March 20, 1984.
That’s when it started for me. It started for my dad many years earlier, well before I was born. Heck, I wasn’t even five years old when it started. It got my brother a couple years before me. We all had the itch.
How did I get it? It was a tag team match. On one side stood the bad guys, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Dr. David Schultz. On the other side, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and Andre The Giant. (Note: this would be the first of MANY Andre matches I’d see, including many live matches no one else has ever heard of!)
The match was pretty simple. The heels took down Andre and bloodied him up, forcing him to leave the match. Snuka was faced with the daunting task of facing both men, and for a while he did well, but was overpowered eventually.
And then, a roar from the crowd. The camera caught Andre lumbering back to the ring, head wrapped in bandages, blood dried on his face, afro peeking out from all different angles. The sight of this giant man with blood on his face, bandaged up to look like a monster and throwing punches as the enemies ran in terror was enough for me. I immediately became a fan of professional wrestling.
Here’s the match itself:
Since then, my fandom has increased over the years. Of course there were times where I lost interest, most notably the dark period between 1994 and 1995, but it wasn’t long after that that I was sucked back in. I’ve been a wrestling fan for close to 30 years. I’ve got boxes of tapes. I’ve got DVDs all over the house. Until a few years ago, I had stacks of magazines. I used to collect action figures, and now buy them regularly for my kids.
But when it comes to being a wrestling fan, there are few things like the internet. Known as the IWC (Internet wrestling community), the online world of wrestling is a unique blend of characters. Super fans, casual fans, old school fans, and of course, haters. With so many wrestling websites, groups, shows and podcasts out there, none being better than The Place To Be ::thumbs up, cheap pop:: you’re going to meet a LOT of interesting characters.
So just who are you going to run into in your journey through the IWC? Well, I’ve created a handy list for you. Below are just some of the many types of people you will encounter in this world. Some are great to be around, some you should do your best to avoid. Which category do you fall into?
The E-Wrestling Legend: My first real experience with the IWC came with e-wrestling. I started in the AOL chat rooms and keyword: Trivia, but quickly found others who shared my interest in wrestling. It wasn’t long after that, I was asked to join some federations.
Didn’t these people know I was a scrawny teenager? I wasn’t trained, I didn’t look good in spandex, and I couldn’t pull off a powerbomb no matter how many times I’d tried on my friends trampoline.
Lucky for me, e-feds are not what I thought they were. E-wrestling is simple: Choose a character (sometimes you pick a real guy like CM Punk, sometimes you create your own character, like…DM Rapscallion) and start writing promos. Once you know your opponent for the week, you start firing off interviews like they are going out of style (they are).
I had a lot of fun doing e-feds for a while, but I grew tired of it and moved on. Not the case for some guys, who seem to make it their #1 hobby. Usually their character is a mix of Raven, The Crow and maybe a rapist. Look for names like SOUL REAPER, DARKBEAK or THE CROW RAVEN. When not e-wrestling, they are probably listening to The Cure, brooding in the dark and googling Edgar Allen Poe quotes for their next scathing 200,000 word promo. They get really into it, to the point where they enjoy e-wrestling more than ACTUAL professional wrestling, but ultimately they are harmless.
The Puro Guy: A natural transition in your early days of the IWC is to go from being a guy (or girl) who likes what is on your TV to discovering new types of wrestling, most notably the stuff from Japan. Again, this is one type of fan that I’ve been before. I still love me some puro matches, but I just don’t have the time to hunt it down like I used to.
Simply LIKING Japanese wrestling isn’t enough for the puro guy though. The true puro guy must make it known to ALL fans that he watches Japanese wrestling and recognizes it’s superiority over the pathetic American product. A sample conversation you may see on a message board.
Johnny WWE Fan: Punk vs. Lesnar was epic! 5 stars! Match of the year!
Puro Guy: I guess it’s OK, if you like WWE style. I would rate it **1/4.
Johnny WWE Fan: What? TWO STARS? You’re crazy!
Puro Guy: I’m not crazy, I’m just educated! Brock’s Kimura is weak and sloppy unlike Akiyama’s, and they stole the entire exchange from 14:28 to 17:49 right from Okada vs. Nakamura from the Tokyo Dome show. Also, if you are talking about Match of the Year, I can think of 15 matches that were better…and that’s JUST from the Champions Carnival! Also, Punk wishes he was KENTA.
Listen puro guy, Japanese wrestling is great. It’s produced some of the best wrestling in history, nobody denies that. My favorite wrestler ever happens to be Kenta Kobashi! But please, chill out a bit.
A puro guy at his best offers links to great Japanese matches to help fans expand their viewing library. At worst, he writes off everything that is on American soil as ***, max.
The Girl: Much like Bigfoot, the girl is widely rumored to exist and many claim to have spotted one, but there is very little proof that she is real. Sometimes a blurred photograph will appear, but it will ultimately be inconclusive and sway no one. Yet many still believe that the occasional female ACTUALLY steps foot into the IWC, also known as the epitome of sausagefests.
Are there female wrestling fans? Of course. Are females on the internet? Of course. So it stands to reason that SOME females on the internet happen to be wrestling fans and venture into the IWC. The question is…why? Ladies, for your sake, stay away. You’ll be hounded for boob pics and wind up thinking less of the male species as a whole. Judging us by the the actions of the IWC is like judging the talent of the Detroit Tigers by the talents of Jose Valverde…it’s just not fair.
I’M IN THE BUSINESS: This one can be either infuriating or a ton of fun, it all depends on how you respond it. Picture yourself on a message board engaging in a nice discussion about a 1986 tag team match with the British Bulldogs, because that’s what you do in the IWC. Everyone is chiming in, it’s cordial, and some good points are being made…and then HE comments.
“ACTUALLY, Davey Boy Smith was a terrible worker in this match. You guys wouldn’t know it because he’s being protected, but I’M IN THE BUSINESS. I KNOW HOW THINGS WORK.”
The guy IN THE BUSINESS usually helped put a ring together at an Indy show once, and therefore has expert knowledge that you, a simpleton fan, would never know. That day when he set up T-shirt tables for Nick Dinsmore? HE LEARNED THE SECRETS OF THE BUSINESS, and now he understands. You? You’re not in the business, so you wouldn’t know.
The key to dealing with the guy who’s IN THE BUSINESS is to either feed his ego by seeking his opinion, or enrage him by insisting you are Vince McMahon’s personal assistant and YOU ARE MORE IN THE BUSINESS THAN HE IS.
TNA SUCKS guy: 15 years ago, this guy was the WCW SUCKS guy. Now that WCW is long gone, he needs something else to aim his anger at, and what’s a better outlet for unleashing scathing commentary than TNA? There is literally nothing that this company can do right by this person. They can push new stars, come up with creative stories and unique characters and his opinion will remain steadfast. Even if TNA hits a well acclaimed home run, TNA SUCKS guy thinks it sucks. An example:
Scott Criscuolo: Just got done watching Impact. Loved AJ’s return and the main event was solid. ****!
TNA SUCKS guy: AJ IS OLD NEWS AND THEY SCRAPPED THE ANGLE AND HOGAN SUCKS SO BAD. I THINK ARE GOING OUT OF BUSINESS IF THEY DON’T CHANGE THINGS SOON.
WWE SUCKS guy: The counterpart to TNA SUCKS guy. There is literally nothing that this company can do right by this person. They can push new stars, come up with creative stories and unique characters and his opinion will remain steadfast. Even if WWE hits well acclaimed home run, WWE SUCKS guy thinks it sucks. An Example:
Scott Criscuolo: Just got done watching Raw. Loved Cena’s return and the main event was solid. ****!
WWE SUCKS guy: CENA IS OLD NEWS AND THEY SCRAPPED THE ANGLE AND HHH SUCKS SO BAD. I THINK ARE GOING OUT OF BUSINESS IF THEY DON’T CHANGE THINGS SOON.
Do you notice any similarities between WWE SUCKS guy and another IWC character type?
TNA RULES guy: Don’t like the negativity that TNA SUCKS guy brings? Then find this guy! According to him, TNA is actually a bigger deal than WWE because they do HUGE numbers in India. Impact’s ratings may not be great, but any day now they’ll break through and hit a 7.0. TNA RULES guy blindly loves anything and everything TNA. Aces & Eights storyline is overkill? If anything, there’s not ENOUGH of it! Hogan talks too much? TNA needs a second show that’s JUST Hogan promos! TNA RULES guy laughs in the face of WWE fans! He supports a company that pushes talent like Austin Aries and Robert Roode, not bums like Zack Ryder and The Miz.
WWE RULES guy: Don’t like the negativity that WWE SUCKS guy brings? Then find this guy! With this guy, every PPV is good. So is every match. And every segment. Every interview? Solid. Raw’s ratings may not be great anymore, but business is cyclical! WWE RULES guy blindly loves anything and everything WWE. Daniel Bryan beatdowns are overkill? If anything, there’s not ENOUGH of it! Triple H talks too much? WWE needs a show that’s JUST Triple H promos! WWE RULES guy laughs in the face of TNA fans! He supports a company that pushes talent like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, not bums like Robbie E and Gunner.
The Re-Booker: One of the most fun things to do in the IWC is to discuss booking strategies. How would you like to see the Daniel Bryan saga play out? What do you think the WWE should do with Taker at Wrestlemania this year? We’ve all got ideas, stories we’d like to see and guys we’d like to see as champions. Everyone books in their head.
More than that, we’ve all got moments in wrestling history that we would have done differently. Don’t think Triple H should have walked out of Mania as champ? You probably have an alternate idea. Think Hogan/Sting was awful at Starcade? You probably have an idea of what should have happened. That’s just being a fan.
The re-booker takes it a step farther. Remember ANY ANGLE THAT EVER HAPPENED IN ANY COMPANY EVER? He’s re-booked it. And he did it correctly. Are you dying to know how some guy who participates in e-wrestling as “RAVENKROW” would have handled the UWF in 1986? Then check out his blog!
I don’t think the re-booker even WATCHES wrestling anymore. He just reads results and immediately gets to work on letting you know what SHOULD have happened. He also likes to retro-actively invent gimmicks that weren’t around yet. For example: “If I were booking, Canadian Stampede would have ended with an elimination chamber match!”
The Tape Trader: Let’s be real. While some IWC characters are annoying, it’s worth it when you discover the tape trader. The tape trader has a vast library of wrestling history at his disposal and he will sell or trade with you. Have you always wanted to see War Games 95? You can have it on VHS for either $3 or a Saba Simba shoot interview! Any show you’ve ever wanted to see can be found courtesy of the tape trader. The question is simply finding the right one. Some tape traders are GREAT. They have a huge list of shows, good quality, fair prices and are a pleasure to deal with. Some? Not so great. A small list of tapes, expensive prices and weird requests. Here’s a sample:
Good Tape trader: Here’s my list (insert 30 pages of shows), $1 a tape or a trade if you have any of these (insert list of wrestling events).
Bad Tape Trader: Here’s my list (2 Wrestlemanias, Austin 3:16 VHS and the complete career of Sir Oliver Humperdink). Tapes are $2.00 per 10 minutes or a trade if you have any of these (insert list of bizarre pornography).
The Benoit Supporter: Everything that could be said about the Benoit story has already been said. It’s clear he will never be acknowledged on WWE broadcasts again. If they can help it, he won’t make it onto DVDs either. Most people understand that, and are OK with it. But there’s a select few who can’t come to grips with the fact that a company refuses to praise the career of a man who murdered his family. Did he kill his kid? Yes, BUT WHO ELSE CAN DO 12 CONSECUTIVE ROLLING GERMAN SUPLEXES? Did his wife deserve to die? Of course not, BUT THE WWE UNIVERSE DOESN’T DESERVE TO NEVER SEE THE AUSTIN MATCH FROM SMACKDOWN ON TV AGAIN.
Listen, I’m not saying you should never watch another Benoit match again. I can see him on TV and not immediately recoil in horror. But it’s pretty clear WHY WWE doesn’t acknowledge him, because no matter how good of a wrestler he was, his actions don’t really deserve praise. The Benoit supporter will never see this and will fight to the bitter end that the guy should be in the Hall of Fame.
The Troll: The troll simply likes to start arguments and get people angry. On the night of Summerslam, while everyone is raving about Punk/Brock, the troll comes online, says it sucked and watches the reactions with glee. The troll thinks Hulk Hogan is the worst draw in wrestling history. The troll thinks Daniel Bryan sucks. The troll LOVES to stir it up.until he’s banned. Then, I hope you’re ready for 20 new accounts, all of which will flood your message board with some unique GIFs.
The Over-Obsessive Guy: I’m a big wrestling fan. I’m sure most people on the IWC are. We’ve all watched hours and hours of shows. We’ve probably all got DVDs and merchandise. Some of us have taken the trip to Wrestlemania. We are definitely FANS of pro wrestling. Chances are, among people you know in real life, you are the BIGGEST wrestling fan you know. But once you’ve spent some time in the IWC, you realize you are a fan amongst a bunch of fanatics.
It won’t be long before someone friend requests you on Facebook. Their name? Joe “HEARTBREAKKID” Smith. His profile picture? The Macho Man. His cover photo? The Summerslam logo. Against better judgment, you add him.
10 minutes later, you’ve got 10 notifications, you’ve been invited to group after group: WRESTLETALK, GRAPPLECHAT, RINGCHATTER, STEEL CAGE DISCUSSIONS and of course NUDE DIVAS LOLZ. In your streaming newsfeed bar, you notice your friend regularly likes photos. Not from people though. He likes photos posted by “BRING BACK CARLITO”, “ECW4EVA” and “Jinder Mahal Fans Network”.
For the over-obsessive, wrestling is not a hobby. It is not one of many interests. It is everything. Wrestling is all. Friends? Who needs them? Family? They show up a few times a year with gifts-and they better be from Shopzone! Everything revolves around wrestling with the over-obsessive, and it makes them happy.
This is just a small sample of what you’ll find when you venture into the IWC. There are plenty more characters out there, so stay tuned for more to come. Until then, enjoy wrestling! Enjoy the internet! Just don’t be the troll!