Being part of any fandom is a great exercise in the duality of acceptance. Any lifelong fan of professional wrestling can definitely attest to this. We have all felt the highs of acceptance and the bottom feeding depths of scorn. Buy hey; this column is all about celebrating the joy of wrestling. So we will leave the stories that start with “You like that match?” at the door.
Done the Impossible is a fantastic experience about the experience of Firefly fans. What really struck me while I was viewing the film was not the incredible love people, including myself, have for the show. It was the fact that fans of the show stated they felt immediate acceptance both online and at fan conventions. Their faces were aglow with happiness as if they were bringing the world a direct revelation from a deity. Many of the same fans recounted how solid friendships formed at conventions over shared fan theories or mutual admiration for a certain character. In fact, many fans interviewed for the documentary feel like belonging to the fandom is much like being part of a family.
Part of a family? Those are strong words. Family is a term signifies a deep bond, one that is not easily broken. If fans of a long canceled television show can feel that way is it possible for wrestling fans to feel the same? I set out to Ring of Honor’s 12th Anniversary weekend to answer that question.
What follows from this point on are observations I made during my trip. While I will post my own opinion about the question I would like to invite the VOW readers to come to their own conclusions. Share your answers with me on Twitter or leave me a comment on the website. Let us have an intelligent conversation about the subject. Now without further ado let me present my observations from the double shot in Philadelphia:
- Several groups of fans gathered in the parking lot before the show knew each other from attending other regional shows. The conversations sounded like old friends catching up after a prolonged period of being apart. I heard many amusing anecdotes and my favorite was about CZW mainstay Shane Strickland. Apparently, the “King of Swerve” loves to hock t-shirts. At the merchandise table he will often offer two for one sales just to get rid of his stock. Strickland even convinced a little kid buy a few of his shirts that where several sizes two big. An older guy in line loved the story and encouraged the kid to ask the concessions workers if they served “Swerve Cola”.
- The line in the parking lot is also an underrated place for professional wrestling think tanks. In line I struck up a conversation with a gentleman wearing a late-80’s All Japan shirt. We started talking about Prince Devitt’s WWE offer. I made an offhand crack about Devitt being introduced as Sheamus’ bastard brother. All Japan shirt countered my crack with this proposal, let Devitt keep his current gimmick and have him recruit Sheamus into a partnership. To cement the alliance my partner in conversation suggested that Devitt replace Bad Luck Fale with Sheamus as his new favorite perch.
- Besides swapping ideas about gimmicks for newly signed stars All Japan shirt told me some great stories about DGUSA. Parking for the shows in Queens in is complete hell he told. The only way you can get a spot is to tail a family for six blocks and then wait for them to move their vehicle or buy Chinese food from an eatery owner who only lets customers park. So I replied back that if I want to see Johnny Gargano live I have to order Sweet and Sour Pork or risk going to jail on stalking charges.
- As we continued to shiver a few other guys wondered over to join the conversation. The talk turned to what the Honorcon announcement was going to be. Everyone agreed that most likely the announcement was going to be a working relationship with New Japan. As to who NJPW would send over the consensus was mostly going to be American workers like Karl Anderson or The Young Bucks. A nice surprise would be Ishii. Majority of the circle wanted to see him lock up with Michael Elgin, my choice was and still is Roderick Strong.
- Honorcon on Saturday was a blast. ACH and TD Thomas are two of the nicest guys I have ever met. Adam Cole for as great a heel as he is comes across as very genuine, especially when I complimented him on his Flair flops from the night before. During the arm wrestling tournament Tomasso Ciampa proved he has more resolve than most American males. During his bout with Michael Bennett Maria shook her ass at Ciampa to distract him. Ciama looked, called her a whore and put the future Mr. Kanellis to bed. Sadly, Jimmy Jacobs tried the same strategy, I don’t need to see that again.
- During the same tournament, Bobby Fish refused to sit down to face Cheeseburger. I yelled for him to be a man and sit down. Jimmy Jacobs looked around and stared at me for a minute and just shook his head. Later on when I was getting his autograph I tried to convince him he had heard worse. Sadly, he had not. So for the rest of my ROH viewing days I can take pride in the fact I came up with the worst heckle Jimmy Jacobs has ever heard. Still, I never sang a ballad to Lacey so I can take comfort in that fact.
- Let me says this. ROH fans love to hate on Silas Young. I love to hate on Silas Young. When he chastised RD Evans during the Saturday television taping for not being a real man for taking a count out victory I’d had enough. “When is the last time you won a match Silas”. Another lame insult I know and I figured Silas did not hear it. Later on Silas finally got his win, albeit cheaply. On his way to the back he looked straight at me and yelled “There is your win buddy”, I gave him a thumbs up.
With the evidence presented I can now answer my question, can wrestling fandom feel like a family? My answer is yes. I say that based on the fact that an individual can go to a show and have great conversations with people you have never met. Those same people will usually not insult your opinion and best of all you can talk wrestling without getting the stink eye from non-fans. In the same light if there are multiple promotions in your area it is guaranteed you will get to know your fellow audience members.
Regardless of what I think I still want to know your answers Voices of Wrestling readers. Hit me up on Twitter or in the comments section. Until then stay joyous wrestling fans.
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