Skip to main content

Appointment TV: Pro Wrestling NEEDS This Again


I've had my share of thoughts on pro wrestling's status over the past few years. At best, in some form or expression, pretty much every pro wrestling fan has. The topic has been discussed ad nauseam and is one for concern because yes, the industry is in decline despite the various options and bigger-than-ever-money deals in effect. With rapidly declining television ratings (of the traditional...outdated kind), but even more so important, with the damning fact that the average age of the pro wrestling fan is rising at the levels of concern that mirrors climate change. 

As much as we argue about its existence or reality, or prevention - the problem is here and is growing. 

I've shared in the past that contrary to popular belief, or what we experienced during the early stages of the pandemic (i.e. no fans, taped shows, limited access to relied upon stars), pro wrestling had a significant opportunity to capture old fans, casuals, new fans, and so much more. Especially when for a period of time, it was the only new content being produced. It failed. 

I'll still stand by that.

But, that very failure is indicative of the problem for me with pro wrestling today. It's not compelling television. And more importantly, it's lost one of its precious qualities of spectacle - appointment television. 

IMPACT Wrestling has been my go-to product over the last two years. It's been creative. It's been episodic. The storylines have arcs and developments, and everything feels like it matters in some way, whether you agree with the direction or not. 

Even during the pandemic, creative outlets like Wrestle House were unique and strayed away from the formulaic (hint hint, synonym for stale) presentation and approach that has been the WWE. 

However, with IMPACT, I don't receive AXS TV through my cable provider, and thus, I rely upon the IMPACT Plus platform to view the product. Because of that, I am always weeks behind, and I end up "catching up" on the product the way we've all become conditioned or sociologically changed to seek out entertainment on our time. 

It works. I'm always behind and surprises are rare because of it. Despite that element, the product is still sought after, which is a win in today's competition for eyeballs on content. I'm sure you, a wrestling fan, have your chosen product as well. And that's cool. That's the amazing part about pro wrestling in 2021. 

But, it's STILL not like it used to be. 

Monday Night Raw is now the kind of after-thought that would absolutely shock 14-year-old me. I don't even connect unless I feel a buzz to check it out. My ties to the WWE right now are merely nostalgia and a life-long routine and/or for viewing tradition. New Japan Pro Wrestling is still rare but enjoyed delicacy on my palette I get every so often when I'm craving or have the disposable time for it. The NWA, which quickly became a favorite of mine prior to the pandemic's start, is now behind a paywall for which I'm not as connected to invest in at this point. MLW is just there for me. So is ROH. And everything else. 

Again, the options are great. That's been the underlying saving grace for the industry right now. Just my opinion. 

With all of that said, enter AEW - especially so over the past few weeks. Especially since fans returned for television shows. There is something that has been so energetic about the product that it FEELS gripping. Over the past several weeks, AEW's product feels urgent and so incredibly energetic. 

Is it a perfect product? No. However, the freshness of it all, the energy of the crowd, the intrigue of the talent and the stories, the feel of each week having occurrences that matter with the build-up for interest for the weeks to come, all of it is enough to not only have frequented my interest with routine DVR viewings but probably for the first time in so long, I found myself on my couch and in front of my television set with the intent of watching Dynamite live, as it occurred. And then, of course, hooked enough to follow up on Friday night for the debuting show, Rampage

Again, I'm not the biggest AEW fan. However, it's so hard to argue their buzz, their intrigue, and yes, the compelling nature of the product from show to show, and how those shows directly impact (no pun intended) other interests in pro wrestling - yes, like IMPACT Wrestling. Ahhh yes, so much appreciation for that "forbidden door" being kicked open. 

I've been removed from the day-to-day banter (or sometimes exhaustive complaining) in pro wrestling fandom. Quite honestly, the removal often serves for a better fan experience at times in merely ALLOWING yourself to be a fan. With that said, I have found the "forbidden door" to be so exciting and fun, and have thoroughly enjoyed the storyline that has been the dominant Kenny Omega holding multiple titles across multiple companies. 

The idea of various matchups, surprise appearances, possibilities, and even so, tribal pride for brands (just peek at IMPACT Wrestling fans who have been in their feelings about "the belt not being home"), has injected a new life and intrigue into the industry. 

Watching Christian Cage defeat Kenny Omega on Rampage reflected the very reason I fell in love with pro wrestling. Spectacles. Hype. Drama. Characters. Nostalgia. Good guy vs. Bad guy. Emotion. And yes, left wanting more, and thinking about what's next. 

To sum it up - compelling storytelling. 

For the first time in so long, I made plans to be in front of a television at a specific time with the full intent and expectation to be entertained, and I got it. And when it was over, I couldn't wait for other upcoming programs to see where it will all go (IMPACT for Christian's debut, Dynamite for the fallout, and Rampage for a follow-up). 

For me, that's extremely rare in today's pro wrestling world. 

When wrestling is appointment television - that's when it's fun. That's what makes it more special. That's the intangible assessment we overlook whenever ratings are shared and discussed.

Just speaking for this fan, me, and the opinion of no one else - that's what pro wrestling is missing today. The answer is that simple. 

Is this appointment television? Everything else just flows from there. 

Photo courtesy: Slam Wrestling

Recently Read Posts

Predictions and Wild Guesses for the 2021-22 NBA Season

For the first time in as long as I can remember, my New York Knicks have become a bit of a sanctuary for my sports fandom. Everything that has been the New York Yankees summer, and recent elimination, just begs for a proverbial turning of the page. The NBA season is that new chapter.  The Knicks season is a bit of a conundrum, as they've gotten much better, BUT, so did the rest of the Eastern Conference. I'm feeling confident, but I'm also anxious for more good basketball and hoping that last year wasn't some fluky gift to us Knicks for our patience prior to last season.  Whatevs...nonetheless, here are my predictions for the upcoming NBA season.

Sunday Sundown Rundown - 10/24/21

3 Up 1. Science and Research - Look, I'm not trying to get into any debates or start trouble with this selection. I'm just giving props to the men and women who continue to develop these vaccines - and now approved booster shots - that help fight off this terrible virus that has plagued over the past 18 months. Some countries still don't have an option when it comes to vaccines - we're onto booster shots, and can "choose". Perspective and privilege are needed sometimes.  2. Col. Wang Yaping - Give it up to Yaping who in six weeks will become the first Chinese woman to walk in space. OF course, she is receiving tons of backlash from the media - but hey, did we expect anything else? 

CM Punk's Return - Perfect Timing for the Symbol of Anti-WWE

Looooooooook in my eyes, what do you see?! The lyrics to Cult of Personality, especially that first bar,  never felt so fitting for CM Punk as it did last night.  For the most part, everything that is CM Punk's return to wrestling last night at AEW Rampage ties directly into my latest thoughts on pro wrestling - the company is making it must-see destination television, an element desperately needed from pro wrestling.  Last night was incredible as again, it was another moment that made wrestling feel alive - with a wild and energetic pulse. It was one of the coolest moments in pro wrestling that you knew was coming, expected, anticipated, and it was everything and more. Again, MUST-SEE television. That's hard to do.  For me, it wasn't just Punk's return to pro wrestling, but the mere presence and voice of his inclusion in today's space. We know that Punk can deliver on the microphone - probably his best and most signature attribute. We also know that yes, he can

Sunday Sundown Rundown - 10/10/21

3 Up 1. Moderna Vaccine to Low Income Nations - In a world where the idea of "pandemic" now feels like a state of mind or the privilege of belief, Moderna has decided to aim its efforts in getting at least 1 billion doses to low-income countries the COVID vaccine. I'll save the "vaccine" chat for another time - but this is pretty awesome by Moderna. And oh yeah, highly needed.  2. Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi - Two absolute legends of the WNBA had some legacy-cementing moments this week. Parker lead her hometown Chicago Sky into the WNBA finals, and Taurasi, was named the GOAT of the WNBA by fans. Because well, she is. Congrats to both.  3. Netlfix's On My Block - For the second week in a row I'm putting a personal - and admittedly, biased - selection in the "Up" section. One of my favorite shows by Netflix, On My Block , released its fourth and final season, and yes, I binged it on my daily commute home. Gonna miss the crew from Freeridge.