Ten years ago this week, VoicesofWrestling.com was born.

Originally designed to be a website and podcast series where people would discuss how they became wrestling fans and why they are fans today, the website eventually evolved into what you see today. This week, to celebrate our 10th anniversary, we invited VOW contributors past and present to re-create that original concept with a twist: why did you become a wrestling fan and how has your wrestling fandom changed in the last ten years.

We hope you enjoy the #VOW10 series and encourage you to share your memories of VoicesofWrestling.com, our columns, our reviews, our previews, our writers and our podcasts by using #VOW10 on Twitter or jumping into our special #VOW10 Discord channel.

Thank you for a great ten years. Enjoy.

-Rich Kraetsch

Voices of Wrestling 10th Anniversary

When Voices of Wrestling launched, I was about a year and half into my return to regular professional wrestling viewership. After ravenously slamming as much wrestling as possible into my eyeballs from 1993-2005, I drifted away during the back half of the aughts. I was still watching here and there, but my tastes had changed. WWE wasn’t really on my radar at all, replaced by Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling NOAH airing on the Fight Network. I was still watching wrestling, but it wasn’t something I would go out of my way to find, nor was it a hobby of any import – it was a kind of TV show I would watch if I noticed it was on.

Getting back into wrestling was sparked almost entirely by nostalgia.

In late 2009, I had started staying up late on Friday nights to draw comics, and would have the TV on for background noise. While surfing channels to find something to “watch,” I stumbled upon ECW and was flooded with happy memories of watching Tajiri and Super Crazy trying to kill each other. I also thought about Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn being essentially the perfect match-up for my tastes in 1999, Steve Corino somehow never running out of blood despite bleeding buckets of it every night, and various idiots hitting each other with furniture. Why yes, I did get into ECW at the start of the TNN era. With all of those memories giving me the Good Brain Chemicals, I tuned in to see what ECW looked like 10 years later.

There was something comfortable about the fact that a WWE show still looked like it did in the early 2000s. There were faces I recognized, and ones I didn’t, but WWECW late on Friday night felt familiar, and I started watching it regularly. That probably would have been the end of my return into wrestling, but then they started advertising the January 4, 2010 episode of RAW. The return to WWE television of Bret “Hitman” Hart.

Well, shit.

I guess I’m gonna have to watch RAW, then, huh? Bret Hart was my favorite wrestler growing up, and remains my all-time favorite wrestler now. Throughout 2010 and 2011 I was watching WWE regularly, and excited to have reintroduced wrestling to my arsenal of hobbies. It didn’t take long for the desire for an alternative to WWE to set in, though. After the brutal unforced error that was the follow-up to CM Punk’s Money in the Bank 2011 title win, I knew that if I was going to keep watching wrestling I was going to need to find something else that I was excited about.

Then the Rainmaker Shock happened. Combined with the ease of finding matches uploaded to the various video-sharing sites, I dove into modern puro head first. Previously, all of the puro I had seen were either compilations of older stuff, like the J-Cups and All Japan classics, or the version of Pro Wrestling NOAH with English commentary that aired on the Fight Network. Once in a while readers of my sci-fi wrestling comic would send me ripped DVDs of New Japan’s TV show. But now I was watching puro in real-time, following the storylines and having favorites that I could root for without knowing their future.

At this point, wrestling had ascended to being my primary hobby – I was drawing a comic about wrestling, attending shows locally on a regular basis, listening to podcasts, and watching as much as I could get my hands on. The apex of this was when I was offered a job writing storylines for an indie promotion (I was, functionally, the junior booker) and doing commentary and video work. That only lasted as long as it took for the promotion to miss a payment, at which point I bounced, but I still wanted to be involved in wrestling in some capacity. That led me to Voices of Wrestling, where I could write stuff about wrestling AND people would read it. Like you, right now.

My excitement for wrestling has, certainly, ebbed and flowed over the past decade of watching and writing about fake fighting. My favorite promotion has changed repeatedly, with seemingly everyone getting a moment at the top of the mountain – Ring of Honor, NXT, New Japan, All Japan, Big Japan, Dragon Gate, and AAA having their time in the sun. Even 205 Live spent about half a year as my favorite “promotion” during the run where they were pumping out bangers every week in an effort to get even the slightest pop from disinterested SmackDown crowds.

The launch of AEW ended up being a major influence on my interest in wrestling, as the kind of show they’re producing is closely aligned with what I want my wrestling to be. AEW has been the closest and most regularly I’ve followed a promotion in a few years, and if it weren’t for them and my involvement with Voices of Wrestling, I probably would have drifted off again during the Thunderdome and clap crowds of the pandemic.

I don’t know where my wrestling fandom will take me over the next decade, but given that I have multiple wrestling-themed graphic novel ideas that I will eventually be forcing editors to read, I’m excited to stay along for the ride.

Speaking of wrestling-themed graphic novels, go buy Wrestlemon.