Smarking Out: The Age of The IWC (Internet Wrestling Community)

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Brian Damage

The relationship between the internet and wrestling is well documented. Today, Brian looks at the history of that relationship and it’s increasing impact on the world of sports entertainment.

Not that long ago…people went to wrestling matches simply to be entertained. They had no idea what would happen…who would show up or even if what they were seeing was real or “fake.” When a new wrestler would come to the territory or promotion….nobody knew of his past career history or for that matter much of anything about him. Then the times started to change.

First came the wrestling magazines that covered all of pro wrestling in a kayfabe style. Fans started to get educated on other wrestlers and territories across the country and around the world. After that came the wrestling newsletters or “Dirt sheets” that crossed the lines of kayfabe and reality and started talking about backstage antics of the performers. Then came the internet and everything truly transformed.

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Whether it was for the better or the worse…the internet changed not only how we watched pro wrestling…but how we perceived it. The information super highway provided so much info…that pro wrestling needed to adapt to the changes. It has brought the good, bad and the ugly to the forefront. This piece will look at all the things that the internet has helped create. In this…the information age.

The Building of Stars

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It use to be a wrestler often needed years to become a star. Wrestling in different territories getting their name and face recognized. Now it can take seconds…with the click of a mouse. The internet has created so many stars on the indy scene and abroad. The worldwide exposure from the internet has helped many wrestlers become instant stars whether it is Fergal Devitt…Uhaa Nation…Ricochet…Hiroshi Tanahashi….and countless others.

It has helped wrestlers get their names out there to a bigger audience and helped secure more bookings and bigger paydays. It has allowed them to get signed quicker by places like the WWE,TNA, Ring of Honor, Lucha Underground and overseas.

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Way back when…wrestling posters and flyers were made up and posted on trees, telephone poles and inside gymnasiums. While that is still done to this day…independent wrestling now has the advantage of promoting a show via the internet as well.

Pay per view shows are and have been streamed through the internet using Go Fight Live, Ustream and other internet providers.

The Age of the Spoilers

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With the internet, it has become much harder for promoters to utilize the surprise element to their shows. Fans more times than not will check wrestling websites to get the latest news, rumors and spoilers for upcoming shows. Fans in attendance of a taped show will send results to various websites to be posted later that night.

It really becomes difficult to accrue stronger ratings when fans already know what is going to happen ahead of time. Granted, it can certainly help if an angle or new wrestler debuts and you want to see it…but a lot of times…why see something if you already know what happens? Mick Foley not withstanding….

Breaking of Kayfabe

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The emergence of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have also been somewhat of a detriment to the old ways pro wrestling was done. It use to be that babyfaces and heels were always split up. They were never seen together outside the ring because promoters didn’t want to give fans the indication that these wrestlers actually got along fine.

Nowadays heels, babyfaces and tweeners are all friending and following each other on social media. They are taking selfies with one another breaking the old school wrestling codes.

Wrestlers are now interacting more than ever with their fans and critics. It’s a whole new era…an era that many traditionalists are not very fond of. Heck, it made Zack Ryder into a star for the WWE.

Booking on the Fly

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The WWE has always been big proponents of booking storylines over a year in advance. The internet has somewhat forced the way the WWE operates. Take last year for example. The big plan was for Batista to challenge Randy Orton for the WWE title at Wrestlemania 30. The fans outcries on social media and at the arenas helped change the way Wrestlemania was booked.

Who knows where technology will take the wrestling business next? Maybe one day, they’ll create a virtual reality where fans can create their own personal dream matches and not be considered a video game. Then again….who says that isn’t in the works already?

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