Corbin Macklin

Credit: WWE.com

I do not understand the mentality of wrestling fans. Wrestling is different from everything else. Therefore, wrestling fandom is different from every other fandom. The only parallel is you will always have your gatekeepers, the marks who believe the work is a shoot and the shoot is a work. The people who will complain no matter what. New Japan just had their biggest show, Wrestle Kingdom and they crowned their first ever dual World and Intercontinental champion. I'm actually shocked that Okada didn't win but also not surprised they had Naito go over. That's good booking and storytelling. After the match, as Naito celebrated his crowning achievement, he was attacked by KENTA. The entire reason I am here writing this is because I was reading fan reactions on Twitter and seeing how divided they are.

Wrestling is dying. The reason it is dying is because it is the one artform that needs fans to believe it is real. I do not understand this. Folk boast of how they cried watching Marvel Comics movies, how they literally cry everytime they see certain scenes. Bro. These are fake comic book characters but folk can suspend all disbelief and get emotionally invested in these stories. When bad wrestlers do bad things to good wrestlers people cheer and chant "thank you [insert name here]" and inversely, people love to boo the good wrestlers. Nobody went to see Avengers Endgame hoping Thanos would snap his fingers and poof, the end. When Tony Stark defeated him by snapping his fingers, people weren't on social media complaining that he was overpushed and they should stop protecting him so much. How are you supposed to get a babyface over if heels literally cannot get heat?

There was a time in wrestling where if a heel attacked a babyface, no one cheered and no one complained that "he didn't let him have his moment" which are the two reactions people have for KENTA attacking Naito. There are only two kinds of heels nowadays: the heels everyone cheers for and root for them to turn face, and the heels everyone roots for to get catastrophically injured and never wrestle again. You have Bray Wyatt who is universally loved and someone like Baron Corbin, who will get YOU heat for working with him. Baron Corbin contributed to people turning on Seth Rollins, and when people turn on Roman for winning the Rumble this month, it'll be in some part due to the fact that Corbin could not generate effective heat to merit having a prolonged feud with The Big Dog.

I miss those simpler times when people just accepted the story being told and they didn't try to change the narrative based on their reaction to it. No one expects Game of Thrones to be re shot so that Daenerys Targaryen's descent into madness seemed less forced and rushed. But wrestling fans believe that if they cheer and boo folk that it will change something. Even though WWE is never going to turn John Cena heel. And they may never turn Roman either. And as much as they are pussyfooting soft pedaling and half stepping his push, everyone in the know, knows WWE still wants Roman to be the guy.

New Japan has the best storytelling and booking in professional wrestling today. I can literally sum up Tetsuya Naito thusly: he won the G1 and proclaimed himself the top star when no one saw him as that, he lost at Wrestle Kingdom then went to Mexico and joined Los Ingobernables, then came back and won the championship for a brief time and had two championship matches at Wrestle Kingdom that were not the top billed matches on the card which he lost, demonstrating he is still not the top star. Then NJPW decides to have Wrestle Kingdom be a two night affair unifying its two top belts. And he wins. In THE main event. Aaaaaand then he gets beat up after setting up his first feud as the top champion.

Now, let's talk about Jay White. I don't particularly like him. Not in the heel sense, just more of a "who even is this dude?" sort of way. When I think about it, it's equivalent to Baron Corbin, who has had a lot of success and been booked high on cards seemingly very quickly. When he does heel things it does not get the "booooo I want to see him get beat" reaction, it's more of a "he is not talented and I do not want to see him in this spot" reaction. Which is ironic because YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO THINK THE HEEL IS A SUPERIOR WRESTLER. If you think the heel isn't very good and needs shortcuts to win, then they're doing their job.

Nowadays, we blame the promoter and the booker for putting the heel we don't like in matches we don't want them in. We boo wrestlers because we don't like how they're booked. *deep sigh* The most nuclear heat we've seen in years was when Elias made a SuperSonics joke in Seattle. You literally cannot get that level of heat for doing something to one of the wrestlers. It's crazy. Are heels going to have to commit actual felonies in real life so they have real heat? Next time on Dragon. Ball. Z...........