In reading Ole Anderson's piece about being a booker in the WCW I couldn't help but wonder about the state of modern wrestling. The bulk of the matches and interviews we've watched up to this point have focused on what I'd call the early and transitional periods of pro wrestling--early because those times preceded television and transitional because they preceded and gave rise to the modern era. But what exactly did wrestling transition to. Yes, modern wrestling, but what marks this current age of wrestling.
According to Ole Anderson, wrestling was pretty much dead by the dawn of the '90s. Now i'm not going to take a lot of what he wrote at face value. Throughout his piece he seemed pretty disillusioned (i.e. really pissed) with his whole involvement with the WCW. So to me, his account has limited value as an objective view of the state of wrestling during the past two decades; but his writing has some value nonetheless. Aside from his venting about Jim Crockett, Jim Herd, Ric Flair, and a slew of WCW figureheads, Anderson does seem to provide a unifying theme in his writing; namely, that wrestling simply isn't what it used to be.
From the few matches that I've seen from the 90's and beyond, I can see that now, more than ever, wrestling is a form of pure entertainment. Anderson writes that modern wrestlers just don't know how to wrestle. The idea of appearing to pull off a shoot, of really working the audience, seemed beyond the likes of Ric Flair and Lex Luger. I must admit that older wrestlers sold the athleticism of wrestling a lot better than most of the new guys. Sure they didn't inorporate the high-flying antics that are the staple of the modern wrestling program; but they were more, as they say, "scientific" about their moves.
In saying that wrestling today exists purely for its entertainment value, I admit that wrestling has always existed, to some extent, as a form of entertainment. I'm attempting to make the distinction between the goals of the wrestling program now and throughout its history. When I sit down to watch a match today should I judge how well these guys carry out a fight, or am I missing the point? Should I just let slide the fact that most punches will never connect or that some guy purposely drew his own blood? I guess it comes down to me wondering what really constitutes wrestling's "entertainment value".