Audience misconceptions of professional wrestling

Jacob Spiwak/ Asst. Sports Director

When the average person thinks of professional wrestling, almost all of them think of something related to the WWE. Whether it’s The Rock’s immense stardom, John Cena’s theme song randomly playing in the middle of a video on Vine, or Randy Orton hitting an RKO out of nowhere, Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment has a near-monopolistic hold of the wrestling industry.

It’s only natural, then, that the brand that people are familiar with is the one that everybody thinks is the best in the business. However, just because public perception says otherwise, many people who have taken the time to actually watch professional wrestling will tell you there are countless wrestling promotions around the globe that are more entertaining than WWE.

Myself included. It kind of frustrates me as somebody who has watched professional wrestling since I was a young kid that people believe WWE to be the best in the industry without ever even watching a match.

The list of alternatives are never ending, with the highest profile promotions including Total Nonstop Action wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and my personal favorite, Ring Of Honor wrestling.

It’s no secret that WWE has higher ratings and more well-known stars than the aforementioned alternatives, but that doesn’t mean their matches are of a higher quality at all. WWE’s budget is through the roof, so they can put on a great show with fireworks and light shows, but that doesn’t hide the fact that the quality of wrestling is often times not up to par.

Even though their budget is nowhere near that of WWE, ROH consistently puts out the best product in the entire industry. Instead of focusing on scripted, PG promos and watered down storylines like the WWE, ROH gives their athletes freedom to say what they want and wrestle to the best of their ability.

ROH ambassador and former owner of the company Cary Silkin knows better than just about anyone what makes ROH the most exciting pro wrestling in the industry. Rather than speaking negatively about another company to prove his point, Silkin purely emphasizes the unique ROH atmosphere and why he feels it can’t be topped.

“ROH has always been, for the past 14 years, the best company in wrestling,” Silkin told FIU Student Media. “No one ever gets cheated, and fans always get their money’s worth whether [the show] is in Dayton, OH or New York City. The action has been and still is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the best professional wrestling on the planet and will continue this way.”

I recently had the opportunity to attend both a WWE show and an ROH show, and I saw firsthand exactly what Silkin was talking about. Even though WWE’s budget allows them to put on an unmatchable spectacle, the ROH show was just much more enjoyable. The matches were better, the smaller crowd was a lot more invested in the show, and it was overall a better pro wrestling atmosphere.

Another factor to consider is that WWE will often poach talent from ROH and other independent companies to beef up their roster. Many of the stars that have made millions in the WWE were developed in ROH. That list includes, but isn’t limited to, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan (a former WWE World Heavyweight Champion who recently retired due to head injuries), Seth Rollins (had a 220-day reign as WWE champion before vacating the title due to injuries), and most recently “The Phenomenal One” AJ Styles, who has made a name for himself as arguably the best wrestler on the planet today.

All of these wrestlers either already became or are in the process of becoming megastars for WWE, but their extensive background in independent wrestling laid the foundation for them to perfect their craft. Very few wrestlers get their start in the WWE; they have to start somewhere, and while the average spectator may not realize it, the WWE wouldn’t be close to what it is today without taking established stars away from ROH and NJPW.

Even with WWE taking many of their top talents seemingly all the time, ROH still has a world class roster. ROH world champion Jay Lethal, former NFL offensive lineman Moose, “Big Mike” Elgin, the most exciting tag team on the planet known as the Young Bucks, etc. are just a few of the incredible athletes that call ROH home and make the product as good as it is.

And, as Silkin pointed out, these athletes will prove just how great ROH is when they have their 14th anniversary show live from Las Vegas on pay-per-view this Friday night, Feb. 26.

So while WWE has the most money and the fanciest shows, ROH (and many other promotions around the globe) often times offer a much better product. To me, seeing some of the best athletes on the planet given creative freedom without being held back by corporate demands and a PG rating is a heck of a lot more entertaining than a fancy soap opera with boring promos and spotty matches.

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