I had some grand plans. I usually do, really. Getting them all to come out is the trick. The thing is, the phrase that starts out with “the best laid plans” exists for a reason. The unaccounted-for can leave them in ruins. RTB has often been a victim of that, whether it’s missed deadlines, writers leaving or ideas stalling out.
RTB Top 10’s and Greatest Night were part of a grand plan. They were an attempt at extending the life of RTB by both being stopgaps in the off months, and new creative outlets for yours truly. One in which I could talk to you, the readers, and one where I could try a new creative concept. I’d crank those out while I chewed away at the next RTB in the background. It was a good plan. A solid plan. I thought I had it all on lock and momentum on my side.
And then I had a back injury late January. And then I took a family vacation in late February. And then my wife was dealing with some health issues (sorta still is). And then the baseball season started for my three boys. And two of them arte in Boy Scouts. And I’d look at the laptop and think “when I get some free time, I gotta do something.” Free time would come, and … I’d watch Netflix. Or play a video game. Or anything, but write. I had ideas, but no drive.
I think when I floated Greatest Night and RTB Top 10’s, the ideas were sound and the intention was good, but I didn’t really realize what was going on deep in my subconscious. And only in the past week did I finally figure it out. On the surface I had my good intentions, but subconsciously, I think they were wild, flailing Hail Marys, trying to find a new way to look at wrestling as a subject about which to write. But what I didn’t realize until recently is … I’m tired of wrestling. I no longer have interest in it. I don’t look down on it; in fact, the athleticism in wrestling has never been better than it is right now. Guys like Team #DIY, AJ Styles, Matt Riddle, Adam Cole, they’re taking the athletic side of it to heretofore unseen levels.
But my enjoyment of it, feeling a connection to it … it’s gone. I cut the cord on cable TV early 2016, so I haven’t watched a single moment of Raw since, and I don’t miss it at all. I don’t have the Network, as I could never justify spending $10 a month on something I could barely, grudgingly tolerate when I did have cable. I tried watching one of the NXT specials on Hulu (the one where Ember Moon debuted, I think). There was a match between The Revival and #DIY that everyone called a MOTYC. I watched it and felt nothing. Technically, it was fine, excellent even. But I just couldn’t buy into the drama. It was just a string of moves, like watching a WWE 2K17 Let’s Play video. And that’s not because they didn’t do a good job; I just couldn’t find a way to care. I should’ve known then, but it took a while to see it for what it was. Every year, I think about doing the first-month-free thing for the Network to watch Wrestlemania, and every year, I never get around to it. I can’t muster up the spirit to watch Wrestlemania for free. If I can’t care about watching wrestling, if the sport no longer has a hook in me … how am I supposed to write about it with passion and energy? How do I manufacture that to make such an investment when the sport itself no longer does that for me? I’m just going through the motions at that point. Art without soul, without passion or desire or drive or growth, just isn’t art. It’s doomed to disappointment both the artist and the consumer. I’ve had a few stinkers – InVasion, The Corporate Champion, Savage beating Warrior at Wrestlemania 7 – but I still tried. I still cared, even I failed in delivering on a great product on those occasions.
So … all this is a very, very long way of explaining why I am retiring from RTB and Wrestlecrap.
Because you guys, who have supported me for 10 years here (14, if you go back to the days at 411mania), deserve better. No, scratch that, you deserve the best. I’m just not capable of delivering that, not even close. Neil Cathan, a former member of the ‘Crap family, thinks there’s a possibility of coming out of retirement again (which, if I did, would be my fourth run, officially making me the Terry Funk of wrestling columnists), Hey, it could happen. I’m no oracle. But the other times I walked away were for different reasons. The first time around, it was the birth of my twins and one of them having complications. The second was just general burn-out on the process. I mean, yeah, never say never, and RD has made it explicitly clear the door is open, any time I want. But this time, I’m going to say it’s extraordinarily unlikely. It isn’t real life and it isn’t the process; it’s the subject itself.
I hope you all understand. I had the best of plans for #RTB10. There are still a couple contributors lined up for the year, and they’re hard at work. I’m excited to see their stuff, and you should be too; one, I’ve read the first two chapters, and he has a great story going so far. The other, I know his quality and it’ll be exceptional when he finally gets done (clock is ticking, Sforcina!). And hey, if someone wants to step up and take up the mantle permanently, I’d love to see it happen, and if you are interested, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org. But I know how big a burden this is. Everyone who has ever stepped up to the plate to take a swing has found out fast how much work RTB can be. I’m hoping someone will take the torch, but if it doesn’t happen, I think I had a damned fine run. And I got to go out with my last story being a story that had dogged me as unfinished for years, re-booking my all-time favorite angle. There’s a few big topics I never got a chance to tackle, and I’m kinda bummed I never did, cause they seem like gimmes: Shane Douglas not renouncing the NWA Championship, Ric Flair jumping to WWF in ’88, Vince McMahon being convicted in the steroid trial, Fusient buying WCW … lots of missed opportunities. But I’d rather the ideas of those be their own “what if” then do them and they come out bad.
I can’t end this without thanking a lot of people. First and foremost, RD Reynolds, who I’ve thanked personally and effusively, but I’m doing it here too. A long time ago, a young man just getting started on another website wrote to RD because he needed to know some details about the waning days of WCW, and he figured the author of Death Of WCW would be an expert on the subject. RD wrote back with some suggestions, and then said he was a fan of the guy’s writing and offered him a spot on Wrestlecrap should he ever want to come aboard. Finding out RD was a fan of mine was a huge compliment, one of the biggest I got in my 14 years of doing this. I can never express my appreciation for RD’s kind words, support, friendship, and giving RTB its one true, best home.
Thanks to Blade Braxton, as well, for always being a cool guy and easy to talk with. Having you over for Wrestlemania that one year was a blast. Still waiting for you to come up to Detroit for a Lions game, bro! And thanks to the rest of the Wrestlecrap crew – Jordan, “Big Cheese” Paul Kraft, Justin, Art, Triple Kelly (blast from the past!) … it was wonderful sharing the space and meeting all of you.
My unending thanks to all the writers who stepped in and contributed to keep RTB alive over the years. Your contributions were invaluable, whether you only did one or had a run, and for the few yet to post this year, you’ll give the franchise a hell of a send-off. Special thanks among those goes to Neil Cathan, whose intelligence, use of allegory, and a poet’s spirit set a new bar for RTB that I found myself struggling to hit (but loving to try). He’ll say the bar of excellence was set by me and he was the one struggling to hit it; it’s a topic we cordially disagree on. Moreover, he is a close, personal friend and confidant whose counsel and company I treasure. Thanks, Neil, for your contributions not just here but everywhere in my life.
Many thanks to the Wrestlecrap Forum Clique – Scott, Heather, Rich and Jeff. We totally should have a reunion in the Craphole. Reassert our dominance.
And lastly, thank you to the multitudinous readership. From the constant readers from way, way back to new readers alike, your support has always been and always will be treasured. Any writer who writes strictly for acclaim misses the point, but any writer who doesn’t appreciate the praise is blind to reality. I still remember one of the best emails I ever got was from a soldier stationed on an American military base in Germany. He had the overnight shift for MP duty, and he said my columns helped him get through the long, boring nights where hours of nothing whatsoever would happen. Now, it’s not saving a life. It’s not even “your music helped me get through dark times”, but still … I impacted a life in a positive way, however small or temporary the impact was. Every email I got was appreciated and responded to. Even the guy who sent me the Trish Stratus/Horseman idea, if for no other reason than giving me the best running joke ever.
Thank you, everyone. It’s been a pleasure.