Watch This Wrestling 52 (12/31—1/6)

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”

A year ago, I resolved to do a post a week compiling the best wrestling of the week, both inside and outside of the WWE.

That original post, which covered stuff from January 6th through the 12th, was called “Don’t Miss This,” because I didn’t think to put Wrestling in the title. I think since then I’ve grown to own my fandom more and more, and today, I publish the last weekly version of this thing (at least for a while).

Why the change? This year, my creative resolution is to produce with a greater variety. Also, this means I won’t have to write when a week doesn’t merit it. Since that original post, I’ve also written six posts (of varying lengths) for CagesideSeats, and even made a video about the 2017 PWG Battle of Los Angeles. With this change, I hope to continue to have more time to do more things.

As always, if I’m missing anything that can be accessed without too much trouble, @ me on twitter: henrytcasey .

What I Watched

  • Beyond Wrestling: Heavy Lies The Crown, 12/31
  • Monday Night Raw, 1/1
  • SmackDown LIVE, ½
  • 205 Live, ½
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12, ¼
  • Progress Chapter 60: Unboxing 2, Unbox Harder VOD: 1/5
  • NJPW New Year’s Dash, 1/5

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Chris Jericho vs Kenny Omega

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12, ¼

And what a high-note to end this on. Pretty much everyone who enjoys wrestling kind of owes it to themselves to see this one. Not only is it a side of Jericho we haven’t seen in ages, but to see how Kenny Omega is an incredibly strong worker and sells better than Dog Ziggler ever will.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) vs. EYFBO (Mike Draztik & Angel Ortiz), Beyond Wrestling: Heavy Lies The Crown, 12/31
  • Keith Lee vs Josh Briggs, Beyond Wrestling: Heavy Lies The Crown, 12/31
  • Joey Janela vs David Starr, Beyond Wrestling: Heavy Lies The Crown, 12/31
  • Will Ospreay vs KUSHIDA vs Hiromu Takahashi vs Marty Scurll (champion), IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title match, NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12, ¼
  • Hirooki Goto vs Minoru Suzuki (champion), Hair vs. Hair NEVER Openweight Title Match, NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12, ¼
  • Cody vs Kota Ibushi, NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12, ¼
  • Tetsuya Naito vs Kazuchika Okada (champion), IWGP Heavyweight Title match, NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12, ¼
  • Travis Banks’ Title Defense, Progress Chapter 60: Unboxing 2, Unbox Harder 1/5
  • Opening Match, Progress Chapter 60: Unboxing 2, Unbox Harder 1/5

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Travis Banks’ next challenger, revealed.

Progress Chapter 60: Unboxing 2, Unbox Harder ¼

I wanted to originally award this to Jericho attacking Naito at New Year’s Dash, but that would be a bald-faced lie. Instead, I’m giving my final Non-WWE Segment of The Week to the aftermath of Travis Banks’ title defense. There, he declared that he’s ready to take on everyone and anyone. And then, this song hit. If for some reason, you haven’t seen it, I won’t say whose music that was, or force you to click on it.

What I will say, though, is that everything felt real and natural. Nothing felt forced, everyone stayed true to their character. And I loved it.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

The Usos vs. Gable & Benjamin – SmackDown Tag Team Title Match

SmackDown LIVE, ½

Sure, you could be a grouch and say how can refs act like this once, shouldn’t they always? Well, the product is always in service of the story, and to give Gable and Benjamin something to gripe about was a fantastic idea.

Because the truth is, the ref did make the wrong call at first, and it was right to be reversed. Also, just a damn good match.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

The New Day ring in the new year with a surprise for Xavier Woods

SmackDown LIVE, ½

Xavier Woods, Pastry Detective, is a show I’d pay to watch. Especially if Rusev and English are the Moriarties to his Holmes.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 51 (12/24–30)

Hello friends! As always, if I’m missing anything that can be accessed without too much trouble, @ me on twitter: henrytcasey.

What I Watched

  • Monday Night Raw, 12/25
  • Joey Janela’s Big Top Adventure, 12/25
  • Riptide: Black Water, 12/25
  • SmackDown LIVE, 12/26
  • 205 Live, 12/26
  • WWE LIVE at Madison Square Garden, 12/26
  • NXT, 12/27
  • NOVA Pro: Such Great Heights 12/28

Upcoming Watch List

  • Beyond Wrestling: Heavy Lies The Crown, 12/31
  • Monday Night Raw, 1/1
  • SmackDown LIVE, ½
  • 205 Live, ½
  • Progress Chapter 60: Unboxing 2 ¼
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom, ¼

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

CCK (Chris Brookes & Travis Banks) & Jinny vs Mike Bird, Wild Boar and Jimmy Havoc

Riptide: Black Water, 12/25

For the first time here (since I watched the previous matches after the fact), I’m giving a win to a match from Brighton, England’s Riptide. This match gives you everything that the promotion does well: highlighting talents that may not have gotten a lot of attention prior (Bird, Boar), excellent pairings (CCK & Jinny), fantastic camera angles and moody atmospherics.

Oh, and the crowd at Riptide elevated this match, as it tends to. I didn’t expect that YAS QUEEN could work as a pro wrestling chant, but well done, Brits.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jonathan Gresham vs Sonjay Dutt ©, NOVA Pro: Such Great Heights 12/28
  • The Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude & Rob Killjoy) vs Arik Royal & David Starr, NOVA Pro: Such Great Heights 12/28
  • Sage Phillips vs Logan Easton LaRoux, NOVA Pro: Such Great Heights 12/28

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Sage Phillips vs Logan Easton LaRoux Hype Package

NOVA Pro: Such Great Heights 12/28

A lot of indie promotions think they can cut corners, and not make hype packages. Virginia’s NOVA Pro didn’t do that, though, at its end-of-year event, using footage and voice-over narration to elevate this rivalry.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

Johnny Gargano vs. Aleister Black vs. Killian Dain vs. Lars Sullivan for the number 1 contendership to the NXT Men’s Championship

NXT, 12/27

The excellence of this match, considering the skills of the men at hand, is almost an afterthought. So, let’s focus on the finish of this. So, watch it beforehand, and come back.

I gotta give NXT credit here. To use the streak of the talented man from Amsterdam (thanks, Nigel) to develop a new feud is great, but what’s excellent is that the Undisputed Era vs Aleister Black is a long-term developed feud, as the man formerly known as Tommy End ruined the debuts of both Fish and O’Reilly, and knocked Cole out of this tournament.

Also, this finish sets up Gargano to face Cien at the Philly TakeOver, and we know those two can go. And that should be an excellent place to bring Ciampa back.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

Shayna Baszler chokes out Kairi Sane

NXT, 12/27

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Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 50 (12/17—12/23)

Hello friends! 

So, about the future of this column. Feels like next year it should be moving to a monthly project. That will allow for separate pieces about stand-out events to take place in between posts, and for me to feel less rushed. I expect things will stay at the WithAPassion.com domain, but could easily see me leaving Tumblr.

As always, if I’m missing anything that can be accessed without too much trouble, @ me on twitter: henrytcasey.

What I Watched

  • WWE Clash of Champions 2017, 12/17
  • Monday Night Raw, 12/18
  • SmackDown LIVE, 12/19
  • 205 Live, 12/19
  • NXT, 12/20
  • Progress: Live at the Dome (12/13), 12/22

Upcoming Watch List

  • Monday Night Raw, 12/25
  • Riptide: Black Water, 12/25
  • SmackDown LIVE, 12/26
  • 205 Live, 12/26
  • NXT, 12/27
  • NOVA Pro: Such Great Heights 12/28

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Chris Ridgeway vs Damon Moser vs Pastor William Eaver vs Spike Trivet

Progress: Live at the Dome (12/13), 12/22

So, because I’ve been watching Riptide Wrestling well-after it went up on VOD, I haven’t had a chance to gush about it, nor its lothario Spike Trivet, here until now. If you haven’t seen him work yet, just load up Riptide Returns (a $6 rental) or non-Chapter show from Progress, if you already subscribe to Demand Progress and you don’t have the cash for more VOD Graps. Not only does this match have a ton of excellent spots from the other three stars in the match, but Trivet is just one of the best new baddies in a while.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Sugar Rush (Candyfloss & Zoë Quinn Lucas) vs Laura Di Matteo & Bea Priestley, Progress: Live at the Dome (12/13), 12/22
  • Mike Bird vs Danny Jones, Progress: Live at the Dome (12/13), 12/22
  • Chris Brookes vs David Starr, Progress: Live at the Dome (12/13), 12/22

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Glen Joseph Deals With Spike Trivet

Progress: Live at the Dome (12/13), 12/22

And he’s such a baddie that I’m giving an award to this segment that had me screaming “WATCH OUT, GLEN!” at my TV.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne – WWE United Kingdom Championship Match

NXT, 12/20

Sometimes, hot takes are tweeted with a sense of “I don’t believe this, but have fun yelling at me.” But when I posted the message “Dunne Bate is a better wrestling trilogy than Okada Omega.” I meant it with every inch of my mind and heart.

Why are these matches so good? Because these two have amazing chemistry, facial expressions and aesthetics that do all the storytelling that NXT isn’t doing for them, and their finishing sequences have gotten better and better over the span of 2017.

I’ll write more on this, and soon.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

“Woken” Matt Hardy moves his pieces into position

Monday Night Raw, 12/18

Even though this is arguably nothing new and rehashing what Hardy did in TNA, it still gets the win. Why? It’s Matt Hardy talking to a freaking goldfish that’s why. And it’s entertaining. This isn’t rocket science.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 49 (12/10—12/16)

Hello friends!

As always, if I’m missing anything that can be accessed without too much trouble, @ me on twitter: henrytcasey .

What I Watched

  • Beyond Wrestling: Cold Brew, 12/10
  • Evolve 97, 12/10
  • Fight Club Pro: Infinite, 12/10
  • Monday Night Raw, 12/11
  • SmackDown LIVE, 12/12
  • 205 Live, 12/12
  • NXT, 12/13
  • Death Match 7, 12/13
  • MLW: Never Say Never, 12/13
  • Impact Wrestling, 12/14
  • Progress Chapter 59: Whatever People Say We Are, That’s What We’re Not, 12/15
  • House of Glory: Se7en, 12/16

Upcoming Watch List

  • WWE Clash of Champions 2017, 12/17
  • Monday Night Raw, 12/18
  • SmackDown LIVE, 12/19
  • 205 Live, 12/19
  • NXT, 12/20
  • Progress: Live at the Dome (12/13), 12/22

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Mark Davis vs. Jordan Devlin vs. MK McKinnan vs. Omari (Infinity 2017 – Final)

Fight Club: PRO: Infinity 2017

Fight Club Pro — one of my favorite new promotions to watch this year — came to a raucous crescendo with its Infinity 2017 tournament. And so while I wanted to give the point to one of the many other good matches from that week (wow, see below), this elimination based-fourway was so solid. Not only does it offer a chaotic scramble style, but you practically got a whole other great match when it was down to the final two. 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Walter vs David Starr, Beyond Wrestling: Cold Brew, 12/10
  • Darby Allin vs. Keith Lee vs. “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams, Evolve 97, 12/10
  • Jaka vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. © (Evolve World Championship), Evolve 97, 12/10
  • Matt Riddle vs. WALTER (No Rope Breaks Match), Evolve 97, 12/10
  • Omari vs. Millie McKenzie (Infinity 2017 – First Round), Fight Club: PRO: Infinity 2017, 12/10 VOD
  • Kay Lee Ray vs. Mark Davis (Infinity 2017 – First Round), Fight Club: PRO: Infinity 2017, 12/10 VOD
  • Ospreay/Okada vs Naito/Takahashi, NJPW World Tag League Final, 12/11
  • Zack Sabre Jr. vs Chuck Taylor in a Falls Count Anywhere No Ring Match, Death Match 7, 12/13
  • MJF vs Joey Ryan, MLW: Never Say Never, 12/13 
  • Shane Strickland & John Hennigan vs Jimmy Havoc & Darby Allin, MLW: Never Say Never, 12/13
  • Grizzled Young Vets (Zack Gibson & James Drake) vs Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis), Progress Chapter 59: Whatever People Say We Are, That’s What We’re Not, 12/15
  • EYFBO (Angel Ortiz & Mike Draztik) vs Private Party vs House Of Gangone vs Brian Burgundy & TJ Marconi, House of Glory: Se7en, 12/16
  • Zack Sabre Jr. vs Amazing Red, House of Glory: Se7en, 12/16

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

A Wild Chris Jericho Appears… And Then

NJPW World Tag League Final, 12/11

What started as a fantastic surprise now has some teeth to it, thanks to these two segments. Just, bravo. 

Also, gotta love the subtle trolling from Jericho, in the lines saying this match will end Omega, he specifically suggests it’s the end of Omega’s run in New Japan. 

    WWE Match of The Week:

    Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro – Intercontinental Championship Match

    Monday Night Raw, 12/11

    Ah Cesaro. Remember what I said about his former fellow King of Wrestling in WTW 48? Same goes here. 

    And this match allowed him to show management that he’s ready as hell for a singles push if and when Sheamus retires.

    Honorable Mentions:

    WWE Segment of the Week:

    “Don’t talk to Drew like that.” – Tony Nese / Tony Nese vs Enzo Amore

    205 Live, 12/12

    It pissed off many that Enzo Amore got the cruiserweight championship, but wow has this situation helped Drew Gulak. While the below segment focuses on the match between Nese and Amore, I’m only bringing it in as contextual info to a clip WWE’s YouTube doesn’t have, a backstage segment where Gulak’s Team PowerPoint buddy Tony Nese — maybe Drew’s one true friend — stuck up for Drew. 

    The sadness of the betrayal, though. Not since Festival of Friendship has WWE hit this note so well.

    Honorable Mentions:

    Watch This Wrestling 48 (12/3—12/9)

    Hello friends!

    As always, if I’m missing anything that can be accessed without too much trouble, @ me on twitter: henrytcasey.

    What I Watched

    • Monday Night Raw, 12/5
    • SmackDown LIVE, 12/5
    • 205 Live, 12/5
    • NXT, 12/6
    • Impact Wrestling, 12/7
    • Evolve 96, 12/9

    Upcoming Watch List

    • Beyond Wrestling: Cold Brew, 12/10
    • Evolve 97, 12/10
    • Fight Club Pro: Infinite, 12/10
    • Monday Night Raw, 12/11
    • SmackDown LIVE, 12/12
    • 205 Live, 12/12
    • NXT, 12/13
    • Impact Wrestling, 12/14

    Non-WWE Match of The Week:

    Walter vs Keith Lee

    Evolve 96, 12/9

    Nobody is surprised to see me post this match here, but this earned the spot thanks to improvement. Yes, this rematch from BOLA shows improvement from the Viennese powerhouse-slash-GAWD-himself WALTER, who’s even more nimble before. 

    Also, Keith Lee’s somehow gotten even more charismatic and better with his ad libs than when they met in Reseda. Overall, this match benefits from a better pacing, as well.

    Honorable Mentions:

    Non-WWE Segment of The Week

    Park Park and Park: Your New Lawyers

    Impact, 12/7

    For the first time since Matt Hardy’s Broken Universe departed Impact, it felt as if someone got the chance to be creative in that company. Love the editing, and love Page as Chandler Park. But, had it not been for the Knockouts triple threat match I mention above, that episode of Impact would have been a complete waste of time.

    Honorable Mentions:

    WWE Match of The Week:

    Kassius Ohno vs Johnny Gargano

    NXT, 12/6

    I often find myself silently asking “Why can’t Kassius Ohno just be Chris Hero and wreck shop at NXT?” I get it, that’s not the role they want for him down there, and sure, he really helped the Gargano Renewal Project get back up off the mat, but it was a shame that it came at Ohno’s expense. Fantastic match though.

    Honorable Mentions:

    WWE Segment of the Week:

    Woken Matt

    Monday Night Raw, 12/4

    There are two camps when it comes to the WWE’s handling of Woken Matt Hardy. I find myself on the side of those who is completely fine with the overly-repeitive WOKEN graphic with shattered glass. It’s a small way to clue the WWE audience (which in most capacities, didn’t watch the Broken Matt stuff from TNA) into the fact that shit’s about to get weird.

    Also, I really dig this because it looks like Bray’s finally having fun within his character again.

    Honorable Mentions:

    Watch This Wrestling 47 (11/27—12/2)

    Hello friends! Yes, it’s been forever since I’ve put one of these out, more on that in WTW 50 (want it at the top of the posts).

    As always, if I’m missing anything that can be accessed without too much trouble, @ me on twitter: henrytcasey .

    What I Watched

    • Beyond Wrestling Pre-Show & Women’s Wrestling Revolution, 11/27
    • Monday Night Raw, 11/27
    • SmackDown LIVE, 11/28
    • 205 Live, 11/28
    • NXT, 11/29
    • Impact Wrestling, 11/30
    • Progress Chapter 58: Live Your Best Life, 12/1
    • Chikara: Kill the Moon, 12/2 VOD
    • Chikara: Closing Time, 12/2

    Upcoming Watch List

    • Monday Night Raw, 12/5
    • SmackDown LIVE, 12/5
    • 205 Live, 12/5
    • NXT, 12/6
    • Impact Wrestling, 12/7
    • Evolve 96, 12/9

    Non-WWE Match of The Week:

    Dahlia Black vs. Jinny: PROGRESS Women’s Title #1 Contendership No Disqualification Match

    Progress Chapter 58: Live Your Best Life

    It’s a shame that Progress can only run one women’s storyline at a time (there’s no story in the Women’s championship picture). Fantastic fucking match, though. 

    Honorable Mentions:

    • David Starr vs Nick Gage, Beyond Wrestling Pre-Show, 11/27
    • Dasher Hatfield vs Juan Francisco de Coronado, Chikara: Closing Time, 12/2

    Non-WWE Segment of The Week

    Strangler Davis vs. Timothy Thatcher: PROGRESS Atlas Title #1 Contendership Match

    Progress Chapter 58: Live Your Best Life

    Yes, this is technically a match. But it’s less about the match than the incident inside of it. Excellent drama, only slightly dampened by the weird way it went down. Didn’t hate the technique, though.

    Honorable Mentions:

    WWE Match of The Week:

    Elias w/ The Miztourage vs. Roman Reigns for the Intercontinental championship

    Monday Night Raw, 11/27

    And Roman Reigns’ Intercontential Championship Open Challenge began not with a bang, but with a surprising set of bedfellows. Pairing Elias with Dallas and Axel worked, though, as it helped the audience know to boo the drifter, as crowds have tended to ironically enjoy him.

    But in defeat, Elias won big time. Nobody would have been able to say he could go before this match, but now we can. Maybe Roman Reigns is a good wrestler, WINK.

    Honorable Mentions:

    WWE Segment of the Week:

    Drew Gulak explains Team PowerPoint as DC Superheroes

    205 Live, 11/28

    In another instance of delayed blogging helping, a couple week’s wait allowed this segment to age beautifully.

    First of all, wow: Team PowerPoint. It’s a great name, especially given Gulak’s sincerity. Also, why does Tony Nese blanch at the Aquaman comparison? Who the hell else does he think he is? Superman? Clark isn’t counting abs, and Nese isn’t writing at the Daily Planet. OR IS HE?

    Honorable Mentions:

    Watch This Wrestling 46 (11/19–25)

    Hello friends! If you look at the below, you’ll see a couple of changes. This upcoming week marks both me watching Impact again (yes, this is all Ethan Page’s responsibility) and my renewed interest in Chikara.

    For Chikara, I plan to watch the VOD of the penultimate episode Kill the Moon and possibly attend its season finale Closing Time, a decision which will depend on whether or nor Mike Quackenbush vs David Starr is announced for that show in Philly.

    And at some point, I’m going to begin the grand project of watching the show from its 4th season, a long-overdue project. The decision to start there was helped by the excellent Courtney Rose (@ChicagosCRose on twitter).

    As always, if I’m missing anything that can be accessed without too much trouble, @ me on twitter: henrytcasey.

    What I Watched

    • Survivor Series 2017, 11/19
    • Progress Chapter 57: Enter Smiling, 11/19
    • Monday Night Raw, 11/20
    • SmackDown LIVE, 11/21
    • 205 Live, 11/21
    • NXT, 11/22
    • Powerbomb.tv: Wazzup, 11/25
    • Powerbomb.tv: This Very Second with Bryce Remsburg, 11/25

    Upcoming Watch List

    • Beyond Wrestling/Women’s Wrestling Revolution, 11/27
    • Monday Night Raw, 11/27
    • SmackDown LIVE, 11/28
    • 205 Live, 11/28
    • NXT, 11/29
    • Impact Wrestling, 11/30
    • Chikara: Kill the Moon, ?? VOD
    • Chikara: Closing Time, 12/2 — possibly attending live

    Non-WWE Match of The Week:

    Keith Lee vs. Flash Morgan Webster

    Progress Chapter 57: Enter Smiling, 11/19

    Nobody’s surprised to see me hand out a best to my two favorites from BOLA 2017, who wrestled a fantastic, epic match, that just happened to be booked the wrong way.

    Anyone watching Progress during the last months has to be wondering what they’re doing with Flash. If all of these almost-wins will build to a major character point and a championship, then maybe they’ll be able to say it was worth it.

    But Keith Lee loses nothing if Flash manages to eek a suprirse underdog victory out of the WWN Champion, not the least because the title wasn’t on the line. The crowd adored Keith Lee, though, to the point where nobody would even hazard the opinion that he needed to beat The King of the Mods.

    Honorable Mentions:

    • Logan Easton LaRoux vs AJ Gray vs Anthony Greene vs Razerhawk, Powerbomb.tv: Wazzup, 11/25
    • Thick Boys (Jay Freddie & John Silver) vs Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude & Rob Killjoy), Powerbomb.tv: Wazzup, 11/25
    • Ringkampf (Timothy Thatcher & WALTER) vs CCK (Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos) © vs for the PROGRESS Tag Team Championships, Progress Chapter 57: Enter Smiling, 11/19

    Non-WWE Segment of The Week

    “Revenge can only be found on the road to self-destruction”

    Dahlia Black promo via YouTube

    While I thought the four-way match that included Dahlia and Jinny was rushed and didn’t gel together as one whole match (instead reeking of two, smashed together), Ms. Black’s pre-match promo was excellent.

    Until this moment, this feud existed in short moments where announcers rushed out words to one of the two, who typically had joined them on commentary. While it could have used one more story beat (at the start, showing their friendship pre-injury), it still was the most well-acted (bravo, Dahlia) and necessary story beat of the week.

    Honorable Mentions:

    • The shit talking Trent Seven gave Zack Gibson, Progress Chapter 57: Enter Smiling, 11/19
    • All of the weirdness that was Powerbomb.tv: This Very Second with Bryce Remsburg, 11/25

    WWE Match of The Week:

    AJ Styles vs Brock Lesnar

    Survivor Series 2017, 11/19

    How could it be anything but this? AJ Styles elevated himself even higher in the lore of WWE by pulling an amazing 1 on 1 match out of the notoriously unreliable Brock Lesnar.

    Honorable Mentions: 

    WWE Segment of the Week:

    Paige Returns, With Friends

    Monday Night Raw, 11/20

    Obviously, this segment will age well or poorly based on how WWE books Paige and the friends she picked up on her way back to the main roster, but for now, it’s a win.

    Not only was it fun and shocking for a return to turn into an invading faction, but it’s quite clever. Rose and Deville provide solid cover and distraction from the controversy that took place during the time where while Paige’s injury (among ohter thing) kept her off camera.

    Honorable Mentions:

    My Guide To Indie Wrestling Shows

    Over the last year or so, I’ve been getting deeper and deeper into the independent wrestling scene, both in New York City and elsewhere. Over those many months, I’ve learned a few things that I wish I’d known before getting into this. Things that I’m going to compile here in brief, digestible portions.

    image

    And if you find yourself looking to attend a show with me, I’m going to have a running list of the shows I plan to attend here. Right now, it’s a little … sparse. More on that in a moment.

    Get Familiar With The Product Beforehand (If You Can)

    Twitter and YouTube are the two strongest tools you can have in getting a preview of what you’re going to see. Not only will it help with understanding the vibe you’re about to engage with as a fan, but it helps to know what you’ve missed.

    Is the promotion family-friendly or is it ultra-violent? Are the wrestlers working a polished style, or is it more of a training school? While the first can be easier to distinguish, the latter can be made confusing.

    image

    Take House of Glory for example. While the promotion looks to garner attention with videos promoting matches feating industry veteran and co-owner Amazing Red taking on the likes of Ricochet and Michael Elgin, that’s the stuff at the main event. Down on the other side of the card, you will find people who are training with the promotion, who have earned a spot on this live show, but still have things to learn.

    Learning in advance is also valid for promotions such as Beyond in the North-East US and WXW in Germany, where fans are encouraged to stand against the ring. Yes, you read that right, fans stand up close at some shows.

    You don’t need to stand there when you see a show, but for Beyond, knowing how its seating typically looks (and there has been little in the way of actual seats from what I’ve seen), you’ll know more about if a promotion offers an experience you want or not.

    This is particularly helpful to you, the fan, because some promotions (HOG in New York, among others) do a particularly poor job of explaining things. Sure, audiences who pay attention will know who to boo and who to cheer, but you’ll have more fun with more knowledge in your pocket.

    Specifically, learn the names and gimmicks of the wrestlers performing. The thing about the indie promotions is that their investment priorities are (in descending order) booking some well known performers, reserving a venue and paying talent. That means that you often see corners cut on investing in a working mic, a functional PA system and anything else where they can scrimp.

    So, do yourself a favor and make it so you don’t need the people running the show to help you, just that the performers need to put on an entertaining show.

    Don’t sit on your hands

    While not every match is going to earn a “This is awesome!” chant (it will water down the meaning if they all do), you gotta encourage the talent. You might ask, but shouldn’t paying my hard earned money be enough? To which, I say: “not really.”

    Anyone performing for an audience, be it online or in a brick and mortar venue, can do their work at any number of levels. While the best always give it their all, people will work harder with more positive reinforcement. Just think about how you work at your day job, and your relationship with everyone you interact with. It’s not quite different.

    So, cheer the good guys, boo the baddies, and for fuck’s sake:

    Be nice to those around you

    Don’t be a dick and make the environment hard for anyone, especially those who aren’t a part of the majority (which I’d bet is straight white males).

    To go back to my first point, learning about the promotion beforehand will help you know how to best act as a member of the audience.

    This should be obvious, but it unfortunately requires being said: If you’re a dude, don’t vocally objectify women in any way. Don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable about being around you. Let people enjoy the damn show.

    Seating: Front Row vs Other Seats vs Standing

    Oh, and about seating. If you’ve paid money for a front row seat, you should know that you’re also paying for the possibility of a wrestler falling into your lap. It’s happened multiple times to myself, and it’s become a reason why I’m more than happy to get GA seating, where you’re free to roam around the area.

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    Want an up-close view with less risk? Reserved seating in the second and third rows might be best for you.

    Merchandise: Buy Some, OK

    Maybe your budget doesn’t have an extra $20 or so in there, but if you do, I cannot more highly recommend you buy a damn shirt. First of all, it’s a nice souvenir of your experience, to take home an item representing your favorite wrestler of the day. Secondly, most of the time you get to buy the shirt from that wrestler, so you can meet them. After you’ve bought that shirt, you can even ask that wrestler for a selfie with them.

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    The other major reason of why this is so important, is that shirt and merch sales at shows are financially important to the talent. The best metaphor for how this works is how tips work for workers in the service industry. Sure, the $20 shirt is more expensive than a $5 tip, but that’s due to the costs of producing the shirt, including paying the designer who drafted the logo on the shirt.

    Risky Business: Expect It

    Once you step outside of the comfy, PG confines of the WWE, you might notice that wrestlers are doing insane things out there. Sure, the more dangerous style of wrestling has seeped into WWE — look at the War Games match and the New Day vs Usos Hell In A Cell — but the indies are the wild west.

    First of all, ring quality is often not what it should be. I saw a show in deep Brooklyn in November 2017 where the ring was so shit, it moves a little every time someone did a move into the corner. As I documented in my BOLA video these things can break, and that’s mostly because of promoters being cheap and trying to save money so they can pay the wrestlers more than the pittance they sometimes do.

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    And speaking of promoters cheaping out on safety, remember when I brought up rings breaking? And wrestlers falling into your lap? My biggest personal grievance with indie wrestling derives from both, as the metal railings that seperate the front row from the wrestlers can break apart, and then fall in your lap, or against your legs. WHICH CAN REALLY HURT. And cause stupid careless promoters to run out and ask if everyone is OK and run away when nobody is screaming for a lawyer.

    My advice? If you’re sitting front row, and think a wrestler is coming your way, brace the railing with your own strength so things don’t fall on you. And if that sounds like a nightmare? Don’t sit front row.

    Video Recording: Don’t Tag In

    And a weird new thing in indie wrestling. If you want to post a video clip to social media, don’t tag the promotion with their account or hashtag. You will possibly get a DMCA takedown sent to you from that promotion, which takes down your post.

    Lastly, a little thing I plan to keep updated:

    My schedule for upcoming live wrestling shows:

    Evolve 96 on December 9, 2017 in Corona (Queens), NY
    The next local show I attend is Evolve 96 at the Elmcor. Yes, the Elmcor, the death venue of NYC which got people sick at Progress NYC.

    Sadly, I’ll be riding solo for that since everybody I know is going to a holiday party (if I hadn’t purchased this ticket before those parties were announced, I may not have bought it).

    All of the graps in New Orleans from in April 2018, from the 5th through the 8th
    Wrestlemania weekend isn’t about Wrestlemania: it’s about all of the indie shows that will follow the WWE to New Orleans. These shows include Progress, RevPro, Joey Janela’s Spring Break 2, Evovle, and others.

    Progress: Hello, Wembley in September 2018 in the UK