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Choose Your Foe: An Idea to Build Drama Without Compromising the Integrity of the Sport

David Taylor

Photo by Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com

The wrestling world is constantly in search of new ways to promote the sport. We believe in what the sport teaches. We believe in what the sport stands for. We believe that wrestling is the oldest and greatest sport in the world. If only we could convince the general public of that, we reason, our sport would thrive and the world would be a better place. To that end, wrestling has been having a discussion about villains and their role in generating interest. Competitors such as Pat Downey and Thomas Gilman, among others, have been cast in that part and there is no doubt that there is added heat around many of their matches because of it. However, there is a strong faction of wrestling fans who want no part of heels in wrestling, especially if it means athletes crossing certain lines.

The benefits that villains bring to the sport are numerous, but one of the key aspects is the building of rivalries that might not otherwise be developed. Downey, for example, did not compete in college wrestling last season, eventually being dropped from the team at Iowa State. Still, largely because of his twitter persona, his matches at the US Open, in particular those against Gabe Dean, David Taylor, and Bo Nickal, had the wrestling community's rapt attention. Taylor and J'den Cox have developed a rivalry the old fashioned way, but even that was pushed to a new level thanks to Taylor's tweet during the World Championships and Cox's subsequent response after he won a bronze medal. Rather than wait for these sorts of things to occur, wrestling needs to build a system that encourages rivalries. Doing so without encouraging drama on social media or abhorrent behavior could bring the sport needed attention without detracting from what makes it great. As you might imagine, I have an idea on how we can make that happen.

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