I probably have in the past gone into depth about what Wrestling means to me but after following Mark Hainsworth on Twitter its made me think deeply once more about not only what wrestling means to me but what the community has done for me too.
Honestly would recommend a follow to Mark on Twitter as he, along with a few others, are trying to build a positive and welcoming wrestling community on Twitter.
As you know Wrestling isn’t the only fandom I’m apart of but its probably the one I’ve been part of longest. I watched it when I was too young to know what it was, I have always liked some wrestling whether it was WWE, WCW, ECW (when you could get the VHS), TNA or local shows. Its been there since forever.
Why I decided to write this was to once again talk about how wrestling saved my life and to remind everyone never to let a minority of assholes ruin any fandom whatsoever. You just need to keep looking and you’ll find the most welcoming, intelligent, creative and loving people.
When Mark wrote his tweet today or last night about how wrestling can help people with anxiety and depression it brought a tear to my eye. I’ve been saying that pretty much since we started writing about wrestling on here. What made me decide to share my story was seeing so many other people share THEIR story. There were so many people tweeting him back with similar stories to mine and in a way it made just what wrestling has done to so many seem so real to me.
I don’t hide the fact that I’ve been suicidal for a long period of my adult life. Its a fact I can’t hide. Like a addiction its constantly there in the back of my mind and you never recover from it you just fight it every single day. It isn’t something that will leave me one day. Some days its easier to fight it then others and some days it doesn’t bother me at all…
On the other hand some days I very nearly do something silly once more.
On those days there are many things I do but with the WWE Network, DEFIANT on YouTube and Demand, hours of wrestling on YouTube in general as well as a few other OnDemand services I usually just lose myself to wrestling.
Its either wrestling or anime.
This might be the reason why I get so upset when people try to act like wrestling isn’t anything important. Its “Fake” so why would you like it?
Its story telling. Why fans act like its real is because unlike Game of Thrones or Eastenders, honestly I don’t watch much TV obviously, the crowd are a part of the show. We cheer the guys we like, we boo the guys we don’t like. A good crowd will make a already 5 star match a 6 star match by making it feel like a Gladiator fight in Ancient Rome.
The crowd are a part of the entertainment.
Not only that though it feels real to us because we respect the wrestlers. We know that they put their bodies on the line every time they step in the ring, sure we know they know who will win or lose at the end of the night but it doesn’t stop what they do in the ring any more important or special.
The very best wrestler will make fans believe every single thing they do. They’ll make people leave their adult head at the door and watch it like they were kids. Anything you’ve “learnt” about the business gets thrown out and you watch guys like Travis Banks or Martin Kirby defy the odds, guys like Joe Hendry or Adam Maxted being dicks and you get behind them and give them your energy. They then perform to their highest standard and wow you no matter what you think you know about what they are doing.
That feeling is amazing.
Its also why it helps so much with anxiety and depression because it makes you feel like a child again.
You sit there watching it either live in a crowd bubbling with emotions or on the TV, wide eyed and innocent. Your problems go away because you are sat there like a 5 year old once more getting excited to see what is going to happen.
For example when the Hardy Boyz returned at Wrestlemania at the age of 27 I sat there crying because it was so exciting and my emotions got the better of me. When Taker looked like he was retiring (and personally I hope he has) I was a emotional wreck. Likewise live at BLW last Sunday, and I know I keep mentioning it, I was like a 10 year old super excited and speechless when one of my all time favourites Gangrel appeared. My first Pro Wrestling Pride show was to see my hero, actual hero, Shane Helms.
It doesn’t matter how old I get it never stops surprising me and making me excited.
I think the fact that people think that wrestling fans are weird is one reason the community can be so great.
We’ve always held the belief that being a geek just means that you are overly passionate about things and wrestling fans are typically extremely passionate about wrestling. Sure you can think that 40 year old men who complain about Roman Reigns or John Cena or who go to shows to chant stupid things at people like Dick Riley are weird but they are happy. Its fun. Plus you might never know just what is going on that their passion for wrestling is covering. People act like women can’t like wrestling so a lot of females I talk to hide it or if they don’t then are very careful with how they talk so as not to be accused of only liking staring at good looking guys. Thing is we love it because its entertaining.
Its story telling at its finest when its done well.
It can be car crash entertainment when its done badly.
It can be both when someone tries to make it look terrible in such a awesome way.
You have serious wrestlers, comedy acts, high flyers and strong men. You have tales of underdogs, the unstoppable beasts, those who want to show off and those who know they don’t need too. Clashes of men and women who put their body and soul on the line just to please those “loser” in the crowd or at home watching on TV.
OK so that is more of a rant then talking about what wrestling means to me so lets get back to the point.
My point was that wrestling has been my escape from the world since I was a kid. I love getting involved in stories, I like watching larger then life characters being silly. I don’t know the name of half the moves, I don’t know the ins and outs of the business and I don’t care if you think its silly because is “fake”, its actually scripted not fake but still, it makes me forget my problems the same way a crazy anime binge session does.
Maybe not the best comparison seeing anime gets tagged with many of the same negative connotations as wrestling but still.
When I was at my lowest I went to a local wrestling show with my mum and friend because I just wanted to feel happy again. I didn’t think it would work. James Storm was on the card, as was Abyss I think, and it was one of my last attempts at feeling human again.
We sat in the back row because there was no way I could be in front of a crowd. I got anxiety when my mum started clapping all the time, not on purpose but she was getting into it but I don’t do well in crowds. I fell in love with our local talent from Josh Knott and Ultimo Tiger to Eddie Ryan and Danny Walsh. By the end of the night I was hooked and couldn’t wait to go again.
I mean it took me nearly the rest of the year to go to another show but after that I went to nearly every PWA and Pride show for over a year.
The shows became my goal. I had to live to see this show, I had to overcome anything to see this wrestler or this match. I never wrote these blogs for the wrestlers to ever see or even thinking any fan would see them but suddenly people were reading and people enjoyed hearing from me. It gave me a sense of purpose to write about the shows. In the latter days of Pride it became, for some odd reason, so important for me to watch the growth of Adam Maxted and Kelly Sixx, two guys I still enjoy watching on all sorts of shows now on my TV.
It gave me something to sit there and say “nah I can’t leave now I have something to live for.”
That wasn’t a feeling I ever had before.
Slowly I moved from back row to front row and I started to become a regular face at the shows. No I didn’t think that made me special it just meant other regular faces treated me like I’d been their friend all along. We didn’t even need a introduction anymore it was “hey how about that show last week?” and that was it.
I struggle so hard to meet people and just showing up every show meant I had a group of people who didn’t care who I was they just wanted to talk to me about something we all loved.
The biggest moment in my life was when I realised how toxic my job had got, how I was never going to get any better in it and walked out. I went a month without work, signed onto Universal Credits at the end of the month and had a break down because the way I was treated at the job centre. Within hours of writing a blog post that I’m not going to lie was extremely close to a suicide note I had a interview booked for my new job. That Sunday I got the job, a job I now adore and have made plenty of great friends in, and went to a PWA show. On that show John Harding talked to me about that blog post. John Harding is a veteran wrestler in the West Country, he never had to even bother reading my blog let alone taking his time to talk to me about it and tell me it’ll get better. He did though and it meant the world to me.
I wrote a tweet to Scotty Wainwright about why I stopped going to wrestling shows and he immediately tweeted me to ask if there was anything he could do to make me start going again, I unfortunately didn’t know how to reply and never did and feel terrible for it now.
The love and support of the community down here saved my life more then once. It gave me reason to live and some fantastic memories.
Without the year I had going to live shows and getting into the wrestling community on Twitter I probably wouldn’t have had the balls to walk out of my job and into another one, one that you can never find a single good thing about online. I would never have been able to create relationships with the people I have or had some of the amazing moments I’ve been able to live through.
Wrestling saved my life.
It saves many people’s lives and it brings so many different people together.
Its exciting and makes you part of the show even if you are sat in your living room.
It might be everything you think it is but its also everything we think it is too. Its real to us because the lads and ladies make it so real.
Wrestling lets us escape into a safe space and just enjoy something that pits two amazing athletes against each other. Sometimes more then two.
Wrestling is so very important to so many people so ask yourself why you have to belittle that and make people feel bad for enjoying something that brings people together and saves lives.