and he is correct.

    Inoki was ahead of his time, and I agree that perhaps he didn’t know precisely how to execute it. He foresaw that other martial arts would overtake pro wrestling, and he was a pioneer in that endeavor.

    The UWF, UWFi, RINGS? All I believe wanted to move toward a legitimate and sophisticated fighting style, and they are defininte forerunners of today’s MMA.

    I still enjoy watching the fights put on over in the Japan, and I check out old stuff whenever I can find it–as a former practicioner of martial arts, I find this kind of fighting fascinating.

    What has happened elsewhere, but now in America is that fans have discovered that MMA is real fighting, not “human cockfighting” as the hand-wringers and detractors tried to make out. With specific rules and especially drug testing, this can be a very compelling sport for years to come.

    Pro wrestling in America may still pull crowds in for now, but I think it’s dying a slow death. TNA tried to do what the old NWA and early WCW did well at first–emphasized wrestling, with the storylines secondary. Their big mistake was trying to copycat the WWE, and look where it got them: fighting the same old battles, the same old storylines.

    WWE remains a mess; I do not believe the Wellness Program put in place is going to do anything to stop the use of steroids and performance enhancers. Vince McMahon has always been about bigger being better (look at him, for Heaven’s sake!); wrestlers will continue to juice as long as the virtual gun is pointed at the head of guys who want to make that money–juice, get bigger, get badder, or you don’t get pushed.

    Umaga (who I saw wrestle in Montreal as a 200 pound teenager in the 80’s) is just the latest; there will be more deaths, sorry to say. I am at least glad UFC and the other MMA groups are taking at least somewhat of a hard line on the drugs, and I hope they continue to.

    Add to it, Lesnar’s success as a legit fighter, and now Lashley among others will bring more pro wrestlers over to UFC to prove they can do it for real. I think pro wrestling’s days of big time PPVs are gonna be numbered unless some changes are made. I do not expect them to.

  14. Alex Sean says:

    liger05 Says:

    Boxing isnt irrelevant. I thought the UFC getting buried by PBF v JMM threw that argument out of the window.

    Having one impressive buy-rate for a PPV in a calender year that happens to feature one of the top three or four draws in the entire sport doesn’t exactly prove anything. You only have to look at the SuperBowl or Wrestlemania to see that.

  15. Steve4192 says:

    I have nothing to add, I’d just like to commend Zach on an excellent article. It’s stuff like this that keeps me coming to Fight Opinion.

  16. Mark says:

    I rate this article: *****

    I hate the WWE, so as a disclaimer don’t think I’m defending it.But people keep forgetting that they were in trouble with buyrates and ratings in 2003 when UFC was rejoicing over getting 75,000 buys. MMA has hurt their future talent pool and older fans have given up on the product to pay for UFC PPVs. But the problem is definitely the product being the drizzling shits since 2002 (when UFC was 3 years away from breaking through.) I’m not saying they’re ever going to have a year like 1999 again, since it’s going to be damn hard to be seen as hip again when you can see real fighting every day of the week on cable practically, but Raw’s rating isn’t that much worse than it was in 2005 prior to TUF. They just aren’t motivated to pay for shows because 1) they suck dong at selling shows compared to the UFC 2) They give away main events so often why would you pay $40 to see, it would be like if you knew Mir-Lesnar would fight again the next night for free 3) The product is absolutely awful.

    As for Inoki and bringing shoots in, he’s no genius for doing so. The writing was on the wall when Takada and Sakuraba were being pushed as national heroes in ’99-’00 for standing up to the Gracie family and a UWF-i nostalgia over they and other fighters from that promotion. But he shouldn’t be praised for it because it failed miserably. It exposed the business for little results. Of course wrestling fans know it is fake, but they don’t want to be blatantly reminded of it during the show. If you hate wrestling imagine if you were watching a Jet Li movie where he kicks all kinds of choreographed ass, but then suddenly Anderson Silva comes out and demands a legit fight with him and beats him to a bloody pulp in 30 seconds. It would be hard for you to go back to thinking Li was a bad ass fighter in the next scene after seeing he wasn’t.

    And since pro wrestling requires a charisma, mild acting ability, and a need to drop your ego to sell losing a match to put the opponent over, most MMA fighters cannot do it. So integrating them into the pro wrestling world was doomed for failure. Ken Shamrock sucked, Tito Ortiz’s TNA promos were wooden compared to his MMA promos, Dan Severn had some good matches but lacked pro wrestling charisma. The two worlds should be kept apart.

    I think, despite the product sucking, McMahon is going the right direction by offering anti-MMA. Pro wrestling, for better or for worse, needs to offer everything MMA can’t: insane stunts, storyline drama, moves that can’t be done in reality, long matches. If they tried to do worked MMA that would be a disaster since it would look so blatantly fake. There are millions of pro wrestling fans who have no interest in MMA because they feel the fights are boring or feel ripped off when main events are short or a litany of other reasons. They should appeal to those fans and don’t try to go after ex-wrestling MMA fans because they’re gone for good.

    On a side note to someone who was wondering if Japanese fans treat puro like it’s real: no, they know it’s worked. But they just have far more respect for pro wrestlers than Americans do.

  17. Mr X The Masked Journo says:

    I usually post here under a different name. Just wantd to chime in on Alan’s comment in post #3 regarding journos repeating the UFC/Strikeforce company line..

    It’s a catch 22 sitution. I write for a small but rapidly growing website. The site has good conections in the fight game with various managers, fighters and camps, especially those based in the UK.

    We ‘know’ things, but as the old saying goes, knowing is only half the battle. Simply put, unless you are a mainstream media outlet, you have to be cordial to the UFC if you want to stay in their good books (read: Get interviews, press conference credentials etc).

    There are tons of site editors out there who speak to gyms and fighters, getting all the juicy gossip on a regular basis. The fact is, noone will go on record with said juicy gossip for the same reasons as above – even AKA showed that they were not imune to the wrath of Dana over the image rights etc. If the UFC are prepaired to almost show a top camp the door over something so trivial, how would they react if fighters/managers started going on the record with the good stuff?

    We have been told things in the past in conversation/meetings with managers/camps/fighters, folowed by “You cannot print that under any circumstances beause only X, Y and Z people know about it and if it comes back to us, we’ll be in the doghouse.”

    That came pretty much word for word from the owner/manager of a gym with a bunch of UFC fighters on their books, regarding a major story that broke earlier this year. We felt we could run it without implicating anyone but didn’t out of respect for him. The guy was genuinly fearfull of recriminations and was convinced that he and his fighters would be backballed from the UFC had that information got out prior to the UFC releasing it themselves.

    Gyms, fighters and managers need to stay on Zuffa’s good side just as much as smaller media outlets at the moment. The sport is simply not big enough yet for us to be in a possition where a small website/gym/fighter can stand behind a big UFC-critical story and expect to have a future.

  18. liger05 says:

    All about cycles isnt it? In the 90’s we had New Japan selling out the dome, we had the UWFI boom, we had All Japan selling out the Budokan every month guranteed. Into year 2000+ we had New Japan decline but as said before they killed there main star and it wasnt just down to Pride. Baba died and All Japan crumbled, Pride took off and continued to grow. Noah came and even with Pride and K-1 booming we saw Noah draw a legitmate 50,000+ to the Tokyo dome 2 years on the trot. Now going into 2010 we have a strong K-1 but no real strong MMA promotion in Japan.

    If New Japan can draw a legitamate 30,000 paid to the dome on Jan 4th then I would say puroresu while not as strong as it was is still in a healthy position.

  19. A. Taveras says:

    Great article and great comentary! This is why this is the only MMA site I check beyond headlines.

    I don’t think pro-wrestling ha to become an outdated relic. There is a place for style and comedy in the sports world. If pro-wrestling vanishes stateside it will be the result of failing to adapt.

    Also I would add re: comment 10, I think many people do still look at you weird for following MMA. Maybe not in younger crowds but at a workplace with ppl from across the age spectrum it is far from being a normal thing. For that matter following boxing closely is also an anomaly. Team sports is all the vast majority of people care about. And I live in a big diverse city!

  20. Alan Conceicao says:

    We ‘know’ things, but as the old saying goes, knowing is only half the battle. Simply put, unless you are a mainstream media outlet, you have to be cordial to the UFC if you want to stay in their good books (read: Get interviews, press conference credentials etc).

    I understand what you’re saying, however that doesn’t excuse the fact that a lot of people do nothing but write fluff. Who here doesn’t recognize that? The majority of MMA writing is not feature pieces with interviews, and I guess these days in the “new media” that’s the norm. That doesn’t mean people can’t write something that’s substantiative, informational (without necessarily breaking confidentiality with connections), or both. There’s a very serious lack of that. To give you an example of a place that clearly does what it wants and ends up breaking news and information; MMA Weekly. Clearly, they treat what they do as journalists seriously and it shows. Almost every day something breaks on that website. There’s no real excuse for there to be 4-5 different websites being able to produce stuff at that level, far as I’m concerned, when given the grassroots nature of the sport.

  21. Alex Sean says:

    I’m not saying they’re ever going to have a year like 1999 again, since it’s going to be damn hard to be seen as hip again when you can see real fighting every day of the week on cable practically

    I’m always amazed how common this train of thought is when it cannot possibly be more off-base. If the casual fan’s interest in professional wrestling was based solely on it’s ability to be perceived as a shoot, then why do people watch Law and Order when you can watch Cops, or why watch Rocky when you can see Boxing on a multitude of networks every day? Our cultures have always cherished ideals. Pro Wrestling in Japan didn’t exist until Rikidozan, a famous Sumo Wrestler, started promoting himself beating Americans in a defeated, post-World War II Japan. Maybe the fans knew in their minds that it was an exhibition, but to see one of their icons defeating Americans and honoring their nation created the same suspension of disbelief as all heroic tales. Ric Flair worked territory after territory in the 80s against the best that each town had to offer in sold out buildings because those people wanted to believe that someone from the same background and locale they were could be the World Champion. You can even look at a company like Ring of Honor, which draws primarily “smart” fans. They know it’s a work, they believe they understand professional wrestling, and they’re all looking at it as an exhibition rather than a legitimate competition. And I remember the entire building rising to their feet in December of 2004 because they believed in that moment Austin Aries was about to beat the ROH Champion of nearly two years Samoa Joe and win the title. It’s the suspension of disbelief in the moment. That doesn’t mean that those people left the building saying “Austin Aries is a better fighter than Samoa Joe!” they’re saying “Wow that was a great match!.

    As for Inoki and bringing shoots in, he’s no genius for doing so. The writing was on the wall when Takada and Sakuraba were being pushed as national heroes in ‘99-’00 for standing up to the Gracie family and a UWF-i nostalgia over they and other fighters from that promotion. But he shouldn’t be praised for it because it failed miserably. It exposed the business for little results. Of course wrestling fans know it is fake, but they don’t want to be blatantly reminded of it during the show. If you hate wrestling imagine if you were watching a Jet Li movie where he kicks all kinds of choreographed ass, but then suddenly Anderson Silva comes out and demands a legit fight with him and beats him to a bloody pulp in 30 seconds. It would be hard for you to go back to thinking Li was a bad ass fighter in the next scene after seeing he wasn’t.

    By that logic, does that mean by Brock Lesnar beating Frank Mir into a bloody pulp the way he did means that Frank Mir isn’t a good fighter? How about Chuck Liddell getting two first round knock-outs on Randy Couture? Losing a fight in devastating fashion doesn’t automatically “expose” a fighter as illegitimate, if anything it only serves to enhance the image of the victorious fighter.

    And since pro wrestling requires a charisma, mild acting ability, and a need to drop your ego to sell losing a match to put the opponent over, most MMA fighters cannot do it. So integrating them into the pro wrestling world was doomed for failure. Ken Shamrock sucked, Tito Ortiz’s TNA promos were wooden compared to his MMA promos, Dan Severn had some good matches but lacked pro wrestling charisma. The two worlds should be kept apart.

    Yes because we all know that Quinton Jackson walks into a room with his entrance music blaring wearing a chain and howls. And Sakuraba always walks around wearing masks in orange spandex shorts. Also, Ken Shamrock was a pretty successful wrestler both before and after his initial MMA run, and there have been dozens of guys who have managed to balance successful wrestling careers with professional fighting.

    Pro wrestling, for better or for worse, needs to offer everything MMA can’t: insane stunts

    Yeah you’d never see guys climbing to the top rope and doing back-flips. And you’d certainly never see acrobatic maneuvers like spin kicks and leaping attacks to a grounded opponent during a MMA fight. Never.

    storyline drama,

    Because Rampage and Rashad, Hughes and Serra, or Ortiz and Liddell were so professional and low-key with absolutely no trash talking or obvious promoting tactics.

    There are millions of pro wrestling fans who have no interest in MMA because they feel the fights are boring or feel ripped off when main events are short or a litany of other reasons. They should appeal to those fans and don’t try to go after ex-wrestling MMA fans because they’re gone for good.

    Then shouldn’t the approach then be to have exciting fights that satisfy the consumer with well-executed and realistic build-up as a lead-in? Pro wrestling is only as cold as their talent is unable to capture the audience. Pro wrestling was cold in the 80s until Hogan, cold in the 90s until the NWO, and will be cold until the right mix of creative direction and quality talent draw the interest of the casual consumer again. I’m certain a lot of these casual MMA fans will follow whatever is the hot product within their demographic, regardless of whether it’s a work or not.

  22. Mark says:

    I’m always amazed how common this train of thought is when it cannot possibly be more off-base. If the casual fan’s interest in professional wrestling was based solely on it’s ability to be perceived as a shoot, then why do people watch Law and Order when you can watch Cops, or why watch Rocky when you can see Boxing on a multitude of networks every day? Our cultures have always cherished ideals. Pro Wrestling in Japan didn’t exist until Rikidozan, a famous Sumo Wrestler, started promoting himself beating Americans in a defeated, post-World War II Japan. Maybe the fans knew in their minds that it was an exhibition, but to see one of their icons defeating Americans and honoring their nation created the same suspension of disbelief as all heroic tales. Ric Flair worked territory after territory in the 80s against the best that each town had to offer in sold out buildings because those people wanted to believe that someone from the same background and locale they were could be the World Champion. You can even look at a company like Ring of Honor, which draws primarily “smart” fans. They know it’s a work, they believe they understand professional wrestling, and they’re all looking at it as an exhibition rather than a legitimate competition. And I remember the entire building rising to their feet in December of 2004 because they believed in that moment Austin Aries was about to beat the ROH Champion of nearly two years Samoa Joe and win the title. It’s the suspension of disbelief in the moment. That doesn’t mean that those people left the building saying “Austin Aries is a better fighter than Samoa Joe!” they’re saying “Wow that was a great match!

    Of course they know it’s a work and don’t care, I said as much in the same post you’re quoting me from. I was speaking more of the media, whose acceptance in ’85 and ’98 helped the WWE solidify their popularity as briefly cool instead of “that homoerotic fake fighting for dumb hicks” the media usually portrays wrestling as. Why would you want to put Randy Orton and Undertaker on the cover of magazines when you can put Kimbo Slice and GSP on the cover of your magazine? Why would you want to do a story about celebrities getting paid to show up on Raw and display they obviously don’t like the product when you can do a story about celebrity MMA fans? Even if the product does get better they will have a hard time being seen as cool by the media again.

    By that logic, does that mean by Brock Lesnar beating Frank Mir into a bloody pulp the way he did means that Frank Mir isn’t a good fighter? How about Chuck Liddell getting two first round knock-outs on Randy Couture? Losing a fight in devastating fashion doesn’t automatically “expose” a fighter as illegitimate, if anything it only serves to enhance the image of the victorious fighter.

    You’re talking about two entirely different things. Lesnar proved himself to be a legit fighter. Even his first fight in at K-1 people knew he could handle himself because he had amateur credentials. Jet Li or your average pro wrestler has not. The point was about Inoki killing his draws in shoot fights they were clearly outmatched for and then attempting to put them back over in worked matches and how fans reacted to that. It looks like you just skimmed my post and saw certain words and thought I was being anti-pro wrestling. I’m not. I’m one of the more pro-pro wrestling posters on here.

    Yes because we all know that Quinton Jackson walks into a room with his entrance music blaring wearing a chain and howls. And Sakuraba always walks around wearing masks in orange spandex shorts. Also, Ken Shamrock was a pretty successful wrestler both before and after his initial MMA run, and there have been dozens of guys who have managed to balance successful wrestling careers with professional fighting.

    Shamrock got a good push for a year but that doesn’t mean he was good. His promos sucked, his matches weren’t that great and fans got tired of him quickly. He was the biggest name the UFC produced at that point and they wanted to use his shoot fighter aura in one of their many failed attempts to battle off WCW in ’97. They were scouring for anything controversial at that time and UFC was pretty controversial so they used it along with ECW and Howard Stern’s Wack Pack to attempt to draw ratings.

    I don’t know what your point is beyond showing horrific reading comprehension and/or ADD. Of course some MMA fighters respect pro wrestling and wear Lucha masks or Jackson’s JYD tributes or Mayhem calling his style pro wrestling. Of course, they grew up in the 80s when everybody watched wrestling and still have a soft spot for it, so what? But that doesn’t mean they’d be successful at pro wrestling or pro wrestlers who are huge MMA fans like JBL or Undertaker or CM Punk would win an MMA fight.

    Yeah you’d never see guys climbing to the top rope and doing back-flips. And you’d certainly never see acrobatic maneuvers like spin kicks and leaping attacks to a grounded opponent during a MMA fight. Never.

    OK, now I’m sure you’re just ribbing me. Because if not you’re the biggest idiot on the planet.

    Because Rampage and Rashad, Hughes and Serra, or Ortiz and Liddell were so professional and low-key with absolutely no trash talking or obvious promoting tactics.

    *facepalm* My God you have the reading comprehension of a fetus.

    Then shouldn’t the approach then be to have exciting fights that satisfy the consumer with well-executed and realistic build-up as a lead-in? Pro wrestling is only as cold as their talent is unable to capture the audience. Pro wrestling was cold in the 80s until Hogan, cold in the 90s until the NWO, and will be cold until the right mix of creative direction and quality talent draw the interest of the casual consumer again. I’m certain a lot of these casual MMA fans will follow whatever is the hot product within their demographic, regardless of whether it’s a work or not.

    People who want to see MMA’s version of conflict are not going to be interested in pro wrestling’s over the top melodramatic version of conflict. You can believe Brock Lesnar really hates Frank Mir for realistic reasons or BJ Penn really is still bitter about losing to GSP because in reality people hate losing. There has never been an MMA home invasion skit, or the ex-PRIDE FC fighters weren’t spraypainting the PRIDE logo on UFC fighters they beat. Some people like seeing that much more than MMA’s version of conflict. That is the difference. Of course you probably won’t understand that by the looks of things, Baby Einstein.

  23. Alex Sean says:

    Of course they know it’s a work and don’t care, I said as much in the same post you’re quoting me from. I was speaking more of the media, whose acceptance in ‘85 and ‘98 helped the WWE solidify their popularity as briefly cool instead of “that homoerotic fake fighting for dumb hicks” the media usually portrays wrestling as. Why would you want to put Randy Orton and Undertaker on the cover of magazines when you can put Kimbo Slice and GSP on the cover of your magazine? Why would you want to do a story about celebrities getting paid to show up on Raw and display they obviously don’t like the product when you can do a story about celebrity MMA fans? Even if the product does get better they will have a hard time being seen as cool by the media again.

    Please. The media has no bias in regard to what is a work and what isn’t. They will cover whatever story that will sell more magazines or draw more eyes to their networks. Were you not around for Fox News covering the Chris Benoit scandal for months, HBO’s Real Sports segment on deaths in pro wrestling, or Vince McMahon on E:60? All of those took place during MMA’s current success in the United States. The idea that because MMA is getting mainstream coverage now means that pro wrestling can’t ever gain mainstream coverage again is absolutely ludicrous and, while I’m sure judging by the rest of your entry that you will respond calling me an idiot and changing your argument again, I have provided factual proof to debunk your argument. Smiles.

    You’re talking about two entirely different things. Lesnar proved himself to be a legit fighter. Even his first fight in at K-1 people knew he could handle himself because he had amateur credentials. Jet Li or your average pro wrestler has not.

    If legitimacy in the eyes of the MMA fanbase is all that factors in to whether someone will or will not draw, then why is it DREAM is facing the same financial issues that AJPW, NJPW, and NOAH have? The NJPW audience were never going to support Nagata or Fujita in the way they supported Inoki, Choshu, Mutoh or Chono in the same way whoever followed Austin, Rock, and Foley were never going to do the same business those three did. Pro wrestling’s decline in Japan has far more to do with the cyclical nature of the business, the lack of developing new stars, and the division of the primary two companies than whether or not Yuji Nagata got beat up by Fedor.

    I’d also point out that, again, getting dominated in a fight by a legitimate fighter does not necessarily discredit the losing fighter. You said yourself Lesnar was perceived as legitimate which, in turn, nullified Frank Mir getting squashed as proving him illegitimate. The same can’t be said for Nagata losing to Fedor and Cro Cop, both of which are, and especially at that time, legitimate as they come? Not to mention that Nagata was squashed by Fedor no worse than Goodridge, Sylvia, or Arlovski, all of which at the time of being beaten were legitimate.

    Finally, I’d also point out that if an illegitimate pro wrestler being defeated by a legitimate fighter is, as you would say, a guarantee to kill off said pro wrestler, than why did Pride draw with the Takada/Gracie rematch only a year after the first fight where Takada was exposed?

    Shamrock got a good push for a year but that doesn’t mean he was good. His promos sucked, his matches weren’t that great and fans got tired of him quickly.

    He debuted in April of 1997 and was still over at least two years later at WM15. I’d also point to the only PPV that he headlined (if I recall correctly) which was D-Generation X against Shawn Michaels which drew virtually the same buyrate that Ground Zero, being headlined by Shawn Michaels against The Undertaker did. Did his gimmick ultimately get stale with the audience? Of course. So has virtually every character or angle that was prolonged for more than a year ever. Not exactly fair to knock him for it. He also worked some very good matches with Bret Hart, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart, and X-Pac. You seem to be consolidating what he achieved in the then WWF solely to make your point, which is unfortunate.

    Of course some MMA fighters respect pro wrestling and wear Lucha masks or Jackson’s JYD tributes or Mayhem calling his style pro wrestling. Of course, they grew up in the 80s when everybody watched wrestling and still have a soft spot for it, so what?

    As Zach pointed out in his article, it was those very pro wrestling-style antics that endeared Rampage to the Japanese fans and it’s also what has endeared him to the UFC’s fans. These guys don’t act the way they act because they have a soft spot for wrestling, they do it because it gets them noticed. You might not want to admit it because the idea that MMA is at all in any way illegitimate strikes fear in the heart of the MMA enthusiast, but MMA engages in the exact same theatrics that professional wrestling does. Whether it be fighters talking trash or having elaborate ring entrances.

    But that doesn’t mean they’d be successful at pro wrestling or pro wrestlers who are huge MMA fans like JBL or Undertaker or CM Punk would win an MMA fight.

    Of course not. Pro Wrestling is an artform in and of itself that must be learned and mastered over many years in the same way you would with a Cello or Jiu Jitsu. Now, granted, pro wrestlers have been known to make truckloads of cash and become celebrities just for the sake of having star power and charisma, but so have fighters. Just look at Kimbo Slice. No big name fighter perhaps in the history of combat sports has been exposed as much as Kimbo, and yet he still continues to prove to be an enormous draw.

    People who want to see MMA’s version of conflict are not going to be interested in pro wrestling’s over the top melodramatic version of conflict.

    And again I bring up Rampage/Rashad, Hughes/Serra, Ortiz/Liddell, and even Ortiz/Couture. All were promoted with over-the-top, contrived storylines. I’m sure if you looked on Youtube you could find the footage of Couture and Ortiz on the Best Damn Sports Show prior to their fight cutting what can only be described as an awful imitation of a pro wrestling style promo.

    You can believe Brock Lesnar really hates Frank Mir for realistic reasons or BJ Penn really is still bitter about losing to GSP because in reality people hate losing.

    Wasn’t it just last year that on The Ultimate Fighter Matt Brown swore vengeance and ended up fighting a man due to him using his Lemon Juice? Didn’t we also see Rampage try and get under Rashad Evans’ skin by filling his car with chickens? I don’t even need to mention TUF 8 with the fruit platter. Are you going to tell me that those storylines are any less over-the-top or ridiculous than WWE’s? I mean, don’t get me wrong, the major American companies have gone far beyond the line of ridiculousness, no doubt. But the very fundamental basis for all pro wrestling storylines can be seen every week on The Ultimate Fighter. We’ve seen teammates betray teammates, alliances being formed and broken, outside of the ring/cage brawls, and feuds with authority figures.

    There has never been an MMA home invasion skit, or the ex-PRIDE FC fighters weren’t spraypainting the PRIDE logo on UFC fighters they beat.

    Didn’t TUF 8 feature the American team writing “USA” on a member of the British team’s shoes?

    Now, I’ve chosen not to react in the way you did with insults and immaturity. Regardless of what you or I may think we’re both individuals entitled to our opinions and we should both respect that. If you can’t get into a debate on a topic without hurling insults then that’s just unfortunate.

  24. Alan Conceicao says:

    Ugh, I hate replies like the above one from Alex Sean. Its a definitive example of projection of personal opinions onto the public. When you have to defend wrestling’s importance to pop culture by using the example of a murder/suicide, something is deeply, deeply wrong.

    Its an example of the same exact, tired crap I’ve railed against for years in terms of Meltzer worship; MMA’s success is positioned as validation of some bizarre concept of what pro wrestling should be doing and has failed to, and if only it would do it, it would rise again like the Phoenix. That argument is extended to everything imaginable (remember 24/7 being “pro wrestling” and reminiscent of Mid-South? LOL) to try and prove some point about “sports entertainment”.

    Look at this: Dudes writing “USA” on shoes on TUF is similar to/based on WCW gimmicks? Do you really believe that? What, are the ultras in Spain just playacting like Lucha fans when they throw bananas at black players too? Look, “real sports build” or whatever cannot compete with actual sports, and that’s why pro wrestling was its most popular when it was its furthest from “real sports” as possible. Every valid example in the last 40 years points at that, and its troubling to see people who pretend to understand history better pretend otherwise.

    I get it; you are a wrestling fan too. But stop looking to MMA to “prove you right”. Stop trying to tie everything it does to wrestling. Its insulting and ridiculous to constantly need to try and establish wrestling’s worth by claiming that virtually every bit of sports marketing in the last 100 years is a result of something a wrestler did. Its not doing anyone any good.

  25. Mark says:

    Please. The media has no bias in regard to what is a work and what isn’t.

    They’ve never looked down on pro wrestling before for being phony?

    They will cover whatever story that will sell more magazines or draw more eyes to their networks. Were you not around for Fox News covering the Chris Benoit scandal for months, HBO’s Real Sports segment on deaths in pro wrestling, or Vince McMahon on E:60? All of those took place during MMA’s current success in the United States.

    lol, that’s your argument? Wrestling will be accepted again because of the tabloid murder coverage? Wow, you’ve got to be a troll.

    The idea that because MMA is getting mainstream coverage now means that pro wrestling can’t ever gain mainstream coverage again is absolutely ludicrous and, while I’m sure judging by the rest of your entry that you will respond calling me an idiot and changing your argument again, I have provided factual proof to debunk your argument. Smiles.

    So your factual proof is the WWE will need another wrestler to kill their family or otherwise get negative coverage? lulz.

    If legitimacy in the eyes of the MMA fanbase is all that factors in to whether someone will or will not draw, then why is it DREAM is facing the same financial issues that AJPW, NJPW, and NOAH have?

    Um, because the MMA market as a whole is dead due to a combination of a fan burnout, lackluster shows and possibly a holdover of bad feelings about PRIDE’s Yakuza scandal?

    The NJPW audience were never going to support Nagata or Fujita in the way they supported Inoki, Choshu, Mutoh or Chono in the same way whoever followed Austin, Rock, and Foley were never going to do the same business those three did. Pro wrestling’s decline in Japan has far more to do with the cyclical nature of the business, the lack of developing new stars, and the division of the primary two companies than whether or not Yuji Nagata got beat up by Fedor.

    You’re discounting the stars that were killed due to the dumb decision to push MMA fighters. And cycles are jump started by lackluster products obviously.

    Finally, I’d also point out that if an illegitimate pro wrestler being defeated by a legitimate fighter is, as you would say, a guarantee to kill off said pro wrestler, than why did Pride draw with the Takada/Gracie rematch only a year after the first fight where Takada was exposed?

    It didn’t draw nearly as well as the first fight did, and after that loss Takada was finished as a draw. And by that time Sakuraba was the focus of the company since he was a Japanese fighter who you didn’t have to fix fights to make look good.

    He debuted in April of 1997 and was still over at least two years later at WM15. I’d also point to the only PPV that he headlined (if I recall correctly) which was D-Generation X against Shawn Michaels which drew virtually the same buyrate that Ground Zero, being headlined by Shawn Michaels against The Undertaker did. Did his gimmick ultimately get stale with the audience? Of course. So has virtually every character or angle that was prolonged for more than a year ever. Not exactly fair to knock him for it. He also worked some very good matches with Bret Hart, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart, and X-Pac. You seem to be consolidating what he achieved in the then WWF solely to make your point, which is unfortunate.

    1) Michaels could draw against anybody at that point. He was coming off of the biggest controversy in pro wrestling (Montreal Screwjob) at that point. He could have drawn against Gillberg in December ’97. It was nothing more than a filler In Your House card before the Royal Rumble the next month. It meant as little as Bret Hart vs. The Patriot at a prior In Your House PPV.
    2) Nearly all of the wrestlers you mentioned outside of Sean Waltman are respected hands who can have good matches with anybody. Has he ever carried a match? No.
    3) Sorry I didn’t write a 12 page summary of his career to point out he got stale, couldn’t carry a match and nobody even remembers his WWF career outside of you apparently.

    As Zach pointed out in his article, it was those very pro wrestling-style antics that endeared Rampage to the Japanese fans and it’s also what has endeared him to the UFC’s fans. These guys don’t act the way they act because they have a soft spot for wrestling, they do it because it gets them noticed. You might not want to admit it because the idea that MMA is at all in any way illegitimate strikes fear in the heart of the MMA enthusiast, but MMA engages in the exact same theatrics that professional wrestling does. Whether it be fighters talking trash or having elaborate ring entrances.

    I love pro wrestling. I think it’s great when fighters try to add some spice to things by working mini angles or cutting pro wrestling-like promos. But boxers do that too so it’s not exclusive to pro wrestling. If you’re looking to pick an argument with an MMA purist might I suggest Alan or Ivan. My post was in favor of pro wrestling so I’m confused on why you’re believing I’m so negative in my original post towards it. All I said was the MMA-puro hybrid failed (it did), WWE shouldn’t attempt doing something similar (they aren’t), and all pro wrestling companies would be wise to give the audience what MMA can’t (highspots, melodrama and sports entertainment.)

    Of course not. Pro Wrestling is an artform in and of itself that must be learned and mastered over many years in the same way you would with a Cello or Jiu Jitsu. Now, granted, pro wrestlers have been known to make truckloads of cash and become celebrities just for the sake of having star power and charisma, but so have fighters. Just look at Kimbo Slice. No big name fighter perhaps in the history of combat sports has been exposed as much as Kimbo, and yet he still continues to prove to be an enormous draw.

    Kimbo’s fans aren’t MMA fans, or even pro wrestling fans, they’re Kimbo fans. He’s a one of a kind fighter that you can’t compare anyone else to. He’s a cult of personality rather than a serious fighter.

    And again I bring up Rampage/Rashad, Hughes/Serra, Ortiz/Liddell, and even Ortiz/Couture. All were promoted with over-the-top, contrived storylines. I’m sure if you looked on Youtube you could find the footage of Couture and Ortiz on the Best Damn Sports Show prior to their fight cutting what can only be described as an awful imitation of a pro wrestling style promo.

    You’re comparing Tito saying “I’m going to retire you old man” or Rampage and Rashad having a staredown to HHH assaulting Randy Orton in his own home, or Vince McMahon staging his own murder? And you expect me to take you seriously?

    Wasn’t it just last year that on The Ultimate Fighter Matt Brown swore vengeance and ended up fighting a man due to him using his Lemon Juice? Didn’t we also see Rampage try and get under Rashad Evans’ skin by filling his car with chickens? I don’t even need to mention TUF 8 with the fruit platter. Are you going to tell me that those storylines are any less over-the-top or ridiculous than WWE’s? I mean, don’t get me wrong, the major American companies have gone far beyond the line of ridiculousness, no doubt. But the very fundamental basis for all pro wrestling storylines can be seen every week on The Ultimate Fighter. We’ve seen teammates betray teammates, alliances being formed and broken, outside of the ring/cage brawls, and feuds with authority figures.

    TUF is a dumb reality show, it’s not real MMA. It’s a sideshow that has outlived its usefulness.

    Didn’t TUF 8 feature the American team writing “USA” on a member of the British team’s shoes?

    Now, I’ve chosen not to react in the way you did with insults and immaturity. Regardless of what you or I may think we’re both individuals entitled to our opinions and we should both respect that. If you can’t get into a debate on a topic without hurling insults then that’s just unfortunate.

    OMG HE WROTE ON HIS SHOES ON A REALITY SHOW NOBODY TAKES SERIOUSLY WHEN YOU’RE NWO YOU’RE NWO 4 LIFE~!

    No, I only debate people who make sense. Not trolls who don’t have reading comprehension and offer illogical arguments like wrestling is safe from MMA because Chris Benoit murdering his family got media coverage. At least 45Huddle at least puts great efforts into his trolling, you’re just lazily tossing out randomness and that all goes beyond respectful disagreements.

  26. Alex Sean says:

    Ugh, I hate replies like the above one from Alex Sean. Its a definitive example of projection of personal opinions onto the public.

    Because I’m the one who’s used immature insults and changed my argument multiple times. No, wait, that wasn’t me, that was the other guy. I’ve backed up my argument with specific examples and hard numbers while this other fellow has now resorted to calling me a troll. Very classy.

    When you have to defend wrestling’s importance to pop culture by using the example of a murder/suicide, something is deeply, deeply wrong.

    I never said that the coverage of the murder-suicide was an implication of WWE being a hot product or culturally relevant. In fact, my point was almost exactly the opposite. The point that was made by Mark was that media will choose to cover MMA over Pro Wrestling due to MMA being hot right now. I responded citing three different examples that were produced it different times with different subject matters to establish my point that the media will cover what ever story will garner the most attention. All three of my examples have occurred since professional wrestling has not been culturally relevant in the United States, which I would say pretty clearly proves my point.

    MMA’s success is positioned as validation of some bizarre concept of what pro wrestling should be doing and has failed to, and if only it would do it, it would rise again like the Phoenix.

    I never said the WWE should be doing what the UFC is doing. In fact had you read my earlier post you would see that I said, and I’ll quote myself…

    Then shouldn’t the approach then be to have exciting fights that satisfy the consumer with well-executed and realistic build-up as a lead-in?

    This is something that pro wrestling can, with the right talent, storylines, and so on, accomplish each and every time out whereas with MMA, there’s no guarantee. Sometimes main events are exciting and live up to the hype, sometimes they aren’t and they don’t. The primary difference, however, is when someone watches Pro Wrestling, they’re mostly like aware they are watching an exhibition while someone watching MMA is aware they are watching a real fight. This is the difference between watching “Rocky” for the first time and watching a live boxing fight.

    Look at this: Dudes writing “USA” on shoes on TUF is similar to/based on WCW gimmicks? Do you really believe that? What, are the ultras in Spain just playacting like Lucha fans when they throw bananas at black players too? Look, “real sports build” or whatever cannot compete with actual sports, and that’s why pro wrestling was its most popular when it was its furthest from “real sports” as possible. Every valid example in the last 40 years points at that, and its troubling to see people who pretend to understand history better pretend otherwise.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the highest drawing pro wrestling event in the history of the sport the two-day festival for peace in Pyongyang, North Korea which was headlined by Antonio Inoki against Ric Flair? This of course occurring during a huge surge for both AJPW and NJPW which presented a hard-hitting style where guys worked very stiff and took very dangerous bumps to appear more legitimate. Or perhaps you’re thinking of the United States where the entire surge in interest spawned from the NWO angle which was presented to the fans as a shoot outside of the normal realm of storylines. Now, again, I said that the US has gone quite far in the ridiculousness of their storylines, but as I also pointed out, the basic fundamental pro wrestling storylines have been present in The Ultimate Fighter since season one and have only gone on to become more contrived and obvious in the years since.

    I get it; you are a wrestling fan too. But stop looking to MMA to “prove you right”. Stop trying to tie everything it does to wrestling. Its insulting and ridiculous to constantly need to try and establish wrestling’s worth by claiming that virtually every bit of sports marketing in the last 100 years is a result of something a wrestler did. Its not doing anyone any good.

    Oh brother. The very storylines that are the backbone of pro wrestling exist and have existed in all professional sports for a very, very long time. The fact that one is fiction and one is non-fiction is irrelevant. Just look at the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Their feud dates back almost a century based off of, what people in Boston tend to consider, a heel turn by Babe Ruth. It’s that very feeling of betrayal that has ultimately created one of the greatest rivalries in the history of sports and is in no way different than a babyface wrestler turning heel in the eyes of the fans. The only thing that separates the two is that one is fictional and one is non-fictional. That doesn’t change the fact that there is a story that has been told. If real life was void of these stories, then where does the fascination with or success of biographical films or books come from?

  27. Mark says:

    Because I’m the one who’s used immature insults and changed my argument multiple times. No, wait, that wasn’t me, that was the other guy. I’ve backed up my argument with specific examples and hard numbers while this other fellow has now resorted to calling me a troll. Very classy.

    Where have I changed my argument? All I’ve done is point out that you’re seeing things in my post that aren’t there. If that’s what you mean your definition logic is flawed. Nothing you offer here has worked, from first saying boxing was on the decline when it isn’t to calling me anti-wrestling when I’m one of the biggest fans of it on the site to now calling me a big meanie. I said I hated WWE’s current product not pro wrestling as a whole. And you call pro wrestling “an exhibition” wow, the “IT’S STILL REAL TO ME , DAMN IT!” guy won’t even go that far.

    I never said that the coverage of the murder-suicide was an implication of WWE being a hot product or culturally relevant. In fact, my point was almost exactly the opposite. The point that was made by Mark was that media will choose to cover MMA over Pro Wrestling due to MMA being hot right now. I responded citing three different examples that were produced it different times with different subject matters to establish my point that the media will cover what ever story will garner the most attention. All three of my examples have occurred since professional wrestling has not been culturally relevant in the United States, which I would say pretty clearly proves my point.

    And you offered 1) Chris Benoit’s murder (that even if a Roller Derby player did the same thing would have been covered) 2) An incredibly negative HBO special on dead wrestlers that if anything made people less likely to watch and 3) A ESPN fluff piece. That’s one example and two hilariously bad ones.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the highest drawing pro wrestling event in the history of the sport the two-day festival for peace in Pyongyang, North Korea which was headlined by Antonio Inoki against Ric Flair? This of course occurring during a huge surge for both AJPW and NJPW which presented a hard-hitting style where guys worked very stiff and took very dangerous bumps to appear more legitimate.

    Ha. The North Korean shows featured a crowd that HAD NEVER EVEN HEARD OF PRO WRESTLING AND WERE FORCED TO ATTEND. Have you ever seen that show? The crowd was only interested in booing Westerners and not because they were pissed at the Four Horsemen’s antics. That was just a show for Inoki to jack off his ego by hanging out with Muhammad Ali and sucking up to Kim Jong Il because they share pretty similar views of themselves. Again, you keep tossing out the worst examples possible to make “points” and get mad when nobody here takes you seriously.

  28. Alex Sean says:

    They’ve never looked down on pro wrestling before for being phony?

    The fact that coverage is negative or positive doesn’t matter. MMA was being covered negatively when Pro Wrestling was hot in the 90s, shouldn’t that, by your logic, mean that MMA should have never gotten hot in the first place? Please, change your argument again so I can prove you wrong again.

    lol, that’s your argument? Wrestling will be accepted again because of the tabloid murder coverage? Wow, you’ve got to be a troll.

    Nope. For someone who chastizes others for not reading, you might want to try it sometime. My argument, which I backed up and you’ve provided nothing to prove it false (which I’ve come to expect from you) was that the media will cover anything that will get attention regardless of if what’s involved is relevant or not. MMA did not become relevant because the media covered it. I think we’d both agree on that. The media only began to cover MMA because it was already relevant. In the event that Pro Wrestling were to become culturally relevant again, they would begin positively covering it as well solely for the purposes of selling magazines and drawing ratings. Maybe you’re not aware but the American media is an industry of business who’s sole intent is profit. In terms of the networks, advertisers pay said networks to air their commercials. The more eyes watching your shows, the more eyes seeing their advertisements. Thus, drawing ratings is inherent to their primary source of profit, thus, they do whatever they possibly can to get as many eyes watching.

    So your factual proof is the WWE will need another wrestler to kill their family or otherwise get negative coverage? lulz.

    I grow tired of your inability to back up your arguments and your willingness to change them once they’re proven wrong.

    Um, because the MMA market as a whole is dead due to a combination of a fan burnout, lackluster shows and possibly a holdover of bad feelings about PRIDE’s Yakuza scandal?

    But NJPW running lackluster shows with inferior-grade stars after several years of an intensely hot product couldn’t possibly cause that very same burnout? It couldn’t possibly be that the companies in Japan have lost their mainstream appeal because of bad booking decisions, not developing young talent, putting on lackluster shows, or every main eventer of the 90s leaving their home company and starting a promotion. It was Yuji Nagata losing to Fedor that did it!

    It didn’t draw nearly as well as the first fight did, and after that loss Takada was finished as a draw. And by that time Sakuraba was the focus of the company since he was a Japanese fighter who you didn’t have to fix fights to make look good.

    There’s no denying that Sakuraba was obviously a much greater fighter who in turn was a much more viable draw. That doesn’t discount how viable Takada was at the time, however.

    1) Michaels could draw against anybody at that point. He was coming off of the biggest controversy in pro wrestling (Montreal Screwjob) at that point. He could have drawn against Gillberg in December ‘97. It was nothing more than a filler In Your House card before the Royal Rumble the next month. It meant as little as Bret Hart vs. The Patriot at a prior In Your House PPV.

    I suppose I could dispute your point but we’d just be running in circles. You believe that Shawn Michaels drew that buy-rate on his own, I think Shamrock had something to do with it and I’d also add in, being perfectly honest, that Austin probably had a big hand in that buy-rate as well.

    2) Nearly all of the wrestlers you mentioned outside of Sean Waltman are respected hands who can have good matches with anybody. Has he ever carried a match? No.

    So, just so I understand, you’ve now decided to change your argument from him outright sucking to “he never carried a match”? I don’t understand why it’s so hard just to say “You’re right, Ken Shamrock did have some quality matches in the WWE.”

    3) Sorry I didn’t write a 12 page summary of his career to point out he got stale, couldn’t carry a match and nobody even remembers his WWF career outside of you apparently.

    And the then record audience that ordered UFC 40 to see Ken Shamrock fight Tito Ortiz and the record TV audience that watched them rematch for a third time on Spike TV. Oh, well, you know, I’m sure absolutely none of those people watched wrestling. Of course not.

    Kimbo’s fans aren’t MMA fans, or even pro wrestling fans, they’re Kimbo fans. He’s a one of a kind fighter that you can’t compare anyone else to. He’s a cult of personality rather than a serious fighter.

    Please. Kimbo Slice’s following has everything to do with his appeal to casual fans and absolutely nothing to do with some sort of legion of millions of die-hard Kimbo Slice supporters. He’s a popular figure in American culture, for sure, but the audience he draws is clearly not an audience of die-hard Kimbo fans. You only have to look at the decline in ratings throughout TUF 10 to see that.

    You’re comparing Tito saying “I’m going to retire you old man” or Rampage and Rashad having a staredown to HHH assaulting Randy Orton in his own home, or Vince McMahon staging his own murder? And you expect me to take you seriously?

    Again I say, oh brother. Rampage and Rashad spent an entire season of TUF cutting promos on each other while Rampage tried to get under Rashad’s skin with pranks. It’s not the best storyline ever, but it is a storyline. More importantly, if you had read what I wrote, you would see that I did agree that pro wrestling in the United States has gone very far off the deep end at times with their storylines. Of course I don’t ever recall two men feuding over lemon juice or anyone urinating in a fruit platter in the WWE but, you know, I could be wrong.

    TUF is a dumb reality show, it’s not real MMA. It’s a sideshow that has outlived its usefulness.

    Ahaha, wow. IT’S NOT REAL MMA. It must sting to be proven wrong so profoundly.

    No, I only debate people who make sense. Not trolls who don’t have reading comprehension and offer illogical arguments like wrestling is safe from MMA because Chris Benoit murdering his family got media coverage. At least 45Huddle at least puts great efforts into his trolling, you’re just lazily tossing out randomness and that all goes beyond respectful disagreements.

    Oh yes, because that’s what I said. Of course I didn’t, but I suppose for posturity you have to validate your opinions somehow. You could actually, you know, validate your opinions, or you could try to invalidate mine. So you hurl insults, call me a troll, and continuously change your argument. It’s unfortunate that you don’t feel comfortable enough simply to share your opinions and, if need be, simply disagree on something.

  29. Mark says:

    The fact that coverage is negative or positive doesn’t matter. MMA was being covered negatively when Pro Wrestling was hot in the 90s, shouldn’t that, by your logic, mean that MMA should have never gotten hot in the first place? Please, change your argument again so I can prove you wrong again.

    You are mind blowing in your horribleness. You’re The Beatles of terrible analogies, the Citizen Kane of failed arguments and the Ric Flair of sheer bad judgment. I usually don’t personally attack people, but you keep setting unseen precedents in doomed internet posts I can’t help it.

    So you’re saying “all publicity is good publicity” including CHILD MURDER and a Bryant Gumble story about how awful the industry is. Sorry, but no “human cockfighting” hit pieces can compare to Chris Benoit.

    And I love how you continue to confuse “expanding on an argument” to “changing arguments.” This is especially funny since we agree on some of the same things we’re arguing. But you’ve been all snippy from the getgo so Alan and I have replied inkind.

    Nope. For someone who chastizes others for not reading, you might want to try it sometime. My argument, which I backed up and you’ve provided nothing to prove it false (which I’ve come to expect from you) was that the media will cover anything that will get attention regardless of if what’s involved is relevant or not. MMA did not become relevant because the media covered it. I think we’d both agree on that. The media only began to cover MMA because it was already relevant.

    Correct, but the 60 Minutes special, the Sports Illustrated cover, ESPN coverage, ect. were lusted after for the entire Zuffa tenure, even after selling a million PPVs with Ortiz-Liddell. Vince McMahon and his minions also lust after media coverage to make them feel respected. They never would have obsessed with celebrity cameos for 26 years if they didn’t. So to downplay this is missing the point on The McMahons. They were briefly respected in the media from 1985-1987 and then from 1998-2000. After which reverted back to “that’s that fake stuff.” How many entertainment, sports or legit news pieces beyond the steroid trial in ’93 or Donald Trump and Benoit in ’07 can you find between those times? Not many.

    In the event that Pro Wrestling were to become culturally relevant again, they would begin positively covering it as well solely for the purposes of selling magazines and drawing ratings. Maybe you’re not aware but the American media is an industry of business who’s sole intent is profit. In terms of the networks, advertisers pay said networks to air their commercials. The more eyes watching your shows, the more eyes seeing their advertisements. Thus, drawing ratings is inherent to their primary source of profit, thus, they do whatever they possibly can to get as many eyes watching.

    MMA would have to decline for the pro wrestling industry to have a boom period that warrants media coverage, and that’s not going to happen anytime soon. The two times in their history that got big coverage were when they were getting buyrates pretty close to what UFC gets now on as regular of a basis. I do not see both having simultaneious boom periods either. But on the plus side I think the WWE will stay at exactly where they’re at (5 million viewers, 500,000 buys on Survivor Series Royal Rumble and Summerslam with possibly close to a million for Wrestlemania) and that’s not a bad thing, but they’re not going to rival MMA for media coverage (which in public perception means they’re not trendy) anytime soon.

    But NJPW running lackluster shows with inferior-grade stars after several years of an intensely hot product couldn’t possibly cause that very same burnout? It couldn’t possibly be that the companies in Japan have lost their mainstream appeal because of bad booking decisions, not developing young talent, putting on lackluster shows, or every main eventer of the 90s leaving their home company and starting a promotion. It was Yuji Nagata losing to Fedor that did it!

    Nagata was just part of it, they had been integrating MMA into NJPW for 2 years before that in the main event, and since the main event makes or breaks your attendance it was the key problem in my view. Plus you don’t think getting knocked out in less than 30 seconds by Cro Cop kind of kills your shooter rep? Yes, it is respectable he went against two of the top MMA heavyweights of their day, but he also got embarrassed and it was a stupid decision to put him in that position just as it would be stupid for Vince McMahon to have Undertaker fight Frank Mir.

    There’s no denying that Sakuraba was obviously a much greater fighter who in turn was a much more viable draw. That doesn’t discount how viable Takada was at the time, however.

    It does when they gave up on him and the 2nd fight’s gate was less than the original event.

    I suppose I could dispute your point but we’d just be running in circles. You believe that Shawn Michaels drew that buy-rate on his own, I think Shamrock had something to do with it and I’d also add in, being perfectly honest, that Austin probably had a big hand in that buy-rate as well.

    Michaels was the hottest star in the industry outside of Sting at that point. I don’t think Ken Shamrock t-shirts were selling as much as DX shirts or that anybody really believed he was anything but a gap between Undertaker matches so they could hold off on Austin until Mania.

    So, just so I understand, you’ve now decided to change your argument from him outright sucking to “he never carried a match”? I don’t understand why it’s so hard just to say “You’re right, Ken Shamrock did have some quality matches in the WWE.”

    I’m not changing my argument. Not being able to carry a match is the same thing as outright sucking. Lex Luger got carried to really good matches with Ric Flair, that doesn’t mean he didn’t suck nor would anybody give him credit for anything in the matches. Nor do I give Ken Shamrock credit for being able to look good against Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart or Chris Jericho. The old “they could have a great matches with a broom” applies to all of those men. And Ken Shamrock was even more wooden than the broom would be. He meant nothing to the WWE, nobody even remembers he was there. Ken Shamrock is remembered for MMA solely.

    And the then record audience that ordered UFC 40 to see Ken Shamrock fight Tito Ortiz and the record TV audience that watched them rematch for a third time on Spike TV. Oh, well, you know, I’m sure absolutely none of those people watched wrestling. Of course not.

    Yeah, it would have had anything to do with old UFC fans coming back after the lack of cable availability who remembered his UFC 1-9 career, right? All WWF marks. Yeesh. And the Fox Sports special and infomercial also had nothing to do with it, right?

    Please. Kimbo Slice’s following has everything to do with his appeal to casual fans and absolutely nothing to do with some sort of legion of millions of die-hard Kimbo Slice supporters. He’s a popular figure in American culture, for sure, but the audience he draws is clearly not an audience of die-hard Kimbo fans. You only have to look at the decline in ratings throughout TUF 10 to see that.

    They declined after he was eliminated meaning they were only watching for Kimbo. And after every week of him not being brought back they got lower and lower. And the TUF finale didn’t jump huge until his fight and then tapered off after it was done. I think that clearly points to Kimbo fans only being interested in Kimbo. Read the writings of his fans online: they all came to love him from the YouTube videos and they believe his hype like cult members and write off both of his losses as “not being fair” so they don’t count them (because Petruzelli was a last minute replacement and big fat Nelson cheated by being so far in their views.) Those aren’t words of even casual MMA fans.

    Again I say, oh brother. Rampage and Rashad spent an entire season of TUF cutting promos on each other while Rampage tried to get under Rashad’s skin with pranks. It’s not the best storyline ever, but it is a storyline. More importantly, if you had read what I wrote, you would see that I did agree that pro wrestling in the United States has gone very far off the deep end at times with their storylines. Of course I don’t ever recall two men feuding over lemon juice or anyone urinating in a fruit platter in the WWE but, you know, I could be wrong.

    All practical jokes are not wrestling storylines. He was pulling practical jokes on a guy. Just because he was going to fight him at a later date doesn’t mean it qualifies as a wrestling storyline. It’s a practical joke.

    And this whole argument on this point involves you misunderstanding what I was talking about when I said WWE should use more storylines to make themselves different from MMA and you said MMA uses storylines and melodrama to. I don’t mean filming practical jokes, I mean traditional pro wrestling storylines that are entirely scripted as a conflict between two characters that people write lines for. Not two guys pulling pranks on each other. Do I make that clear enough?

    Ahaha, wow. IT’S NOT REAL MMA. It must sting to be proven wrong so profoundly.

    It’s not real MMA, it’s a reality show. Stuff on The Contender wasn’t real boxing, it’s a reality show. They have never sold a PPV fight based on lemon theft, they sell a shitty TV series on lemon theft.

    Oh yes, because that’s what I said. Of course I didn’t, but I suppose for posturity you have to validate your opinions somehow. You could actually, you know, validate your opinions, or you could try to invalidate mine. So you hurl insults, call me a troll, and continuously change your argument. It’s unfortunate that you don’t feel comfortable enough simply to share your opinions and, if need be, simply disagree on something.

    I point out how flawed your points are and now you’re a verbal abuse victim. I expand on my opinions and it’s called changing my argument, but never offer proof of the change in argument. Sorry I don’t repeat myself 80 times. You’re a late winner for “FightOpinion’s worst poster of 2009.” Congratulations.

  30. Alan Conceicao says:

    I responded citing three different examples that were produced it different times with different subject matters to establish my point that the media will cover what ever story will garner the most attention.

    Pro wrestling doesn’t generate coverage at the mass media level in the same manner as MMA. MMA is covered as a sport by ESPN, Fox Sports, SI, and Sporting News. Pro wrestling is brought up when people die or when the WWE pays to bring in celebrities. To that end, to pretend that the fans will treat a hot wrestling feud like it does a classic trilogy of fights or something is crazy.

    The very storylines that are the backbone of pro wrestling exist and have existed in all professional sports for a very, very long time. The fact that one is fiction and one is non-fiction is irrelevant.

    You’re right. And guess what? Some of them are contrived too. That doesn’t make them like wrestling, nor prove that pro wrestling somehow needs act more like the NBA than the WWE.

  31. liger05 says:

    There is no way Nagata losing to Mirko and fedor was the thing that killed New Japan. There are far too many other factors which contributed to the decline.

  32. Mark says:

    Nobody said it did. I said Fujita kickstarted things by getting a push even though nobody liked him because he was a MMA fighter with some wins, which was 2 years before Fedor-Nagata. And he spends 2001 going over a bunch of guys people actually liked and was shoved down the fans throats every bit as annoyingly as Triple H in WWE. Then by an act of God Fujita gets hurt but Inoki spites this clear sign that this needs to end by pushing Yasuda which was just as bad. Nagata was years later so why this is harped on to prove the theory the MMA-puro hybrid wasn’t the problem is beyond me. And I was an All Japan and NOAH fan so I didn’t even really care, but Fujita clearly started their avalanche.

  33. Zack says:

    Great posts on this thread, Alan.

  34. Alex Sean says:

    You are mind blowing in your horribleness. You’re The Beatles of terrible analogies, the Citizen Kane of failed arguments and the Ric Flair of sheer bad judgment. I usually don’t personally attack people, but you keep setting unseen precedents in doomed internet posts I can’t help it.

    I sometimes wonder why people feel the need to overcompensate so profoundly when their points have been validly proven to be insubstantial. Insecurity? Arrogance? I don’t know. You’ve spent the last five comments carelessly misunderstanding what’s been said to a degree that I can only imagine you’re purposely being as ignorant as you are just to avoid conceding. All in all it’s really quite pathetic.

    So you’re saying “all publicity is good publicity” including CHILD MURDER and a Bryant Gumble story about how awful the industry is. Sorry, but no “human cockfighting” hit pieces can compare to Chris Benoit.

    I didn’t say “all publicity is good publicity” and, in fact, my point was to the irrelevance of the media’s place in this whole argument to begin with. Let me begin by restating the point that I’ve found myself having to restate over and over again; The media will cover what ever draws the most eyes. The American media is a reactionary entertainment industry solely focused on profit. The media did not begin to cover the UFC until after it was already a hot product. What this goes to show is that WWE’s positive mainstream coverage is only as far away as the next spike in it’s place in the public consciousness. IE; The media will not cover the WWE positively and thus cause it to become a hot product, the WWE will become a hot product and then be positively covered by the media. I don’t believe I could possibly be any clearer in stating this point, nor could I expand it to even simpler terms for you to understand, but those are the indisputable facts. Feel free, however, for once, to actually try and make a valid counter-argument.

    And I love how you continue to confuse “expanding on an argument” to “changing arguments.” This is especially funny since we agree on some of the same things we’re arguing. But you’ve been all snippy from the getgo so Alan and I have replied inkind.

    Ahaha, snippy. You’re a riot, man.

    MMA would have to decline for the pro wrestling industry to have a boom period that warrants media coverage, and that’s not going to happen anytime soon. The two times in their history that got big coverage were when they were getting buyrates pretty close to what UFC gets now on as regular of a basis. I do not see both having simultaneous boom periods either.

    I happen to disagree, but at the end we’ll just have to wait and see to find out. Ultimately though the idea that MMA’s success is somehow connected to WWE’s decline is ludicrous. The WWE’s ratings began to decline in 2001, four years before the UFC could even possibly have any substantial effect in their viewer-base. Since 2002, the WWE’s television ratings have stayed pretty much the same with the occasional spike or bad number. As far as the Pay-Per-View product is concerned, I think there’s a fair argument to be made that, especially on months where WWE is promoting a weak show and UFC is promoting a strong one, perhaps the fans who watch both products decide to order a UFC card rather than a WWE card. I don’t think it’s too off-base to say that the UFC has effected, albeit only in a small way, WWE’s appeal to fans as a PPV product.

    Nagata was just part of it, they had been integrating MMA into NJPW for 2 years before that in the main event, and since the main event makes or breaks your attendance it was the key problem in my view. Plus you don’t think getting knocked out in less than 30 seconds by Cro Cop kind of kills your shooter rep? Yes, it is respectable he went against two of the top MMA heavyweights of their day, but he also got embarrassed and it was a stupid decision to put him in that position just as it would be stupid for Vince McMahon to have Undertaker fight Frank Mir.

    And again I’d say that just because someone loses in devastating fashion doesn’t mean they’re “shooter rep” is killed off. Matt Serra bulldozed GSP, did that kill GSP’s credibility? Chuck Liddell bulldozed Randy Couture, how about him? Fedor against Sylvia? I could go on and on. It’s also important to keep in mind that the Japanese fanbase gives a lot more respect and credit to the fighters they see than Americans do.

    I’m not changing my argument. Not being able to carry a match is the same thing as outright sucking. Lex Luger got carried to really good matches with Ric Flair, that doesn’t mean he didn’t suck nor would anybody give him credit for anything in the matches. Nor do I give Ken Shamrock credit for being able to look good against Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart or Chris Jericho.

    Your Lex Luger point is valid only because Lex Luger had chances to face less-than-stellar wrestlers and did not tend to have very good matches. Where are these bad Ken Shamrock matches? I mean you’ve said that I’m apparently the only one in the world who remembers his career in the WWE, and yet here you are vividly able to recall that he sucks without citing any examples.

    The old “they could have a great matches with a broom” applies to all of those men. And Ken Shamrock was even more wooden than the broom would be. He meant nothing to the WWE, nobody even remembers he was there. Ken Shamrock is remembered for MMA solely.

    We’re not going to see eye to eye on this but I think if you ask the people who were 18-25 in 1998 what they knew Ken Shamrock from, they’d probably tell you pro wrestling. Now sure you might have a very small minority of people in that age bracket from 1993 who will remember him as a cage fighter, but the vast majority of Americans are going to tell you that he was in the WWF above anything.

    Yeah, it would have had anything to do with old UFC fans coming back after the lack of cable availability who remembered his UFC 1-9 career, right? All WWF marks. Yeesh. And the Fox Sports special and infomercial also had nothing to do with it, right?

    For one, I don’t think the original people who bought the UFC had much to do with UFC 40’s buyrate at all. Maybe a small percentage of the spike, but not a lot. Secondly, just letting people know someone is going to be on a particular television network or PPV on a particular night doesn’t mean those people are automatically going to watch or buy the show. It was Ken Shamrock’s status as a famous pro wrestler that drew that large of a buyrate.

    They declined after he was eliminated meaning they were only watching for Kimbo. And after every week of him not being brought back they got lower and lower. And the TUF finale didn’t jump huge until his fight and then tapered off after it was done. I think that clearly points to Kimbo fans only being interested in Kimbo. Read the writings of his fans online: they all came to love him from the YouTube videos and they believe his hype like cult members and write off both of his losses as “not being fair” so they don’t count them (because Petruzelli was a last minute replacement and big fat Nelson cheated by being so far in their views.) Those aren’t words of even casual MMA fans.

    I’m sure there’s a very small amount of people who are like that, no doubt. I’m sure those people were probably the cause of a good .1 or even .2 increase in the numbers for TUF 10. But getting it over a 5.0? No way. I can’t even imagine you believe that nonsense.

    All practical jokes are not wrestling storylines. He was pulling practical jokes on a guy. Just because he was going to fight him at a later date doesn’t mean it qualifies as a wrestling storyline. It’s a practical joke.

    So apparently TUF isn’t real but the contrived things that occur on said show are not storylines, they’re legitimate? Amigo, it’s an angle. No different in nature from Triple H attacking The Undertaker’s tag team partner to get into his head for a match they’re having at a PPV. Sure the specifics are a little different but that’s only the separation between what is acceptable in the real world and what is acceptable in the world of fiction. In a fictional sport there are no fines or suspensions for attacking a guy or interrupting a fight, whereas in the real world there are. So they have to find other ways to accomplish the same means. Thus; Chickens.

    And this whole argument on this point involves you misunderstanding what I was talking about when I said WWE should use more storylines to make themselves different from MMA and you said MMA uses storylines and melodrama to. I don’t mean filming practical jokes, I mean traditional pro wrestling storylines that are entirely scripted as a conflict between two characters that people write lines for. Not two guys pulling pranks on each other. Do I make that clear enough?

    Sure and while I disagree that wrestling should be scripted (if anything scripting pro wrestling has been a huge part of it’s decline in quality) I can certainly agree that wrestling is at it’s best with cohesive, realistic, interesting angles that lead to great matches.

    It’s not real MMA, it’s a reality show. Stuff on The Contender wasn’t real boxing, it’s a reality show. They have never sold a PPV fight based on lemon theft, they sell a shitty TV series on lemon theft.

    You gotta remember though in the eyes of the casual UFC fans, TUF is exactly what MMA is. Me personally, I don’t even really like the show. Bad storylines and awful fights is kind of the reason I don’t watch TNA (Zing). So while people like you, me, and I’m sure many other hardcore MMA enthusiasts scoff at TUF, to the mass consumer that is in many ways the identity of MMA in America. And I would also point out that the PPVs that had TUF lead-ins have all done fantastic numbers, granted you could make the argument that the last two (UFC 100, UFC 92) perhaps drew more on the quality of the cards than the reality show lead-in.

  35. Alan Conceicao says:

    What this goes to show is that WWE’s positive mainstream coverage is only as far away as the next spike in it’s place in the public consciousness. IE; The media will not cover the WWE positively and thus cause it to become a hot product, the WWE will become a hot product and then be positively covered by the media.

    It does not show that. It shows that the UFC is a sport that has gained a degree of popularity and, in turn, mainstream sporting media outlets cover it in ways they do not cover sports that have no degree of popularity in the US (rugby, lacrosse, equestrian, bodybuilding, etc). This is entirely logical and expected when one looks at other sports that have seen increases in popularity like NASCAR. It proves nothing about the WWE.

    The WWE is not followed in an in-depth fashion by anyone in the sporting media. It has its own cottage industry of media; podcasts, DVDs, “dirt rags”, and mass media publications that cater solely to its fanbase, but is not recognized as a sport (since it isn’t) and is not written about as if it is one. The next level of media that might cover it is “entertainment” or tabloid media: Again, wrestling breaks into public conscious with that media when there are A) deaths B) celebrities from outside wrestling brought in B) wrestlers try to branch out from merely being wrestlers. Wrestling itself rarely merits inclusion at its most popular points. Angles & gimmicks, much less criticism thereof are ignored in virtually every critical take by mass media at wrestling. Instead, what’s focused on (and this is consistent) is whether or not it makes money, how wrestling is staged, and the health of its participants.

    They are not analogous, no matter how hard you try to make any attempt at coverage as being “creation of angles” or whatever.

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