I realize that there are only a handful of people (at best) who read any of the things I type up, but I really enjoy writing and this is my only practical outlet. This is just a little write-up (there are those who would call it a blog, but I would dislike those people and vehemently deny the classification) relating to a few of my thoughts on indy wrestling, specifically the state of the deathmatch scene, which will probably wander into depressing territory, but I will attempt to keep it as optimistic as possible, to perhaps counteract the one I wrote a few months ago that resounded with disenfranchisement. So, to the aforementioned handful…I hope you find this at least marginally interesting.
It’s divided into two parts: A lamentation, and a decidedly optimistic analogy that I’m going to throw against the wall and see if it sticks.
1.Deathmatch wrestling—in this country, at least—has never been what one would refer to as a “respectable” occupation/hobby/form of entertainment, but once upon a time (the bygone days of ECW), it was edgy and exciting, in a uniquely 90’s sort of “too extreme for the mainstream” way. That was when I first got into it, and I was hooked. Now, a slew of awful deathmatch tournaments (which I will not call out by name for the sake of my friends who may have participated in them) and a lack of interest and fresh talent have pretty much made a sad joke out of the genre, in the vein of monster truck rallies and demolition derbies. I do not take wrestling overly-seriously, and make fun of it as much as the next guy (and much more than most of my “in-the-bizness” acquaintances), so I’m not asking for it to be treated reverently; least of all a fringe subgenre of self-mutilators. But I look to Japan, where the deathmatch wrestlers demand a strange kind of respect, and I wonder where things went wrong in this country. For one thing, I blame Middle America and the south. As a born-and-bred Iowan, I know as well as anyone that holding events at county fairs or in barns is inversely proportionate to the amount of respect the events and their practitioners receive. It’s a flaw we folks from the middle have, and it’s certainly not the only one. But from a promoters’ perspective: you run shows in the venues that are available. There are a large number of available barns and fairs are good places to draw in interested parties (a sort of “impulse buy” scenario). So, we’ll discount that theory. The real problem, methinks, is the incredibly low standards that a number of promoters seem to have with regard to the training level of their deathmatch competitors. I may not be good, but by god, I’m trained. It would seem that more and more, there are a number of people with a high pain tolerance and a willingness to be stupid, and that is all that is required. These standards NEED to be raised, and promoters NEED to stop letting idiots go hurt themselves without proper wrestling training beforehand, or in a couple of years, that’s assuredly all we’re going to have. I would really like to see CZW become the bastion of decent deathmatch/hardcore wrestling, and try to turn the tide against the onslaught of untrained backyard wrestlers filling out the cards on increasingly poorly-attended deathmatch tournaments. If it’s not too late. I think [they/we] are off to a good start; opening business relations with Big Japan, pushing guys like Drake and MASADA and Scotty and so on… If I had to dream up a goal for what I’d like to see in CZW, it would be to exist as THE place in American indy wrestling where GOOD deathmatches still take place on a regular basis. With the talent available, the right direction and funding, the higher-quality venues, we have the potential to be the American equivalent of BJW. We just need to work really hard at it, and we need to get the fans’ support rather than their apathy. Which sort of (and sort of doesn’t) brings me to my next point…
2.In my boredom, I’ve been mulling over a work-in-progress theory that CZW is, at its best, the punk rock of professional [Indy] wrestling. In spite of its detractors, CZW has survived the ups and downs of the pro wrestling world for 12 years now. Maybe 11. I’m not going to bother to look it up. The comparison I’m drawing is essentially that, when on its game, CZW is one of the most diverse promotions around, offering an extremely eclectic collection of the styles that make up the world of professional wrestling. There’s an uneasy alliance—in the locker room, and more so in the crowd—of all different types and classes of people from all sorts of scenes and subcultures and from all walks of life. People have criticized CZW over the years for being just “garbage wrestling,” but I think that any wrestler with almost any style can get over in CZW—as in the world of punk rock music, where all manner of variations are accepted under the banner—so long as they really bring it and entertain. Also, like in the world of punk music, the only thing that really doesn’t get over is the mainstream. “Traditional” wrestling—the mat-based grappling that in this country is best exemplified by ROH—is one of the few styles that just can’t seem to get a foothold in the Zone. I’m not saying that is a good thing, necessarily, but I think it is certainly indicative that CZW is an excellent alternative to whatever the mainstream is at any given time. While I probably identify most with it, I don’t listen exclusively to punk music; I go elsewhere to satisfy my other musical tastes, as wrestling fans can most certainly do when they’re not in the mood for what CZW offers. Being only interested in one scene, one style, one promotion, whatever…is just being one-dimensional as a person. I love BJW as much as I love Dragon Gate as much as I love AJPW and so on. I love CZW most of all because I’m personally invested in it…it’s a huge part of my life at the moment…But from a fan standpoint, it’s certainly not the only thing I’m into. Obviously, this idea is in need of much ‘fleshing out’ before it goes to the publisher, but the root of my analogy is that CZW is like punk rock because anything that is not the mainstream can be grouped together under its banner and become “CZW style” wrestling. Obviously, every once in a while, some of the mainstream slips in or someone from CZW hits it big…this is bound to happen, and (as in punk rock) often leads to declarations of “selling out.” Since the regime change (with a few exceptions and missteps, of course), I feel that CZW has gotten back on the path toward where it could and ought to be for the first time in a few years. Hopefully, my injury will prove to have been a minor setback, and I can continue to be a contributing factor (if ever I was). But the elements that excite me about CZW center on its eccentric combinations of styles and characters—a very “punk rock” element—and I think that should continue to be what CZW strives for.
You have not made it this far. So I can type whatever I want. Chainsaw Vaginoplasty. Wendigo Psychosis. Please mail me some blow. Anyway, there’s no point to any of this. But I had fun writing it. Good night, and good luck.