Pro Wrestling is like any other sport for a fan. You cheer on for one, and you boo the other. Mostly like a theater or a drama, you have plots and twists entangled with people you care about. That’s how the entire story takes place. You have to be connected to the person, be interested in what he says or does, and this makes everything so fascinating. But, Pro Wrestling is also like no other sport. The wins and losses are predetermined, yet you claim your ‘favorite’ to be the best. Let’s look at it this way, if the outcome of Baseball was predetermined, would you call the Yankees the best if they won the World Series? Or call Babe Ruth the best? Or give any importance to the strike rates, averages and home runs one had hit in his career? The answer is an obvious no. So what makes the fans think that one person is the ‘best’ in the business? The answer is what makes a Wrestling fan one of a kind.
I originally came up with this idea after I read an article the other day about the Undertaker. How no one ‘deserves’ to beat the Undertaker after HHH and HBK didn’t. Or how Undertaker losing to a young guy wouldn’t make sense. While that is what some people might think, the business runs completely opposite to the idea. Who would take a guy like Khali seriously if he hadn’t decimated the Undertaker during his debut? Or a guy like Lesnar, who became the King of the Ring, and the WWE Champion within months of his debut? I’ll give further examples of such instances, and how the nuances of the business work.
I am a huge Undertaker fan, one of the biggest as a matter of fact. I started watching the then WWF after I came to know about this guy who can’t be killed, and who has supernatural powers. This is what Pro Wrestling is all about, making the fans want to watch what happens every week. And how do you do that? By creating different characters, some you can believe, some you have to watch to believe, and some you can relate yourself with. And what happens when you invest your time and money in the product? You become a fan, and that’s how the cycle goes. There comes a time once or twice a year where the people get bored of the same guy doing the same thing. And what is the solution? Creating a new persona, a new character that the fans would want to watch. And you cannot do that just by pushing a guy that is boring, or has nothing interesting to offer. And that is when you put him up against a legendary figure, and give him a rub of greatness. Example, Brock even after becoming the Champion, wasn’t ‘there’ yet. And what did Vince do? Put him up against the best in the business, the Undertaker.
Legends aren’t created, they’re made. What makes Undertaker different from anyone else is the respect he has for the business, and the respect he demands from everyone and anyone. You will not hear a single bad word against the Phenom when you ask the people in the dressing room. And part of his respect for the business, is his willingness to create stars by losing to them clean. He lost to guys like Lesnar twice, when some of the bigger names refused to do so, being scared that their ‘image’ would be hampered. There are a few others who did the same, and that’s what makes them special.
Mr. Perfect elevates Bret Hart
It was a time in the WWF where the big guys dominated the show. Vince always ran with the heavy muscles figures, believing the fans would never buy a smaller guy being the Champion. Even though you had the best guys in the business like Rick Rude or Mr. Perfect, Vince never took them seriously. This all changed the night when Bret became the Intercontinental Champion by defeating Mr. Perfect at Summerslam ‘91. The story goes that Mr. Perfect wanted Bret to break the shackles, to prove the authorities wrong. And in the past, the Intercontinental Championship was the catalyst for a mid carder to become a main eventer. And Mr. Perfect wanted Bret to do that. And what happened later? Bret defeated Flair to win his first WWF Championship, and went on to become one of the most loved and respected Wrestlers of all time. An example of an established guy getting one over the younger superstar.
Hogan puts Lesnar over
Hogan is known to be a manipulator, perhaps the best in the business, to get what he wants. Added to that he is one of the biggest names in the history of Pro Wrestling. If you had to elevate a guy to Megastar status, making Hogan lose to him is probably the best way to do it. And Vince was on the path of making Lesnar the biggest name in the Wrestling World. So it only made sense to make Hogan lose to Lesnar, which was something new for Hogan. But on the night, on Smackdown!, Hogan did the right thing, and lost to Brock. Shortly after, Brock won the WWE title, and went on to become the biggest name in the WWE till he left in ’04. No one ever questioned this move, as it was only logical, and the right thing to do for the business.
Lita loses to Mickie in her last match
Lita is perhaps the greatest Women’s wrestler ever. She turned the concept of Women’s division with her Lucha Libre style of Wrestling, and her risk tasking. It isn’t wrong to say she made the male Wrestlers look foolish on many occasions. She also showed how she had turned the WWE upside down, when she went on to close RAW, something which was never done before. Lita and Ivory were the two female ‘wrestlers’ I cared for, and could never miss. They brought something different every night they came out. It was the ‘beauty with brawns’ which made her the Punk Princess in the Wrestling World. Then post the Matt Hardy controversy, she was humiliated by the WWE, and she took all of it. The biggest achievement came, when she gracefully accepted to lose her final match in the WWE, to the younger Mickie James, who was making her mark as one of the best female wrestlers of her time.
This proves that the common conception of people ‘losing’, either on the biggest stage, or their last match isn’t a bad thing for the business, but on the contrary, can be beneficial. There were talks a few years ago about making Ted Dibiase the new face of WWE, by making him defeat Taker at WM. If WWE finds the right guy, making him win over Taker at WM wouldn’t be the most foolish decision. It can either elevate the guy to Megastar status over night, or if he’s not capable enough, come back to haunt the WWE. The rest, we as fans, can only imagine.