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Should wrestling have an offseason?


cmpunkEvery other sport has an offseason. Baseball has pitchers and catchers reporting in February and playing through October. Football has minicamps in the spring, full camp beginning in July, the regular season ending in December, and the Super Bowl in early February.

Basketball, hockey, NASCAR, golf, tennis, all have starts, ends and offseasons.

Wrestling is 52 weeks a year; might it be too much? The short answer is yes, but that doesn’t mean the sport needs an offseason. WWE and tna just need to be smarter about how they manage their talents.

Take the case of CM Punk. For 10 years, Punk, one of WWE’s most marketable stars, was in the grinder that is the life of a WWE performer. He’d leave home for his weekend house shows on Friday, travel all weekend, end up at Raw on Monday, then Smackdown tapings on Tuesday, get back on a plane for home on Wednesday morning, get a day and a half to rest up, then get back out on the road to do it all over again on Friday.

In addition to the travel, then, there’s also the two hours or so a day of weights and cardio to stay in shape, plus media interviews, plus the actual in-ring action, with assorted bumps, bruises, sprains, etc.

Any wonder why Punk walked out on WWE after Royal Rumble and hasn’t returned yet, and indeed may never again step foot in a WWE ring?

The story here isn’t that Punk quit, but that he’s the only top star to quit while at the top of the game. Not that some haven’t broken down in front of us, chewed up and spit out by the unforgiving beast that is pro wrestling.

The top stars, at least, make a decent living; what about the mid-carders, the jobbers, the folks on the periphery who are a phone call and meeting with Vince McMahon away from being back in high school gyms for a few hundred bucks a night on Fridays and Saturdays?

TNA, in its early days, was appealing to stars like Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam and Sting because it worked a reduced schedule – two TV tapings and one pay-per-view a month was all that was required of its top talents, who were then free to flesh out the rest of their schedule however they wished, and if what they wanted was time off, then go for it.

I remember being on a phone call with Sting where he explained how that appealed to him when he first signed with TNA, which later on felt the pressure to try to build a house-show schedule that could bring extra dollars in the doors, though by and large the company draws only a fraction of what WWE does at its live events.

This really shouldn’t be that hard an issue to work around. Creative for both WWE and tna has enough talents to write for that giving any particular top star a couple of weeks or more off two, three, four times a year should be a piece of cake. Have a guy get “injured” to write him out of storylines for a time, have him lose an important match and sulk over it with some prerecorded vignettes that lay the groundwork for the comeback, that kind of thing.

Most importantly, keep the guys fresh. We want to see them at their best anyway, so if seeing them at their best means we have to give them some time off every so often, we can agree to that tradeoff.

Hey, it works in other sports.

– Column by Chris Graham



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