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    Friday, May 8, 2020

    The “Art” of Nitpicking Wrestling: Why It's Okay To Critique

    Editor's note: Five years ago, Smark Henry was founded in the hopes of being a watering hole for wrestling fans to engage in critical discourse about our favorite sport or form of entertainment. We're celebrating our fifth anniversary this week through these feature articles to bring back that spirit, even through these troubling times.

    Full disclosure: I don’t consider nitpicking an art. I just wanted a punchy title. But hey, now that I have your attention, let’s talk about it. After all, it’s Smark Henry’s fifth anniversary. And as someone who’s been here for almost five years, I feel like I’ve earned the right to be candid with y’all. If you’re new or if you just didn’t care, I’m Ricky Jay Publico. I give myself random nicknames, but I’m mostly known as #NitPickRick. Nice to meet you. 

    A few weeks ago, I tried making #RhetoRick a thing, but after WWE fired a bunch of people in the midst of a pandemic, I decided to just stop reviewing any WWE shows for a while. It’s the first WWE break I’ve taken in years, and thanks to the lockdown, I didn’t even miss it one bit. So yeah, that’s why you haven't been seeing any RAW reviews the past few weeks. Anyway, back to the topic. Why do I nitpick? Why should you at least care more?

    To answer that, let me first share my thoughts as Smark Henry’s tenured reviewer. After a bunch of my PWR reviews came out, I learned that I have earned a reputation as a negative entity—a complainer, a guy with shitty bones, whatever that means. Looking back at the things I’ve written, I can’t really blame them. My writing voice is indeed sarcastic, passive-aggressive, and a bit mean. Will it help if I say my writing voice is at least authentic and honest? Nah, it probably won't.

    I completely understand the irony here. I am a guy who’s not “part of the business” and I am the one critiquing the product. I mean, if someone who’s not a writer came up to me and said my writing sucks, my knee-jerk reaction would be, “Who the fuck do you think you are? Do you even know how to write a sentence? How dare you defy my incredible talent as an esteemed essayist?” Then I'd clutch my pearls, adjust my monocle, and yell, "J'accuse!"

    To answer an old-age question: Who exactly do I think I am to tell people what’s good and what’s bad? The answer: I’m no one, literally. I’m not part of the wrestling inner circle. I’m not friends with anyone from the local scene. I’m a total nobody. And yet somehow, I still had the nerve to review the first two PWR shows in this godforsaken year of 2020 (both shows were amazing, by the way, go check out my reviews here and here, buy me gifts, and subscribe to my OnlyFans).

    Do I need to be a veteran indie wrestler to be able to say something? What happens when an esteemed wrestler and a fan come up with the same feedback about a certain aspect of wrestling? Do we call that a coinkydink? If anything, that will prove that wrestling isn’t exactly the rocket science most people “in the know” think it is. And guess what, this happens all the time. 

    Ever heard a comment from guys like Meltzer, Satin, or even Cornette, and go, “Hey, that’s what I thought, too!” Why do we have to wait for experts to validate our opinion? I have a theory: It’s because we don’t want to be branded as complainers. We don’t want to offend, we don’t want to hurt feelings, and we don’t want to step on egos. Well, I say it’s time to step on a few egos.

    Ever heard of the standard DDS script that says the pa-wokes should stop complaining and if we don’t like how our country is being run, we should just move to another country or we should just be the president ourselves? Why is that infuriating? It's because it invalidates our voices as citizens and taxpayers. Do we have to be politicians to be able to say the government sucks balls? Isn’t it enough that we live every single goddamn minute of our lives here? Complainer, my ass. Fuck the DDS. 

    This is the same reason why you should be a bit more critical, both in wrestling and in everything, really. Why? Because you, the wrestling fan, deserve better and because you believe that they—be it the performers or the promotion—can always do better. You probably don’t realize it, but you have more power in this relationship than you think. Wrestling fans are the lifeline of every wrestling promotion out there. And as such, as corny as it sounds, your voice should matter to them—not just the cheers and boos, but also the criticisms. 

    Did they ask you if you know everything about wrestling when you bought your ticket? No, they just asked you for your money. There is an expectation on your end for a good show because the promotion hopes that you, the wrestling fan, would bring more people to the show next time. They need to impress the hell out of you because they will cease to exist if they don’t. Demanding more doesn’t necessarily mean you are ungrateful for their hard work; it just means you believe in your heart that they can do better. 

    As wrestling fans, you deserve the best of everything from your favorite wrestling promotion. You deserve mind-numbing action that will take you to the edge of your seat with every strike. You deserve better storylines that will whisk you away from the crappy life you have and instead take you to a world where superheroes and villains exist. You deserve an escape from reality and judging from the current political climate, we definitely need it now more than ever. 

    And when you don’t get the escape you were promised, it’s okay to demand better. It’s okay to critique what didn't work. It’s okay to speak your mind. It’s okay to express your ideas and opinions about how you want your wrestling to be better, as long as you do it fairly and without malice. Isn’t it amazing to prove to yourself that you’re not a sheep who just nods and claps on cue at whatever’s happening? You don’t have to be a qualified anything to be able to say some parts of the show failed to meet your expectations.

    In the same vein, the promotion has every right to dismiss your concerns and do their own thing. However, actively discouraging people from commenting or invalidating them just because they are "mere fans" only suggests that they shouldn’t run a promotion in the first place. Because as much as their egos would like to admit, not everyone will see their show the way they want everyone to see it. Sometimes, they just need to work a little bit harder to make it better next time.

    You’re alive. You have independent opinions and sometimes, these opinions contradict others. If you think you have something to say and you know how to say it properly in any way, shape, or form, don't be afraid to go against the fold. Be more critical because you can—even if you're "just a fan." I do what I do because I want the promotions I love to do better, not just for me, for you and me, for all of us. That’s my completely original philosophy that I didn’t jack from an epic promo at all. Nope.

    That’s where I’m getting the gall to show up at every show. That’s where I get the nerve to commend, comment, and communicate my suggestions. You don’t need to be a wrestler, an insider, or a friend of the business to have a critical voice. Show up, support the promotion, participate responsibly, respect everyone, and be honest. Don’t be a dick, don’t force your opinions on anyone, and don’t hinder anyone else from having fun. Boom, voice. 

    Smark Henry gave me that voice five years ago and I will always be grateful for that. Writing for this one-of-a-kind platform is more than just a hobby for me at this point. I feel most alive when I’m speaking my mind here. Every running gag, every word of praise, every piece of honest and untainted criticism I spew on more than a hundred of my articles contains a piece of myself and I couldn’t be any prouder of every single one of them—including this one, of course. 

    Whether it’s #NitPickRick, #RhetoRick, or whatever hashtag I decide to wear on my byline and regardless of the number of readers I have, I’ll be here, writing diatribes and making fun of myself. I won’t be doing WWE reviews for the time being, but expect more PWR reviews and other fun stuff in the future. Until then, let me say thank you—or sorry in advance, whichever one’s appropriate. To five more years and beyond!


    Ricky Publico (@TeetotaleRicky) is Smark Henry's resident RAW reviewer... for better or worse. A known lover of wrestling tournaments, he's a sucker for well-executed promos and fast-paced matches. While he enjoys nitpicking shows, he now prefers enjoying wrestling for what it is instead of stressing himself over things he can't control. He also writes reviews for PWR and everyone loves him for it. Don't fact check that.
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    Item Reviewed: The “Art” of Nitpicking Wrestling: Why It's Okay To Critique Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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