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

I like to think that we are all attracted to something that is there for the sole reason of being a rock to clutch on to when facing life-changing moments and decisions. No matter what is going on with your life, that one thing is there to pull you back to reality and ground you. For some, it can be a lifelong obsession with a certain sport or sports team. Others take to the gaming, dancing, or cars, what have you.

For me, professional wrestling was my constant.

I could not tell you when I first became enthralled by this colorful world of undead morticians, adrenaline junkies, badasses, and everything in between. Some of my first memories involve watching the wrestling tapes I had on repeat over and over again and trying to replicate those same moves with my younger brother. The day we got our first trampoline may have been the greatest day on earth in our little hearts as we finally had ourselves an official ring to wrestle on. We’d be out there every single day doing what I can only imagine turned into a Best of 1,500 series.

The bond over wrestling with my younger brother was the first time I’ve felt wrestling as the outlet that let me escape to a happy place. I was three when my parents separated and growing up in a divided household is never easy. As fun as having two Christmases and two birthday parties every year was, it was always hard having to essentially live two different lives in different towns. Dad lived here, Mom lived somewhere else and every other weekend would be a switch. I had friends here and I had friends there but trying to schedule anything with them could be a royal pain in the ass when you’re young and only there half the time. 

Despite all of that travel between two households, I would load up an IKEA bag with my Jakks Pacific wrestling ring, a bunch of action figures, and my notepad with my booking plans and results. Without knowing it, I created my own touring brand that always drew no matter where I went. Every night, the heroes and villains of the Xtreme Wrestling Association would battle without a care in the world if they were here or there. Wrestling kept me grounded and allowed my creativity to flow and it helped keep me happy.

As I grew older, my love of wrestling continued to grow stronger. Growing up as a big kid was never fun. I’d constantly be put down, made fun of, and bullied over my weight. The other kids could be cruel. They’d often pick me last for the recess sports teams because they didn’t want to have that slower kid drag down the team in soccer. They would never invite me to group hangouts because “nobody wanted to hangout with the fat kid.” 

Looking back, it’s all very silly but words hurt at the time. I’d feel worthless until I got home, turned on the television, and saw these larger-than-life athletes deal with some of the same issues I faced. Rey Mysterio was too small but he always overcame his biggest challenges. Jeff Hardy was too weird but he also found a way to topple the adversity and go on to win the big one. I saw myself in these guys. They showed me that I too can overcome all challenges put in front of me.

I think the best part of professional wrestling is the ability to find something that takes all of your emotions on a wild ride to the point where you can finally be happy. Moments and matches stand out because they bring out the happiness inside of you, especially in times when you need them most.

A lot can happen in ten years.

In 2012, I lost my step-father Tim when he never came back from a boating trip. A few days earlier prior to his disappearance, he sat with me and watched WWE’s RAW 1000. He’d raz me, in a loving joking way, that I was a walking talking wrestling encyclopedia and he’d always recount the time he traveled to Pontiac to see Hulk Hogan slam Andre The Giant in the middle of the ring. He had not been a fan since the Attitude Era but, for whatever reason, that final night together he wanted to sit down and watch a three-hour Raw. I will never forget that and will always think back to that happy memory whenever I start to miss him.

Grief never ends, only changes.

A few years later in 2017, I lost my grandmother in her fight with cancer. When I was a kid, she would sacrifice her Mondays and Thursdays to turn on the VCR to record that week’s episode of Raw and SmackDown!. Despite watching the shows live, they were always better on second viewing when I went over to her house and we popped them in. She said she never understood why I liked it, as it was too violent, but she would always pop out of her seat when Shawn Michaels or Triple H would be on screen. Her passing was one of the worst moments of my life. I had lost my best friend but was blessed with all of our memories together.

I can distinctly remember the night of WrestleMania 33. We weren’t watching the show together as I was watching at home with my dad, my brother, and some friends. In fact, I don’t think she was even watching the show but she knew to text me as soon as she saw The Hardy Boyz had returned as a big surprise. Like all the years before, we shared a moment attached to the emotion of pure happiness. Unfortunately, she passed away just twenty days later but I will go back and watch The Hardy’s return from time to time and always get a jolt of happiness.

At its core, professional wrestling is nothing more than a scripted pre-determined battle for a piece of tin on a leather belt. Some don’t get it, but those who do get it know full well the emotions that come with it and how it can be both the greatest and the worst thing ever.

I will always love wrestling for being there for me when I needed it and for being the constant a young kid like me needed. Wrestling is still my favorite thing in the world and now I am lucky to create new memories with friends I have made across the globe because of this weird sport and this fantastic website.

Here’s to another 10 years!