WWE: Seth Rollins and the space between the fan and the journalist

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 19: Seth Rollins attends WWE Live AccorHotels Arena Popb Paris Bercy on May 19, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 19: Seth Rollins attends WWE Live AccorHotels Arena Popb Paris Bercy on May 19, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images) /

It’s really quite rare that I write about wrestling.  With the advent of internet radio, podcasting, and even the “alt-writing” that is Twitter, long form writing about wrestling can be difficult.

When I was approached to be part of the Daily DDT team, it was important to have a similar, but more thoughtful tone when it comes to analyzing the wrestling news cycle.  I think that the relationship between the wrestling journalist and the wrestling fan, is a great place to start.

I’ve been a part of Pro Wrestling Torch for five years, more or less, and it’s provided access and opportunities I never really thought I’d get.  From building relationships with industry pioneers, to being able to ask wrestlers things away from fandom, it’s given me an insight few have. Another thing that it creates is distance between you and those who, ideally, watch wrestling simply to enjoy wrestling.

There’s a prevailing thought that wrestling journalists are more interested in upsetting talent than explaining actual events, and this carries over into how fans feel towards those who make their living analyzing the business.

Take the recent Saudi Arabia trip and the fallout from it as an example.  Without going into detail, it’s understood that a segment of fans are uneasy with WWE’s relationship with the Saudi Royal family that it’s hurt their stock price, and caused people to cancel subscriptions. 

This, coupled with the travel delays allegedly resulting from a spat between McMahon and a member of the Royal family, led to wrestlers themselves tweeting their frustrations, with wrestlers like Buddy Murphy going so far as to tweet out “never again.” This information was correctly reported by a number of outlets, a rare time where it seemed both fan and source were in alignment.

Then, rumors of Seth Rollins “rallying the troops” surfaced.

One thing we learned from Roman Reigns’ cancer scare was that he was very much looked upon as a locker room leader, which was new information to most.  While no one has spoken ill of Seth Rollins, they also never implied that that was his place in WWE’s ecosystem.

At times, Rollins has been praised for riding for the home team, most notably during the Stomping Ground PPV, where he proclaimed WWE’s wrestling was “the best wrestling on the planet.”

In the same turn, he was knocked for calling Will Ospreay’s account balance into question, and directly pitting Ricochet against him as a similar, but outright better act. Rollins is both an appreciated main eventer and a victim of bad booking, as the timing always seemed to be off for him to outright succeed.

How does any of this play into the journalist vs. fan issue?  At a time where fans call Rollins sensitive, stale, miscast, among other things, all it took to get a substantial amount of them back on his side was to refute Dave Meltzer’s claim of him giving a “keep your feelings off social media” speech to the roster. Rollins has also since denied giving any speech to the roster before Raw went live.

This plays to a few sections of fandom:  First, those still upset with Meltzer for his one track minded “the timeline doesn’t fit” approach he took to Roman’s leukemia issues.  Second, the WWE as a cause crowd, who might currently be down on Rollins, but will back a wrestler that’s in turn backing the sanctity of their entertainment.  And lastly, the “gotcha” portion of Twitter that lives to see someone making a living they view as attainable be taken down a notch.

It’s not that every fan with access to wrestling journalism WANTS TO BE a wrestling journalist.  They have families, lives, other interested to be served. It’s that a certain level of groupthink has built up the idea that the love, and respect comes from the wrestling company, and that the journalists exist to lessen that fun be acknowledging the things that are less than pleasant in and around said companies.

I’ve created graphics, videos, gifs and the like that would get praise from a Facebook group/subreddit, then post something similar saying it was “for PWTorch” and be greeted with jeers, name calling ,and jokes. Journalism itself is a modern target, so when that’s coupled with reporting and analyzing a system built of deception and slight of hand, having a tangible entity to lash out to trumps digesting the information it lots of cases.

The system isn’t without fault.  You have people given false information to create narratives, people who OUTRIGHT LIE behind Patreon paywalls, and those with opinions so strong, they lessen the actual content meant to inform.  But the idea that the wrestling journalist isn’t usually trying to benefit and clarify things to the fan suggest an insane amount of effort for a less than stellar return, day in and day out.

Next. WWE: Seth Rollins is now the most compelling star on Monday Night Raw. dark

I plan to use this new platform given to me by Daily DDT to have longform conversations about the why of all this, as how we interpret what we see and hear is just as important the presentation itself.  Here’s to a brand new conversation.