The title for this article is important. It’s not just a bad attempt at an attention grabber, though it definitely is that as well. Nope, it’s about a mindset. A specific mindset that can creep into the world of any fan of the pro graps. Wrestling is an awful, awful thing to like. It’s something us fans are told growing up, as adults, by friends, enemies, and those we share our lives with. That wrestling is awful is even an idea drilled into our heads by fellow wrestling fans.
I can’t recall a day that has gone by where I wasn’t informed that a wrestler I like, a promotion I enjoy, or a match I think of as great is awful. I’m not truly writing about that sort of criticism though. Cause I’m an adult with a functioning brain. I understand that wrestling is subjective and that means others will dislike what I like. The door swings both ways and I’m going to dislike what others like. Fellow fans will critique, both negatively and positively, everything I like about pro wrestling. I’ll do the same to them, because that’s what we do as wrestling fans.
The hot take of wrestling being awful that I’m referring to in this case is the desire of others to tear down something that brings great joy to some. This isn’t a behavior exclusive to professional wrestling or its fans. It’s a decidedly human trait, found in all parts of the world and dealing with every fan base that exists. It’s an ugly, ugly trait; the sort of attack mentality that makes us, as human beings, look bad. I’m not above it all either, I’ve been the asshole on the attack in the past. We’ve all been that asshole, acknowledging that is okay, it’s part of the process of realizing you don’t want to be that asshole.
This is where my long break from pro wrestling comes into play. I’ve barely been paying attention to pro wrestling for the past six months or so. Working two full time jobs, being enrolled in paramedic school, having a family, and other outside interests took their collective toll on my wrestling fandom. I’m not saying that it was entirely good that I had to put pro wrestling on the backburner. But, it did come with its benefits, most notably my time away has allowed me to better appreciate the distinction between criticism and being an asshole.
When a fellow I know went online and said he didn’t understand the hoopla behind the Southern (United States) indie scene some people took pause. A back and forth ensued, and after a few exchanges it became clear that he wasn’t attacking the Southern indie scene but expressing an acknowledged ignorance of it. He was looking for guidance while offering criticism of what had kept him from exploring the scene further. The lesson learned in this exchange is that criticism is fine, seeking to understand should be accepted, and we’re all in this journey together.
The antithesis of the above interaction also revolved around the Southern indie scene. This past weekend the Scenic City Invitational took place. Numerous wrestling fans we all know traveled far and wide to attend the event. The buzz coming out of the event was overwhelmingly positive. I read tweet after tweet expressing admiration for the weekend, the people encountered, the friendships made (or continued), and a general love for the thing we are all supposed to think is awful; pro wrestling. I legitimately had a smile on my face as I was periodically checking in on the feedback coming out of the weekend. That so many others were finding joy in something I loved was making me happy.
Then it happened, as we all knew it would happen. A lone voice entered the fray, no pun intended, with the seemingly sole intention of sucking all the fun out of the room. This person then gave way to a few more people, and then even a few more. Now there was a faction of people who were making it their business to talk bad about the Scenic City Invitational and the experience being described by so many as absolutely joyous. It was as if they had beacons that flashed in the sky letting them know that people were enjoying wrestling and they needed to stamp out said joy, and stamp it out as swiftly and harshly as possible.
As I read their criticisms they came back to points that, frankly, I don’t believe matter all that much. They were arguing semantics, over whether or not actual stars were made, or if the weekend mattered in the grand scheme of the pro wrestling landscape. They weren’t criticizing, or engaging in an exchange of ideas. Rather, they were lashing out at something they had no desire to understand. I can’t speak for them because I’m not them. But as an outsider reading their tweets they came across as petty individuals who were upset that others were having a great time at wrestling.
This gets back to the core idea of wrestling being awful. I’m going to let all of you in on a little secret, wrestling isn’t awful. Wrestling is FAN-FUCKING-FABULOUS. We’re all fans of it because we recognize how awesome it can be. We seek out those awesome moments, because we also know the sting of a bad wrestling show, match, etc. When others find those awesome moments, let them have said moments. We love wrestling, or at least I hope we do. As wrestling fans we should strive to be the person who can apply a critical bent while still marking out like school kids from time to time. If we become like a Bryan Alvarez and despise wrestling to our very core, then why the heck would we even keep watching?
I’m not advocating that we all learn to love the same things. I’m very critical and that’s not going to stop. I think the critical process is deeply important to being a well-rounded wrestling fan. But, there’s a difference between being critical and shitting on everyone’s parade just because you can. By all means, if you don’t think something like the Scenic City Invitational is for you, that’s fine. If you watch the event and have criticisms in regards to match quality, wrestler performances, the event as a whole, or any other artistic measurement; that’s a valid response. However, leave people to their enjoyment, because wrestling is meant to be enjoyed. Attacking their enjoyment with semantics, petty arguments, and issues that have very little to do with the enjoyment being had just makes you an asshole. Don’t be the asshole, trust me, I know.