What better way to start my new Future-Shock Column, in a new home, ringing in the New Year? 2004 is Indeed upon us and is always the case, we begin to ponder the year ahead, and evaluate the year that was.
2003 was the year that we lost many greats and celebrities in the world of wrestling. Natural causes and not so natural causes took dearly beloved superstars of the squared circle. On a personal note the most notable being Stu Hart, a man who will be remembered as one of wrestling’s pioneers. Stu was far from perfect, but I don’t know of anyone who worked harder for what he achieved in wrestling, and the legacy his family continue to leave in the sport make his passing all the more pertinent.
2003 was the year that we seemed to lose classic wrestling in favour of McMahon vs. the chosen superstar of the month. I find it hard to think of WWE as a stable of wrestlers, but now find it easier thinking of a locker room full of potential McMahon opponents. Not the most critically superior of years over at WWE land then. The sad thing is that rather than use the brand extension to test new ground, WWE chose to make both brands as similar as possible with the McMahon family ruling the roost on both programmes. Can 2004 continue is this manner? Locker room morale suggests otherwise.
2003 was the year that British Wrestling, faced with a shrinking fan base due to the lack of interest being brought in by WWE, looked in the mirror and began to make changes for the better. Sadly, not major changes. The same promises of new larger promotions graced the cheap-to-advertise-on internet, but no further impact was made by these groups, and no shows were presented. The already established smaller to mid size groups all showed promise however. This has not occurred a moment to soon either since “The Wrestling Channel”, something we will talk more about in 2004, threatens to cause the WWE further damage in the UK, but pull our home grown industry up by the braces and give exposure to those who have worked the British Isle’s in the hopes of such opportunity. Then again it might not. I hope it does.
2003, for me, was a return to routes, competing for RBW and banging heads with many legends who have taught me a great deal. Those who think veteran wrestlers are a drain on our business should think again, we need them, they provide a much needed learning curve for us younger guys. They also teach us the tradition and mental behaviour needed to work the sport of wrestling and survive. That’s not to mention the fact that many legends such as Johnny Kidd, and Blondie Barratt still have a lot to give and still raise heat. Don’t let some know-it-all in jeans tell you that being over 40 makes you due for retirement. There are 50 year olds in the UK proving that us younger guys still have much to learn, and that’s the way it should be, in a great country where tradition rules.
So what will 2004 bring wrestling, British wrestling, and us wrestlers and fans? I think although predictions may be a little early, there will be much to look out for such as “The Wrestling Channel” and a number of upcoming promotions set to launch in 2004 – all promising a raising of standards here in the UK. I’m not one for making crystal ball like suggestions but I do know that this time next year, evaluating 2004 will be an awesome prospect. Did the next big thing promotion succeed? Did The Wrestling Channel last the distance? This coming year promises some interesting times!
I wish you all a magnificent 2004!