Why do so many try to find so much to hate out of something they love so dearly?
This summer I went to an Absolute Intense Wrestling show in Mentor, OH (Nick & Dick’s Excellent Adventure). I went with an old friend of mine who’s buddy was actually wrestling on the show. Neither of us knew a lot about AIW, other than the big names who had passed through there in the past. We were told that it had a very strong local following, being almost exclusive to the greater Cleveland area. The main event was Maxwell Jacob Friedman (subbing for Grado that night, who had a death in the family) against then AIW Heavyweight Champion Nick Gage. More on that later.
The local super fans were packed in the death/goth music club and the show started with my buddy’s friend involved in the opener. Leading up to the doors opening and opening bell, you saw your pretty typical (from my admittedly limited experience) independent wrestling crowd. 25-35 year olds, mostly males, many dressed a lot like the decrepit dolls hanging from the walls and ceilings, were patiently waiting for the show to start, then responding accordingly once it did with “proper” chants and “the right” reactions to the performers.
Once the match started, you started to see a much different crowd arrive. A loud, well dressed, and good-looking bunch of college aged men and women began to fill the place to the point where our seats at the bar became unbearable to watch the show. My buddy then leaned over to me and explained that his friend said a wrestler performing later on the show would have a large contingent of fans from a local college’s fraternities and sororities. I thought to myself, ‘This will be fun to see how this dynamic plays out.”
Immediately, there was tension. The local fans were obviously put off by these “outsiders.” Things started to come to a head just before intermission, when the college crowd started drowning out what was happening in the ring with loud, drunken chats for the wrestler they came to see. The locals, knowing these kids could tell you who Nikki Bella was before Bruiser Brody, started shouting back. Insults were being thrown, some left early, others were almost thrown out for starting a fight. They were completely taken out what was going on in the ring with their local performers because an outside group invaded “their” space.
But the place was PACKED. The crowd was LOUD. If that venue had ever held more people for a wrestling show, I’d be very surprised. As outsiders ourselves, we thought the atmosphere was incredible. The wrestlers were playing to both crowds, but obviously having a blast with the college kids, getting reactions that you would get out of a group of 12 year olds. The larger, albeit slightly different crowd and larger gate would still help the wrestlers and the promotion in the end, regardless of how the “die hards” felt.
I bring this up because I am reminded of this experience in the wake of ALL IN. Following the overwhelmingly positive responses has been awesome. It is great to see for the wrestling industry as a whole. What the Bucks and Cody have done will hopefully lead to more shows like it in the future, more exposure for wrestlers and promotions from all over the world, and a renewed energy for professional wrestling amongst super fans, casual fans, and non-fans.
However, in the face of all this positive feedback, there are those who can’t help but be negative towards the show and what it means to the industry. It was too long. It was too full of inside jokes. There weren’t many storylines. It wasn’t what MY idea of wrestling should be.
That last line is the one that sticks with me. You don’t have to like something to realize its significance. Just because something doesn’t cater to you does not mean it is bad or wrong. It just means it’s not for you. If you continue to watch something even though you hate it, if one little element ruins an entire event for you, if episode ruins an entire series for you, why are you still watching? The problem isn’t what’s in front of you, unless you’re in front of a mirror.
The main event started as the college crowd was leaving. The wrestler they came to see was in the match prior, and downtown Cleveland bar time was fading. MJF, in all his brilliance and glory, came out and eviscerated them. He most notably talked about himself and the wrestler’s mother (who was in attendance) spending the past three hours in a…ahem….less than appropriate manner. This drew a HUGE cheer from the local crowd. To whom MJF then responded, “What are you marks popping for? You’re all a bunch of fat, sweaty, virgins!” He might as well have said, “Those losers brought in the house that help out your heroes. They all had a blast, while all you all did was whine about it. Shut up and enjoy the show!”
We all love this crazy stuff, even if many of us love it for different reasons. That’s what makes it so great. One man’s Picasso is another’s finger paint. That said, if it’s not for you, just stay in your lane. Don’t ruin someone else’s enjoyment. Even if it’s not for you, even if your favorites weren’t involved, this show and more like it will be better for EVERYONE is professional wrestling. I mean if there weren’t people like Joey Ryan, what would even Jim Cornette have left to rant about?