NB: I wrote this article back in May and submitted it to another website, but they never published it. So I'm posting it here instead. I hope you enjoy it.
Did you know that, even now, there are people who think AJ Styles leaving TNA is a work?
Yes, I'm serious.
AJ's given interviews. He's given explanations. He's signed with another company and won their biggest title.
Doesn't matter. Fans are still asking whether it's all just some clever trick.
And people? This has to stop.
Wrestling is entertainment. We know that.
Kayfabe died with the Montreal Screwjob back in '97. And since then, we've accepted that a team of writers scripts and crafts most of what we see.
And we also know that the line between fantasy and reality in wrestling gets hazy. Sometimes, it's because Real Life Writes the Plot, but at others, the writers are doing it on purpose.
Of course, it's hard to tell the difference between the two.
So we ask questions. We speculate. We discuss.
Which is fine up to a point. But we've long since passed that point and waltzed merrily off into the realm of the insufferable cynic.
Take AJ Styles as an example.
Why did we doubt him when he told us he was leaving TNA?
Was it because we didn't want him to go? Was it because wrestling has lied to us so often we can't trust it any more?
Or was it because we've stopped buying into the fantasy?
People have been telling us "Wrestling is fake" for so long that maybe we've started to take that too much to heart.
We have to lampshade the scripted nature of wrestling or they make us feel stupid for liking it.
And so we meet every single announcement that could be an attempt to fool us with intense scepticism just in case.
But enough is enough. We need to stop doing this.
After all, what do we actually get out of it?
We piss our favourite wrestlers off when we don't believe what they say. Just look at the number of frustrated interviews AJ Styles gave about leaving TNA and you'll see it.
We suck the joy out of the process of watching wrestling because we're always looking for the lie. We're too on our guard to let ourselves go and have fun.
And finally, we get a smug sense of superiority if – and only if – we're eventually proved right.
Which a good chunk of the time we're not anyway.
It's not worth it.
We need to start getting into the spirit of wrestling again. We need to pretend that we believe, even if we don't. We need to embrace the entertainment.
AJ Styles left TNA. So what if it's a work? Express sadness that you won't see him in TNA and move on. Work on the theory that it's real and if it isn't, who cares?
What have we got to lose?
So why not give the smug cynicism a rest and try having a bit of fun now and then?
Maybe we'll have lightened up by the time AJ comes back to TNA.