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.
A decade used to feel like it lasted ten years.
Now, decades fly by at such a rapid rate, it’s hard to believe it has been 10 years since Zack Ryder won the WWE Intercontinental belt and WASN’T pelted with beer cans, syringes and pizza cutters.
Ten years ago, I was barely hanging on a wrestling fan. My life had taken several hairpin turns and adjusting to being a relatively newly divorced, homeless and unemployed dad really ate into the amount of time I could devote to my favorite pastime. Looking back, that dark period of my life feels like it might as well have taken place during the summer of Ricochet and Will Ospreay’s most viral moment in 2016.
By 2011, my life was in a much better place.
I was in a healthy, loving relationship with my now wife, we had a home to build our blended family in and CM Punk delivered the most compelling promo I had heard since the “Cane Dewey” days of ECW. Needless to say, things were looking up! Things were looking up for our pal Rich Kraetsch as well. Rich, like many of us, had just witnessed a modern-day pro wrestling classic between hometown hero CM Punk and the internet’s favorite whipping post, John Cena. Unlike the rest of us, Rich didn’t simply go to bed with visions of a continued Summer of Punk dancing in his head. Instead, he sat down at his computer and laid the groundwork for what would become Voices of Wrestling. Every time I hear the story told, I am struck by how our daily motivations and decisions can either become faint memories and regrets or they can be put into action and become part of something that will last for generations. Rich’s story is what has motivated me to write this today.
I had been smartened up to the wrestling business in the mid ’80s as a 9- or 10-year-old (thanks, Dad). I will never forget watching the Rock and Wrestling Special on MTV and being enthralled by the pageantry and energy of that show only to have my well-meaning father say to me, “you know that is fake, right?”
As much as I knew he was not deceiving me, I did not let the facts outweigh my passion for what I was seeing. Like anyone who is still a fan in my ‘useless to advertisers’ age demographic, reckoning with the reality of being worked versus the level of entertainment received was not a tough task for me.
I have never been an extremely online wrestling fan. Message boards were too “inside” and frankly intimidating for me and I never seemed to have a good reason to justify the expense of a Newsletter subscription back in the prehistoric days before Twitter. I did have a Facebook account that I was very active on until 2016 when I deleted it from all existence for reasons I probably don’t need to explain. My primary source of information regarding the Sport of Kings has truly been Voices of Wrestling for almost as long as they have existed. I stumbled upon the site by either searching New Japan results or something PWG related. There was a period time during the mid-aughts where I became a huge PWG fan through a discounted copy of “PWG Sells Out” on Amazon. This was so long ago, it came with a handwritten note from the family-owned video shop who listed it asking me to please give them a 5-star review in order to help them grow. To this day, I think it may be my only Amazon review.
Voices of Wrestling is a website and podcast network that has been a very important part of my life for almost as long as they have existed. I have no doubt Rich is honest when he says he has considered shutting it down many times in the past. I hope those days are gone. As I have aged, my tastes have changed as well as how I enjoy pro wrestling. I mostly listen to podcasts and cherry-pick the shows and matches that VOW reviewers recommend. Although I am subscribed to several wrestling-related streaming services, I find the overabundance of content to be overwhelming and mostly of low quality. I subscribe to them for two reasons, I always want to support pro wrestling however I can because it has been a comfort to me in very tough times and because of something the young people call FOMO.
When Joe and Rich announced the Patreon service several years ago, it was a no-brainer to me. To me, they had built a reputation of quality and excellence that gave me confidence they would deliver on the content. And they certainly have delivered. Whether it is one Joe’s finely honed instincts delivered during the Thursday TV Reviews or one of Rich’s random Wrandomizer shows, I consume it all. Even the disgusting chewing sounds have become mandatory listens. When the $10 tier was rolled out, I subscribed day one. Not because I want to listen to live (I really don’t), but because I believe in their vision and I want them to be the most successful website and podcast network in the industry. The roster of podcasts and writers has changed over the years, but just like in nature, Everything Evolves (RIP). Since late June of 2021, I have found myself spending more time on the site than in recent memory. The long-form columns and reviews have only improved which is really saying something. I have always felt there was a place in our universe for where a group of wrestling fans who may or may not define themselves as wrestling fans first could share ideas about their passion. Voices of Wrestling is as close to this as I have encountered. I have learned about diverse subjects such as obscure hardcore Lucha promotions based out of junkyards, fetishizing Kazuchika Okada’s wrist control and the undeniable romance of Katsuyori Shibata’s subdermal hematoma. This has been a fun ride for me and so many like me. We may not write for site or interact through Discord, but we are out here and we are proud to be a part of what Voices of Wrestling is and will become.
In conclusion, I would like to extend my congratulations to Rich and everyone involved with the website during the last decade. It has been a blast watching it grow to what it is today. Although you would never get the guys to admit it, their passion and coverage of certain regions and promotions who have been historically uncovered by wrestling media has led to many of the trends we see today. NJPW’s popularity is largely responsible for the emergence of AEW. Without the coverage given by VOW that popularity may not have happened so quickly. Progress Wrestling had an insurgence of popularity likely in part because VOW reviewed it on the site and talked it up on the podcast. Without Progress, we may not have had Jimmy Havoc, Doudrop or NXT UK. Okay, they can’t all be winners. If there is such a thing as tastemakers in the wrestling industry, VOW are at the forefront. They also know way more about fuck chairs than most.
P.S. I am glad the Eclipse Glasses I sent you back in 2017 didn’t blind you. In hindsight, I am not sure they were suitable for use.