July 22nd, 2024

AEW stars Chris Jericho and Renee Paquette say social media reshaping pro wrestling

By John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press on June 20, 2024.

Chris Jericho poses for a photo at the Collision Conference in Toronto on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO – Professional wrestling is an art form based on performers reading and responding to their viewers. According to All Elite Wrestling stars Chris Jericho and Renee Paquette, that’s a dynamic being reshaped by technological innovations.

Jericho and Paquette attended the Collision technology conference this week and after their panel on how AEW is disrupting their industry, they reflected on how pro wrestling is being changed by the internet. Jericho said that he was able to develop in the ring when his career began in the early 1990s because he was able to learn from his missteps but social media and YouTube make it difficult for young wrestlers to make mistakes without ruining their reputations.

“Back in those days, you could have really bad matches for years and you would learn,” said Jericho backstage at the Enercare Centre at Toronto’s Exhibition Place. “Now, it’s all up for everyone to see.

“I think from an experience standpoint, guys and girls are rushed because of that.”

That doesn’t mean that social media is all bad, however.

“One of the benefits is you can be seen on YouTube and if you’re really good you can suddenly create a real big buzz for yourself much faster than back in the day,” said Jericho, who is originally from Winnipeg. “In the early days of my career, it was more done by word of mouth, magazines, the different territories that you’re working in Japan or something you could build an image and then come to the States.”

Paquette, a backstage interviewer for AEW who got her start on the now defunct The Score Television Network in 2009, agreed with Jericho. She also added that personalized algorithms on social media can be misleading for young people entering creative fields, not just in pro wrestling.

“I think everyone’s social media is tailored specifically to themselves so it only gives them a certain shred of what exactly they’re doing instead of that big picture,” said Paquette, who is from Toronto. “But if you want to try something out, you’re trying some new character stuff, you want to put a twist to a story on Instagram, you want to do some stuff on TikTok, and all of a sudden that starts picking up some traction it can be good and that’s a good place to try things.

“But also now it’s for public consumption when maybe it shouldn’t be yet.”

Jericho said that if you’re going to wade into the social media waters you have to understand that half the people will say you’re the greatest ever and the other “want you to basically curl up and die.”

“One of the trends is younger guys and girls will go on Twitter or Instagram or whatever after the match and look for the comments to decide whether their match was good or not,” said Jericho, pointing to his chest to emphasize his next point. “You know here, in your heart, the moment the match ends, if it was good or bad.

“Any performance, if you’re a musician on a live stage or an actor doing a Shakespearean play in the park, when you have a live crowd, you instantly know how it was.”

Paquette agreed that performers have to trust their own instincts and rely on their experience.

“I think it’s really important for us to remind ourselves that we’re in the driver’s seat of creating the art and we’re not letting other people indicate where we want to take things based off of what fans are saying online,” she said. “It’s nice to do fan service in certain instances and listen to what people like but I think also reminding ourselves that we’re the pro and that more than once you’ve been in the thick of it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 20, 2024.

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