A notable characteristic about wrestling fans is that we love to write. There is no other form of entertainment with as many outlets for self-expression through the written word. This is what makes the sport such an endlessly fascinating pastime. For better or worse, everyone has an opinion on something. Following a major PPV or big announcement, you can bet there will be thousands of stories posted all over the internet by the next morning. The internet is so synonymous with wrestling that a particular subset of fans is commonly referred to as the Internet Wrestling Community.
The number of wrestling websites is as vast as the sea. They are too numerous to mention, but some of the more notable ones include PWMania, WrestlingInc and PWInsider. Longstanding publications as The Wrestling Observer and Pro Wrestling Torch each have their own website where staff and guest columnists can offer their insight on any topic imaginable. And then there is Bleacher Report.
BR initially caught my attention about a year ago. In addition to their coverage of the latest happenings in WWE, they are one of the foremost providers of online sports coverage. The quality of their work is generally very good to great. Some of their articles are downright excellent in their breadth of discussion. They also have the best multimedia tools at their disposal to bring any story to life.
In a change of pace from other wrestling websites, BR has an application process its aspiring writers must complete. A writing test and online orientation is also required before any writing can begin. No more than 15 percent of their applicants are accepted in a given month and the majority of those accepted have several years of formal journalism work or education to their credit.
A major selling point to its writers is the writer rankings. Basically, the more articles they write, the better chance they have of moving up the rankings to eventually become a featured columnist. In many ways the goal is similar to blogging. The more a blogger posts quality (keyword) content on a regular basis, the quicker it will take for their blog to be noticed amongst the millions of others competing in the blogosphere.
At the end of the day the goal of any writer should be to produce thought-provoking and high quality work, regardless of the frequency.
Every story won’t be an award-winning piece of literature and every writer (myself included) is guilty of phoning it in at one time or another. There are very few times as a wrestling fan that I have read something that absolutely infuriated me. After all, a good writer should have the ability to conjure up the emotions of its readers. However, the recent BR article Why Roman Reigns is Holding Back The Shield by Bryan Haas outraged me in a way I never thought possible.
The story was a textbook example of narrow-mindedness and appeared to be written as a copout to the hardcore fanbase. Even though I’ve read several well informed opinion pieces on the site, including those I disagreed with, this one was shocking in its lack of factual balance. It appeared as though the writer picked a random name out of his “which big man wrestler I can trash this week” hat before striking away at the keys.
The irony is that his article fell short of appealing to the audience he thought it would. It’s universally acknowledged that The Shield is the hottest thing going in WWE today. Since their debut last November, they have done nothing but tear down the house with one great match after another. The success of the group is thanks in large part to the chemistry of all three members.
Dean Ambrose is leader and one of the best all-around talents in the business. He has an unorthodox style that sets him apart from everyone in WWE. Seth Rollins is the brash high flyer who is also an excellent performer. Reigns is the physical powerhouse who comes across as a believable monster liable to destroy anyone crossing his path. A key part of what makes them special is that you have three distinct personalities and styles on display. All too often we see guys from developmental lose all semblance of what made them unique once they are called up to the main roster. Therefore it creates a company where far too many wrestlers have the same look and style, which results in a boring product. Imagine if Coca-Cola was the only beverage served in the world. Despite how much you may love it today, there is bound to come a time where you will crave something different.
The article received an overwhelmingly negative reaction in the comments section and on the BR Twitter page. Even the most critical smart fan likely found them self scratching their head in bewilderment.
About two weeks ago, I posted the following tweet:”Reigns has really held his own in terms of wrestling and promos. He is my favorite big guy in WWE.” To my surprise it was retweeted by WrestleZone.
I stand by my statement completely. Haas makes it seem that Reigns’ lack of technical fluidity will spell the death of the group. He also greatly embellished a minor instance where Reigns wound up driving his own head to the floor when attempting a spear on Daniel Bryan. It was a hot match from start to finish and in no way did Reigns’ performance detract from its quality. Last I checked, wrestling was not ballet and many of the best wrestlers in history have slipped up on a spot and hurt themselves.
He also made a pathetic attempt at explaining how Reigns’ continued use of the spear may be harmful to his career because—here is the kicker—it’s the same finisher used by Divas Champion Kaitlyn. Apparently, we can’t have someone doing the same finisher as her. What a travesty of justice!
Reigns has a great look, shows tremendous intensity and is never lost in the ring. In my estimation that is the hallmark of a good wrestler. If being prominently featured on television while having blowaway matches is the WWE’s way of holding back Shield, then I’d like to see Haas’ definition of the opposite.
When summarizing Haas’ story, three words immediately come to mind: lazy, desperate and stupid.