ICYMI: Number 3

When Andrew arrives at the pearly gates and they evaluate what he did with his life, watching wrestling matches will rack up more hours than any other single task. The guy’s done a lot of DVD miles. Every week he picks one of his favourite matches to share with you. Here’s number three…

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I’m lucky enough to have a local promotion* that has allowed me to see the likes of Kevin Steen, Akira Tozawa, Colt Cabana, The Young Bucks, Paul London, Brian Kendrick, Super Crazy, Davey Richards, Michael Elgin, Johnny Gargano, Lita, John Morrison and Chris Masters over the last two years. I’ve been even more lucky to find myself being introduced to a group of young British wrestlers who are standing toe-to-toe with these imports, and not looking out of place in the slightest.

I’ll be showing some PCW footage in future editions of ICYMI, but for now I want to mention their second ever show; a tournament to crown their first ever champion back in September 2011. I came out of this show singing the praises of two young wrestlers. One, Noam Dar, has gone on to wrestle some of the biggest import names to have come over to the UK of late, as well as wrestling on the Dragon Gate UK tour back in February.

The other person was a wrestler called Jack Gallagher. Billed from the Snake Pit gym in Wigan (home of the Catch as Catch Can style often alluded to by Jim Ross) he only wrestled one match that night, being beaten in the first round by his Scottish opponent Lionheart. Despite being described by Lionheart as “Sheamus with AIDS” I was left amazed at the skill that Jack brought to the ring. I’m a big fan of that, admittedly quite old fashioned, World of Sport-style and seeing someone young do that was a highlight.

Jack is currently wrestling over in Japan for the Zero One promotion as Jack Anthony, and although a lot of our American readers will undoubtedly be unfamiliar with him I urge you to give this a look. Click here if the video doesn’t load on your mobile device.

*Disclaimer : I am slightly involved behind the scenes at Preston City Wrestling but any comments I make are strictly as a fan.

(Rae’s Edit: Jack has proven himself to be a very insightful writer, formerly here and now here. I’m also rather fond of his Twitter bio.)

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That Was The Week That Was: 27th May – 2nd June 2013

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Seven days is a long time in wrestling. Each week Rachel will cast her eye over the landscape and handpick the stuff that stands out. Sometimes they’ll be the most obvious events, but often more subtle shifts in the business. They’ll always be written from her own unique point of view. Unlike the original That Was The Week That Was, she won’t be singing the news. 

The Death of CHIKARA?

Last week I was playing the Related Artists Game on Spotify. You pick a song, then your next tune must be by one of the listed related artists. I found myself faced with Noah and the Whale. I’m not a particularly big fan of theirs, but there is one song that will forever justify their existence – Tonight’s the Kind of Night. I was rushed with a flood of heart thumping nostalgia.

This song happened to find my ears during the week leading up to CM Punk’s immortal will-he-won’t-he story at Money in the Bank 2011. Through sheer coincidence, the lyrics were so close to summarising Punk’s journey, it gave me shivers. It really was the kind of night where absolutely everything could change. To date, I have never been more invested in how a wrestling tale was going to work out. I have certainly never had such an explosively emotional reaction to a show.

The thing about those few months of change was that the events were rooted in reality. That’s what made the difference. How much of it was written and how much was Punk just not giving a damn will only ever be known by a handful of people. If you watch his DVD, it was all legit. He was off. In actuality, it doesn’t matter. The fact that we didn’t know where the boundary was made it all the more compelling. It made it categorically wrestling.

Last night the CHIKARA: Never Compromise iPPV reminded me of Money in the Bank. For all that the matches were brilliant, there was a strange, electrically charged cloud hanging over it; the cloud that had the potential to rain on CHIKARA’s parade and put it out of action for good. Rumour’s had it for some time that real life, highly personal matters threatened the company with extinction. At least, under the branding as it stands. It was an unsettling discussion. If there’s one thing CHIKARA fans love it’s that it’s a complete break from the everyday. Unlike with Punk, though, I wasn’t torn between someone doing what was right for them and doing the thing that made me most happy.

The show was running later than we expected and it was getting late in the UK. We debated whether to stay up for the main event or not, but decided that the big announcement promised for the end of the show had to be worth losing a little sleep over. The announcement never came. Icarus and Eddie Kingston’s main event match was interrupted by a team of men in dark suits. They trashed the stage. They shut the show down. They turned off the feed. They threw all the fans out of the building and locked the doors. It didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel very CHIKARA. It felt kind of real.

There were reports that someone had thrown something through a door in anger and smashed it, before being dragged back into the Trocadero. According to Twitter this was the start of a riot. Those at the scene quickly closed that idea down. Even the legitimacy of the furious protestor has been called into question today, because of the way he was swiftly pulled back into the building. A real fan? A plant? Who knows? One thing I do know is that I don’t want to hear about Bryce Remsburg – happiest man on the planet – leaving in tears. It messes with my head.

The manner in which the show was halted was, of course, staged. But the reality behind it is yet to come to light. CHIKARA may very well have huffed out its last breath, ready to morph into something new. But one thing I’ve always placed in CHIKARA is trust. There is no cleverer promotion in operation. I’ve lost count of how many AH-HA! moments there’ve been, where various easter eggs dotted around the internet suddenly make sense. Was this a story they took too far and made too dark? Possibly. But they haven’t steered me wrong yet and you don’t build the best pound-for-pound wrestling promotion in the world only to let it disperse for the sake of paperwork.

Just like when Punk  (temporarily) kissed his tenure goodbye, I have never been more eager to know what happens next, while at the same time never more unsure about which parts of wrestling are fooling me. But isn’t that the point?

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That Was The Week That Was: 20th-26th May 2013

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Seven days is a long time in wrestling. Each week Rachel will cast her eye over the landscape and handpick the stuff that stands out. Sometimes they’ll be the most obvious events, but often more subtle shifts in the business. They’ll always be written from her own unique point of view. Unlike the original That Was The Week That Was, she won’t be singing the news. 

AJ Lee’s T-Shirt

One of the first of many rants I wrote on this site was about WWE’s women’s merchandise. By that I mean both merchandise made for women and that devised to promote female performers. Has it changed since then? Yes. As much as I want it to? Not even close. But we’re moving in the right direction.

Four years ago WWE had little-to-no shirts cut for women and, just generally, most of their stock was dull. WWE Shop was a sorry sight, but over time it’s improved. The design turnover has been quick, the clothing pages aren’t a sea of black anymore and there are now shirts designed to fit a female figure. Women have curved waists, tits and don’t want to dress like men. Who knew?

It still irritates me that the choice is limited. I hate that someone in an office decides which shirts women will buy. They regularly get it wrong. Why on earth was the Antonio Cesaro shirt not made available to women when you can buy a slim cut Prime Time Players shirt? Madness.

I also take issue with the policy that women’s shirts aren’t stocked at UK live events. When Andrew and I went to Raw, we both intended on buying the yellow CM Punk shirt as a momento. Andrew bought his but I couldn’t find any for women. I decided I’d buy online the next day. That never happened because even when applying a discount code, the extortionate shipping charge made it a $43 shirt. I don’t love it that much.

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This needs to change. And a few more v-necks wouldn’t go amiss while they’re at it. I prefer when my chest doesn’t look like it’s growing straight out of my neck.

There may have been some progress on the buying side, but the promotion of female wrestlers when it comes to merchandise has been dreadful. The problem was the same old cycle of no character, no interest, no merch. I have no idea where the Divas’ division is heading at the moment. It’s in a weird place. I’m both tentatively excited at the prospect of a higher mainstream profile and terrified that it means the death of any matches at all. I’m putting all my faith in Sara Del Rey’s influence and a sympathetically edited reality show.

AJ Lee, though, has done something a little special. I may not always have approved of the stories WWE placed her in, but what’s crucial is that she’s had top-billing placement that made people care. The audience wants to see what happens next. She’s not the piss break. It’s been an awfully long time since the crowd cared this much about a woman. Even the cringe-making narratives that played out between Mickie James and LayCool didn’t produce t-shirts, and LayCool were coming out in custom branded shirts and hoodies every week. 

I cant say that I love the design of AJ’s shirt. It’s not my style, I doubt I’d ever wear it and I feel a little old for it. But if I can stomach the shipping cost I’m sorely tempted to buy it just to drive home the point that if you make the Divas relevant they will shift stock. And the dollar’s what WWE is all about, right?

Good for you, kid. Never has a t-shirt launch seemed quite so significant. Dare I whisper ‘tipping point’?

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Current WWE Shop splash

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ICYMI: Number 2

When Andrew arrives at the pearly gates and they evaluate what he did with his life, watching wrestling matches will rack up more hours than any other single task. The guy’s done a lot of DVD miles. Every week he picks one of his favourite matches to share with you. Here’s number two…

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There’s been a lot written about Mick McManus following his death earlier this week, but it seemed only right that I should pay my respects in this week’s ICYMI.

McManus was one of, if not the, preeminent villains (not heels, villains) during the World of Sport era. As a child I found Kendo Nagasaki sinister, Giant Haystacks imposing and Catweazle creepy as hell. But McManus scared me. He was, despite his 5’6″ stature, someone who looked like he would genuinely hurt you if he felt it was necessary. Yet despite this he was, by every account, a true gentleman; in fact after retiring from the ring he became a noted expert in the field of porcelain. Not something you might expect from the likes of Randy Orton perhaps.

For younger (and overseas) readers it might be hard to grasp just how big a deal wrestling was in the UK once upon a time. Televised twice weekly and drawing larger audiences than the FA Cup final it often preceded, British wrestling was immense. The National Union of Shopkeepers unsuccessfully lobbied the TV channel to ask them to move the broadcast slot from Saturday afternoon as housewives weren’t leaving the house to buy groceries. The Royal Family were known to be fans, and McManus was photographed with the likes of Prince Philip and then Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

McManus died at the age of 93 after refusing to eat following the death of his wife in January. Despite pleas and visits from friends including Sir Richard Attenborough, he slipped into a coma and passed away.

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ICYMI: Number 1

When Andrew arrives at the pearly gates and they evaluate what he did with his life, watching wrestling matches will rack up more hours than any other single task. The guy’s done a lot of DVD miles. Every week he’ll pick one of his favourite matches to share with you. Here’s his first…

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Before the yeses and the nos and the hugs… before the Sierras and the Hotels and the Indias, the Echoes and the Limas and the Deltas… there was, well, there was loads actually.

Between them Bryan Danielson and Tyler Black amassed 15 years worth of matches before signing with the WWE and becoming Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins respectively. Working for US indie promotions such as IWA: Mid South, PWG and Ring of Honor the two met on a number of occasions; both as opponents and, as is the case here, as team mates.

This week’s match is for the Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship and features the team of Danielson and Black taking on The American Wolves (Davey Richards and Eddie “not the Olympic ski jumper” Edwards) with Wrestlegasm favourite (and now WWE trainer) Sara Del Rey at ringside.   If you’ve not seen much of Rollins/Black before his SHIELD tenure you should be in for a pleasant surprise, especially when he pulls out the Phoenix Splash and God’s Last Gift.

Hope you enjoy and I’ll be back next week with another match you might not have seen before.

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What you see when you’re not looking – Part Two

The first ‘What you see when you’re not looking’ post was originally going to include this topic. Then the first turned out to be longer than I expected and I didn’t want to do this point a disservice by tagging it onto the end of something else. So, this is part two – on why wrestling has to stop clinging to the sex industry. 

When we took a step back from blogging and observed without commenting, it became clearer to me just how much the sex industry remains unnecessarily intertwined with the wrestling business. The truth is, we should have cut those apron strings years ago. It’s outdated. It’s harmful to the business as it moves forward and becomes more popular – especially with children – and it’s damaging to the position of women in the industry. WWE is probably cleaner than it’s ever been, but on the independent scene, wrestling’s fixation with the sleazier side is reigning in its potential to be a legitimate and credible form of entertainment. It’s not good enough to say that wrestling is sleazy and always will be. It can change, if promotions are inclined to put the wheels in motion.

For all the rose-tinted harping back to the late 1990s and the 2000s, it was murky. When the American government feel the need to intervene, you know you’re getting something wrong. It was time to start cleaning up wrestling. The government’s concerns largely surrounded health, but wrestling needed an overhaul in every way. The landscape has changed dramatically since I first became a wrestling fan in 1997. It’s changed since we started this blog in 2009. But it’s hit a stumbling block, particularly when it comes to women.

I’m confident we’ll never see a repeat of Trish Stratus barking like a dog on her hands and knees on worldwide television again. I sincerely hope that bra and panties matches have been left in the ‘what were we thinking?’ category of wrestling history. But the connection to the porn industry that hangs around wrestling like a stale smell the day after a party is just one of the reasons I sometimes find it embarrassing to plug it as entertainment to my friends and family and to the young children in my life.

I fully appreciate that not all promotions are looking to be family friendly, although I think they could do a better job at letting families know when a show won’t be for kids. I also acknowledge that being a woman in my early thirties, I’m looking for something very different to what I was searching for when I was in my late teens and early twenties. Your tastes change. You become more discerning. You have a clearer view of what you will and won’t let slide without comment. When I was much younger, when hormones were raging, I was terribly unsure of myself and every conversation felt like it had to be loaded with sniggering innuendo and sexuality. I wasn’t as concerned with women’s place in wrestling. I knew it wasn’t right, but I didn’t really know how to protest it. I have changed, the world has changed and wrestling has changed. It just needs one last, very easy push to make itself properly current.

Outside the CHIKARA and Shimmer bubble, wrestling still feels sexist. It makes me sad when fans at British wrestling shows are genuinely surprised when the couple of women on the card put on a great match. It’s especially disappointing when they feel the need to point out that they’re ‘Really good, and not just good for girls, either’. WWE has to take some of the responsibility here. For almost everyone it’s the first wrestling they’re exposed to. If their promotion of women involves nothing but one-minute matches and boyfriend or beauty stories, we’re not telling the young people and children watching that women have more to offer. It should be a given, but it isn’t. It just feeds the notion that the female purpose in wrestling is merely decorative. The rest of the responsibility lies with anyone who doesn’t make an effort correct these archaic views.

Women already struggle to get their names on the card in both mainstream and indie wrestling (British and overseas) simply because the impression is that crowds won’t get behind them. When, for example, porn stars or exotic dancers are hired to act as valets, interval entertainment or even makeshift wrestlers, the female wrestlers find themselves competing with both the male talent and the additional bookings. Very rarely are men hired in wrestling because they’ve had a career in the sex industry. You’ll never see a man on the roster overshadowed by someone who works in porn. It’s blatant pandering to dinosaurs of the game and hormone infested young men who have money to burn. Just because the lowest common denominator sells, it doesn’t mean you should sell it. If your wrestling and your stories are good you shouldn’t need porn, and a little social conscience goes an awful long way.

I’m not on a crusade against sex. We’re all grown-ups and we all enjoy our sex lives. I’m not even trying to banish pornography. It’s not my cup of tea, but as long as it isn’t hurting anyone, I don’t subscribe to the idea that it’s universally a terrible thing. Most crucially, I’m not suggesting we rid wrestling of ‘attraction’. It’s a highly visual medium and aesthetics are crucial. Wrestlers, particularly in the mainstream, are hired for their good (or less so) looks to fit who the company wants them to be; just like actors in a TV show. It’s obviously not the only reason talent are hired, but having ‘a look’ that you then shape the stories around – whether appealing to the eye or not – is a fundamental part of wrestling. The irony that I’m writing this post on a website called Wrestlegasm isn’t lost on me. And I’m definitely not ignoring that ultimately wrestling is a load of oiled, half-naked folk rolling around with each other with a story as its backdrop. But there is a stark difference between Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee kissing on camera to sell their relationship, for example, and sex for the sake of selling sex. The latter is what we need to move away from.

Wrestling, and indie wrestling especially, needs to think carefully about the language it uses, too. You can only pull the Jack Swagger/Zeb Colter trick of being outlandishly politically incorrect if you’re making it absolutely clear that the views your ‘characters’ are peddling are completely unacceptable. Without the caveat of million-dollar TV contracts hanging over your head, there’s little incentive to get that balance right every single time.  It’s not enough just to book women on shows. How they’re treated is important too. On the unregulated and non-televised circuit, women are sometimes on the receiving end of unsavoury sexual banter. Eva Wiseman recently wrote an excellent column in the Observer on lad culture in universities. She talked about how you can find it difficult to remove yourself from derogatory behaviour and language because when you’re in a group where it’s expected, you play along to fit in. It’s the only option. There is an awful lot of that in wrestling. I believe it’s one of the reasons so many people leave wrestling as they grow older.

There’s a great deal of tolerating what was once acceptable and it’s very disappointing. I’d like to see braver booking, cleverer stories and less reliance on the sex industry to raise interest in wrestling products. The gap between the two needs to grow larger. Fans will follow where promoters lead. They just need to have the courage to move forward.

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9 Stages of Giddiness

I had planned on writing a long and worthy review of Wrestlemania, but as this past week has been quite the whirlwind, I decided just to run through all the WWE stuff making me happy at moment. Let’s just have a chat.  

That hug

The chances of John Cena not winning the WWE title at Wrestlemania were slim. Really slim. The promo videos charting his hidden emotional collapse could have been a swerve, but they’re rarely that sneaky when it comes to Cena. His turmoil is over, the Rock’s job is done, time for a new story. Mmmm. New stories.  At stupid o’clock in the morning after having too little sleep and too much junk food I was loopy enough to find even the cat nuzzling my hand an emotional experience. But that little chat and the hug Cena and Rock shared at the end of the show genuinely moved me. Considering all their history, it felt poignant. It’s so easy to be in love with wrestling when the sun is about to come up and you haven’t really slept yet. I know it was a predictable outcome, but everyone secretly loves those practically post-coital, crowd whipping winner speeches John Cena gives the night after regaining a title.

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Ziggler! Finally! 

The problem with Raw being live at 2am is that unless you avoid the internet until you have an opportunity to watch it, you’re going to find out what happens. It’s so rarely worth the abstinence that Raw spoilers have just become a British way of life. It only becomes a problem when gargantuan, memorable moments take place. Case and point:  Ziggler’s cash-in. Andrew and I both ruined that for ourselves when we simultaneously opened Instagram and Facebook and held pictures of Ziggler wearing the belt up to each other. D’oh!

Spoilers aside we watched Raw later that evening and blimey, that cash-in was bloody great. The reward for being disappointed every time Dolph didn’t appear at the top of the ramp with that battered briefcase and a referee in hand (including at Wrestlemania) was that explosive moment. It made my tummy flip. It made me squeak. We have long been devoted to Dolph Ziggler around here and having paid his dues both in-ring and on the mic, he’s finally got a major title for more than a few seconds. We’re thrilled!

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The Shield 

There aren’t enough words to express how much I completely adore The Shield. This is why the blog post I keep trying to write about them is still in ever-changing draft form. Every time that radio crackle permeates whichever arena they happen to be in, my shoulders involuntarily rise to my ears. I am smitten, and not just in that lustful, early CM Punk sort of way. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve been visiting this blog for the past four years.

They’re so perfectly balanced I almost can’t stand it. A few weeks ago while watching The Shield on Smackdown, I turned to Andrew and suggested that I write a blog post on how threesomes work. Once the terror/intrigue had passed and we ascertained that what I actually meant was ‘trios’, I set about trying to put it into coherent words. As soon as I figure out how to make ‘I love them so much it aches’ sound less juvenile, it’ll be posted.

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Aesthetics 

Wrestlemania looked beautiful. 29 may not have been full of surprises or curveballs. Even I as a Triple H fan have to admit his match with Lesnar was way below par. As an event, though, Wrestlemania looked gorgeous. I’m a sucker for New York City at the best of times, but that setting, the stage, the colours, the fireworks…. For the first time in ages I felt envious of people experiencing the spectacle live and not necessarily the matches. As always, a slightly predictable Wrestlemania is STILL WRESTLEMANIA, GUYS. If you said you were glad you didn’t buy it when all you did was read a results page, you mugged yourself.

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NXT

The ludicrous gymkhana that was the old NXT holds a special place in our hearts. It was ridiculous, but we watched several series of it religiously. I will always feel a nostalgic flutter when I hear those first few bars of Wild and Young. The new NXT is a whole different animal. Ditching the middle ground between developmental and TV, then really investing in the way new talent is presented is the best thing WWE have done in a long time. NXT now feels like an exciting indie promotion, with stories, characters that aren’t charicatures and potentially huge rewards for working hard. Also, William Regal and Kassius Ohno kicking the nonsense out of each other. What more encouragement could you possibly need?

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I don’t know about you…

This video, mainly for Punk’s interpretation of the chorus. I would pay an awful lot of money to have CM Punk softly read me the lyrics of an entire Taylor Swift album. I think it might help me sleep better at night.

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HHH and Stephanie on Twitter

If you read the long piece I wrote for the Fair to Flair Quarterly a long time ago, you’ll remember that Stephanie and Hunter’s fictional and real relationships were the penny dropping moment in my understanding wrestling journey. It’s the reason I find them so fascinating, both individually and as a couple. When they both joined Twitter I was beside myself. When Stephanie joined, Andrew texted me immediately to tell me. I’m far too old to be fangirling over anyone, yet weeks on I’m still trying to think of something I can tweet to Stephanie that doesn’t suggest I’m 15 years my junior. To say that I’m in a constant state of marking out is putting it mildly.

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Fandango 

I have so much to say about ole Johnny. Soon.

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Our long weekend

You know sometimes when life has been busy and you just need to kick back, order junk food, be irresponsible with your sleep pattern (and your bank account) and do something fun? That’s what we did over Wrestlemania weekend. If you’re interested in all the delicious rubbish we ate and what we look like in our pyjamas, there’s a short post about that here. It was a brilliant four days.

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Approx 3am.

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What you see when you’re not looking

When you’re removed from a community you see it with different eyes. You spot the stuff you missed before because you were caught up in the same old arguments. Sometimes you observe heartwarming things that you’re proud to be associated with, and sometimes you spot themes that are far less endearing.  The least appealing traits I’ve been watching lately are bad spin and its closest bedfellow, promotion snobbery.

Dara O’Briain has a brilliant segment in one of his stand-up shows about how much he despises music snobs and so-called guilty pleasures. “Music snobbery is the worst kind of snobbery. Oh, you like those noises? Those sounds in your ear? Do you like them? They’re the wrong sounds! You should like these sounds in your ear!” Dara clearly never spent time with wrestling fans. We’re champions at snobbery. We are the worst.

Over the past six months or so I’ve sat back and watched fans make other fans feel bad about their wrestling viewing choices. The barbs seem even more spiteful when that choice is WWE.  During the interval at the WWE show we mentioned in our last post, I checked Twitter to find that people attending indie shows that night were trashing the very event we were watching. Who were they to tell me it was awful? They weren’t even there! We were having a ball.

Taking the most popular route is selling out, right? No. It’s just enjoying something that a lot of other people also happen to like. Equally, there are just as many mainstream fans who believe if it’s not on TV it can’t be good. I know, because before I experienced my first indie show almost 10 years ago I used to be one of them. I would encourage everyone to explore beyond their usual boundaries. Hopefully you’ll find something new. If nothing else it gives your favourite promotion some perspective. But if you decide that what you really love is the mainstream, that’s alright too.

In that same section of his show, Dara O’Briain goes on to talk about how infuriating it is that people who dip into the mainstream are forced to call it their guilty pleasure because it’s just not underground enough. The thing is, though, we’re wrestling fans. There is no cool.

A few weeks ago I found myself watching a documentary called Allotment Wars. Bear with me. I watched agog as gentle gardeners sabotaged others’ competition crops, raided plot holders’ sheds and called the police on a youngster who found himself a tenner in rent arrears. A couple of old friends fell out two years ago. You could feel from their interviews that the fight and their continuing rivalry had left them both burning with rage.

Out loud I shouted “What is wrong with these people? None of this actually matters in the grand scheme of life!” I scoffed at their silly bickering over carrot soil and congratulated myself on being too well-adjusted to be involved with a group that deals in such juvenile squabbling. Of course, until I remembered that if there’s one thing that can be desperately uncool, petty and all puffed up with misplaced importance, it’s being a wrestling fan.

The older you get the more people shoot you that ‘Wrestling? Really?’ look. The older you get the more awkward a positive response feels.  None of us got into this big ball of ridiculous to score cool points. I’m trying to avoid a High School Musical moment here, but if we’re all in this together why are we so intent on playing games of one-upmanship?  Who are we trying to impress? It’s weird. Your thing is not better, it’s just different.

The worst byproduct of this behaviour is bad spin.  Bad spin is what bad politicians do. They make themselves look the more progressive option by rubbishing the competition. Most of the time they’ll say nothing about what actually makes them so wonderful. As long as they’ve planted that ’them bad, me better’ message, the job’s done. It’s lazy and transparent.

I hate seeing this tactic in wrestling. Whether it’s tweets from well-meaning fans or promotions themselves, I want a wrestling company to do more to excite me than make hollow claims about being ‘better’ than WWE. I don’t want to hear that your show is superior to another popular thing if you can’t even tell me why. I want to know what sets it apart from the rest and makes it unique amidst a world full of weekend wrestling watching options. Otherwise, it just feels like you’re covering up your failings by clinging on to your opponents’ faults. It turns me off.

We all watch wrestling for different reasons and we switch promotions to alter our experiences. A tiny indie show will never deliver the reliable gloss of Monday Night Raw. Monday Night Raw will never achieve the unpredictable intimacy of a tiny indie show. I don’t want them to out-do each other. I want them to put every ounce of energy into being the best at the very specific brand of wrestling they deliver, whatever that happens to be.

It’s completely possible to love both equally, just like it’s fine to listen to Katy Perry one minute, then jump to that band you saw with 19 other people in an unlicenced indie club. It’s alright if you like the PG era. It’s fine if you also go elsewhere for something more grown up sometimes. If you thought WWE peaked when it was still called WWF, that’s fine. But it peaked in 2002 for you. The kids in the front row right now have no idea what you’re talking about. The Attitude Era is an overpriced vintage t-shirt for them and that’s okay too.

If you were stood at an ice cream stand with a friend and they chose a different flavour to you, you wouldn’t throw their cone in the bin and insist that only your flavour’s worth eating. What you’d probably do is encourage them to grab a spoon and have a taste of yours. Let’s do more of that. Let’s cut each other some slack, understand where opinions start and facts stop, and pass out more sample spoons. The flavour doesn’t matter as long as we’re all having fun. Unless, of course, you want to buy me a TNA sundae. ‘Cause that thing’s gonna need an awful lot of cherries on top!

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