Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Fan's Guide: Tips To Being A Indie Wrestling Fan

A Couple Of These Guys Should Probably Read This Column

Ok, this is a post that I actually wanted to do for a little while now. I’ve seen a lot of blogs that deal primarily with the product that is on television or the independents. Even on the podcast I am apart of (The Wrestling Mayhem Show), that is what a majority of our time is spent talking about. While there is definitely a place for it, I wanted to make this blog from the perspective of a fan, so I thought it would be a great idea to give a guide of what to do as a independent wrestling fan. Some of these apply to mainstream pro wrestling as well, but these are mainly meant for attending independent wrestling shows. Luckily, Texas has some really awesome wrestling fans that I have gotten to know, and they really don’t need to learn these rules. But I hope that these things that I have learned from frequenting the independent scene can be passed onto others who want to be even better fans. So, lets start it off.

Bring Money And Spend It:

This is a rule that I am a very big proponent of. Of course, on the independent level, wrestlers are not making a great deal of money just from the company alone, so a lot of the time they rely on money made by selling their merchandise (T-Shirts, 8x10s etc.) By buying a wrestlers merchandise, it is a simple, common courtesy that shows that you are appreciative of the time they’ve put in, the hours spent on the road, or any other extraneous factor they went through, so that they could perform in front of you for your entertainment. I remember back at the August show for Anarchy Championship Wrestling, Darin Corbin and Arik Cannon made a guest appearance, including Arik Cannon performing in a brutal and intense contest with Matthew Palmer. The two’s road schedule for that weekend consisted of them wrestling Friday and Saturday for Chikara in Milwaukee and Indianapolis, and then making their way down the next day to Austin for ACW. This is a prime example of the rigorous schedule that independent wrestlers go through, and I remember seriously regretting not bringing enough money to the show to buy anything from either Cannon or Corbin. Since then, I have taken the time to make sure I have the proper amount of money for me to be able to purchase something from anyone that is selling. For a really large show, I like to bring at least $40 in cash just to be safe, because you can never be sure how many people will be out during an intermission to sell their merchandise. Also, I tend to be a person that prefers getting pictures with wrestlers as opposed to just autographs. It’s just a personal preference of mine. However, the rule I always make is as long as they have something for sale, I will buy an item from them before asking for a photo. Usually, it its just a $5 8x10, but I feel more comfortable giving someone some form of payment before asking for something that they don’t tend to charge for. And almost all the time, the wrestler is more than willing to get a photo with you once you have bought something from them. One of my personal examples of this was when I met Jazz at this past years ACW Queen of Queens Tournament. Some people were approaching her asking for photos, and she said they would have to pay. But, after buying a $10 8x10, she had no problem getting a photo with me and was very kind and nice about it. Overall, even the most minimum amount of money you can give to a wrestler tells the performer that you care and appreciate what they are doing, and encourages them to continue doing it.

Think About What You Are Chanting:

Ok, here is hoping as I am writing this, that this does not go like the last time I tried to bring up chanting at wrestling events, because I would really like to not get reamed a new asshole. Let me first note that I am not telling anybody what to chant and what not to chant. I am telling you to THINK about the things that you are chanting. First off, if you see me at any Anarchy Championship Wrestling event, you will know that just like the rest of the crowd in the Mohawk, I like to heckle. And just about every time I go after some of my favorite heels at the shows, they are able to take the stuff that I am saying and use it to come up with great material. People like Gary Jay, Angel Blue and Chris Trew do this to a tee. But, while I do heckle, I have my own line as to what I yell at people. I try my hardest to make sure that I don’t say anything that is entirely intrusive to what the wrestlers are trying to do in the ring. Sometimes I do slip up and so do many of wrestling fans, but it is all about realizing it and making sure that you never do it again. I’ve said stuff that probably even doesn’t intrude on or anger one of the performers, but I feel a sense of regret as if it did and I make a mental note to never repeat it. Also, if for some reason you develop some sort of issue or have some form of hatred towards a performer, for whatever reason, have an understanding that you should choose indifference over anger. The whole goal of a wrestler is to get a reaction out of a fan, and if you want to continually yell about how horrible a person is, they will eat it up. Now, that takes me to one of my least favorite chants in wrestling (and trust me there are many), the “You Fucked Up” chant. I am 99 percent sure that within the entire time of me being a pro wrestling fan, I’ve never once had the impulse or found the need to chant “You Fucked Up” at a wrestler. And that’s not because the situation never arose, it’s because I find the chant to be extremely counter productive. First of all, the people who decide to chant this more than likely have never stepped foot in a wrestling ring, so how are they to know what is right and what is “fucked up”? Second, when at a live pro wrestling show, there is suppose to be a suspension of disbelief that everything occurring in the ring is purposeful, so chanting this is pretty much the equivalent of yelling out all of the magician secrets during a magic show. Please do not ruin it for the rest of us who wish to suspend reality. And third and most importantly, how do you think that by chanting “You Fucked Up”, it is going to improve the match in the least bit? Like I mentioned before, I don’t want to tell anyone what they can and cannot say at shows, because everyone has their own lines of what they consider right or wrong. But I do encourage you to think about the things you chant at shows in order for you to develop your own lines and your own limits.

Also, and this is just a personal pet peeve of mine, can we try to avoid the “This Is Wrestling” chant as much as possible. I get that what you are seeing in the ring is amazing, but did the awesome match that you are watching suddenly make you realize that you were at a wrestling show? Where did you think you were? Instead you should probably chant “This Is Better Than The Stuff On Television”, because that’s pretty much what you are saying and it doesn’t make you look like a person who blacks out and then suddenly realizes you are at a wrestling show. Also, I prefer that one because it can be chanted to the rhythm of the “You’re Gonna Get You’re Fucking Head Kicked In” chant.

Respect If A Company Is Family Friendly:

This rule very much plays into the previous rule about chanting. Though it may not seem as important on the surface, it actually is. I’ve talked with my good friends from the Wrestling Mayhem Show, Sorg and Chachi, who do DVD production for a indie wrestling company in Pittsburgh, and they’ve noted at times how fans trying to be less family friendly at shows pose problems to their production as far as trying to deliver a final product that families can watch. As much as one may feel that they can do whatever they want at their shows, a wrestling company is trying to deliver their product a certain way, one that at times will appeal to families and children, and you should be respectful of that. Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of saying expletives at shows and in my daily life, but there is a time and a place for it and a family friendly show is not the place. Sometimes a curse word slips out here and there. But just like chanting, it is important to recognize it and have an understanding that you will not do it again. Now take for example this. At Anarchy Championship Wrestling, a clearly not family friendly show if you note both the fact that it takes place in a bar and the atmosphere that comes with Anarchy, one of my favorite people to heckle and harass is Angel Blue. I’ve done it so much that it has spawned quite possibly one of my favorite photos of all time.

Photo Courtesy of Texas Anarchy

But not too long ago, I was at an event that was much more family friendly, and when the heel Angel Blue came by, I replaced my middle fingers with thumbs down and it provided the same effect. Also, at Anarchy Angel Blue is much more liberal with swear words when it comes to her retorts at a heckler, but at this event she also kept it PG, which is a sign that the company is trying to portray a PG product. And that right there is the key. If you are not sure if a show is trying to go more family friendly, look out for certain clues. Is at least 50 percent of the crowd made up of children? Then don’t curse. Are the wrestlers saying “I’m going to kick you’re butt” as opposed to “I’m going to kick you’re ass”? Then don’t curse.

Don’t Expect Every Wrestler To Be Your Best Friend:

This tweet from independent star and no-nonsense tweeter Portia Perez sums things up pretty nicely.

Let me preface this by saying that by frequenting the local independent wrestling scene, I have gotten the pleasure of meeting some extremely nice and amazing pro wrestlers. If you are a new fan to the independents, I expect that you will as well. But, don’t take it for granted. Just because you meet nice people on the indies, doesn’t mean that being “nice” is an automatic qualification of a pro wrestler. I’m not just talking about heels as opposed to faces. Beyond the merchandise table or after the main event, no wrestler is required to be your best friend. I have a lot of respect for the performers that have an image to maintain as an athlete and a performer, which would be tainted by too much association with the fans. This goes both at shows as well as on the internet. Remember that just because you “friend” a pro wrestler on Facebook, it doesn’t automatically make you their “friend”.

But like I mentioned before, there are tons of extremely kind pro wrestlers that you do get a chance to meet, and sometimes associate with beyond that. I’ve had many great conversations with people after a show or on the internet, and I am immensely appreciative of it, because they don’t have to be that way. And at times, because you have those relations, you get deemed by some as a “mark trying to weasel your way into the business”.  I’ve gotten that before once or twice. But, that is far from the case. I make it a point when speaking to pro wrestlers to not edge my way into what is going on backstage, mainly because I have no desire to know any of it. If you do become friendly with a pro wrestler, don’t be a “dirt digger” and just treat them like normal human beings. In fact, treat them as higher then normal human beings because that is exactly what they are. They are busting their butts to perform something spectacular, and you are in the crowd. Lines should not be blurred.


If you are a sensible human being with a functioning brain, you probably do not have to read this one. But, if something compels you to try to break this rule, you have reached the point of no return, and no one else in that building will feel sorry for what happens to you.

Well there you have it. Those are my tips on being an independent pro wrestling fan. I won't say I know it all, and I probably have much more to learn, but those are just the things that I have come to understand and pride myself in doing. So, tell me what you think. Was there anything I missed? Do you disagree? Leave a comment below and let's have a discussion.

Until then,

The Wrestlefan

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