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What we’re thankful for in pro wrestling

Orange Cassidy’s Twitter

Happy Thanksgiving, Cagesiders.

An attitude of gratitude is always helpful, in my experience. And whatever else today represents or however you’re spending it, Thanksgiving is a good excuse to reflect on what we’re grateful for. So we rounded up the team and got some thoughts on things we’re thankful for in the world of professional wrestling/sports entertainment.

Sean Rueter: It’s a long list, and the fact that I’m not focusing on the laughs and interesting debate I find around the internet and especially at Cageside Seats — or Big E, or All Out, or Danhausen, shouldn’t mean I’m not extremely grateful that all of those things exist in my pro wrestling world. But I want to take this opportunity to shout out the producers, editors, designers, writers, camera people, sound techs, production assistants, web team, road crew and everyone who busts their ass to create wrestling shows but doesn’t get their names in an end-of-show credits scroll. We here on Al Gore’s internet complain a lot, but that’s because we’re passionate about the product you create with your hard work.

Claire Elizabeth: I’ll be honest, y’all— I’m burned out. The process started long before the pandemic, as I came out and transitioned and my priorities shifted away from watching 30+ hours of professional wrestling every week and towards living my life and loving my wife and girlfriends, but empty-arena COVID-era wrestling really stepped on the gas, and it’s been tough some weeks to sit down to liveblog Raw or SmackDown. But through all that, AEW has chugged along and found its identity and corrected its mistakes and missteps and somewhere in the last couple months I clicked out of the liveblog for Dynamite and realized I was just... happy, the way I used to be after a particularly good Evolve show or New Japan main event. The kind of pure satisfaction and contentment and love for pro wrestling that burned bright in my heart once upon a time, rekindled and just as hot, if not hotter. It’s not perfect, there’s still lots of room for improvement in lots of ways, but more than anything, I’m thankful for AEW, and most especially for the single most joyous evening I’ve had watching pro wrestling in a long time, liveblogging Full Gear with Josie and Anya and Erana on the couch behind me, being together in a bubble of love and laughter and just dang good pro wrestling.

Kyle Decker:

Cain A. Knight: I’m thankful for the return of CM Punk to pro wrestling. Punk might just be my favorite pro wrestler of all-time, and after seven years away, he’s back in the squared circle doing his thing again. How cool is that? The incredible pop he got for his entrance during The Last Dance was a reminder of how many people have been touched by his work over the years. I’m also thankful for the mic skills and facial expressions of Paul Heyman, who in the absence of Brock Lesnar from WWE for over a year, was able to more clearly demonstrate that he belongs in the greatest-of-all-time conversation when it comes to wrestling promos.

Stella Cheeks: I am thankful to Shimmer Wrestling for reminding me why I love professional wrestling. There is SO much wrestling out there that it is overwhelming at times. Especially as someone who has to cover a lot of it for work. Going to my first live event post(ish) pandemic was scary (you better believe I wore two masks), but it was also invigorating. There is nothing like going to a small live wrestling show, and there is nothing like Shimmer Wrestling. Women’s wrestling is obviously superior to all other wrestling (no, I will not be taking questions at this time), but even more than that, there is something so rare and magical about the atmosphere at a Shimmer show. It’s a place where women’s wrestling gets the time, respect, and committed audience it deserves. There is a unique language and connection between the crowd and the wrestlers that I’ve never experienced anywhere else, and I have been to truly a disgusting amount of indie and fed shows. It always feels like everyone in that building genuinely wants to be there and wants to make it a day (and I mean a WHOLE day) to remember. Some of my absolute favorite matches of all time are the ones I saw at Shimmer. (I literally think about Nicole Matthews wrestling in a sweater with a cup of tea because she caught Shimmer Flu and then using it as a heel tactic almost every week.) I’ve made friends with people in that audience that I invited to my wedding! It’s one of my absolute favorite places to be, and I really needed that reminder after being stuck inside for almost two years watching the monotony of “essential service” wrestling. Sadly, I am also thankful that I got to attend what could be their last live event. I pray to every god in wrestling that it’s not true, but if it is, I’ll always be thankful for the memories, the friendships, and the terrible cheap pizza at the Berwyn Eagles Club.

Manolo H. Pizzazz: Hoss fights! Larger than life wrestlers clubbering and clobbering each other is always a good time. I’m also thankful for GREEN MIST! Remember that these are trained professionals. Don’t take a mouthful of gravy and mist it into your family member’s eyes.

Marcus Benjamin: I promised myself not to do something corny like say I’m thankful for everyone who works at Cageside (I am) or how much I love them (a lot). Instead, I’m grateful for the variety we have in pro wrestling right now. Every company, major or independent, has their own flavor and more than likely, one or more of those is the perfect taste for someone watching. Each wrestling promotion is its own genre, just like movies (shoutout to Stephanie McMahon) and every genre has its defenders and detractors. Professional wrestling is one of the best things in the world when it’s working well but it's up to each of us to decide what “working well” means. For some, it’s AEW, for others, it’s NWA. And on and on and on, you get the point. Wrestling is broadcasted into our eyeballs almost every night of the week and the beauty of it, is choice. We can pick what we want that suits our sensibilities, and enjoy that. We can poke holes in it, prod it, and push to make it better because we care. We can revel in the intimacy of AEW or bask in the lavishness of WWE. Do I have my preferences? Of course. Despite what some of my friends think, I’m human, not an alien from another planet. Those preferences reveal themselves in my recaps, reviews, and anything else I write here. Just like the entire staff. We don’t always agree as a staff what constitutes for “good” and “bad” wrestling or even on “good” and “bad” wrestlers. The fact we can have those discussions amidst a sea of soooo much damn wrestling, is a joy.

Despite what the internets may tell you, wrestling is in a really good place right now. And it all goes back to variety and freedom of choice.

There’s one thing we all want to express our gratitude for, and that’s all of you. Doesn’t matter if you click, read, comment or tweet, love us or loathe us — without this community, we wouldn’t have the good fortune of doing this job, and receive all the tangible & intangible benefits it bring us.

So thanks, and here’s to another year of overthinking, laughing, cheering and ranting about this often goofy, sometimes glorious pastime we all love.

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