By TONY CLINE, STAFF WRITER
Randy Orton took a lot of heat in recent weeks over his tweets seeming to demean indie wrestlers and fans. I sat down with Dustin Parson to have a conversation about the firestorm over Orton’s tweets, and the conversation quickly turned to a discussion of wrestling styles:
Tony Cline: Randy Orton retweeted a Rip Rogers tweet that described indie matches in rather unflattering terms and took a lot of heat for it. I pretty much agreed with the original tweet.
Dustin Parson: I think he’s a bit too critical of indie wrestlers. The problem is that a WWE organic wrestler basically sets the bar at WWE and that’s it. I don’t think his opinion stands as something you can set for an entire world of wrestling.
TC: I don’t think Rip Rogers ever wrestled in WWE or its predecessor. His opinion was formed based on having to draw money on the territory circuit his entire career. I also get that there can reasonably be different types of wrestling, but some of his criticisms are extremely valid.
DP: He’s basing his thoughts and opinions on one format of wrestling. You can’t deny that there is a draw for wrestlers with a certain skill set. Storytelling and technical skill are very important, and I agree that helps put on a good match, but taking shots at another skill set doesn’t help wrestling as a whole.
TC: I didn’t see it as him taking shots at another skill set so much as pointing out the deficiencies of indie promotions and why they will always struggle to grow to the next level without making some changes.
DP: Times change, and fan bases will change with that, and wrestling as a whole will need to evolve. Indie promoters are struggling because of journeyman wrestlers. They refuse to be held down to a single promotion. This means they don’t stay long enough to build storylines.
TC: Good stories can still be told, but the action in the ring needs to look realistic, and theirs does not. It also doesn’t help that some moves, such as the suicide dive, are being way over-utilized and that finishers are completely unprotected. There should not be a formula to a match; each one should tell its own story. Unfortunately, in many indie promotions the action is too clearly choreographed, every match tells the same story, and no finisher is EVER protected. My problem, and I believe Rip’s, is less with the talent than the promoters. I would imagine that most of these decisions are being made by the promoters.
DP: That’s why it comes down to a particular taste. That’s why guys like Ospreay and Ricochet are so enjoyed by indie fans. Yes, their matches are obviously heavily choreographed, but they still have a cult following.
TC: Everything gets a “cult” following nowadays. Your ability to make money is based on how large that following is. Also, Ospreay and Ricochet still tell stories. They do not have the same match every time out.
DP: I think they should be enjoyed for what they are. It’s not going to build a brand; I agree with that, but if someone came along with a good business mind, it could be part of a brand. The best example of this is TNA with the X-Division. If they had better wrestlers and writers, they could recover from the abysmal standing they now find themselves in.
TC: I won’t disagree that it could be a small part of a bigger brand, but those guys will never draw major money with that style. For guys like Rip who want to see the business as a whole boom again, I think it is frustrating to see so much focus on catering to such a small part of the potential fanbase at the expense of losing a large part of what could be pro wrestling fans. If the business overall was doing well, I think there would be more tolerance for the types of wrestling that seem to be causing the business to stagnate at the moment.
DP: That’s why there needs to be a competing brand with WWE. Then the comparison could be better made.
TC: I agree with that. I am hoping that NJPW becomes that brand, perhaps through a merger with ROH.
DP: That would be a huge merger. Something like that needs to happen to give fans a real choice.
(Thank you to special contributor Dustin Parsons for his participation in this column.)