Former NWA and WCW wrestler Nikita Koloff recently sat down for an interview with Wrestling Inc.’s Drew Rice. During the interview Koloff shared his thoughts on the current state of professional wrestling.
“[There is a reason] why the product looks like it does today versus what many, many, many of the fans of the ‘80s and early ‘90s have told me is the golden age of wrestling,” noted Koloff. “And what they’ve done, because of writers, who write matches and write interviews, they set [up]… what wasn’t so much a decline as it was a transition in the business, from taking creative control from the wrestler. Where I had the ability to go in the ring and tell a story spontaneously in the ring, that if the fan wasn’t buying into it, I could change it up in a second in the ring and do something different. So, I learned that pretty quick.”
Koloff elaborated on how the lack of independence for wrestlers has a drastic impact on their matches. Wrestling legend Gerald Brisco also recently shared similar sentiments when discussing the modern product.
“Even when you watch fan reaction back then, that’s the difference of why the fans even reacted differently back then versus now. Because now [wrestling] is so exposed, right? Everybody knows the match is written out and they go in and perform it. And again, taking nothing away from their athletic ability, but if the fan is not buying into the match, you’re still gong through all the spots and the whole deal. Whether they’re buying into it or not.
“And that’s the main difference why the product looks like it does today versus the product back then. I think, personally, it mainly has to do with no more ring psychology. That art has died.”
Koloff went on to discuss how modern wrestlers are not taught enough about in-ring psychology as much as they are taught about physical wrestling ability. Koloff says in-ring psychology is not prioritized when learning how to wrestle in the present day. In the past Dustin Rhodes has also talked about how difficult it can be to learn in-ring psychology.
“[Wrestlers] do get trained, but they get trained on the mechanics of wrestling,” explained Koloff. “And in many cases, at least back in the day, I don’t know about now, I’m not familiar with who all the writers are and all of that [are]. But back in the day many of [the wrestlers] had never wrestled a day in their life, so how would they know the psychology of wrestling? They never wrestled!
“The guys today are athletic enough to go out and perform the mechanics, but all they have to do is follow the script. So, it has nothing to do with them not learning psychology. They are not given the opportunity, from what I can tell, to go out and utilize psychology in telling a story. They just go out and tell a story that has been written for them.”
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