Hello, Cagesiders! My name is Tom Holzerman, and I’ll be checking in once a week or so to give the readers of this great blog some insight into the world of independent wrestling. There's a whole wide world of wrestling below the mainstream, and a good bit of it is definitely worth following.
Why though? It's fairly inaccessible, costs more than the share of one's cable bill to be able to follow and the production is fairly low-rent. There are a lot of things going against indie wrestling, but in my not-so-humble opinion, I feel like the pros far outweigh the cons here. It's an artform that's well worth seeking out, even if it might be a bit difficult.
The reasons are simple.
First and foremost, by and large, it's still extremely fun, especially for the fan who still isn't enchanted with what WWE and Impact have to put out. Whether or not the tenor of the promotion is silly like Chikara or serious like Ring of Honor is irrelevant. There's just a different atmosphere. Things are looser. There's less of a feeling that the proceedings are the machinations of a corporate machine trying to optimize ratings and just guys out there giving their all to give a paying audience a good show.
Secondly, the actual wrestling is different. I'll leave it to the actual viewer as to whether it's better or worse – personally, I feel like there's great wrestling to be found at any level in any style – but it's unlike what people see in WWE or Impact Wrestling. In fact, new styles, moves and spots are innovated in the indies before they make their way to the mainstream. It's some exciting stuff.
Thirdly, these wrestlers are the future of the business and deserve our support. They bust their humps for minimal payouts, have to sell merchandise without the backing of a nationally distributed TV show with wide reach (let's not fool ourselves here, ROH's Sinclair show is still pretty lo-fi) and often have to spend most of what they make on travel and expenses. In some cases, these guys and gals are drastically underpaid for their efforts. Wrestlers like Kevin Steen, El Generico, Chuck Taylor and Colt Cabana, just to name a few, could and probably should be on a main roster, getting paid handsomely for their talents.
And even with the relative infrequency, inaccessibility and extra up-front costs for tickets and DVDs, it's still very much affordable to go to an indie wrestling show. Ticket costs usually top out at $25 for a general admission seat, and at most shows and venues, these tickets get really good seats, seats that might cost double or triple that price for even untelevised WWE house shows. Most indie tickets are even more inexpensive than that. The DVDs cost no more than $25 for a single disc, and iPPV costs are usually inexpensive and often come with unlimited replays. Compare that to $50 for WWE PPV costs nowadays, and it's a steal. Plus, most indie promotions have Youtube channels, and if full matches aren't viewable there, then highlights are at least accessible.
If that wasn't enough, it turns out that nearly every indie wrestler is friendly and accessible to some degree. Yes, mainstream wrestlers are fan-friendly as well; I find that pro wrestling as a whole is good to its fanbase, more so than most other fields of entertainment. However, with Impact and WWE having higher profiles, it's understandable that they don't grant access. They're contracted employees for all intents and purposes, even though those companies try to snow Uncle Sam about independent contractor status. That's fodder for a whole other post though.
Because indie wrestlers have that tenuous grip on employment and are such low wage workers, they have to schmooze with the paying customers to try and sell their merchandise and build up goodwill so they gain more of a fan following. Their struggle is the gain of the fans.
So I hope I laid out a good framework on why indie wrestling is well worth following, watching and reading about. It's a fascinating world and hopefully, I can do some justice to it over the next weeks and months.