Independent Wrestling, Dives, & Randy Orton

It’s the topic everyone in wrestling is talking about. Old school vs new school, ring psychology vs high spots, Randy Orton vs everyone.

The pro wrestling world has been abuzz in recent days thanks to a serious of tweets sent out by current OVW trainer Rip Rogers & WWE Champion Randy Orton. Rip Rogers is a respected veteran that subscribes to the “old school” mentality of wrestling. Rogers has never been afraid of speaking his mind & posted this a few days ago:

Randy Orton, one of the most successful pro wrestlers of the last decade, tweeted his support for the statement. Orton would go on to post more insults towards independent wrestling in general & take a shot at, of all people, Bubba Ray Dudley.


Orton’s remarks have garnered a great deal of controversy & multiple wrestlers have voiced their opinions including Ricochet, The Young Bucks, & even Dave Bautista.

Now it is important to analyze Rogers’ and Orton’s statements separately. Rogers is advocating the opinion that current indie wrestling feels too choreographed & is filled with too many high spots or “dives”. Rogers comes from a time in professional wrestling when the idea was to make everything seem as realistic as possible. A great deal of today’s indie wrestling is anything but realistic. Will Ospreay or Ricochet matches are incredible but they don’t seem like a real fight.

In 2017 everyone knows wrestling is not a real contest between two competitors. The culture in today’s independent scene celebrates wrestling for what it is; a show. The Young Bucks’ finishing move is literally named after Dave Meltzer. Modern wrestling fans just don’t connect with realistic ring psychology like they did 30 or 20 years ago. The fans know it is a show so the wrestlers have started acting like it’s a show as well. This philosophy is a complete 180 degrees from the days of Rip Rogers’ prime. Rogers is certainly within his rights to voice his opinion & he may even have a point. When does wrestling start to look more like theater than a fight?

Orton took the argument a step further. Not only did he agree with Rogers but he went on to insult independent wrestling in terms of revenue, venues, & crowd size. Randy Orton has never had a reputation as the nicest guy in pro wrestling & it is safe to assume Orton was having some fun upsetting people at that point. RKO is an outstanding wrestler but he was also hand-picked to be a superstar by the WWE due to his look & last name. Insulting independent wrestlers who were never afforded the same opportunities he was doesn’t cast “The Viper” in the best light.

This debate certainly isn’t a new one. Every new generation in pro wrestling is greeted with complaints by the old guard. Many of Ric Flair’s legendary matches from the 1970’s & 1980’s were greeted with criticism from the older generation. Bruno Sammartino was appalled by the WWE attitude era. Who knows, perhaps Adam Cole & Zack Sabre Jr. will be upset & vocal about the independent wrestling scene in 2037.

One thing is certain though; indie wrestling is enjoying a boom period of popularity today. Wrestlers like Ricochet & The Young Bucks are selling merch & tickets, thanks in large part, to “dives” and “endless superkicks”. Whether everyone agrees with the style or not, isn’t a healthy and thriving independent wrestling scene what is most important?

The answer is probably somewhere in the middle. Today’s high flying style is certainly more dangerous than the methodical ground work of the past. If nothing else, Orton & Rogers comments should help foster more conversation about safety. Dives & high spots are exciting but they are pieces of a larger puzzle when it comes to engaging an audience.

Just like most controversies in pro wrestling the debate has taken on a life of its own. Countless “dive” memes have popped up on the internet & Will Ospreay is already selling “..dive” shirts. A cornerstone of professional wrestling has been the ability to take controversy & turn it into profit and this is no different. The discussion & buzz caused by Rip Rogers & Randy Orton’s tweets may bring about some positives.

The wrestling community may never agree, but wouldn’t that be boring anyway? The different styles & forms of wrestling are what make it so exciting.

Featured image is courtesy of Drew Gulak’s twitter account: @DrewGulak

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