Welcome to Day Two of Funkhouser Fandom Week. This week we’re celebrating the things that we are major fanboy/fangirls over. From 2006-2011, during the period of time in which I still lived in Lexington, my major fandom/obsession was going to independent wrestling events.
As many of you who are regular readers of Funkhouser know, I’m a major fan of professional wrestling. Over the Memorial Day weekend alone, I read both “Andre The Giant: Life and Legend” and “The Squared Circle: Life, Death and Professional Wrestling.” It is an obsession that I’m probably too old to still have, but I just can’t shake it. Probably one of the best things for me, and my wallet, is that I have moved to somewhere that does not run a single independent wrestling show within a two-hour radius. But the moment someone is within 1:59 of my house, and within my work schedule, I’m there. Let me also state that it’s not wrestling as a whole that I will drive for. Monday Night Raw and Smackdown have both been at the Civic Center within five minutes of my house, and I sat at home and watched it.
So what makes independent professional wrestling so special? It’s personal, exciting, and worth the money. Let’s take the latter part first. I could pay $50 to go see Monday Night Raw at the Civic Center, sit 30 rows back and potentially be blocked behind 20 signs for John Cena – or – I could pay $30-40 to sit in the front row and get a chance to interact with the wrestlers as they come to the ring and during the match. Which would you chose for that price? It seems like a simple answer to me.
Also, it’s really that interaction that keeps me coming back to independent wrestling events. At these shows, there are as few as 50 people and as many as 200-400. It’s a small setting and you can actually get the performers to take note of you yell something when the show is at a lull. On two different occasions, I was able to get Claudio Castagnoli (WWE’s Cesaro) to come over to my section. The first time, I yelled something at him in a match, at which point, he took a swipe at my hat and knocked it four rows back. The other time, at the Davis Arena in Louisville (Shannon The Dude’s stomping ground), I yelled “Roger Federer Sucks” at Claudio, who is Swiss born and a Federer fan. He hopped out of the ring, wiped his sweat off on the Kentucky flag I had draped over the railing, then went on with the match. It’s stuff like that, personal attention to the fan that you won’t get at a major wrestling event. I’ve put together some of these moments in a video below.
One of the other aspects that keeps me around indie wrestling is that it doesn’t punish you for remembering old stories the way the WWE does. WWE has such a revisionist history in that people who were previously feuding and putting each other through the worst, two years later they’re best friends with no explanation. Old storylines only matter when convenient to the story at hand. In a promotion named Chikara, you are rewarded for remembering the story. A company that bases a lot of its stories in comic book-esque grandeur, Chikara keeps the fans on their toes. The company closed its doors in 2013 at the conclusion of a PPV, which started a storyline where the company was closed for over a year. During that time, one of the wrestlers started a grass-roots campaign to re-open the company. You can see two of the recaps below, but you don’t get the attention to detail that Chikara puts in their shows anywhere else, and you feel good for keeping up with it.
So, the next time you want to go a wrestling show that’s coming to town, I recommend trying out one of the independent shows first. You’ll see why I’m such a big fan of these. Check out some independent wrestling shows if they’re in your area:
For more wrestling, we will be doing a #KSRWrassleTalk after WWE Payback this Sunday. The live YouTube post-show will take place around 11:00 PM and will be interactive. Tweet us @KSRWrassleTalk during the show and we’ll read your comments or answer your questions!