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Post-WWE Fandom - for those who cut the cord


Chris B
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It used to be talked about a lot on here about how nobody really quit watching WWE, and how everyone came back eventually. Based on viewing figures and the volume of discussion, it seems like that's no longer the case - people do seem to be quitting. I'm not looking to lay into WWE with this - it's more that I find it interesting to look back on it after being a fan for decades.

So, if you've stopped watching WWE, why did you stop and how have you felt about that? Have you totally stopped? Do you keep up with it even if you don't watch? Do you still go back and watch older stuff? Do you still watch other wrestling? And do you miss it? Is there stuff you've been tempted by? Do you think you'll go back?

Myself, I stopped watching in the run-up to Crown Jewel 2018, which was just the last straw for me. I basically decided I'd had enough of giving Vince McMahon money (and while I wanted to support some of the people who worked for him, I eventually ended up deciding that it's their choice if they want to work for him). I've kept a rough eye on big goings-on via Reddit, but less and less over the two years. 

The things I've felt like I missed out on were Becky Lynch's run, Daniel Bryan's return, and Roman Reigns as a heel. To a  lesser extent, I liked Drew McIntyre a lot, so I'd have liked to have seen more of what he's doing, and the Kofi thing sounded nice.

Other than that, I'm almost surprised how much I haven't missed it. It's weird to be so removed from it that I see people now and don't know anything really about them. I have a sense of who the Street Profits and the Viking Experience are, but not really anything other than that. And that makes it easier to stay away - I no longer have the same connection to people that I had before.

In the meantime, I've enjoyed AEW more than I've enjoyed wrestling in years, and getting more into NJPW has been really rewarding. I'm probably watching slightly less wrestling overall than I used to, but I'm enjoying what I watch more.

I haven't really felt much interest in going back to watch older shows either (I still have my DVDs from the pre-Network days), and that's kind of surprised me. I just don't feel the inclination to - trying to decide if I'll keep them or not. I don't see myself going back to WWE either. I guess never say never, but I doubt it.

How about you?

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Around 2018 as well I stopped watching shows fully. I didn’t have Sky so it was always a faff, so I just started watching highlight You Tube vids and reading results. I’d still watch PPV’s and NXT. As I had BT I was excited when they got the rights, but realised it was at their worst creative period in years. So I now record everything but skip through it, playing stuff that looks interesting.  But since AEW started it’s been able to keep me excited on a weekly basis. So that now keeps my wrestling watching habit alive. 

The production on WWE is also god awful. Yeah, it looks decent, but the camera work is nauseating to the point it’s just not fun to watch matches. NXT feels stale now days as well, so the interest for that has died off too. Also the Saudi deal sucks, as does the association with Trump, the independent contractors, the banning talent from using Cameo and Twitch and the general defending of sexual assault suspects and other shithousery leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.  I’m not saying AEW is not without faults, but it’s a better and easier watch and doesn’t feel  it’s run in the same way.

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Like most people I haven't placed a blanket ban on ever watching any WWE and quite regularly seek out stuff from "my day". I can happily watch any old show or PPV with that warm nostalgic glow.

But for the past five years at least, the only 'current' stuff I seem to seek out are moments such as the Undertaker's retirement or something involving the proper stars of the 80s and 90's making cameos or having short runs or whatever.

(The only matches that have piqued my interest recently have been the universally panned Saudi shows, but at least featuring Goldberg, HBK, Undertaker etc) 

In reality I haven't been a regular viewer of weekly TV since 2010 or so, vividly enjoying the lead-up to that Wrestlemania invoving Bret/Vince and HBK/Taker II (mad to think that was 10 years ago).

Obviously I carried on made a point of catching up on the big moments  such as the Nexus and the CM Punk pipebomb, and at least the big matches of most Wrestlemanias. 

But as a result of my ever dwindling viewership I've reached the stage now I don't really know or recognise at least 60% of the roster any more, some names I've heard of from reading on here but I wouldn't have a clue what they look like unless they came through TNA at some point. I'm not sure I've ever watched more than 10 mins of an NXT episode since they moved to Full Sail for example.

Because of that I can't really see myself tuning back again as I have no investment whatsoever in pretty much any of the characters, so why would I seek out a match involving them? I also find the general presentation of their TV nowadays to be atrocious, way too glossy and overproduced, it feels like you're in the middle of an infomercial or something. I can't emphasise enough how unappealing it is.

That said, and while I'd like to say that the WWE's questionable morals is a big reason too and not supporting them does make me feel better, in honesty if they were producing 1997 quality shows involving wrestlers I care about I'd be watching weekly.

Over the past decade watching TNA/Impact has filled any wrestling shaped hole I wanted to fill, admittedly less frequently by the end of Dixie Carter's tenure, but at least it was and remains only a 90 minute commitment. I genuinely can't fathom how people find the time in a week to watch 3 hour Raws, Smackdown, NXT etc. 

But genuinely I think that a big factor that a lot of people tend to miss is that AEW is fulfilling many people's "big time wrestling" appetite in a way that no-one has managed to satisfy since WCW's demise.

Even at TNA's height (and admittedly I'm an Impact man at heart), shows were held at the Impact zone and never filling out big arenas for whatever reason, while Dynamite can easily resemble an episode of Nitro back in the day (pre-pandemic at least). 

While I've floated in and out of the product and there are aspects I just don't get (Orange Cassidy.....), AEW clearly has more than enough star power and a strong enough product that I genuinely don't feel that I'm missing out on anything by not watching WWE. Even having JR and Schiavone on commentary warms my heart with nostalgia.

Unless they managed to attract the likes of the Rock etc for another match, whatever constitutes a "must see match" in the WWE these days will almost certainly pass me by.

 

Edited by garynysmon
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My interest in WWE was waning, but I finally gave up on it completely after the Ashley Massaro story broke. I’ve never had much of an interest in stuff outside of WWE anyway, and so my interest and fandom of pro wrestling ended there and then.

Since then, I’ve realised I followed it purely as it was the continuation of my childhood. But I didn’t particularly get much enjoyment from it, so it was more habit than anything. I now get quite annoyed with myself that I actively followed and paid money to not only a horrible company, but a generally shitty industry anyway.

Whichever way you want to argue it, the human body just isn’t made to do the kinds of things pro wrestlers do - certainly not at the level and frequency that WWE demands of its “employees” (and I include a relentless cross-time zone travel schedule in that).

The morality rate in WWE alone is horrendous, with not only the number of premature deaths but also the nature in which people have died being utterly sickening. I’m often disappointed in myself that I followed WWE for so long, turning a blind eye to what were blatantly such shitty practices.

When the story about Ashley Massaro broke, I was truly saddened for her and her family. There’re always two sides to ever story, so I took the view that if only half of what was reported was true, WWE wasn’t something I could enjoy or support.

How WWE remains in business, seemingly unaccountable for decades of scandal, is beyond me. I’m disappointed in myself that I watched for as long as I did, and more so that I was once involved in wrestling for a bit.

Edited by scratchdj
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Got rid of the network coming up for 3 years ago and not been tempted back. I just realised it wasn’t for me anymore, and have no appeal to keep watching something I no longer enjoyed and being the moaning fan . When I wasn’t at all bothered to miss mania I knew I was done with watching them. I’ll keep up with results and the odd YouTube clip of anything interesting happens, but sitting to watch one of their shows in full just isn’t for me.
My interest switched to attending local indies, and that was my wrestling fix for the week with usually having 1/2 shows a weekend to go to, with the bigger new Japan shows on a weekend morning giving me my tv fix. These days it’s just aew, and that’s mostly YouTube a Thursday morning, then the full show early the next week. Hopefully that can stay a fresh easy watch so I have wrestling that is for me, if not then I’ll move on.

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I haven’t watched Raw/SmackDown regularly for years and years but I would watch every PPV on the Network. These days I’ll read the results, maybe watch a clip on YouTube if something sounds good, and seek out one of the ‘big four’ PPVs.

It’s a combination of practical reasons (I got rid of the Network after WrestleMania to save some cash, and haven’t missed it), aesthetic reasons (the empty arena and the camera cuts! The constant camera cuts! Which mean I can’t get into matches) and the growing sense of guilt at continuing to give them my money.

Having AEW as an easy alternative on ITV means I can still watch and enjoy some wrestling on the regular.

All that said, I could be tempted to resubscribe for the Rumble next month.

Edited by HarmonicGenerator
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I wouldn't say I'm anything of a regular viewer of full shows these days and if I wasn't for working at home, I'm not sure if I would watch at all. I was Raw in about 30 minutes online as I get up with my little on early Tuesday mornings. I watch the highlights of Smackdown and if it wasn't for Reigns smashing it at the moment, I doubt id even watch those.

I forgot all about NXT this week, but I do tend to watch NXT, however I've gone from being a huge fan of NXT, to watching it after Dynamite on a Thursday morning if I've got time. NXT should never have moved from the Network over here. There was a time I paid for Sky Sports purely for WWE, now I don't even have sky and nothing tempts me to get BT Sport.

Most of how I catch up on shows these days is via What Cultures Ups and Downs with Simon Miller. If certain segments pique my attention, I'll check them out.

If I was working from the office and travelling 2 hours a day, I don't think I would watch much, if any wrestling at all.

I think I was always keep my eye on the news sites to see what's happening and certain wrestlers debuting / being involved will get me watching certain bits.

It doesn't help that you can't really enjoy threads on here to do with WWE these days without everything being picked apart. Dynamite is so enjoyable (outside of the product which is fresh and new) because people have genuine discussion on it and the excitement people have comes through in their posts. 

Edited by Nick James
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Long post warning. I wanted to explain how my fandom built up and then declined.

It's been a long time, so if some of the events don't line up don't jump on me, it's just an old man misremembering.

I got into World of Sport as an 8 year old in 1982 and loved wrestling from that point on.

When ITV started to show WWF occasionally it was like discovering punk after only seeing singers in working mens clubs doing easy listening covers. I was hooked totally.

Then around 1990 a friend of a friend got Sky and I was able to follow the storylines in full. I got Sky myself in 1992 in large part for the wrestling.

For the next 5 years I ate, slept and breathed WWF. Even though I maybe claimed WCW was better, ECW cooler and Japanese wrestling harder hitting it was still WWF that I followed religiously. I was at Wembly Stadium for Summerslam. I stopped up for every PPV and watched every show; a,b or c.

1997 was the begining  of the end. I met my now wife (Just Some Lass) and she hated wrestling. I mean really hated it. So I watched half an hour of Raw before going to bed and stayed in touch via Powerslam.

I must still have been watching the PPVs as I did see the Montreal screw job.

Then one week Raw opened with the news that Davey Boy Smith had died.

It really hit me hard and I got to thinking of all the others wrestlers who had died young in the previous few years, and decided that that was enough for me.

On top of this was a feeling of watching a long running soap and realising that most of the characters you loved had left the show and it was time you left too.

I did still watch the odd bit here and there and bought the Royal Rumble once. For the most part I just continued to read Powerslam until even that stopped.

So, wrestling had no presence in my life until I discovered this forum. Not sure of the exact year but everyone had Marvel Civil War sigs!

Interest in wrestling started to twitch a bit. I attended 2 or 3 local shows but really just lurked on the UKFF.

Decided to give AEW a go based on an advert seen on TV in a pub on a night out, after defending the art of pro wrestling to the friends I was with.

As you can guess, after nearly 20 years away, AEW has got me back into being a fan. 

I do still pick up the odd WWE tidbit from here or see a match on BT. My reason for staying away is largely the time commitment required to follow it.

I feel no need to defend AEW from its detractors. I love all of it, yes, even the     women's division. Nor do I feel the need to claim that AEW is better than WWE, I'm happy for anyone enjoying Raw, Smackdown & NXT.

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I clocked off around 2008, came back into the fold in 2011 with the Punk promo and The Rock returning for a program with Cena and tuned back out last year.

I still follow WWE accounts on Twitter so have an idea of what’s going on, but I haven’t got the network and don’t watch any of the shows.

Everything I have seen this year (all through clips of socials), bar the Roman Reigns turn, is absolutely, utter dross. I don’t care about the ginger one from the dubstep tag team shagging Rey’s daughter. I don’t want to see eye gouging. I don’t want to see that wrestlers have ‘died’ after being thrown off of Titan towers, I don’t want to see what T-Bone is up to this week with his daft bane mask, I don’t care about seeing The Fiend travel to the multiverse to pull Alexa Bliss, I don’t understand why Randy Orton wants to wear a welders mask whilst beating up uno playing legends in the dark - all of this whilst the camera moves about so harshly that I can’t get through five minutes.

I do still watch AEW, which I feel has been decent.

WWE at this point, I feel, is only attracting people with the brand. There’s nothing about the content of the show that makes me want to tune in. What WWE need to understand, however, is that brands earn their value and that value can be lost, so they must pay closer attention to how they build their talent and the programs they put them in.

Edited by AVM
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It's since about 2016 I've been watching less frequently and not really following it since about 2018 - especially pandemic era. I've found that though the option's there to go into a thread here and see what's going on, I don't want to because I'd rather let any attachment die out.

The Ashley Massaro story made me wonder why I was watching though, as Gary said, if the shows were good enough then chances are I'd still be watching. 

I watched Mania 17 again the other day. The pacing is perfect for me - no going up the aisle for an eternity after the match, not tons of adverts, no fade into someone backstage doing some drawn out formulaic promo and staring into the distance. Everything's there for a purpose and it doesn't all blend into one.

I wasn't a massive CM Punk fan but I think him leaving had quite a big impact as he felt real and nothing really replaced him for me. Bryan was great too but Mania XXX was his peak for me and then retired. 

My mate flicked over to Raw for a laugh the other day and it was Lashley vs. Keith Lee. It looked bloody terrible with the screens and the shite commentary. Embarrassing. I caught something from AEW's latest show on YouTube and it looks like they've produced it miles better.

I might give AEW a go but in general the style of wrestling isn't for me. I'm not keen on the Japanese/indy style that's become more prevalent over the years which doesn't seem to leave me many options (not keen on lucha libre either). 

 

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It's been about ten years since I watched with any regularity. Maybe more.

WWE seemed to fall into a pattern where they'd do something incredible and I'd HAVE to watch to see how things played out and then they'd fuck it up, or just flat out abandon the storyline mid-way through. Nexus, Punk's Pipebomb promo, the ECW return, Awesome Truth, Kevin Owens megapush, Ryback and the Wyatts megapush all left me feeling like a fucking idiot for getting invested in the first place. It got to the point where I just stopped being arsed. I think the last time I watched regularly was during Seth Rollins awful first title run, which seemed to be booked solely to give Triple H and Stephanie an ego boost.

I would occasionally subscribe to the Network for the older stuff, NXT and/or Wrestlemania but Ashley Massaro's death put an end to that. Reading her statement was when it really hit home just what a shitty, immoral company I'd been supporting. I thought about all the other stuff I'd chosen to ignore - Nancy Argentino's murder and the Saudi shows being the main ones - and decided that I wasn't going to give them money ever again.

Strangely, I'm probably watching more wrestling right now than I have done at any point in the past. AEW's been great and I've finally started to get into NJPW after subscribing at the start of the year. I took out a free trial on Impact Plus as well, so I've watched the last few weeks of that too. There's so much accessible and affordable wrestling around that I really don't miss WWE at all.

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It took a few months, perhaps partly because I was planning a trip to WrestleMania, but the sour taste of that photo with the whole McMahon family smiling around Trump in the Oval Office, owing to Linda's cabinet position acquired through millions of dollars donated to his campaign, is what drove me away.

At the time, it was in the back of my mind that I might be back some day. But then came the Saudi deal and the Massaro story, and any lingering thought of supporting these people again vanished.

In hindsight it shouldn't have taken so long, but with so much of the company's past shrouded in rumour and semi-plausible deniability, it's a cumulative process until you reach a tipping point. I'm now way past that and refuse to condone them with my support ever again.

It's of course ironic that WWE is now more accessible than ever, with its own version of Netflix and weekly highlight shows on Channel 5. But it could all be sealed in a lead crate and fired into the sun for all it matters to me now. I'll always be nostalgic for the memories that shaped me growing up, but I'm not going to put money in Vince's pocket to rewatch them or increase their current audience in hopes of making more. I keep loose tabs on the biggest developments through here and the occasional headline on my phone, because of course it will always interest me to hear of The Undertaker's retirement or Edge coming out of his. I'll always be curious. But I won't allow that deep-rooted attachment to lure me back in as a viewer.

Wrestling is still very much in my blood, my preferred method of storytelling, but I'm a fan without a home right now. I was tempted to jump on board with AEW, but not enough to overlook the complicity of owner Khan and lead star Jericho in regards to Team Trump. I was idly tuning in to MLW until reading about some of its connections. And while I've heard good things about Impact, I've yet to muster the effort to check whether it's still under the influence of the Aryan Brotherhood. So perhaps I'll struggle to find any promotion that passes my newfound purity test, but if that's the case then fine. I can live the rest of my life as a wrestling fan who doesn't watch any wrestling. I'm done compromising on far more important principles for the sake of my own entertainment, and I truly believe the world would be a better place if we all adjusted our priorities a little.

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