Snarky self-editing note: The following article will not have the word FABULOUS in it once. The reason for this is to show lazy ass reviewers who immediately have that as their go-to when writing about LGBTQIA+ themed media that you can avoid that as your automatic stereotypical descriptor. Thank you and please enjoy the article below
My personal week leading up to The Cassandro Cup was a rough bit of work to say in the simplest of terms. I won’t go into every crook and cranny of what I’ve experienced. Do know that mentally and emotionally I hit low enough points I can honestly say I experienced a rare rock bottom on Sunday morning. I was at the point where I was crying so hard I couldn’t stand as my legs were jelly and my body was trying to will itself into a puddle. My best friend removed all the knives and forks he could from my sight. I have missed two days of work due to these issues and not being there for my co-workers rags me with guilt and shame. I have back out of several obligations and I confess right now, it’s even difficult writing this article. Every typing of the keyboard feels heavy and the end of this article feels distant.
So why? When I’m in such a state do I try to write this article? The answer is The Cassandro Cup was special and it needs to be written about.
I’m writing about it because it was special to me. A show I’ve been looking forward to that dropped at the right moment, at the right time when my darkest hour had fallen. It is not a cure-all, nothing is going to be. What it was though was a beautiful beacon slicing through the darkness and shining upon my thoughts and my heart. It was not the answer to all my questions, nor the response to all my prayers, but nevertheless, it felt divine and comfortable all the same. If the past week has been tiring, exasperating, exhausting, then the Cassandro Cup was the pillow and fluffy blanket needed to engulf me and rest my weary wreck of a body.
For weeks now I’ve wanted The Cassandro Cup, by the time it arrived I NEEDED The Cassandro Cup.
LGBTQIA+ representation right there front in center. Guys, Gals, Non-Binary Pals wrestling in one of my favorite things in this business, a tournament. I’m a sucker for tournaments, especially when done well. This one felt like it was done well. A good mixture of talent, legit stakes (a title shot against Lee Moriarity), a trophy, etc. The makings of a successful and fun tournament. There was also determination. Everyone felt motivated in this show. If I was doing match-by-match ratings, which I shall forgo, there wouldn’t be an excessive amount of fours but definitely many three +s. That is not an insult. That is a compliment to three hours of good consistent wrestling where everything clearly mattered to the wrestlers therefore in return everything clearly mattered to me. When the wrestlers give a damn, the chances of me giving a damn increase hundredfold.
Everyone in the tournament is shown in various ways through their abilities and their personalities. Ashton Starr (runner-up) will live up to that last name and be an absolute Star(r). Personality, ability, determination. I was so impressed by what I saw from him in this tournament and he was a big reason for the smile that came across my face. A genuine smile that pierced the darkness and let me see with clarity an end of the tunnel to my depression. Still Life (now Edith Surreal and the winner of the tournament) is a personal favorite and personal inspiration. Watching her journey, her growth through wrestling, and real-life has been motivational to me.
— 📸 JayLee Photography 📸 (@JayLeeAC) March 29, 2021
I will do my best not to put her on a pedestal. I know she has her faults, her challenges, her difficulties but seeing her navigate through them and strive to be the best fucking version of herself fuels me with the fire to do the same. She is with little doubt in my mind one of the best on the independent rights now and there is little counterargument to change my mind.
Killian McMurphy comes off highly unlikable and that’s a compliment. He reminds me of the type of customer who will come into a store five minutes to close, stay ten minutes until after close, purchase one item that is half off all the while taking his time at the register ensuring you don’t lock the door until forty-five minutes after close. One hell of an exasperating prick and wrestling NEEDS more exasperating pricks. I cringed and groaned every time he yelled SHOOTER and I loved every second of it.
AC Mack is always incredible and always talented, and I wish I could’ve gotten his qualifying match BUT due to circumstances (which I won’t detail in this article because it has been done elsewhere and I don’t want to rain upon this celebration), I understand. AC Mack is amazing and I want him to be my announcer to everything and everyone because he just brings that fucking energy that I love and crave.
I could list wrestler after wrestler, but I won’t. I WILL however spotlight some the non-tournament matches because they brought it. My two personal non-tournament highlights are MV Young vs. Devon Monroe and Billy Dixon vs. Darius Carter III. These are two matches to go out of your way to watch on this show.
Devon Monroe is young, hungry, and if things are just and right destined for amazing things.
MV Young is awesome, hard-working, stands up, and speaks out for what he believes in and stands for. He’s a good person and I love when he gets great opportunities. Dixon vs. Carter III was the match of the show. I comfortably put it in the four-star range. The work, the story, the clear heel and face lines were all there and made for incredible business. Carter III brutalizing and dissecting Dixon during the third fall got into legit uncomfortable territory and I felt drawn into sympathizing and rooting for Dixon to rise up and kick his ass. Dixon won the match but Carter III was the one who walked away as he and various other wrestlers would attack Dixon and form a new stable. These turn of events legit interest me and make me want to see where they go and what they do. Excellent stand-out work by both men and I applaud them for what they achieved.
— 📸 JayLee Photography 📸 (@JayLeeAC) March 29, 2021
I applaud everyone in actuality. From the promoters to the workers, to the cameramen, to the announce team, to the commentators. Everyone contributed to adding flavor into this melting pot of representation, celebration, appreciation, and admiration. LGBTQIA+talent getting a big stage and one hell of a bright spotlight is a moment I will always be here for. It’s wonderful and beautiful and makes me cry. I’m on hormones right now so everything makes me cry. Everything makes me cry and almost everyone is fucking attractive. That said, The Cassandro Cup I will gladly cry over. I’d love to see all of these talents both in and out of the ring get more opportunities outside of LGBTQIA+ themed shows. I’m so glad they can book their own shows, create their own spaces, and make their own moves and moments. It’s wonderful and fills me up. All that written, I want them to be anywhere, everywhere. I want them to be on cards not simply as some imaginary quota some promoters fill up in order to justify announcing how much of an alley they are. Fuck that noise, I want them on cards because they EARNED it just as hard if not harder than anyone else. I want them on other and all cards because they deserved to be seen, deserve to be heard, are valid as fuck and better than some of your favorites.
As I wrap up this article I feel a warmth inside my heart. A glowing aurora shines around my body. Okay, I’m getting descriptive and dramatic but it’s my damn article.
The Cassandro Cup was more than a solid and good wrestling show to me. It was a three-hour hug I needed. A safe space to dwell in where my troubles temporarily could not touch me. A kind and soft voice whispering you are valid, you are seen, and you belong. I needed all of that, I needed every moment of that. To many of you, it is simply another wrestling show. To me, it was a reminder, a promise that everything may not be okay right now, but with time it will be. Things are going to be better than okay, Things are going to be wonderful. I am wonderful. I belong, I matter, and god damn it, all of that is true no matter how much I say it’s not. I just watched three hours of LGBTQIA+ wrestlers showcasing they matter, they belong, and that they aren’t going anywhere. I matter, I belong, and I’m not going anywhere.
We’re in this together, and our Pride cannot be diminished.