No, it’s not just about the wrestling. That’s what gets us there but it’s not what keeps us there. It’ s not what keeps us coming back time after time. Now I like a good moonsault or suplex as much as the next guy. I live for high flying action and I love stiff shots. I admit that I have fallen for professional wrestling (especially indies) hook, line and sinker. That being said I have to confess that I am not an expert. I am not a pundit. And I certainly am no purist. I am a human being, a real wrestling fan without reservation or denial.
While I love the athleticism and enjoy immensely the competition in the ring, I realized long ago that other factors were driving my obsession for professional wrestling. My recent visit to Atlanta to watch Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment’s Homegrown got me really thinking about why I love wrestling and going to shows so much. I came to the realization that four distinct factors are behind my unquenchable thirst for live wrestling events. These four factors are the venue, interaction, story, and energy.
Venue is critically important for the success of any indie promotion. Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment does it right with their new digs on Campbellton Road which was the site for Homegrown. The Fanatics Arena is perfectly built for the true wrestling fan. It is easily accessible with plenty of parking. It is large enough to hold a good crowd but small enough to keep the fans totally engaged in the action. More importantly there are no rails or artificial barriers to separate the fans from the wrestlers. The new AWE venue is about as sweet as it gets.
Interaction is possibly the most important single factor that brings me out to independent wrestling shows. Interaction is the opportunity to share the experience with other fans and wrestlers. We don’t want to just be spectators. We can watch at home. We want to be participants. We want interactions with each other and with the wrestlers in the show. The joy of ruminating with my twitter pals cannot be understated. AWE Homegrown was a great atmosphere for interaction. It was especially fun because groups of fans squared off against each other on opposite sides of the ring. The chants and taunts were endless and often hilarius. Wrestlers and spectators traded insults and gestures all night long. The opportunity to pound on the canvass ring while imploring a wincing gladiator to tap out is priceless.
I can forgive WWE for falling short on venue and interaction because the sheer size of the promotion works in opposition to these factors. However I cannot forgive the failure of their storytelling which is such a huge part of professional wrestling. I left Wrestlemania scratching my head. I left Homegrown clapping my hands in glee demanding to see how the next episode will unfold. AWE had a story to tell and they did a great job. Chip Day’s promo about shadow wrestling governments in Georgia was an absolute gem. Team IOU’s destruction of the Spring Street Suicide Squad perfectly set up the feud coming between the Carnies and the Hierarchy. It was edgy but it was totally believable. Unlike WWE it actually made sense. Congratulations to Josh Wheeler and everyone at AWE for getting it right.
The last factor that is so important in bringing me out to southern independent wrestling shows is energy. It is the most intangible and the most difficult to sustain. Energy is really a feeling, an electricity that brings professional wrestling to its highest level. It is excitement and anticipation. It is fueled by great wrestling and all of the other factors mentioned above. Moments of energy are common but rarely long lasting. I see this on RAW every week. I saw it when A.J. Styles entered the Royal Rumble. At Homegrown in Atlanta I saw high energy for an entire long wrestling show. It was constant. It was palpable. It was amazing. The great wrestlers in the show fueled it. And they fed off the energy of the fans. From the amazing pre-show to the many main event matches I never lost interest and the energy never waned. It was a thing of beauty.
The bottom line is that Homegrown was a very special show. The effort of the many great wrestlers was off the charts. Team IOU versus the Spring Street Suicide Squad was a brutal blast ending in chains and an epic beat down. Great matches between Jimmy Rave and AR Fox, Sami Callihan and Chip Day, and Tommaso Ciampa and Martin Stone had the fans excited to a fever pitch. The undercard events were equally impressive. It is the best that independent wrestling has to offer. Thank you to all involved and please bring us another great show in the future.