Wrestling has always fascinated me similar to the way it might fascinate someone who’s never watched a match in their life. Its a form of entertainment that can become an all-consuming interest without the person who has been consumed even noticing. To people who don’t know wrestling, a look at a wrestling fans social media timelines would be akin to reading a foreign language. Basically what you’ll see is a set of grown adults using terms you’ve never heard of and getting really animated about something scripted. Not uncommon in general. Yer auld granny probably gets right animated about Emmerdale and the like, although probably not to the extent where she’ll scream obscenities at the characters involved, but enough to up her cup of tea quota for the day from 3 to 4 or 5.
The difference between wrestling and other forms of entertainment is that it relies on emotional investment over a long period. It relies on you being interested enough in a story and the characters involved in it to continually shell out your hard-earned dosh to see how these things work out. Sure you can make certain matches and target hardcore fans who know that the matches will be great, but for the most part the way you get the average person invested in wrestling is giving them a story, at least one character they care about and allow that story to be told in the ring. That’s where there’s a struggle sometimes. Separating the character from the human being. Both fans and wrestlers alike struggle with this I believe. I certainly have as a fan. Over the past year there’s been a few things that have made me think about if I wanted to keep doing this. The thing about starting to do interviews and trying to cover wrestling more extensively than just slang ridden wordy reviews of shows is that it gives you access to the people behind the performers. An insight that most fans don’t get, and for me that’s the way it should be. For me your ability to see things objectively is called into question when you become immersed in the thing you’re covering and to an extent that’s what had happened with me and ICW. Whilst people liked the things I wrote, I lost sight of why I was writing them and it became more about continuing to have people interested in what I wrote than actually writing proper reviews of shows. Part of that comes from not really considering my opinion important in any way, but if there’s a thirst for more critical reviews, then that’s what I’ll write. The last review I wrote had some critical bits in it and I got my first taste of slightly frightening negative feedback but without a thick skin, I’ve no really got a hope of continuing to do this successfully so fuck it. Huv a slim jim and move on.
The thing that I had to realise before moving on and getting the site back to where it was, and a thing that a lot of wrestling fans struggle with is that the line between character and real person is thin, and if you’re not comfortable with that line being blurred, don’t try to get closer. I understand people wanting to know more about wrestlers and people involved in it, but be prepared for your superheroes to turn into real people, with real problems, and real personality traits that might not sit well with you. If you want to take a wee peek behind that curtain even if it’s with the aim of providing better quality reports and interviews, be prepared to have illusions shattered. When that happens, its hard not to be turned off of the wrestling itself. When it becomes about issues you have with people and not issues you have with characters on a wrestling show, you might as well not be at a wrestling show. Wrestling isn’t supposed to be about real life. You shouldn’t throw your support behind someone because they were maybe nice to you on social media, or gave you a prompt and detailed response to a “how kin ah buy yoor new t-shirt??!?!?” query. Because what’s the fuckin point in the show then? If your allegiances are based on who you consider to be yer best pal, you’re no longer a wrestling fan, you’re a fan of a select group of human beings for pretty much no real reason.
That validation is addictive though. If someone you look up to and respect without knowing them as a person validates you, it becomes like a drug. That kind of interaction is pretty much exclusive to wrestling, where fans are such a huge part of any momentum being built that it becomes pretty much essential to have decent communication and encourage them to provide content that can be used to promote the product. Think about it, when a film opens in the cinema, the main actor is never on social media the next day asking everyone what they thought, and if they got any good clips of the best bits on their phone, but when the main thing you promote is a live show, its essential to include the fans and maybe even kid on they’re your pals from time to time. The difficulty that both fans and performers have with that at times is believing that these interactions actually matter a fuck when it comes to life outwith wrestling, when in reality more often than not they don’t. Unless a real friendship is formed somewhere, we’re no pals and neither we should be because wrestlers should be able to become your heroes without that. I’ve never met Mick Foley but I know for a fact that when he comes through the curtain and Fear and Loathing that I will shed a few tears, because the man managed to help shape who I am as a person without ever being within a 100 miles of me. That’s the true magic of wrestling. The fact that people with real lives, real problems, real shitty personality traits and in some cases real big ego’s can portray a character with enough depth that allows you to be influenced by them without ever knowing them personally. That’s something none of us should let die if it can be helped. Never let the cynicism from real life pish make that go away.
Wrestling is like an alternate reality, filled with heightened versions of the emotions we experience on a daily basis. Allowing it to blend seamlessly in with your real life will stop those emotions being heightened and then it stops being wrestling. It’s just the same as everything else. Often boring, filled with angst and bad feeling towards other people, but it’s occasionally brightened up by a night where you fill your body full of every available narcotic on the planet and fall asleep while shitting yersell on a park bench. Don’t let the magic die if you can help it because your heroes will do enough damage to the way you perceive them on their own without any help. We’re in an era where the guy known solely for telling you to eat vitamins and say prayers can become a mad racist overnight, so be vigilant, and don’t let the magic die….BROTHERRRRRRRR