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

It’s always interesting to me to think back to why I became a wrestling fan. For many people like myself, it starts through the world of WWE and can either grow in major ways or the light flutters out. Seeing that I am writing this, I clearly am in the camp of it growing. And the reason I became a fan originally was due to these larger-than-life characters that were on my TV mixed with the intense in-ring action that you could see week after week. I started watching wrestling in 2007 and the love has only grown since then. I played SmackDown vs. Raw 2007 randomly because my cousin got it from a video store (remember those?) and was instantly hooked. When I learned that these characters in the game were real people on television, I was locked in. John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 23, while not for everyone, helped me appreciate how great wrestling can be. My cousins were rooting for Michaels that night while I was on the Cena bandwagon from the very beginning. Sometimes I wish I could go to those simpler days as a fan.

I can also date back to the days when I was younger and being a wrestling fan. My ability to share to the world how much of a fan I was back then still feels easier than now. It’s almost silly, but where I have grown up, pro wrestling has never been something appreciated. Very few people I know have ever learned how much of a wrestling fan I am. It was only until recently that I recaptured that feeling of “who cares” when it comes to people knowing that I am a diehard pro wrestling fan. Maybe that’s because of how the last 10 years have shaped me, maybe not.

That being said, looking at my last 10 years and how my taste for wrestling has changed is incredible.

Back in 2011, CM Punk was the man who saved me from falling out of wrestling. Before he went on his infamous run, I was wary of whether or not I was going to remain a fan. From what I know, this is something many fans experience at times. But once Punk did what he did, I was not only relocked in but understood so much more about wrestling. Since then, I have learned that there is life outside of WWE. NJPW and ROH were really the first two that I began to pay attention to outside of WWE (still followed and do to this day).

The Earth-shattering Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega match at Wrestle Kingdom kicked my newfound fandom into full gear as these completely different wrestlers from WWE more so resembled what Punk had talked about 10 years ago than what I was seeing in WWE. I began to get an appreciation and catch more and more matches as time went on. 

The addition of AEW made life easy and that was for many people what reignited the flame of their wrestling fandom. Around the same time that AEW began to really heat up in 2020, I learned about Joshi wrestling and more specifically Stardom.

This is what changed my outlook on wrestling forever.

The incredible matches, the absurdly impressive style, and the ability to invest in the wrestlers were what made me love the style and promotion forever. I went back into the archives and watched as much as I could. The matches between Io Shirai and Mayu Iwatani never ceased to amaze me while the likes of Arisa Hoshiki dazzled every single time they entered the ring. 

To think that I went from a WWE-only fan 10 years ago who needed CM Punk to keep me interested to a huge fan of all wrestling, especially Joshi, is wild to look back on but is a road that I would never give up. Wrestling, for a lot of us, has become a major part of my life and is where I want to be moving forward. I am now a writer, podcaster, and do as much as I can to bolster who I am as a pro wrestling content creator. And I’m perfectly okay with saying professional wrestling has saved me. There are bad days that come around where nothing feels right. Nothing makes sense. I have no answers. But pro wrestling is always there for me to put a smile on my face. I think that’s why my reconnection via Stardom means so much to me and why I write about it as my key content as a part of Voices of Wrestling.

Voices of Wrestling gives the voice to the everyday fan who loves this enough to write about it and do it passionately. Some of my best work has come here since joining Voices of Wrestling and I’m not too sure why.

My very first article about Tam Nakano, I feel, is the best profile I have ever written despite doing dozens. It came at a time in my life where wrestling was helping me more than ever and her character connected with me. Never the first choice, never really someone that people believed in at times, but always kept grinding to be great. While you look at me and you look at Nakano and laugh at the idea of how two people can be so similar, her wrestling story connected with me and allowed me to truly feel what I was writing.

I’m nowhere near great and I don’t know if I will ever be in this world of wrestling coverage. But there’s a feeling, especially over the last two to three years, that this is all I want.

10 years ago, I was a fan who refound my love when CM Punk brought on the Summer of Punk.

10 years later, I not only have reconnected with wrestling through Stardom and Joshi specifically, but it has become my legitimate passion all over again. When you can feel the same way you did as a kid watching professional wrestling then make that into content of sharing your thoughts and opinions, it’s the best feeling in the world. Because people are willing to read it. People are willing to listen. Professional wrestling has so many forms but in the end, it’s what brings us all together.

All of us experience those days of darkness and pain. That’s life. But pro wrestling has always been the constant besides family that I can count on to cheer me up, bring me out of the darkness, and put a smile on my face time and time again. The passion of a pro wrestling fan will never die in my heart. Every day I want more from it. Every single day I believe that this can be what my life is an I am excited for what the next 10 years bring me in the world of professional wrestling.

It’s simply wonderful and I am happy to share my story as part of the Voices of Wrestling 10 year anniversary. Thank you for letting me be a part and congrats to this site on all the success that has happened and will still come in the future.