Enter the Brain Worm
WWE fans have converged from pro wrestling fans. I don't believe it is enough to say that there is a divide between those who enjoy professional wrestling and those who prefer "sports entertainment". After all, most current day promotions have elements of sport-based competition as well as dramatic parts. But as WWE's quality has nosedived throughout this past decade, driving fans into the arms of promotions such as New Japan or away from wrestling altogether, the sanity of its remaining fans has also taken a tumble. In my short time as a wrestling fan who uses the internet I have witnessed the precipitous decline of the smark and its fusion with the troll into something worse. With this article I would like to explore the fall of the WWE smark and the rise of the brain worm.
When marks didn't like something WWE did they would simply skip the next show. When smarks didn't like something WWE did they would complain online then go to the next show anyway. When brain worms don't like something WWE does they lash out at anyone who does not recognize WWE as the world's greatest wrestling promotion. While WWE smarks were certainly annoying with their tendency to act like they were above everything, they didn't have the same meanness brain worms do. For example, a smark would want someone like Kenny Omega to sign with WWE instead of AEW. As opposed to a brain worm who would simply wish death upon him while accusing anyone who enjoyed an Omega match of being a "stan".
One of the main hobbies of the brain worm is gas lighting. Projection is the tactic I noticed first. For example, a common brain worm talking point is that companies like New Japan Pro Wrestling merely rely on doing random flashy moves and false finishes. When in reality, NXT is the promotion most guilty of this. Another aspect to their reality distortion field is the way they believe Vince McMahon's preferences are what will get over. I mean surely Cody can never be a major star if he wasn't one in WWE? Or have you noticed the many times WWE management has committed unforgivable crimes? Well what about the time AEW put on a match you didn't like!
Why did this happen only to the WWE fan base? I believe the main reason is that wrestling fans want to like WWE. They are by far the most visible promotion in the business and there is a lot of nostalgia attached to the brand. If you've ever heard something like the phrase "if you don't like it why don't you stop watching" it comes from the tension between fans who want to like WWE and the actual product. For a few years really I would watch RAW episodes where maybe 45 minutes of the three hours were good, but keep tuning in and this was true for a lot of the fans I saw.
Being that the attitude era ended nearly twenty years ago the crowd watching WWE in the 2010s were almost completely made up of the hardcore fans from back in the day. Now in the 2020s all that is left are the most die hard of that already fanatical group. Contrast this with how independent wrestling went through a huge boom in the 2010s and promotions from countries such as Japan became far more accessible. WWE certainly hogs most of the attention and money in the industry but holds very little sway over the direction of the art form itself. Any influence it does have is from indie promoters who are nostalgic for say, the attitude era, and occasionally try to mimic that style.
So what's to be done about these brain worms? I do in fact have a solution and that is, support good wrestling. Instead of the WWE network, why not give your monthly subscription money to a service like independentwrestling.tv? Search around its wide variety of content and I'm sure you will find something that fits your tastes. Also, why not check out your local indie (once they come back of course)? They will certainly appreciate the money, and you might see a good show! You could even travel back in time through the magic of the internet to watch some old wrestling you missed. Don't be one of those people that are too lazy to check out anything new.
I leave you with this warning, brain worms are not just online. In fact, they walk among us and can show up in the places you would least expect. Your local mall, a favourite boutique, or even an AEW crowd could contain brain worms. If you or someone you know has brain worms please subscribe to NJPW World or consult Dave Meltzer.
I decided to make this my day 1 #100DaysToOffload blog post.
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