Rip Rogers vs. Will Ospreay: Is either man right or wrong?

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Rip Rogers and Will Ospreay have had a battle of old vs. new, but is either side right or wrong?

Professional wrestling is one of the most impressive spectacles in the entire world; it’s a contest between highly trained athletes that pushes bodies to the limit every single night. There’s so much variation that someone will always find things they love and hate, but is it fair to say that one thing is wrong? Or that one thing is right?

The whole reason for writing this stems from a recent debate between Rip Rogers and Will Ospreay. Rogers was a star during the late 1970s and 1980s, and is the current head trainer at Ohio Valley Wrestling. Ospreay is one of the current crop of high-flying indy wrestlers who is making waves in his native British Isles as well as places like New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor and across the globe.

Rogers recently Tweeted a picture of a message that he’d received that basically broke down every indy match. It basically stated that all Indy matches follow the same formula, with apparently dives at every available opportunity. Ospreay shot back and more or less defended the indy style, stating that he is making a good living using the style that was being criticized by Rogers.

It all got a little bit more interesting when WWE Champion Randy Orton threw his hat into the ring and agreed with Rogers. That has lead to the somewhat hilarious “….Dive” quote that is filling up social media timelines at all hours of the day.

It all leads to a big question: Is either side of the debate wrong? For that matter, is either side of the debate right?

If you look at the whole situation in black and white, then you could say this is basically a veteran criticizing the current “popular” wrestling style. It’s not really as simple as that, though. At every level of professional wrestling, you need different things to draw in fans.

Right at the top of the tree you have WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment. The main event of WWE is filled with men like Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and Randy Orton. All of those men have their own unique moves, but all of them work a similar style, what you could call a kick, punch, suplex style.

Further down the card you have men like current Cruiserweight Champion Neville, a true high flyer at the top of his game. Around Neville you have a whole host of characters in the Cruiserweight Division, high flyers, technical wrestlers, brawlers, all of whom are good in the ring, most of whom have come through the Indy circuit with great success and made their mark in the WWE feeder system (and what some call a “Super Indy”) NXT.

When you take a step down to some of the most successful indy promotions around the world, you see a similar story but not the same kind of results. Whilst places like PWG in the United States, and PROGRESS in the United Kingdom, could be seen as the final steps in a wrestler’s career prior to making it to WWE/NXT, they have also made themselves some of the must-watch professional wrestling in the world.

Having personally stood in the crowd at PROGRESS shows in my native England, the responses that some of the wrestlers on receive rival those you will see in WWE. Having seen men like Will Ospreay at close hand, flying through the air with the grace of any gymnast you’ll ever see, you can’t help but be impressed. Ospreay is a man who will grace the rings of WWE in his career — not right now but in the future he will, undoubtedly, be a big star in both NXT and on the WWE main roster.

The whole argument that all indy matches are in essence the same, maybe tells you that men like Rip Rogers and Randy Orton will only ever think that fans want to see one kind of match. What at one time was the entire staple of the WWE, has (for me as a fan at the very least) now become stale and boring. While I can appreciate the work of Orton, and other men who follow the same style as him — what you may call a big man style — it’s not the style of professional wrestling that would make me part with my hard earned money to go and watch.

In contrast, men like Ospreay, Mark Andrews and Pete Dunne are all men that I have, and would again (without hesitation) spend my wages to go and watch. It may not be a style that older fans can watch and appreciate, or that fans who have watched the WWE for years, will be interested in watching, but for me and many thousands of other fans around the world it is so much more exciting to watch and support.

Rogers and Ospreay, along with the vocal outcry of wrestlers and fans alike, have shown that there is no wrong or right when it comes to professional wrestling. It’s easy to take a side, especially when someone like Randy Orton throws his weight into the debate, but at the end of the day if every wrestling match was a carbon copy the world would be a very boring place.

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What one fan likes another fan will hate. What one wrestler likes another wrestler will call trash. If this whole debate has proved one thing, it is that wrestling fans are some of the most passionate fans in the world. People may take sides, or support their favorite stars, but every time they do that then they are showing their support for the years of hard work that some of those men and women have put in to reach their goals.

This whole thing may be a great way for Rogers to bring himself a little bit of notoriety, and perhaps may end with him having some kind of match or confrontation with Ospreay in the near future. We saw former WWE and NJPW star Vader do something similar with Ospreay. That ended with the pair having somewhat of a spectacle in London; it may not have been a six-star match of the year, but it got people talking and brought some attention to a man like Ospreay.

Professional wrestling is one of the hottest forms of entertainment in the world right now, and this whole debate may have opened a Pandora’s box, but as the old saying goes “Any publicity is good publicity.”