Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guest Star Week: Wrestling is a Variety Pack: How pro wrestling appeals to different people for different reasons

Welcome to Guest Star Week here on Needless Things!
I put out the call to the Phantomaniacs a few weeks ago for a few guest posts. I have something I really want to work on, but it’s just going to take more time than I normally have to write. It’s a pet passion project – something which may not ever even get published – but I have to do it. I’m really excited about it and have already put it off more than I care to.
Thankfully, I had a few creative and talented people step up with some truly cool entries. I told them they could write about whatever they wanted to that wasn’t religion or politics. I didn’t even want to know what they were writing about beforehand. I said write it, send it, and I’ll post it.
Today’s post comes from Alicia Stockton. She's a lady who knows a thing or two about wrestling. Her site - WrestlingFanGirl - features more recaps of indy wrestling than you can swing a chair at. I am very jealous of the amount of shows Alicia gets to attend. She has a unique voice and a good perspective on my favorite sport and I think you guys are going to have fun with her today.

            And now, here’s Alicia:
  There are many types of wrestling fans. There are those who are devoted to the commercially successful WWE. There are those that believe that the technical style of Ring of Honor is superior because it is closer to what is considered pure wrestling. There are those who prefer local independent promotions because they feel more like they are involved in the action. Every wrestling fan has an opinion on what is the best type of wrestling, and those opinions are rarely the same. I personally believe that wrestling is a variety pack, and that a good show has something for every type of fan. 

I’ve fallen in and out of love with professional wrestling three times in my life. I tend to cycle back around to wrestling about every 10 years. The first time I fell in love was in the early 80’s with the rise of Hulkamania. Back then I think I enjoyed the costumes, the music and the spectacle of wrestling. It was fun for me to cheer the heroes and boo the villains without any thought of doing otherwise. Hulk Hogan was my favorite because he represented heroism, patriotism, and hard work in my eyes. His theme song, “I am a Real American” played on my Rainbow Brite tape player, and I watched Hulk Hogan’s Rock and Wrestling every Saturday morning during its short run. 

           Whenever I see adult fans of wrestling criticizing John Cena’s goody-too-shoes persona, I cringe. Cena is today’s Hogan for the younger audience. His values, hustle, loyalty, and respect, are good solid values built on hard work. Adult fans want to see Cena “turn heel” right now because he is boring as the hero. My opinion is that John Cena is not meant for them, he is instead meant for younger fans who still need that all-American hero to look up to. 

           I say this with reservation because my child loves the bad guys. His first “love” in wrestling was Kane. When Kane recently remasked, my 5 year old son, was afraid of him at first. When his music hit, my son would peek around the corner at the TV, hiding until after the “big red monster” left the television screen. Soon though his fear vanished, and instead he became obsessed with Kane. He mimicked his poses, he listened to his music everyday on YouTube. We made him a mask out of paper and cut the fingers off a pair of gloves, so he could dress like Kane when he played wrestling at home. Many WWE fans long for the days when Kane was a scary monster, and they don’t like his current character. He and Daniel Bryan are more of a comedy act as tag team champions. I like this angle because I feel that it has brought the tag team division back to a place of relevance. I also believe that younger fans can relate because Kane and Bryan are acting like two spoiled siblings fighting over a toy when they bicker and yell “I’m the Tag Team Champions” at each other. 

           I personally became interested in Bryan for odd reasons. I was fascinated by the fact that he is a vegan who doesn’t watch television. I’m a media saturated carnivore. It was my borderline obsession with him that turned me onto Ring of Honor. I admit that before I researched his career, I like many believed that WWE was pretty much the only game in town. I’d even dismissed TNA at this point because I thought they possessed poor production quality. I began watching some of his old matches on YouTube, and then I started watching the ROH television show on their website. Bryan’s technical prowess has been downplayed lately as it isn’t relevant to his current storyline. 

           I saw a great example of a comedy team on November 24th at GCW. They are called the BFF’s. They dress in hot pink and other bright colors. They hug after every victory, and they claim to be the very best of friends. Next time I see them I plan to make a sign that says “Friendship is Magic” with a rainbow and a Pegasus on it. 

           At PCW’s Sacred Ground Chapter III, we saw how different groups of fans reacted to different types of matches. A good portion of the Porterdale crowd was looking forward to the very theatrical “Destroy all Vampires” casket match. This involved Supernatural, an undead luchador, Devin Valek, a vampire, Assesino, a self proclaimed monster killer, and the monster Grotesque. Part of the idea of this match was that the Empire planned to get rid of all the monster type characters in PCW. Supernatural, the undead luchador is one of the most popular wrestlers in Porterdale, and most of the crowd was on his side. I myself wore a shirt that night that said “Vampires not Empire” because I am a fan of those types of theatrical characters and storylines. 

           On the other side of the spectrum, a very technical match took place that night between Casey Kincaid, Fred Yehi, and Jay Fury. It was an amazing match, and about half the audience was really into it. Dueling chants began during this match. One group of the audience grew tired of watching and began saying “This is boring.” I remember answering this chant with “No it’s not.” The match was long and it was a three way match with an odd stipulation. If you pinned one of your opponents, that guy was out for two minutes while you attempted to win against the other guy. It was a type of match that I believe was new to a lot of the audience. It was a match that appealed to an audience that likes pure technical wrestling without a lot of fluff.
Debates about technical wrestling, types of characters, and storylines only serve to tear wrestling fans apart as long as people continue to believe shows only exist for one type of fan. I believe in open discussions about what works and what doesn’t, but I believe in doing so in an inclusive manner. A good show can appeal to a variety of fans, young, old, male, and female. My idea of a good match may differ from yours, but that’s ok because in the end we are both attending the same show. 

          If you are interested in independent wrestling, I write a review blog called Wrestling As I See It. I normally write about PCW shows, but I’ve been branching out a bit and attending other shows in GA. Here’s the link to it. Thanks for reading. 

-Alicia Stockton


  1. I am a WWF fan through and through. I never pay attention to any others. My first WM was 3 so I am not your normal average last year fan.

    1. You should check out ROH and at least give TNA a look. Wrestling is wrestling and there's good to be found everywhere.