It wasn’t a surprise. From the second we decided that CM Punk’s AEW run was going to be a Gooker Award nominee I knew it would lead to all kinds of issues. I knew it would likely win, I knew I would likely write it myself, and I knew that the backlash would be all manner of responses with little or zero thought put into them at all. Which is of course exactly what we got. Like I said, it wasn’t a surprise.
In many ways, it’s the world we live in today. Call me an old man yelling at clouds if you want, but what I witnessed from this is simply what I’ve seen elsewhere on basically any topic imaginable – people see the title of an article, a headline if you will, and then react. There’s not reading being done, just “I saw this and this is my id reaction to it and I am going to rant about it without ever actually seeing what was actually written.” Heck, just the featured image I’ve used here with Punk eating a muffin and Tony looking away will have many people overreacting in a ridiculous manner.
So many media accounts feast on such audiences. I’m a huge NFL fan (go Lions this weekend!), and the main site I frequent is profootballtalk.com. They have very short articles that give a quick snapshot of what is happening in the league and are generally based in reality. However, there are a few writers there that post articles simply to get a reaction knowing a large group of fans will simply read the headline and nothing more. Thankfully, each article on the main page lists the author’s name so I can just skip whatever I want. After reading that site for the past few years, I honestly don’t even need to see the author’s name – I can tell by the headline who wrote it. The headline tells me the reaction they are attempting to get, be that rage from a particular team’s fanbase, euphoria from haters, whatever. And the article itself just feeds on that. It’s an interesting business model I suppose.
Which of course comes back to the CM Punk Gooker winner. I knew the voting would largely be influenced by the toxic tribal environment that is pro wrestling today. You have the fans that hate AEW that want to mock it at every chance they get. You have the anti-WWE fans who will defend AEW no matter what poor decisions are made. And you have all those fans that read a few articles, or more often just the headlines as noted above, and feel they now fully understand everything about the business without fully studying the industry.
I was at an AEW show a couple years back and a fan brought a sign that said something to the effect of “Let’s just enjoy the pro wrestling we are watching here tonight”. I thought that was a great sign. Kenny Omega did as well, grabbing a mic and applauding the person that made it and brought it to the show. It was a nice moment that helped me to better enjoy the event. And one that is more rare with every passing day.
It’s time I am honest with everyone. I have, for the past few months, told my wife that I think I may need to find a different hobby than pro wrestling. There are just too many folks out there that take everything way too seriously and honestly, it’s drained so much of the joy from what has been one of my favorite past times for my entire life. I’m just kinda numb to it all.
For quite some time I’ve done my best to shield myself from any insider news and just attempted to get back to the basics of turning on shows I like and seeing what is being presented. I used to go into every Dynamite knowing each match for not only that card, but for what would likely be coming on Rampage, Collision, and any upcoming PPVs as well. It’s been interesting to just WATCH and not do so much analysis.
Still, it’s impossible to avoid news entirely. Obviously the latest Vince allegations flooded my socials and my inbox. In the old days, I’d have read every single piece I could find on this and really KNOW what happened. This time, I instead chatted with friends in the industry that have all the details. If I want to know more, I will just ask. But I think it’s best for my life to just get the base details on what sounds completely disgusting and move forward and not waste my time on people that, quite frankly, don’t deserve it.
As for the reaction to the Punk article, again, none of it shocked me. I knew what I’d get – a bunch of people who saw the headline and reacted. That’s the wrestling business currently, and I’m not sure how much longer I want to be involved with it. To be sure, any, probably all, real fandoms are like that. You wouldn’t think the world of pinball would have people losing their minds over the smallest things that don’t really matter, but believe me, I see it there as well. Stern is making a new machine based on the classic Jaws films and the fact there’s no shark on the playfield actually eating a ball is garnering even dumber reactions than (almost) anything I’ve seen regarding the Punk AEW run or my writing about it.
I’ve been doing this site for nearly a quarter of a century, so getting hate mail or whatever is nothing new. There was also a LOT of positive feedback to the article, far more than the negative I should note. The negative stuff, well, I fully expected it. It wasn’t so much any specific post or response, just that I walked in knowing what the responses would be and honestly, I am just kinda numb to it all. It didn’t make me angry. It just made me roll my eyes and wonder why I am doing this. But hey, it’s the world in which we all now live.
So yeah. That’s kinda it. Pro wrestling used to be fun for me. It’s not so much anymore.