As we mentioned before, WrestlingINC.com’s Vince Russo conducted an exclusive interview with Glenn Gilbertti, WCW’s Disco Inferno. In this Fanning the Flames interview, Russo and Gilbertti talked about the current state of professional wrestling at length. Specifically, Gilbertti said that professional wrestling shows are no longer soap operas for men. Russo and Gilbertti predicted that WWE Monday Night RAW’s ratings will see all-time lows next year. Also, Gilbertti suggested that transcendent stars are the only way to increase the viewership of casual pro wrestling fans.
According to Gilbertti, match quality has become the driving force behind professional wrestling with the proliferation of the internet and smart fans. As such, fans have started to care less and less about mic skills, gimmicks, and charisma.
“Everything now is match quality, work, work rate, work, regardless of what the guys look like [and] regardless of how the guys talk. All the people care about is how good is the match,” Gilbertti claimed. “And as match quality became the driving force in professional wrestling, these guys that were good workers and stuff, nobody cared that they, like, can’t interview; they don’t have any charisma; [and] they don’t have a gimmick. They’re just guys out there wrestling each other. And as this mindset, I call it, infested, the business, it changed what we’re supposed to be watching wrestling for. Wrestling is supposed to be a male soap opera. What happened to the male soap opera with the melodrama and the personal issues between two guys on a personal level, where it evolved each week through storytelling? The matches were secondary. The matches were an interlude to progress the story. The storylines drove the shows.”
During the interview, Gilbertti predicted that WWE Monday Night RAW will be at a 1.9 rating next year because it loses 10% of its audience every year.
“[WWE] are losing 10% of their audience every year! To the point, next year, I’m predicting right now, next year, at this time, we’re going to be below the 3-point or the 2.0. We’re going to be in the 1.9 because they are losing 10% of their audience every single year.”
Gilbertti said that the only way the WWE audience will grow is with the emergence of new stars.
“Bro, what’s going to change the business is guys, an individual that draws the audience. Like, we’ll go back and look at professional wrestling, but, bro, you could talk about [how] there has been a steady decline since ‘Stone Cold’ and the Rock have left the show,” Gilbertti stated. “When you can find people that can give you moments of brilliance in a show, you will have an increase in the audience because people will wait [through boring parts of the show] to see them. I think that’s the only thing that will change wrestling.”
Gilbertti argued that the only performer to come close to the likes of ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and the Rock is Brock Lesnar; however, Lesnar’s lack of mic skills limits his ability to keep the attention of the television viewing audience.
“Today, who are those guys? Brock Lesnar? Bro, [WWE] have nobody for Brock Lesnar to fight against and Brock Lesnar can’t talk. He [has] to go out there like every week, regardless of how [much] you like Brock Lesnar, when he’s not wrestling he’s rerun television. He’s standing in the ring doing nothing and Paul Heyman’s cutting the same promo every single time. It’s just the words are different, barely different.”
In addition to these topics, Russo and Gilbertti also discuss steroid use in professional wrestling, the popularity of NXT, and much more. You can watch the full interview in the video above. You can also download the episode directly by clicking here. If you want to subscribe to the Wrestling Inc. audio channel, you can do so through iTunes and Stitcher as well as our RSS feed, which you can use this to subscribe through any podcast app. If you’re enjoying the show, please subscribe and rate us on iTunes!