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Koscelek’s Blog: Reflecting on Eight Years of Ring Rap, and Looking to the Future

Last Wednesday, Bill and I recorded the final Ring Rap Audio. During that show, we discussed our reasons for stepping away from writing and recording content for Ring Rap. If you heard the show, or read Bill’s editorial from Thursday, you’ll see a common theme: Time. There’s just never enough of it.

Since Wednesday night, when I hit stop on my recording software, I’ve been trying to think of the best way to explain everything. But every time I would think about writing this, I found myself lacking time. As Bill eluded to, we are both heavily involved in a number of projects outside of pro wrestling that consume time. But this week, it was real life that got in the way, and really hammered home that no matter how many hours there are in a day, there is never, ever enough time.

On Wednesday I was late to record the show for two reasons:

  • I was stuck in traffic thanks to a college orientation that ran late. This sort of thing can be planned for somewhat, but I didn’t expect it to run quite as late as it did.
  • I found out that my girlfriend’s aunt has stage 4 lung cancer.

It’s the second one that really reinforced that our decision to walk away was the right one. It’s bad enough that I wasn’t home for her when she found out, but when I came home, we ate dinner, talked about things, and then I left her to record the show.

Bill and I have always enjoyed Ring Rap, but we’ve also always taken it very seriously. We treated this like a job, even though there was no paycheck. One of the reasons our podcasts were successful was consistency – we ensured that our listeners were able to download the shows on the days they expected to. We didn’t skip weeks, and if there was a situation where we were unavailable to record our normal day and time, we planned ahead and recorded in advance, and scheduled the show to drop when it normally would.

When it came to show coverage, for the most part, we were consistent there too. Bill couldn’t cover Raw? I would. I couldn’t cover Smackdown? Bill would. We were a true team, and we had each other’s backs. We were in this together, and trying to deliver the best, most consistent and reliable content we could to the fans.

But this sort of dedication comes at a price – time. I have lost track the number of times that I have declined invitations with friends because of show coverage. I cannot remember how many times I said no to dinner out because it fell on a Wednesday and we were set to record the podcast. And if you multiply the Big 4 pay-per-views by the number of years Ring Rap has been around, that’s how many pay-per-view parties I declined to go to so I could focus on coverage, or Twitter, or both.

Writing and contributing to Ring Rap cost us time and had an effect on our friendships and relationships with the people we love. And as my girlfriend talked to me about everything she knew about her aunt, all I could think about was how I was about to walk away from her, put on a difficult smile, and press the record button.

At first it wasn’t bad. When Matt Hester founded the site in 2009, I came on as a consultant, a technical adviser. My job was to build and run the website. But I wanted to write too, and write I did. We had a lot of writers with us over the years too. With multiple writers, it was easy not to get burned out. I could focus my attention on news and editorials, while another writer focused on show coverage, and so on. We had boxing specialists, MMA specialists, and more.

But as each writer realized that this is work and not all play, they started to fade out. In some cases, it was a matter of money – we paid when we could but more often than not we couldn’t. In others, it was the time investment. They just couldn’t commit to the time involved.

Eventually, it came down to just myself and Bill. Again, not too bad at first. But then the WWE Network launched, and the content slowly increased. One pay-per-view per month became two. Raw went from two hours to three. NXT, 205 Live, and more. As WWE increased their content, so did other promotions. Ring of Honor established better TV deals. New Japan Pro Wrestling became wildly popular in the United States. Lucha Underground carved it’s own niche.

As you can see, things are starting to get a little crazy.

We did our best to cover as much of these shows as possible. But when we looked at the traffic on the site, WWE was always the main driver. People overwhelmingly cared more about WWE products than any other show. Coverage for the other brands started to fade out. Why bother covering these shows if noone is reading it?

And then came the editorials. We would pour our heart and soul into writing a long article, and it would receive only a handful of views. But covering a 3-hour Raw and mindlessly typing in everything we saw would get stellar numbers.

This is when it stopped becoming fun.

I cannot remember the last time I watched pro-wrestling without a keyboard on my lap. I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed a match without analyzing it. I cannot remember the last time I was a fan and not a journalist. I have become bitter to pro wrestling. I lost my smile.

As friend of the site @willmarelle pointed out, this is not a new development. If you’ve been listening to our podcasts or reading our coverage over the past year, you’ll have seen that, little by little, we were getting burned out. Initially I hoped it was just a matter of cutting back on our responsibilities, but that didn’t change anything. It was simply time – time to walk away.

So last week, Bill and I pressed record for the last time. We thought about wrapping it up sooner, but we were excited about SummerSlam weekend and wanted to make it through, and felt it would be a great way to end things. And in hindsight, I couldn’t agree more.

Now I suddenly find myself with more time – time to spend with family, time to focus on hobbies, time to be with friends. I know my girlfriend, Nikki, is happy this is over, and I know some of my friends are too. They have been incredibly patient over the years and I could never have done any of this without their support.

As I spoke about in the show, I plan on turning some of my creative energy into video production for YouTube. Specifically, focusing on retro gaming. As a collector, I have a pile of games – good and bad – that I’m looking forward to finally playing, and I can’t wait to share the experience with the world. If you’d like to, please take a moment to follow this project on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and WordPress. All of these links have been poorly maintained over the past year, but I intend on giving them more focus now.

I also hope to pick up my guitar again – something I haven’t done with any consistency since I started working on this website. I miss playing, I miss that creativity, and I hope to tap into it again.

But for now, I’d like to thank everyone that has been a part of the site over the years, whether as a writer, or behind the scenes. I am certain I’m forgetting names and I apologize, but thank you to Colin Linneweber, Jeff Gorman, Michael Herschbein, Joe Burgett, Dru Atanacio, Michael Tubiak, Syvato, Graham, and countless others. You all were an important part of the site over the years, and I cannot thank you enough.

I also want to thank Matt Hester. Although we have not been in touch as much as I would like, this was his vision, his baby. Matt was instrumental in the site in the first few years and critical in securing our early interviews with Chris Jericho, Mick Foley, Val Venis, Jim Duggan, Hannibal, and others. When he stepped away from the site, we lost a visionary.

I want to thank Bill Wentz for being the last one standing. I literally could not have done any of this without him. Bill started out as just another writer, but over the years he became my partner. We discussed everything, and every major decision that went on here, we decided on together. Most importantly, Bill became my friend. I still hope I get to buy him that steak and beer I promised years ago.

Finally, I want to thank you. It’s cliche, but true – without you, the fans, none of this would have happened. You guys made the podcast. Your interactions with us made those terrible pay-per-views more fun. We tried our best to be the voice of the fans, and I hope that we did not let you down.

But now, it’s time for me to walk away. Maybe I’ll write and record again, but right now I hope to avoid wrestling shows for a little while. I desperately need a break. When it’s time, I’ll come back and start watching again. I still want to be a fan. I still want to enjoy pro wrestling. In time, I will.

Thank you. I love you.

Drew Koscelek
Editor in Chief

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About Drew Koscelek (1124 Articles)
Editor in Chief for Ring-Rap.com, and a lifelong fan of pro-wrestling. Drew is one of the co-founders of Ring Rap, and is the current administrator of the site. Outside of pro-wrestling, he has a passion for all things geeky - reading, science fiction, video games, and music. You can contact him on Twitter @PsionStorm, or via email at dkoscelek@ring-rap.com

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