Monday, June 1, 2015

No Tommy Dreamer, I Will Not Shut Up No Matter How Much I Paid

The above screen-grab is from Tommy Dreamer, who is a current member of TNA's front office and a freelance professional wrestler on the side nowadays. Dreamer has built up a lot of goodwill with me because he's always been my favorite Extreme Championship Wrestling original, and he's remained somewhat decent in the ring even up to this decade. But that load of horsecock is anathema coming from a shithead wrestling fan. What does it say when it comes from someone actually in the business, and more importantly, in a position where he would benefit from people "not complaining" about something?

The dirtiest secret in pro wrestling discourse is that the fan has the right to complain about anything he or she watches, regardless of price-point. Obviously, the Network is a great deal, even if one subscribed before May 1 and had to pay the $9.99 fee for access. Even if the massive archives were not accessed by a user and only the live stuff was viewed, that subscriber got three regularly taped episodes of NXT, a phenomenal live special, and two branded pay-per-views (Network exclusive or not, if you had to pay for the Network to watch Elimination Chamber, it's a pay-per-view). It's a good haul for sure.

But at the same time, if you spend $9.99 on a family dinner pack from Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the biscuits weren't baked before packing, or one of the sides was ice cold, would that preclude the purchaser from complaining? Obviously, that person would have a legitimate gripe. So why if an event ended on such a sour note, free or paid at whatever price, why would anyone who consumed it expecting something better have to sit there and take it?

This maxim works no matter what the end result is. People like to make fun of "wrestling fans" on "the Internet" for bitching and complaining no matter what the result as if the whole of the fanbase online was this pulsating, throbbing, singular entity (and if we all were just one thing, I would totally have yelled at at least 500 of you for jabbing your damn elbows into my side) and not a community made up of people with varied opinions and personalities as different as their unique genetic sequences. But everyone has a right to their opinion, and everyone has a right to voice that opinion on the Internet, no matter how annoying.

Fans and pedantic lecturer types masquerading as journalists or opinion columnists doing it is bad. But people in the business doing it? That's dangerous. It shows a bullheaded lack of understanding of the free-flowing exchange of feedback and answers that the Internet provides between fans and promoters/wrestlers. It also demands a certain totalitarian atmosphere where a wrestling company should expect to dish out gruel to its public and expect them to eat it while ostracizing those who wonder what Mr. Black and his teenage thugs are eating in their cabin at night. Sure, they can try to ram their vision down fans' throats with no accountability of what their art might be consumed as, but then again, when people stop throwing money their way, maybe they'll get the picture.

Of course, one can stereotype those who have that line of thinking in the biz as shitty at what they do, and honestly, Dreamer fits that mold. He was Paul Heyman's consigliere in ECW's dying days, and his run as a creative consultant in other promotions has left him with not a good reputation. But to single out those people into another mold really isn't a good look and doesn't make one better than the people bitching about the fans. Good bookers and wrestlers fall into that trap at times too. It's not a good look for anyone.

Wrestling, like any other art, is not monolithic. People will have varying opinions on things, and rarely is an avalanche of a consensus ever reached. But if someone's reaction to criticism is to tell the critic to shut up, then that person is actively hurting the community and further down the line, the product itself. No matter what price one paid to watch wrestling, from zero dollars up to the highest heights of payment, that person has a right to sound off on what he or she has watched, no matter what anyone, from the primordial ooze up to the front offices of companies (which at times resemble primordial ooze anyway).