When you hear of the most iconic wrestling matches, there are a few common denominators. The quality. The storytelling. The innovation of moves between the performers in a way that is game-changing for all involved. But there is another thing that comes to mind when bouts like Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart at WrestleMania 12 or Andrade Cien Almas vs Johnny Gargano at NXT Takeover Philadelphia amongst many others are brought up.
Some for a little over a half-hour. Others break past the hour mark as they progress. The classics in wrestling are often decided by length and a measure of a wrestler is decided by how long they can go and still keep the crowd involved. And for most fans and pundits, it’s a fair metric. For most.
As someone who’s ADHD worsened as she got older, I found it harder and harder to engage with many forms of media. TV shows would be abandoned during the transition scenes. I would consume movies in broken up chunks. Books would be only read on Kindle, because that’s where I can shorten the word count per page to make it bearable.
I suppose that’s why I attached to wrestling even more consistently as this happened, ironically enough. In wrestling, there’s usually always something going on. There are aspects to constantly be gaining my oft-distracted attention. From something simple as a wrist lock transition to the complex set up of suicide dive hurricanrana. Wrestling is made up of constant moving parts in a match.
But even then, the ugly demon of my attention span still rears its head. Most shows I would be unable to consume in one sitting in their entirety. I would come upon a match that wouldn’t be quite my liking and off the stream would go. I love wrestling. But it was hard for me to commit to what others found easy.
And the insecurity would creep in alongside this. That I wasn’t being “appreciative” enough of the performers in the ring. That I should be trying harder to get through. Even when I considered pitching this article, that doubt made its home in my mind. That I wasn’t “experienced enough” to write for a site.
It’s something that people who suffer from ADHD are acquainted with well. And it sucks quite royally.
This is why when I find something that I can consume an hour of and it feels as if it’s only been about 15 minutes, I will latch onto that thing like a bloody parasite. OK, maybe I should’ve come up with a less gross metaphor but you get it.
One such thing that is steadily gaining my fandom is a promotion on Independent Wrestling TV. A pro wrestling promotion in Louisville. A show that prides itself on a unique ruleset to many of its matches. And when I say many, I mean MANY.
This is Paradigm Pro Wrestling. Since watching it, the promotion has become the most friendly wrestling for my ADHD. And I hope others who have the deficit find it the same for them.
We are professional wrestling. We are shoot style. We are hard-hitting. We are hardcore. We are the best promotion you’ve never heard off… #WeAintScared
The blurb from Paradigm Pro Wrestling’s website sums up their style. It’s about bringing something that you don’t see too often in other indie style wrestling. Not the repeated Canadian destroyers. None of WWE potshots. No desire to emulate the bigger promotions. Just a unique style of wrestling.
Of which their most standout stipulation to their matches, and the one I take to the highest, is their UWFI Rules matches. Inheriting its namesake from the now-defunct Japanese promotion, Union of Wrestling Forces International, the UWFI ruleset is based around an easy to understand premise: Mirroring pro wrestling the entertainment to a legitimate combat sport.
Discussing the exacts and how the matches mesh with my ADHD will come. But for now, I believe a more in-depth explanation beyond simply “it’s like real fightin’” is in order.
UWFI matches center around two main common ways of an outcome: Submission or Knockout.
The former often comes in holds that mirror MMA fighting styles and techniques such as Kimura Locks and Armbars. While the latter will unfold often in a high kick, open palm strike to the head or the very ornate “Jump on a dude and just start pounding their head in.”
But it is not the only way to win. There is a points system. Each wrestler begins with 15-points. If a wrestler runs out of their points total before winning, the match will be ended with the opponent who has points remaining declared the winner. This is similar to boxing where different actions done in a match can allow for more points gained, once again adding to the similarities between these rules and an actual combat sport.
The exact rules for how points can be lost are:
- Using a ropebreak: -1 Point.
- Receiving a suplex: -1 Point.
- Suffering a knockdown through blows: -3 Points.
- Committing a foul (Lowblowing, eye-gouging, leaving the ring, closed fist strikes amongst others): -1 Point.
While a point loss is a less common outcome of these matches, it adds an air of excitement to the storytelling occurring within the ring. Does a wrestler sacrifice a point to gain the advantage? How would a wrestler who operates under traditional rules fare with this new style?
Speaking of which, that’s another aspect I quite enjoy. Pinfalls do not earn a win. In fact, they are flat out not allowed in these matches. This adds a dynamic energy to the matches. There are no opportunistic rollups to end the match anticlimactically. You can crucifix pin your way to success. You can only strategize and whittle their points down. Force them to tap out. Beat them to the point the referee calls a stoppage. Or simply knock them flat out.
Of course, this is no UFC. It’s still a performance sport. And frankly, that’s why I enjoy it so much compared to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. I don’t want to see people actually injure and brutalize one another. Making a performance that allows me to safely get engrossed in such a spectacle is fantastic.
That’s how I would sum up Paradigm Pro Wrestling’s style. A spectacle of skill and charisma. Which is why I find it so easy to lose track of time when watching their shows.
Many a time when watching traditional pro wrestling, I find myself going through the motions. I love it all the same. But you begin to become accustomed to a style of match and when it may come to an end. It doesn’t bore me. But it makes me familiar enough to give my ADHD that little extra push to get my attention to sway far from the match in front of me.
Having watched nearly 10 different instances of UWFI rules matches, I have yet to not gain a smile on my face as one is announced to begin. Some are above others, of course. As is the nature of wrestling. But each one always activates the most important part of a wrestling fan in me: Engagement.
The knockouts are often sudden and out of the blue. A stray and unexpected hand to the side of the head will rock a performer off their feet, with them struggling to get back to their feet, forcing the referee to make a 10-count. This lightning-fast change that can occur within their matches means I can’t look away for a second, in fear of missing the end of a bout.
What would be common in other matches, such as scoop slams and spinebusters, take on a whole new energy within these fights. Because you almost forget you are watching a wrestling match and instead see it as a traditional combat sport. This means when they pull off a Saito suplex, you can’t help but widen your eyes as if an unspoken rule of the game has been broken.
I also forgot to delve deeper into another way for a wrestler to win a match: Referee stoppage. One match, Flash Thompson vs. Justin Kyle, exemplifies why this piece is important.
Having previously earned a submission win over Kyle, Thompson entered the rematch all cocksure and brass. The storytelling was on point as Thompson looked to lock in another submission on Kyle to take the win. Only for it to be turned on him when Justin Kyle locks in a sadistic cross-armbar for the win.
Only, Thompson didn’t submit. The referee heard him howling in pain at the move and called for the bell, putting the health of the performer (within the story) before his own pride. Causing an end where Flash Thompson is arguing with the ref over the fact he didn’t tap out.
What began as a rematch for Justin Kyle to avenge his lost pride has now become a matter of self-worth for both men, leading to an easily seen deciding match by all.
Through the use of the not regularly seen referee stoppage, they showed how a win can occur that builds the winner up while allowing the loser to remain strong in defeat, someone else having been the true decider of the outcome.
While all these elements combine together into a pleasing match, what truly got me to become a fan was something far simpler but just as important.
I took a break from their first show I watched, Heavy Hitters 2, due to something coming up. Checking the timestamp, I realized I had watched over an hour and a half of wrestling without even realizing the time that had passed. In that time, seven matches had concluded.
While some may look down on shorter matches, I believe it’s in their simplicity where the appeal lies. There are no unneeded blows as everyone involved looks to show off all their pop-inducing moves for the sake of it alone. Every action taken within the match matters. Everything adds to the story and bout being showcased. It grabs you and holds you for its short duration, taking you on an absolute ride.
When I finish a Paradigm Pro Wrestling match, I feel satisfied. I feel as if I found a promotion where I don’t need to be worried that I can’t finish the next match and insecurity will return. I feel like I’ve found the promotions made for me.
If you want a side of wrestling that leans more into the “Sport” part than the “Entertainment” part but still manages to deliver in droves on entertaining its crowd, you only have to hear Paradigm Pro Wrestling’s mission statement:
Professional Wrestling is a sport. And should be treated as such.