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On the differences between traditional and modern pro wrestling

US wrestling school Grapplers Anonymous breaks down the perceived differences between modern and traditional pro wrestling. And I have a few things to say about that.

(Now, usually I’d just post a video with a description or short comment below. But I scribbled down too many words on this one, hence the upgrade to a headlined post.)

I don’t think any of the ‘modern’ aspects outlined in the video above are particularly novel, and some of them seem to contradict each other; true feats of strength, for instance, are undermined by the fakeness of thigh-slapping and overly choreographed agility spots, at least for me.

But contemporary wrestling needs new aspects to build on the traditional fundamentals. And of course, some things are always going to get over with particular crowds more than others, in spite of the homogeneity of the major league style (WWF/WWE) since the 1980s.

That is for better and for worse. Does it not represent simply another kind of homogeneity when, say, big matches in every promotion have apron spots (‘It’s the hardest part of the ring!’) or when fans insist on ‘getting themselves over’ and imposing their will on the show (with chants like that ‘One fall!’ thing that makes me grind my teeth)?

However, the art of wrestling evolves and changes with the times. Fans have different and widely varying expectations now, especially as the fan base has diversified so much. And the entertainers — from the wrestlers to the promoters — are figuring out what works as they go.

Sometimes it hits, sometimes it doesn’t. But the effort is appreciated, which is more than I can say about WWE’s clockwork regression into productions like last weekend’s Backlash, seemingly designed to keep only Vince McMahon entertained (the counterproductive booking of Roman Reigns in the main event spot despite widespread fan antipathy, while the beloved Daniel Bryan spins his wheels in a midcard slot, is all Vince) and not the people who pay to watch his product.