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.
They flew by, and they also crawled at a snail’s pace. I remember ten years ago like they were yesterday, but I also can’t remember yesterday. Ten years of pain, ten years of triumphs. Ten years that have led me to here, this point, writing this article for a website’s anniversary. A website that means far more to me than they may realize.
In a decade of time, a lot can happen. Historical, personal, professional, ten years is a distance both agonizingly long and frustrating short all in the same time. A paradox of too much time, and I wish I had more. If you look at where you are at and realize ten years ago you were in the same place, you are in trouble. This isn’t even an individual thing, it’s a corporate thing, a pastime thing, a pro wrestling thing. Things must evolve, adapt, overcome. I know my fandom has. I am not the fan I was ten years ago. Hell, I’m not even the person I was ten years ago. Ten years ago I lived in a small room, I was wrecked by anxiety/depression. I couldn’t work and I had no motivation or ability to go after my goals and dreams, I pretty much considered my goals failures and my dreams dead in the water. Things have improved for the better. I have a steady part-time job now, I live in an apartment, I’ll soon have my first novel published. My dreams are becoming reality, my goals are within reach, and after thirty-plus years of hating myself I can now smile and say “I like me.”
…Oh and I discovered I’m a woman.
I would’ve loved to drop that bombshell on myself ten years ago. That would’ve been a fun and eye-opening conversation. No wonder I wasn’t comfortable with myself, I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t for the majority of my life. For the first time, I can take a photo of myself and be thrilled by it. I can look in the mirror and smile. I can say with all sincerity I love who I am. I am in a much better place now.
Wrestling too has changed from ten years ago. Access has changed, options have changed, style and presentation in many ways have changed. So the question becomes how has my fandom changed? How has the magic writing girl’s feelings, consumption, understanding of her own pro wrestling fandom changed in that span of time? How has it shifted and shaped until we ultimately arrive at this point, a writer at Voices of Wrestling?
It is intellectually and creatively lazy to say it hasn’t. It would also be untruthful to say there aren’t hints of some things remaining the same.
Pro wrestling still is as it was ten years ago my biggest fandom. My biggest passion. I consume it constantly. I watch it, I read about it, I listen to podcasts and talk about it, and I even budget and pay for various wrestling-related things. I have always loved pro wrestling. Always since WrestleMania VII when Rick Martel vs. Jake Roberts in a blindfold match inexplicably captivated an eight-year-old me
If I was to dig deeper though. If I was to peel back layer upon layer the realities can be unearthed. My fandom has changed. It has changed for the better, the much better. I now write about it, I now podcast about it. I now put my views about it into the world. Something I would’ve never imagined myself doing ten years ago riddled with anxiety, OCD, and depression. Rejection, dejection, and flat-out being wrong would’ve haunted me terribly and kept me awake at night at sharing the simplest of opinions. As much as I could keep deep diving into that change, it would get extremely personal and deviate from the topic at hand. Just know ten years ago I wouldn’t even of thought of submitting an article to VOW I would’ve been frozen with the fear of “They’ll just tell you to shut the fuck up and leave them alone.”
So with that paragraph above written, the biggest change, the absolute biggest change is I’m not afraid to admit and express I love wrestling and why. The “why” I personally feel like that is something that has always evolved in me. When I was younger I loved it because they were my superheroes and supervillains. I didn’t read comics, pro wrestling was my storylines, my characters, my “Stay tune next adventure to see how it plays out”. When I got a little older I began to be a fan of it for its athleticism and displays of creativity. When I got older still I started to appreciate the promos, the character works, the storytelling. As wrestling evolves and adapts, I too do the same and find myself constantly re-evaluating why I watch, and why I continue to do so.
So how have I adapted now?
Why do I love wrestling now?
Why am I so unafraid to share and express my love of it?
It’s because it’s a part of me. It’s so ingrained to me wrestling has become a chunk of my life. Not in an obsessive or problematic way. But in a way that outside of writing for VOW or my lukewarm takes on Twitter, my fandom of it is known to friends, co-workers, even strangers I meet at my local brewery. Ten years ago I kept it to myself, I didn’t know many wrestling fans and didn’t meet new people well in general. Anxiety and depression constantly shut me down and kept me out. I was worried about so many things, most of it ridiculous to a rationale mindset. Now, I’m expressing my opinions on this website. I know so many wrestling fans both in real life and online. I’m planning on going to Chicago and Japan on my own to watch pro wrestling. I’m even going to meet up with other VOW contributors so they can bask in my cuteness. What the hell? I’m actually doing this? That’s awesome.
You go girl.
Wrestling is my biggest fandom, it has become a hobby (writing and podcasting about it), my vacations are often centered around it, and when non-wrestling fans in my life find wrestling content THEY find entertaining, they know the first friend to send it to. In real life, I’ve become in my circles synonymous with wrestling fandom. The truth is though it is also my escape. It is how I cope, how I heal, how I hit the reset button and get myself back to where I want to be. When medicine, therapy, and other techniques need backup or help, I turn to pro wrestling. When the world becomes too much, I turn on pro wrestling and temporarily leave the world behind. In the past ten years of recovery and redemption pro wrestling has been there for me. It has been constant and dependable I think that’s why it’s become such a huge part of me, because with every crying spell, every moment of deep depression and doubt, I would turn it on and hope it would bring me happiness. When things became overbearing and I felt like I would be crushed by the weight of my own self-disappointment, I would turn to wrestling. Lame? I don’t care, we all cope in many our own ways, over the past decade pro wrestling has been my way.
I’m not the most knowledgeable. There are people on this site with far better knowledge and insight. There are people on this website who can write in-depth analytical circles around my ass, and it motivates me to write better content. Yet at the age of 38 going 39 my childlike wonder and ability to get lost in the emotion and energy of pro wrestling without slipping full-on into cynicism and overt negative critical analysis as many do has somehow only grown stronger. In fact, I’m more honest about it. Do I go overboard, over the top, and over-dramatic so? Yes, I don’t care. After years of not expressing my feelings or keeping them shielded inside me at the fear of ridicule, I let them out without hesitation. In my reviews, on Twitter, live at the shows. I cheer, I boo, I scream, I chant (yes even some of those most obnoxious chants), I cry. Yes, I cry at pro wrestling, laugh all you want I don’t care. At least I actually am enjoying myself unlike many who seem to get off on just bitching about a piece of media they claim to be fans of.
I am thankful for VOW and its existence. I have followed it on and off for six-seven years. It has allowed me to have an outlet for my opinions, my views, and more importantly, my love for pro-wrestling. I almost gave up when another website I gave a sample of my writing to never responded. V.O.W took me in and in a lot of ways has encouraged, supported, and nourished me in my writing for pro-wrestling. They immediately made me feel comfortable, welcome, and they respected my pronouns. The very website I’ve read on and off for years is now my stomping grounds. My fandom has never been this open in my life, and maybe it’s because I have never been this open in my life. As I’ve grown and become more outspoken, more confident, more complete as a person, I feel I have done the same as a pro wrestling fan. I am a happier wrestling fan, I am a more out-going wrestling fan, I am utterly passionate about wrestling in ways I was always hesitant to admit. I’m admittedly a baby at this site (one year in August) but when I started talking to many here and admitted I was “one of the easiest people here to please” I was told to never lose that and not give way to cynicism. I’ve taken that to heart and will do my best not to do so. Pro wrestling can be a cold, uncaring place. That doesn’t change the fact it often warms my heart and makes me smile. Ten years ago I loved pro wrestling.
Ten years later, I’m doing something I would’ve never done ten years ago. I’m writing a thousand-word-plus article on that very reality on a website and community I’m proud to call home. It has been a long journey, but it has led me here. I am the magic writing girl of Voices Of Wrestling!