The Anti-Antagonist: Three Minutes? I’m Fine With Twenty

Adam Gorzelsky

The RockLife is rough. Let’s face it, the world isn’t exactly known for being a pretty place. In fact, it was this realization that drove me to start writing about professional wrestling again.

During my previous hiatus, I was preparing for a “real” career in the “real world.”  How could I make such a leap in my professional career while clinging to a passion for analyzing fantasy? How could I find success in a cutthroat environment while proudly professing my love for a form of entertainment that is mocked in so many walks of life? I couldn’t…or at least I thought I couldn’t. Ironically, it wasn’t until I entered this “real world” that I realized that I not only wanted to write again, but needed to write again.

For me, professional wrestling is and always has been an escape from reality. As a kid, it was an opportunity to watch larger than life characters overcome insurmountable odds…A true underdog/superhero fascination. Through my teens and early twenties, this fascination matured from mere hero worship to an appreciation of the physical sacrifices displayed by the superstars within the framework of a fictional setting.

This concept of an escape certainly is not lost on me today and, in fact, holds a greater level of importance as it pertains to my fandom. As I’ve gotten older and experienced the pressures, stresses, and downright ugly aspects of life, I’ve personally come to appreciate the availability of an over-the-top alternative to the daily grind. I watch to be entertained and diverted…and it is this diversion that has helped to pull me out of some of the darkest times in my life.

I’m sure that I’m not the only one with this experience.

Ultimately, as a fan, I come from the perspective of seeking to be entertained…to laugh…to spend 2-4 hours of my week immersed in a world so far removed from reality that a premeditated assault on a fellow co-worker with a weapon results in a heel turn rather than a jail sentence. In short, I watch to have fun.

Coming from this perspective, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this week’s Raw from beginning to end. Every major Wrestlemania storyline was furthered in some way and the card as a whole continues to develop into one of the best in recent memory. Cena’s re-donning of the masterlock was a thrill to see and was a reminder of the level of charisma that propelled him to the top of the company. Jericho/Punk was taken to the next level and it always is a treat to see HBK and the Undertaker in a ring together under any circumstances. Overall, it was an enjoyable night of wrestling.

And then it happened…The infamous Rock Concert *gasp*. Of course, by infamous I simply mean that this was a segment worthy of a scathing rebuke from the resident “Super Genius,” Mark Madden.

Initial disclaimer…The purpose of this article is not to pick a fight with Double M. First and foremost, I respect his knowledge and experience on all topics ranging from wrestling to my beloved Pittsburgh based sports teams. With that, I understand that most of what Mark does is a part of his shtick, meaning that this editorial is less a response to the man as it to his character. Second of all, I frankly do not think that Mark cares what I think, rendering any attempt to provoke such an argument futile.

Mark and I certainly represent opposite ends of the spectrum as it pertains to our respective personas. He is the consummate antagonist: dwelling on what he perceives to be inadequate in the wrestling business rather than focusing on actions and activities that meet his seal of approval. Given the title of my column and the content of my contributions, I am quite the opposite: leaving the reformation of the business in the capable hands of others while sharing my excitement as a fan with anybody who cares to read. Both angles have their place and provide a wide range of discussion-worthy topics for all to ponder.

Because of this recognition, it came as no surprise to me that Mark wrote a column criticizing the “Rock Concert.” Throughout his piece, he made various valid points that are appropriate for debate. Was 20 minutes too long given the value of precious pre-Wrestlemania television time? Is this a proper way to build the main attraction at Wrestlemania when the other major feuds have taken a more serious approach? All fair questions and legitimate points of contention.

However, Mark lost me when he criticized anybody who enjoyed the segment. His exact words were “But I honestly feel sorry for anyone who thought that was good. I seriously believe you may be losing your mind.” I take issue with this statement not simply because I disagree, but because it serves no purpose other than to belittle those who may not watch wrestling for the same reasons as Double M.

I for one enjoyed the “Rock Concert.” I laughed…I had fun with it. I wasn’t blown away by some epic moment or jaw dropping revelation…I won’t be remembering this segment for years to come…But I enjoyed the moment and was happy to have watched it. If this means that I’m losing my mind, somebody better take the initiative and 302 me as soon as humanly possible.

Maybe it means that I’m juvenile. Or maybe….Just maybe… It means that my ability to be entertained does not hinge upon the product meeting my expectations regarding the creative direction. Again, Mark has experience in the business and certainly is qualified to express disgust when he believes that opportunities are missed or downright ignored. I simply believe that it is wise to understand that not every fan watches with an explicit interest in critiquing or being overly concerned with creative direction…That some fans appreciate the experience without a self-fulfilling need to see the product meet their vision.

Which brings me back to my initial point…I watch to be entertained. I also have been watching wrestling for a substantial period of time, meaning that I do have an understanding of the business and a desire to see an intelligent and successful direction for the product. I simply choose not to allow this desire to overcome my ability to enjoy the moments that evoke an emotional response. The day that this becomes the case is the day that I stop watching.

In the end, I have no problems with anybody expressing their opinions or disgust regarding the direction of the product. I only ask the same respect for those people who prefer to watch as a fan rather than a critic.

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