When listening to wrestling-related podcasts, you constantly hear about bad creative, declining ratings and a lack of new stars. Looking at that same status quo, I’m prepared to argue that this exact moment in time is THE greatest time in history to be a wrestling fan:

  • A lot of people will say that there’s basically only one place for wrestlers to earn a proper living these days, yet there are plenty of promotions on television. Besides WWE and TNA, you can easily find Ring Of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and Lucha Underground on cable. There are also local and syndicated broadcasts available; when browsing through guide, I’ve found late-night broadcasts of Reality Of Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Syndicate. In other words, there’s no shortage of wrestling to watch on television.
  • Beyond what’s available via TV, there are seemingly-endless options available online. The WWE Network has footage from a lot of the classic territories available in its library. Beyond that is what can be found on YouTube and Vimeo, and the iPPV options are available at a premium (e.g. Chikara, Dragon Gate, CZW).
  • WWE is clearly the industry leader, but seemingly-gone is the WWE “tradition” of not acknowledging things that happen outside of its universe. Recently, top TNA talents have popped up in NXT using the same ring names that they used in TNA, Eric Young, Austin Aries, and Bobby Roode included; it used to be a one-way street of talent released by WWE finding its way into TNA with a new ring name. WWE has that new EVOLVE-affiliated cruiserweight tournament coming up on its network, which also shows acknowledgment of other promotions actually meaning something. Furthermore, there’s the “Will WWE Talk About It?” segment on the Edge & Christian Show that takes this a bit further. WWE is almost like that uncle of yours that recently became liberal and wants to talk about it.
  • If the endless options available on television and through on-demand outlets weren’t enough, there are countless places to hear and/or talk about wrestling. Notable wrestling talent has podcasts (e.g. Jim Ross, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Tazz, Vince Russo, Jim Cornette, Konnan, Kevin Sullivan, Chris Jericho). Actors, comics and writers that are wrestling fans have wrestling-friendly podcasts (e.g. Jerry Ferrara, Peter Rosenberg, Sam Roberts, Matt McCarthy, Inappropriate Earl). Wrestling industry insiders have podcasts (e.g. Dave Meltzer, Bryan Alvarez, David Shoemaker, Court Bauer, Mike Johnson). In turn, there’s no shortage of people to listen to — it’s essentially a 24-hour news cycle for those who want it to be one. And that’s without considering the great content from the folks behind Botchamania or Wrestling With Wregret. Or the Reddit community.
  • Beyond the official wrestling programming and podcasts, there are documentaries. Colt Cabana has put out several editions of The Wrestling Road Diaries, showing what life is like as a wrestler on the independent scene. The Iron Sheik had an equally heart-warming and heart-breaking documentary, as funded by fans. Diamond Dallas Page helped make The Resurrection Of Jake The Snake about Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Jensen Karp, former WWE writer and now a prominent podcaster, made Rudy & Des about two fans of PWG. Ian Markiewicz and Alexandria Hammond made Lucha Mexico, trailing around a variety of luchadors. Just a few recent examples that show how far things have come since 1999’s Beyond The Mat.
  • The video games are great. The WWE 2K series is comparable to the NFL and NBA games coming out each year. The rosters reflect both classic and current talent. Things have come very far since that first Wrestlemania game on NES
  • Wrestling theme songs have also evolved considerably since the early days. A lot of the synthesizer-based Jim Johnston themes in the 1980s were hard to distinguish from one another. On top of that, would anyone have listened to “Sexy Boy” by choice had it not been tied to Shawn Michaels? Nowadays, a lot of the ring entrance themes are real songs. Randy Orton’s “Voices” theme holds up, as one example.
  • Up until the late 1990s, if you missed the live event, odds are that you weren’t going to get your hands on the special merchandise. Nowadays, the Internet gives fans plenty of options to get the shirts and other gear that was at the merch table. Sites like ProWrestlingTees and HighSpots are among the top sites where fans can not only order these items, but also put extra money in their favorite talents’ pockets as a result of great treatment of indie talent.
  • That same Internet that’s always getting blamed for booing Roman Reigns lets you correspond directly with a lot of the talent. Jake “The Snake” Roberts could not have tweeted at me after a house show when I was nine years old, because there wouldn’t be Twitter for another 15 to 20 years. All those “I quit” rants we get to see — Ryback being a recent example — are an added bonus.
  • Most importantly, to me at least, it’s arguably less taboo now than ever to be a wrestling fan. ESPN, Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated all have correspondents dedicated to wrestling coverage; ESPN reportedly has an E:60 episode coming up about Ric Flair. John Cena guest-hosts morning shows. Jon Stewart participated in a main event angle last year, his first major appearance after leaving The Daily Show. Wrestlemania this year drew well over 90,000 people. Wesley Snipes is filming a movie with Seth Rollins as a co-star. The E! channel has two WWE reality shows on it. TMZ reporters regularly grill wrestlers. Radiolab had an episode about The Montreal Screwjob
So the next time you’re made to feel weird for being a wrestling fan in 2016, think of the millions upon millions of people around the world like you and the countless daily opportunities to stay entertained.


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