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Rise and Fall of the IWC

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The following is an article by one of the more respected online writers from the internet's glory days. What do you guys think about his comments?

 

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I wouldn't get all melodramatic about me "being fed up" with wrestling or anything else. Truthfully, there's nothing about the business or its overall entertainment value that's much different from when it kinda down-turned in 2004.

 

That's stuff I'm willing to put up, something I'm kind of prepared to deal with, a turd I'm ready to polish. There's not as much unbridled joy and enthusiasm as there used to be in the Long Ago, but I'm good, dammit; I'm damned good. I can turn ANYthing into a fairly amusing anecdote, and there's still plenty of quality material, inspired by the current product, that occurs to me in any given week.

 

What's changed for me in the last little while is a realization not about the wrestling itself... but about wrestling-on-the-internet. This whole big "revolution" that started in earnest about 12-13 years ago, served to "smarten up" a whole new legion of mainstream viewers, and which may or may not have directly caused ECW to become as influential as it was.. it is now officially dead.

 

I realized that where once WWE's online presence was laughable to any "serious" wrestling fan, the truth is that they are now OWNING that demographic. People who legitimately care enough about wrestling to get online and search for more of it are finding exactly what they want on WWE.com... not from Keller or Scherer or me. "Serious" fans aren't joiniing me in mocking WWE for asking me to give a shit about "The Dirt Sheet" when they can't even bother to put together 5 strong hours of REAL TV per week... "serious fans," more often than not, are just lining up in droves so that they can talk to each other about how much they want to jock Johnny Nitro for being able to display at least 70% of a marketable personality when he's doing it in Virtual Form.

 

This other insider/expert/analyst thing -- the thing that the internets used to be good for when it came to wrestling -- is now the purview of lapsed fans, or fans who are in some way less connected to the product than these other "serious" fans. It makes for a convoluted mess when you're me, and you have to figure out how to frame things or figure out how (ir)relevant you are.

 

It's not that I don't still have every confidence that I can spin a damned fine yarn... it's just that I've become concerned over whether it matters or not anymore. I've never aspired to be Meltzer or Keller (and thank god, because they truly are awful; alternating between acting like serious "journalists"/self-important-twats and then coming off as the biggest dorktastic weenies in the world any time they attempt a rare display of personality, wit, or wordsmithery)... but I always thought I knew my place pretty clearly.

 

Now, with WWE's audience contracted to the point that it is, I have a style of analysis and criticism that plays best to a pretty-hardcore audience of people who are still there in the trenches with me watching these shows 3-4 times per week... an audience that's no longer there, maybe. WWE's condensed audience of existing superfans would rather visit the WWE Universe to see shitty video blogs than read about how Randy Orton is, objectively and mathematically, Ratings Death. Those are your new "hardcore" fans. And WWE's figured out how to own them.

 

Good for them, I guess. But tough for me to get traction for my ideas and witticisms if I'm not entirely sure if I'm playing to "hardcore" fans who think I'm out of touch if I dare to still think Orton is utterly average and has NOT paid nearly enough pennance yet to deserve anything resembling praise... or if I need to tweak things in terms of my Righteous Indignation because I have mostly lapsed/casual viewers checking in on my columns because they're even more annoyed with WWE than I am, and yet ironically, less familiar with the subject matter and thus less capable of being as SPECIFICALLY annoyed as I am.... or if there's something else entirely I should be focused on.

 

Honestly, I think about it, and it's like what I consider to be the "smart fan" (intelligent, critical, comprehending of how the business works but still able to enjoy the shows) is now defined by limited patience and attention to the product, or what we used to call a "casual viewer." And then, what I think of as "clueless lemming-like marks" are now such an extremely enthusiastic group that they're dead-ringers for what we used to call "hardcore." It's fucked up and upside down and all that.

 

My columns tend to be pretty spontaenous and stream-of-consciousness once I get started, but it's hard to get the foothold to just start writing one if you don't have a good feel for how you want things to be framed in the "big picture." Thus: maybe a bit less output from me in this particular medium until I can wrap my brain around what's happening.

 

Anyway, if you want a explanation/excuse: there's kind of a few random and possibly nonsensical thoughts. Seeing how pitiably insular and irrelevant much of the once-noble "IWC" has become (note: yes, there's sarcasm there, but for as stupid as I thought it was to call the thing a "community," I still recognize it served its purpose for a pretty long time) has just had me thinking lately. Mostly about how WWE has stepped in and claimed the medium as their own, and how the original online revolution is officially dead. Maybe somebody should think about writing up a big fancy feature about the "Rise and Fall of the Online Wrestling Reporter"? I want no part of writing something like that my own self, but if somebody else does, I insist on being interviewed for my voluminous thoughts!

 

Also: I'm back on the horse again for the Rumble. If not for the recap itself, then for a column right afterwards. Haven't you noticed the trend since SummerSlam? Come hell or high water, The Rick simply does not miss PPVs!

 

Or perhaps I'm just getting in touch with my Inner Hogan: I only work the big towns, brother....

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I left his name annonymous on purpose.

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I'm not sure what your purpose was for leaving the writer anonymous, but I had a pretty good idea of who it was about halfway through the piece. I think my suspicion was confirmed with third-person self-reference at the end.

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I left his name annonymous [sic] on purpose.

 

Why did you not want us to know it was Rick Scaia?

 

I wasn't sure how some would respond to the comments without any bias towards the writer positive or negative.

 

You know like how some don't care at all for Meltzer's opinons or comments?

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oowrestling.com

 

Online Onslaught didn't pay their domain bills and it was purchased by a squatter who jumped on it because of the traffic volume.

 

It's basically kept around for it's messageboard these days, which is very insular.

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Quite an insightful note. I feel that WWE does own the internet wrestling market, but that a lot of it is merely information on the wrestlers. The average wrestling fans that visit the site tend to not read the stuff published here from the Inside WWE section, as well as avoiding the Coporate WWE section, which is a damn good read abouthow the E operates.

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Scaia was more like one of the Wrestleline guys who wrote columns and such back in the day. Maybe TV reports at times too? BUTT, I cracked up at your "thumbs in the middle" comment since that was a frequent criticism of Scaia's reviews, that he never took a firm stand on a match or PPV.

 

He does have a point somewhere in all that ranting though. The IWC lost a lot of influence in a post MNW and ECW world. WWE was more willing to listen to online rants when they were really competing with other feds. But now? Why bother?

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Wasn't the Internet responsible for getting the Blue Meanie rehired after WWF fired him in 1999?

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The way I see it, the Monday Night Wars and the Internet took off at the same time. Everyone had a wrestling site and copied and pasted the same stuff. Wrestling started dying after ECW and WCW folded and so did a lot of wresting sites.

 

Some is just bitter.

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So, WWE plays to its crowd, meanwhile this guy is pissed that more people aren't pissed at the product. Maybe its time he found something different to watch? ho hum.

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At first I thought it was Scott Keith...then I realized Keith's stuff is more fun to read. Then I thought it was Apter, but then realized it wasn't in kayfabe. CRZ? Nope, not nearly enough move-by-move description. Csonka? No, because it's actually a decent read, and isn't filled to the brim with Asian chick references.

 

I can sorta see what he's saying. The product is pretty much the same as it was a few years ago when everybody was down on it, but the major difference now is that the IN-RING is much better overall, which tends to be what the IWC cares most about.

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