Thursday, 30 June 2016

Wrestling Websites Are Getting Lazy

Long-time readers of my blog will know that June is the month I normally celebrate the anniversary of The Two Sheds Review. If someone had told me back in 2000 when my first article about a group of disgruntled WCW superstars jumping ship to the WWF that I’d still be doing this sixteen years later I’d have probably agreed with them.

The professional wrestling business has changed a hell of a lot since then, and to document every change I’ve seen during that time would probably take ages. But the business itself isn’t the only thing that’s changed.

The whole way that wrestling is portrayed and reported on the internet has also changed, and to be completely honest with you I’m not sure if it’s changed for the better.

My break came via the e-mail newsletter, a medium of reporting that has long since gone. Although I’d love to get the latest news in my in-box every morning I doubt that will ever happen again. The rise of social media means that you’re more likely to get the latest happenings on your Facebook news wall.

The same could be said about the way that news is gathered by those who report for the various websites. Back when I was *ahem* working for a certain wrestling promotion I spent a great deal of time collecting e-mail and contact details for wrestling news websites around the world so I could send them the latest updates. These days a promoter or his cronies can simply find a few pages and groups on Facebook and post a few updates, reaching an audience of thousands in just a few seconds.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking this. I’ve used a Two Sheds Review Facebook page to post links whenever I post a new blog, as well as posting a link on my personal Facebook page.

But I’m getting away from the point of this piece a little. You see, even though I still enjoying writing about professional wrestling and mixed martial arts there is one thing about that I find quite annoying with the wrestling news sites. Well, I say one thing, because there’s actually quite a few things that annoy me about certain sites, but that’s another story for another day.

Now I know some of you will find this kind of ironic considering the number of sites The Two Sheds Review has appeared on over the years, but here goes. What really annoys me is the current lack of originality among many of the higher-profile news sites at the moment.

The best way to explain this would be to tell you of a little experiment I carried out a couple of months ago. The headline included a story about C.M. Punk, a link to a video, and a couple of other stories as well. I copied a headline from a well-known news site and searched for it on Google.

The results showed at least fifteen sites had used the same headline. Further exploration of those sites showed that all of the news items were exactly the same, word for word. A few of the sites had swapped the paragraphs around, and all of them had removed the name of the site they had taken the stories from and replaced it with their own, but everything else was essentially the same.

To me this was nothing more than laziness. Back in the good old days of the e-mail newsletters the editors spent a great deal of time writing up their issues, and each of the newsletters I subscribed to and wrote for had their own unique identity, that they were their own brand.

These days everything seems to be identical. It seems as if nobody is willing to put their own slant on things, because it’s a lot easier to copy and paste something that Dave Meltzer has written than it is to spend time writing something yourself. Just take out the Wrestling Observer’s name, add your own site’s name, and you can still make a bit of cash off the advertising, even though you’ve done very little work.

Nothing seems unique any more, and it’s one of the reasons I’ve become so disenchanted with the whole thing, and it’s why I actually considered calling it a day just a couple of months ago.

I consider everything I write and post on my blog as my own personal tribute to my Dad, who gave me his love of professional wrestling, and my Mum, who was one of the first people who encouraged me to write.

All of that has kept me going over the years, through the bouts of depression, my recent heart problems, and everything else that’s been thrown at me over the past sixteen years. But when it seems as if very few others are unwilling to put in the effort that I do, then I begin to wonder if I’ve made the right decision to carry on.

So if I could offer any advice to anyone considering starting their own wrestling news website, it would be this: make an effort, and develop your own identity. Don’t try and be a bargain basement Meltzer or Alvarez. There may be times when it feels like you don’t get the plaudits you deserve, but that feeling that you’ve done something that’s unique will be worth it in the end.