This message goes out to everyone who thinks wrestling sucks because they hate the direction of the WWE and think TNA is a joke. This goes out to everyone who’s a blindly loyal fanboy to either one of the big promotions. Hell, it goes out to everyone who isn’t already a booster of indy wrestling.
I’m sending out a message, loud and clear, to all of you about the wonders of independent wrestling, to all corners of the country. This goes out to the cynical, the disillusioned, the sycophantic and the uninitiated. It’s a rallying cry and the strongest of all recommendations.
Why should you support indie wrestling? Well, there are plenty of reasons. For one, it captures the soul of pro wrestling better than any of the two “big” feds could. Yes, I love the WWE right now, and TNA, well, while I wrote that column two days ago about how Impact was good, I’m still not that impressed. Still, there is good to be found in the mainstream, but sometimes you don’t get the passion, the heart and the authenticity that you would if you went to even the lowest rent indie show. Think about it; you’re watching wrestlers who make less per show than they would working a week full-time at Burger King (and some indie wrestlers probably do work at Burger King). They’re not doing it for the money, at least the immediate money. Even if they are in it to eventually make it to a big money deal in the WWE or TNA, they need to work for it now to get noticed. Basically, no matter what level you go to, you’re getting guys busting their asses, trying their hardest to entertain you. Isn’t that what you, the consumer, want? Guys who want to please you with their product?
[adinserter block=”1″]Two, the indies are where American wrestling is innovated. Very rarely anymore do you see guys doing new moves or trying out new spots in the WWE or TNA. While that was the case back in the day, when the indies were nothing more than vestiges of the regional era, today, it’s the cutting edge, or at least as cutting edge as they can import from Japan, where a lot of the true innovation occurs. When those moves or spots, things like the Go 2 Sleep, come to America, they’re not making it to the WWE first, they’re going through the indies. You’ll get to see guys doing stuff that the WWE hasn’t even dreamed of staging yet. Guys doing 630-degree senton splashes, amazing dives to the outside, innovative double- and triple-team offense… stuff like this isn’t happening in the WWE yet, and by the time it gets there, it’ll be old hat to indie fans. Hell, you know that amazing spot where Randy Orton gave Evan Bourne an RKO countering out of the shooting star press? It happened in the indies first, with Bourne, when he was known as Matt Sydal, taking the same spot only from Alex Shelley. Yes, Orton conducting the spot was way, way better than Shelley’s version of it, but still, the fact remains that it was done first in the indies.
Three, tickets are inexpensive and the wrestlers are exceedingly fan-friendly, even more so than WWE and TNA wrestlers. That’s not to say that the big league guys are dicks for the most part, because they’re not. Wrestlers are often the most accessible, approachable and friendly of the sports celebrities. However, for as good as the mainstream guys are, the indie wrestlers are ten times friendlier. They mingle with the crowds during intermission, are usually available after shows, and they have no problem conversing with the fans showing how down-to-earth they are. Sure, they have to in order to sell their merchandise, but you try giving that cynical point-of-view to an eight-year-old kid whose day was just made by getting an autograph from and a picture with the guy who just made him laugh and cheer during the card prior.
Don’t take my word for it though. You have to go to an event and see it firsthand. Of course, it’s easy for me to say because I live in Philly. Several indie feds, high-profile ones to boot like ROH, Chikara, EVOLVE and CZW to name a scant few, operate a good number of cards within driving distance of the Philly/Northeast USA areas. However, there are a number of really good high-level indies in other parts of the country, like AIW in Cleveland, Clash in Detroit, AAW in Chicago/Quad Cities, IWA-MS in Louisville, NWA Anarchy in Atlanta, NWA Charlotte in North Carolina, PWG in Southern California, IWS in Montreal, FIP in the Tampa Bay area and ISW in Connecticut to name a few. Additionally, ROH visits so many venues in a year that they’re virtually a national promotion themselves.
Even if you don’t get one of those high-level feds, going to a “low-rent” indie is a great experience as well. So what if the wrestlers are either super-green or washed-up? It’s still a spectacle, and again, it’s dirt-cheap. For the value in entertainment that you’re going to get, it’s well worth the price. Plus, you can get the added satisfaction of saying “I knew so-and-so when he was working VFWs in Pocomoke City for 50 beans a night” when a wrestler you saw at one of these indie shows makes it to ROH or even to the WWE or TNA.
[adinserter block=”2″]Hell, you can even support the indies without even going to shows. Nearly every fed, especially Chikara, puts out their shows on DVD. Sites like ROH’s site and Smart Mark Video sell DVDs for multiple feds. Many times, the backlog of DVDs is up to a year or further back, so you can check out the history of the fed visually instead of just reading about it.
If you’re a true wrestling fan, you owe it to yourself to at least check out an indie fed near you or at least buy a DVD. The experience will be rewarding. Hell, for Detroit area peeps, you can start as soon as Friday night, when Clash Wrestling starts their 2010 NPCI Tag Team Tournament in Taylor, MI. Give them a chance, because those feds and struggling wrestlers need you to survive, and honestly, the industry on the whole needs them to survive so it can survive.
But the bottom line? It’ll be one of the most fun experiences you’ll ever have. If you like having fun, then go watch indie wrestling. You won’t be disappointed.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.
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