Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Making It Official And Putting It In Writing

Several months ago, on this very blog, I posted a decidedly long winded entry, which ceremoniously featured three guys, present company included, announcing their intentions to come together for the launch of a new endeavor identified as Pro Wrestling Zeitgeist, or PWZ. We were also going to head over to Adam Testa's palatial bachelor pad to watch his collection of Chikara DVD's, tell scary stories in the dark with flashlights put to our faces, and eat TONS of candy and pizza as we thumbed through mine and Bessler's secret collection of forbidden comic books, but cooler heads prevailed just prior to our hasty ordering of the dancing girls, limitless booze and caterers that such fantastic events require. We decided, instead, to settle on merely announcing the launch of the PWZ blog during the first ever PWZ convention in our secret headquarters located in Phantom Beach Falls, which is sort of like Camp David, only way more expensive. Charles Foster Kane's Xanadou has nothing on Phantom Beach Falls.

As you might remember, or more than likely didn't know since it's not like we have a huge fan base or anything, we promised that PWZ would offer a unique voice in a rather saturated pro wrestling media market inundated with chronic copiers, imitators, duplicators, masturbators, unfounded rumor facilitators, and lifeless drones that seem to believe that pro wrestling merely exists as a vehicle to make themselves feel better about...well, themselves.

These jankety-jank laptop adulterators that are apart of what is disaffectionately known as the Internet Wrestling Community feel free to publish whatever they want, no matter how ridiculous, absurd, untrue, or just plain foolish, on the World Wide Web. Why? Because for them professional wrestling is their personal yo yo; a jungle gym to climb on, jump off of, and maybe even dangle upside down on. They delight in getting themselves over just like real pro wrestlers...but the sad state of affairs is that these people aren't even real journalists, and some of them can't even be bothered to properly check the sources of their information for accuracy before slinging it on the Web in much the same manner TNA slings fecal matter on walls to see what sticks.

The good news is that per the original plan, those sorts of schenanigans won't be happening here. There have been a few changes to the original plan, but the ideological blueprint remains the same. Pro Wrestling Zeitgeist will be an innovative and thought provoking catalyst for a Great Awakening in the "business" of pro wrestling journalism. This baby isn't called Zeitgeist because we liked the word and thought it sounded cool.

One thing that will change is the cast of characters involved.

Adam Testa is off doing his thing for The Southern Illinoisan, and more than likely won't be a regular contributor for this endeavor, but never say never. I, personally, am keeping the door open to my good friend and former colleague. That open door policy is going to rear its head again momentarily, but for now I'll digress.

Mike Bessler is the "executive producer" helping me maintain this bad boy. He also is responsible for the rather kick ass artwork on the header of this page. Before all is said and done, I have little doubt he'll be responsible for many other PWZ related dealings (maybe including articles), and that's how it should be. It was my introduction to Mike Bessler on a certain other website that encouraged me to come out of my shell a bit. Bessler is a big reason I became the sort of writer I ended up becoming nearly two years ago while both of us were toiling away on that other website, which shall remain nameless because they suck...and because I'm not remotely interested in giving them free publicity on my own time.

As for myself...well...PWZ will be the exclusive pro wrestling journalistic home of none other than yours truly, Jason Le Blanc, or as many of you know me, love me, hate me, or don't give a damn about me, JLB.

I more or less "retired" from this line of work earlier this year, sometime in the Spring if I remember correctly. At that time, The Wrestling Daily (the site myself, Testa, Bessler and Ray Bogusz once ran)had folded and I had published exactly one meaningless article for the boys at Hit the Ropes. By the time I got to HTR, I was so worn down and burnt out that my passion for professional wrestling was on life support. I was pretty much ready to pull the plug, but thankfully, I merely just needed a long mental break.

I remember having the thought that I might, eventually, end up coming back a couple of weeks after resigning from HTR, but ONLY under two conditions: I would do it only on my terms, and my come back would have to be for something completely different than anything offered by the largely homogeneous mixture of pro wrestling media outlets. Even The Wrestling Daily was growing stagnant and morphing into yet another pro wrestling website.

Sure, there were things being done on TWD that were refreshing to many, but I could sense a slow, ominous backslide into the abyss of the status quo. We were slowly becoming what we were competing against, and our limited resources and skills meant it was only a matter of time before the big boys ate us alive and flushed us to our rightful excremental grave. The story is much more complicated then that, and I'm even paraphrasing the paraphrasal, but this isn't about TWD; it's about PWZ.

Heading into the Summer, I was rather content just being a fan of pro wrestling when I received an e-mail from none other than Bessler, whom I hadn't spoken with since the TWD collapse. After chewing the fat, Bessler and I both agreed that there was unfinished business to attend to, particularly on my end. Bessler presently writes for Pro Wrestling Illustrated, so he still had the outlet and the platform. I, on the other hand, had nothing, not to mention a whole smorgasbord of unfinished projects and ideas that I left on the table, projects like my long lost and forgotten Montreal Screwjob series, which will now soon be completed.

E-mails were exchanged and ideas shared. Before long, the frame work of the Pro Wrestling Zeitgeist concept was birthed. After several weeks, a domain was purchased, art work was created, and a blog developed. In September, the intentions of PWZ were stated, but the concept has remained under wraps...until today.

So what is the Pro Wrestling Zeitgeist concept? I'm of the opinion that pro wrestling journalism needs a change...a breath of fresh air, if you will. Many moons ago, a man named Meltzer rocked the landscape of his genre of journalism in much the same way Orson Welles revolutionized film making and Nirvana revolutionized rock music. Meltzer created a concept and format that has carried him to a great deal of success...success that has arguably established him as the most influential figure in the world of pro wrestling journalism. The problem there is that no one has really tried to take what he did and take it to another level.

Many imitate the Meltzer way; every website, it seems, uses some version of the five star match model, offers their customers long winded recaps for shows, lands the occasional interview with a pro wrestler, or has a "cutting edge" radio show that breaks down the world of pro wrestling, though in the case of 411mania and LordsofPain, they don't even go that far, they just let everyone else do all the work and copy ESPN's horrible Around the Horn television show...though I do have to admit that Mr. Tito was pretty awesome back in the day, and I even understand he recently returned to the LOP, but I digress.

Frankly, most wrestling websites look pretty much the same to me, and many of them even recycle news bits and article topics from what they read at the Observer.

I get why many would want to imitate the Observer, because the way they do things quite frankly works. Hell, I would be lying if I said that I didn't research how they do things at the Observer (not to mention several other prominent outlets) while helping run TWD. The way they do things, however, takes a great deal of passion, time, energy and dedication. One reason I respect Meltzer so much is that the guy clearly loves his craft and professional wrestling. I may not agree with everything he, or Bryan Alvarez, say or believe, but they are what they are for a reason, just as the likes of Dave Scherer, Bill Apter, Kevin Eck, Stu Saks, and others are who they are.

Don't get me wrong; I respect the Observer, PWI, the Insider, the Torch and whoever else, and am, in no way, using this to declare some silly war on any of the aforementioned named, or for that matter the vaunted IWC. I am, however, using this web space to declare, in the words of the late Owen Hart, that enough is enough and it's time for a change.

I truly believe that the time is ripe for a revolutionary, an innovator, and a zeitgeist to come along change the landscape. My goal, though, is not tangible or quantitative success. In actuality, I have several goals:

-Be different
-Be thought provoking
-Be honest
-Have fun
-Celebrate professional wrestling's past, present, and future
-Create an environment that fosters intelligent pro wrestling discussion, debate and even study

If this modest little blog somehow becomes big (whatever that means), I can honestly say that it won't change my thinking or my lifestyle in the least bit. If I never grow an audience larger than four people, that's fine too. The most important thing to me is that I, and others, have a place where we can sit down and be a fan of professional wrestling with no strings attached, no static, and no bullshit. There will be no people going into business for themselves at the expense of the pro wrestling business. There will be no rumors, no spoilers, no five star rating systems, and no generic or half-assed show recaps. The art and story of professional wrestling WILL come first, second, third, ten billionth and so on to infinity. This will be an operation of integrity that does things the right way, and not for the sole purpose of popping (to use an insider term...I know, LAME!) the readers and maintaining solid daily traffic.

I believe that pro wrestling is one of the finest forms of theatre in existence, and when it's done right, nothing can generate the sort of energy, enthusiasm and emotion that professional wrestling can. As such, I believe that pro wrestling should be covered in the same way theatre and film are covered and discussed. Many lump professional wrestling in with mixed martial arts, and though I understand why, I don't believe wrestling should have to share the stage with something that it isn't anymore than the Los Angeles Lakers should have to share the 2009-10 NBA championship with the Boston Celtics, and that's coming from a Boston sports fan.

While many of us derive entertainment from sports, and sports is a business that benefits from a cast of entertaining, larger than life characters, sports is NOT the same thing as art.

Many might disagree with me on that point, and if you do I'd love to hear from you, but I find the whole "you're stupid for liking pro wrestling because it's fake" argument to be incredibly myopic. I suppose, then, that anyone who has ever enjoyed a fictional television show, a fictional book, a fictional film, or a fictional anything is also stupid? People have always felt the need to point out that pro wrestling is fake, and I imagine that has a lot to do with the origins of the business and its shady history at various, and perhaps all, stages. The cat is out of the bag now, though, and I feel it's time to get over it and move forward.

MMA is not pro wrestling and pro wrestling is not MMA. Both harbor elements and characteristics of the other, but they are not one in the same. Pro wrestling deserves better than to be the square peg many are forcing into a round hole in which it doesn't fit. Wrestlers, promoters, and all those who make a living working in the pro wrestling business deserve to be recognized and respected as performers (capable of both monumental successes and failures), artists, athletes (where applicable), and most of all, human beings.

It is my goal to see that PWZ studies, analyzes, and covers professional wrestling the way that I believe it should be...the way that I always believe it should have been covered. I haven't always known how exactly to execute my vision, but my experiences of the past few years have given me some valuable insight. I'm certain my future experiences will play a role in building what PWZ becomes as well.

All of that being said, I want to personally offer all those who wish to contribute and be a part of PWZ to do so. If you want to know how to make that a reality, send me an e-mail at This is an OPEN INVITATION (I told you that policy would rear its head again) to anyone and everyone, no matter who you are, I don't discriminate. Know that I will have no influence on what or when you decide to write...all I will ask is that you adhere to the PWZ vision and offer up a competent and respectful composition. If you're willing to go that far, the stage is yours.

So when is all this starting? Well, given that the Holidays are upon us, I feel that there is no better time to start than the onset of a new year. In Januray of 2011...there will be Zeitgeist!