You don’t need the largest of crowds for the biggest of moments.

You don’t need the longest of matches for the heaviest of impacts, and you don’t need the biggest of titles for the championship to mean something, to have emotion behind it, to have something about it that makes it feel special.

You need a crowd invested in a moment no matter the size and willing to rise up and be accounted for. Willing to shout, cheer, jeer, applaud, yell, chant in a way that you feel like thousands are there when it’s merely hundreds. I’ll take the energetic frenzy of 250 fans over the plain indifference of several thousand. In twenty minutes you can pack an entire pro wrestling story (you can do it in a shorter time, but we can discuss that later).

In twenty minutes (and under) you can tell a complete story from beginning to end that is engaging, riveting, draws you in, keeps you focused, and in the end, you are left feeling satisfied. I LOVE a lot of long matches, but it’s a matter of circumstance, situation. Not everything needs to be a 40-45 beyond ‘epic’. We’ve all had it, that match where we are like “They had a great twenty-minute match in there, shame they went 60.”

Then in the end you have the championship. The IWTV Independent Wrestling World Championship. A fun title, a title that has had some great matches behind it. In the existence of world titles right now it’s not the biggest, it’s not the loudest, but it’s often consistent, fun, entertaining, and the competitors do their best to put emotion and significance behind it, and it works. The wrestlers holding it care about it, the wrestlers going for it make it clear they want it. Therefore the title despite its short history, despite being a smaller world title has a heavy air of importance that goes a long way. Having a veteran like Alley Shelley holding such a championship, and holding it with a bit of regard and respect gives it even more legitimacy and also means more when the championship is taken from him.

What you have above are ingredients. You don’t always need the most ingredients, the biggest ingredients, the most expensive ingredients to put out your best dish. You need effort, love, care, and an understanding of what goes into making it work. Everything on the night of January 21, 2021 at Action and IWTV’s Southeast First. An incredible night capped off by the main event that will stick with me as the year goes on.

AC Mack vs. Alex Shelley transpired to be perhaps the best IWTV Championship match for my viewership. I absolutely loved this match and hope more and more people give it a chance as word of mouth spreads.

The accolades of Shelley do not have to be stated in too much of a repeated fashion. A great wrestler in his own right, he was part of one of the best tag teams of all time with Motor City Machine Guns. He has traveled the world, and his world is lauded, applauded, acclaimed, and loved by many and all both those in the business and those who observe it. There is very little bad you can say about Alex Shelley, a hell of a wrestler, a hell of a person, and someone who always is willing to give his best, his all, every inch of himself to put on an incredible moment.

Then you have AC Mack, someone that if you haven’t gotten acquainted with yet, prepare to start knowing this match. He walks the walk, talks the talk, he does both at the same time. He wrestles, he promos, he’s just that god damn good. I’ll go ahead and say that he’s a highlight of the independent scene, someone who needs an increasing amount of R and R (Respect and Recognition) for what he is capable of bringing. Constantly improving his gift behind the mic, his gift between the ropes, and his gift at connecting with an audience whether it’s to be cheered or jeered. This is a talented man, and I hope we continue to see more and more of him on a bigger stage.

Then you have the stakes.

It was pretty much burrowed into our heads if AC Mack wins he would be the first openly gay world champion. I haven’t researched that, but it rang true enough for me and it hit me. It hit me because while I’m not a man, I am definitely a part of the LGBTQIA+ community as a pansexual and Trans woman. Any moment that involves or hints at the possibility of LGBTQIA+ achievement I gravitate toward catches my eye. So with that carrot successfully dangled I knew I definitely wanted to check out this match, and I knew definitely what I wanted the income to be. Sometimes in wrestling, you are so accustomed to being promised a happy ending, a perfect end to a story, and have it pulled away from you. My heart tugged at that possibility, I was prepared for my heart to break, where I was successfully baited and then switched.

It didn’t happen. In one of those moments, in which you feel struck with a sense of pride and emotion, AC Mack defeated Alex Shelley to win the championship.

My heart exploded and happiness and I was overwhelmed with the reality that he had finally been given the opportunity to hold it. The match itself was amazing. Hard work, a well-paced, excellent in-ring story with AC Mack never giving up even when Alex Shelley took his tools away from him, made him unable to achieve his finish, even though AC Mack would keep trying… at one point verbally screaming out frustration at not being able to do so. AC Mack would have to find another way to win and he would when Alex Shelley gets him in his submission the Border City Stretch, AC Mack is able to roll him up, and before Alex Shelley knew what was happening the three count commences and the celebration began. I’m pretty sure I celebrated with my plushes as I watched it go down. I love it when wrestling breaks down my senses, breaks down my cynicism. I love it when it feels real, and the emotion and celebration coming through my screen was as real as wrestling can present. 

All the credit to Shelley, not just for putting AC Mack over in this big-time moment, but for doing what he does best. Giving it his all. He came off as a wrestler who has seen it all and seemed almost embarrassed, angered and disrespected he had to wrestle where he was wrestling. That chip on his shoulder, that extra bit of attitude as he acted and knew he was the better wrestler made you instantly want to see him lose. AC Mack, is boisterous, cocky, confident, prepared. They are both feeling this moment in time, this moment that many others watching through IWTV’s streaming service can feel as well. the crowd definitely feels it. They are charged up, ready, prepared, they know what they’ve come for. The crowd loved AC Mack, I loved him. A crowd that was less than 300 felt like more as they pounded the mats, chanted, cheered, jeered, taunted, groaned, and were elated at the various points, peaks and valleys through the match. There was no wasted moment, they wrestled just under 20 minutes and they made use of every minute, building the story, building the heat, building the anticipation until you knew you were at the cusp of one of two things… heartbreak or emotional elation.

We would end up with elation. As the hand-counted three and we instantly realized what had happened, the crowd exploded, cheering, yelling, pounding the mat, AC Mack announced the winner as a disgusted Alex Shelley just stormed off, the moment was signed, sealed, delivered. AC Mack was now an openly gay man as world champion, and I absolutely loved it, I absolutely was smitten with it. There will be those of course who will shoo poo this with the usual disdain, dismissiveness, and criticisms. I don’t care, fuck them. I mean that with every ounce of sincerity I can muster.

When you are part of a community constantly shut out, constantly under attack, constantly threatened, and constantly told you don’t belong by elements coming from all directions, you celebrate the victories big and small. You celebrate when someone from your community who is well-loved and respected rises up and grabs not a brass ring, but one that is bright and golden. You hold on to that because you hope those victories pave a path to so much more. Every step is an important step, and you cheer it on no matter the size of it. For we are all in this journey, and we are all doing what we can so we can live, be accepted, excel, succeed, say we are here and we will fucking make our mark. I wish I could’ve seen this live, that would’ve made it even better for me. Fortunately, we live in a day and age where this moment can be seen by all as many times as they want or desire.

A near-perfect match that leads to an absolutely perfect moment. I can’t think of many more moments this year that will feel as good as seeing AC Mack grab hold of that IWTV World Championship. I can’t wait to see him defend and how that all plays out. I hope he gets a good length, I hope he has great matches, I hope he does it all proud, and I know he will. Pride is important, and he has it in spades.

This is one of the best matches you’ll see in January, and I can’t wait to see how I feel about it as the year goes on. I have no doubt it will stick with me throughout the months, throughout the seasons, perhaps longer and harder than it will some, most even. I don’t care, I absolutely love this match, and absolutely must watch.

Significant, important, fulfilling, and emotional. Alex Shelley vs. AC Mack accomplished more than title matches with ten times the hype, ten times the name value, and thousands more in attendance, and they deserve every ounce of respect, recognition, and love and admiration for it.