Monday, 23 June 2014

Four Sides Vs Six Sides: Passing The Buck

Everyone is doing a TNA/Impact Wrestling column at the moment it seems. So here’s mine

What seems to have sparked the debate this time is that TNA are considering bringing back their famed Six Sided Wrestling Ring. However, the debate has got rolling less for them considering the change and more for HOW they've considered broaching the subject.

This is because TNA are leaving it up to their fan base to decide which ring they use. They are allowing people who have no direct contact with the in-ring machinations to actually decide what sort of ring the wrestlers will be competing in. A lot of these people have never even been in a wrestling ring before and now the power is in their hands to make a decision that directly effects the working lives of the wrestlers they watch each week.

Most wrestlers will tell you how important it is to have the right sort of ring when it comes to working on a show. There’s a reason that wrestlers get in the ring before a show starts and have a quick bump around before the customers stream in. Yhey want to know what the ring feels like. They want to know what they can and can’t do.

There’s nothing worse than a bad ring. A ring with no bounce, or indeed too much bounce, makes bumping and feeding difficult. A ring with awful slack ropes makes even the most basic of tasks a chore. The sound system, the entrance way, the dressing room, these are all important when it comes to a show but the most important of all is the ring. A decent ring will make or break a show.

Now, I’m all for wrestling fans being allowed to have a say on matters but this is one area where I feel they are totally unqualified to make an informed and adequate contribution. I’ve never been one for the “you’ve never been in a ring” argument. People like Dave Meltzer or Wade Keller have never been professional wrestlers but then again Roger Ebert and Jonathon Ross have never been in Hollywood Movies either. Just because you haven’t done something doesn’t mean that you can’t research it and develop an informed opinion. However, this is one of the few areas where I honestly think it’s impossible for someone to have a relevant and informed opinion unless they’ve actually wrestled.

I’d like to compare it to football, another one of my favourite pastimes. As a football supporter, we all have opinions over who should play in the team and who is at fault when our teams lose. On more than one occasion I’ve put my two pence in on what tactics the manager has used and what individual players have done on the pitch. However, the last thing I’m going to do is show up at training and tell the coaches and the players what to do because, in all honesty, I wouldn’t have a clue. It’s easy to sit in the stands and critique the team, and as a paying customer I would dare to say that it’s my right, but I have no place in deciding what the squad actually do because I just don’t have the required knowledge in that field.

Wrestling fans pay for a ticket to a show, for a DVD or for a Pay Per View Event and they have every right to say what they think about the quality of that show. Commenting on the matches, the physiques, the storylines and the characters involved are all a privilege that come with the ticket. However, wrestling fans with no wrestling experience have no place in telling the wrestlers what sort of ring they should be wrestling in.

Unless you’ve taken bumps and ran the ropes I really don’t see what you can bring to the Four Sided Vs Six Sided argument besides a purely cosmetic point of view. Essentially, the fans are going to pick whatever ring they think is better looking, because that is all they are really qualified to comment on with any real authority. There’s nothing wrong with fans having an opinion to that regard and their opinions should be taken into account in the eventual decision, but the actual decision itself should be left up to the Road Agents and the wrestlers who are going to have to work in the ring.

There is nothing wrong with the fans being consulted on this matter and being asked “Which ring do you prefer?”, but that is as far as it should go. It is madness to leave it solely up to the fans to decide what wrestling ring a wrestling company uses. That’s like asking customers of an airline what plane they’d rather travel in. Some decisions should only be made in house and this is one of them.

I think it’s great that TNA wants to hear what it’s fans think but they have put too much power in the fans hands with this policy. Fans are entitled to an opinion, but in this case that is as far as it should go. It should merely be an opinion and TNA can then use that opinion to base its final decision. If they really do choose what ring they have based solely on what the fans think, I think it will be a terrible dereliction of their duty to their wrestlers.

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