Apr
28
2021

The Internet Wrestling Community Has Some Serious Issues

Kenny Omega

I recently rejoined the wrestling community. I initially left the community back in 2017/2018 because I was getting tired of the WWE product. It had been wearing on me for about a year, and finally, I realized I was not having fun anymore. I had loved NXT because it was different, more exciting, and 2016-2018 was the best stretch any wrestling promotion has ever had.

However, in later 2018, after the Gargano/Ciampa feud had all but finished, and Adam Cole ran out of elite competition, the product got dry. It’s rumored that Vince Mcmahon got heavily involved in NXT during this time, and, sadly, it showed.

I stayed on the outside looking in until recently, when I took time to watch the “Winter Is Coming” episode of AEW.

I like Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks and Hangman Page. I bought the initial All In even though it was scheduled for the busiest and most important day of my life. If I had not had been uninterested in wrestling at the time, I am sure I would have been all over the debut of AEW. However, I had missed it and been out of the loop.

I saw some of the matches that were scheduled for the Winter is Coming episode, I had an open night without anything to do, so I decided to tune in. It was a great show, and I will never forget the feeling and sound of Tony Schiavone screaming “It’s Sting!” during Sting’s surprise debut.

However, I was not quite sold… until the Brodie Lee Memorial Show.

I saw my second ever episode of AEW later that month when I tuned into AEW’s memorial episode for the late, great, Brodie Lee/Jon Huber. The amount of love and respect and honor they poured out onto the Huber family and Jon Huber’s legacy was beyond moving. It was a weird feeling to see a wrestling promotion that felt less like a business with executives, merch quotas, and an infinite sea of underpaid workers in the back and felt more like a connection of human beings with emotions, relationships, and love for each other and wrestling.

I have been watching AEW Dynamite every week since then, and it is safe to say I am a big fan!

Kenny Omega is a great wrestler and his story with Don Callis is entertaining. The Young Bucks are amazingly talented and could put on a five-star match with a pair of mops. Death Triangle has three of the most talented wrestlers of all time. Chris Jericho feels like the most legitimate dude on the roster.

The Dark Order is struggling a bit without Brodie Lee, but they finally seem to be getting something going with Sting and Hangman Page. Jon Moxley looks like he is having a great time and, based on the interviews I have heard, has never had more fun. Then there are the Best Friends and Orange Cassidy and Kris Stadtlander, which is by far the best staple in wrestling.

I rejoined the internet wrestling community a few months ago because I wanted to meet other people with similar interests as me that I could talk to about wrestling and be mutually excited with. What I found was much less inviting.

The internet wrestling community is a split and divisive warzone, with nobody allowed to have fun, and only complaining allowed. Do you like WWE? “AeW wOn ThE wEdNeSdAy NiGhT wAr!”. Do you like AEW? “WcW cLoNe!” You think the whole thing is dumb and people should be allowed to like whatever they like and just live in harmony? First, some boomer will call you a hippie, but then “HoW dArE yOu Be So ObJeCtIvE?”

If you are a fan of one promotion, you are absolutely not allowed to be a fan of the other promotions. You can not offer any criticism about any promotion, even if you are a fan of that promotion unless you want to be attacked and overwhelmed with hateful responses. Even if you are being sympathetic for wrestlers who just lost their jobs, you will be attacked because “BuDgEt CuTs ArE nOrMaL” or “NoBoDy CaReS aBoUt [insert wrestler who has a committed fanbase and has had a ton of support sent their way since their release]”

However, this is not the most problematic part of this community (although it is a problem we can and will address on another day). No, the biggest problem in the wrestling community is that is currently being held hostage by hateful and bigoted people.

You are okay with, or even encourage Peacock trying to scrub some of the extremely racist and bigoted content from the WWE’s past? Oh, here come the “Back in my day…” folks. You think that it was disgusting how WWE and WCW treated women before 2016 and think it is a good thing that WWE has completely abandoned the over-sexualized themes of the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression eras? The “Get triggered, snowflake” crowd is already in the comments.

Do you think that Hogan should not continue to be featured prominently on WWE programming due to recent events? Well, would you look at that, the “Why can they say it…” folks are here.

That is only the way they treat other members of their community. They treat the wrestlers and on-screen talent much worse.

Do you mention Kenny Omega? Well here come the bigoted crowd that is going to hurl homophobic insults and quote their bigoted leader, Jim Cornette, at you. The Hurt Business? The “blue lives matter” profile pictures are already on their way to say “I’m not racist, but [insert racist and stupid take here]” Any foreign wrestler who does not speak English or did not grow up with English as a first language? White nationalists know how to comment on Facebook apparently.

Female wrestlers and on-screen talent are almost constantly harassed and made uncomfortable, both publicly and privately. LGBTQ wrestlers and allied wrestlers are berated by live audiences regularly. No one feels safe in this community, and the offenders feel empowered.

This is not a safe place and is getting worse every single day. Every day that these hateful and bigoted people are allowed to just keep being hateful and bigoted is more confidence that they have in their opinions. Plus, every day that their opinions are allowed out in public without proper context or opposition, they have the ability to influence young people (it is worth noting that WWE’s product is aimed at all ages, but does a lot of work to appeal to children) and easily impressionable folk.

At this point, it is necessary to address the first argument that these types of people are going to use to counter this article (if they read it. Most people opposed to articles are only opposed to the title and can not be bothered to read the content). They are going to say that I am not allowing them or barring them from criticizing wrestlers or wrestling promotions. Which is inherently untrue.

I have been publicly critical of wrestlers and wrestling promotions on this platform and Twitter. Criticism is totally valid, especially for something that you enjoy. If you want to see something get better, you have to offer measured and constructive criticisms on things that can be improved. If no one ever offered criticisms, nothing would get better, and everything would be terrible and boring.

However, you can not attack or criticize people (reminder, wrestlers are people) for things that are outside of their control. Leveling criticisms at Kenny Omega because of his sexuality (which, firstly, he has never publicly clarified, so please stop just assuming you know what his sexual preference is) is stupid because firstly, that is not a choice he gets to make for himself, let alone you, and secondly, it in no way effects his in-ring performance. Big E, Xavier Woods, and Kofi Kingston did not get to choose whether or not they wanted to be born black, so criticizing the second-best tag team in wrestling history for that reason is pointless and bigoted.

Kazuchika Okada, Kushida, Asuka, Shinsuke Nakamura, Andrade Cien Almas, Penta El Zero Miedo/Muertes, Rey Fenix, Cesaro, Maki Itoh, Ryo Mizunami, Riho, and Tay Conti are not less good in the squared circle or less talented because their first language is not English, so what is the point in even criticizing that? All you are doing with this criticism is showing your tendencies and preferences for white nationalism.

So what can this community do to improve this? There are well-meaning and progressive leaders and members of this community that definitely do participate in any of the hateful and bigoted rhetoric, so how can we make these communities better for them?

Firstly, we have to try and beat these ideas out plain. Do not be afraid to speak up and say what you think, because that just empowers the bigoted and hateful people and leaves silence for them to put their comments into. Let them know how cool it is that the WWE just featured two black women in the main event of Wrestlemania Night One.

Remind them how brave it is for Nyla Rose to just be herself, let alone be herself on such a public platform. Beat them in the public discourse, shift the crowd against them, and empower those with similar thoughts to stand up alongside you.

Step two is organizing and showing the bigoted people that they are outnumbered. It is important to clarify right up top that this is not a public shaming campaign, because that is terrible, but instead a public promotion campaign. Get behind progressive ideas and people, liking their content and sharing their takes as much as possible. Show them that your loving and exciting content can get just as much, if not more, positive attention than their hateful and gross posts do.

If steps one and two fails, it is time to get extreme with step three: clean out the trash. Find the bigots, finds the racists and sexists and nationalists, and eject them from the conversation. Remove them from your Facebook groups, block them on Twitter, delete their comments. Do not let them take up space in your online town square. You do not let trash take up space in your house, why should this be any different?

To clarify to the people looking at the above step and going, “But my free speech…” understand kicking you out in no way infringes on your freedom to say whatever you want. You are free to say whatever you want, that does not mean I or anyone else has to listen to it. Do not inflate your rights to infringe on mine.

The wrestling community can be, and should be, a better place then it is, and it is time to take it back.