ME @ CD #5 – I like it when wrestling is fun

Main Event at Castle Danger

#5 – I like it when wrestling is fun

I feel like I’ve had a glimpse of the mythical “casual” fan that I always hear people complaining about when some sort of meta reference is made or a star debuts that doesn’t come from the Penthouse of Watching Television Screens Awkwardly in Stamford. Although everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course, I feel like there are always those who are determined to hate everything in order to feel smarter than others, as if liking something makes you inferior or even worse, a kind of sheep that likes what is given to you.

I say this as someone who hated anything popular. Not necessarily a hipster as much as someone who didn’t like when something was all over the place and constant. I still feel that in some ways, because I think so much has been turned into exaggeration and oversaturation that it drives away any curiosity I might have had, but that’s not really the point here.

I said it when I wrote my first column, but I don’t like watching something that makes it feel like it’s punishing me for liking things. I also don’t like having fun, laughing or enjoying something as a bad thing. When acting is always bad or a way to not be taken seriously, or when someone is being punished for doing something that happened when it wasn’t planned by a rich guy and wearing Connecticut, it disgusts me. I feel like the AEW show last night embraced that so much, even though I didn’t know who a lot of those people were.

When approaching this legendary casual fan that many defend, I really have the impression that they infantilize them. For example, if they don’t know who everyone else is at all times, no matter how much context can be provided, it will turn them off instantly and they will never come back.

Last night at Forbidden Door, it didn’t put me off at all that I didn’t know who a lot of those wrestlers were. One sentence, usually, is enough to give me enough context. And even when there wasn’t, the reaction of the crowd or what the wrestler did in terms of distance from another kept me informed enough to have a good time. For example, Katsuyori Shibata made a save for Orange Cassidy. I didn’t know who it was, but the big reaction when the music hit told me it was a big deal. Or another, Shota Umino, the commentators filled me with one sentence. I’m paraphrasing, but “Shota Umino is Jon Moxley’s Japanese protege.” Cool, that’s a who, what and why right there.

We don’t need to look down on people we don’t even know assuming they don’t listen to comments or have Google’s magic machine in their hands. If they want to know, it’s easy to find out. It’s not 1999 where I ask other people who that white-haired guy was attacking people in Cleveland.

I recognize that I am not the traditional definition of a casual fan, as I watch AEW weekly and have been watching wrestling since the late 90s (with a break between 2017-21). But last night I had the opportunity to see something new, and without a repetitive accomplice in my ear telling me everything the person just said. “King is Jon Moxley’s protege. Did you know he’s his protege? What do you think Jon Moxley thinks of his protege’s presence in this game? Can you believe they did this to Jon Moxley’s protege?

But most of all, I watch wrestling because I love wrestling, I love to be entertained, I love when things make me laugh, and I love to be invested in a show. Was last night the most unpredictable show ever in terms of results? Of course not, and it probably couldn’t have been. Logistics alone would dictate that. But I logged in at the very beginning of the preshow, and between that and the end of the main event, I wasn’t once bored, although by some logic I should have been confused and frustrated, reaching for the remote to turn it off because I saw someone I didn’t know instead of getting a 3432nd rematch from the same people. I didn’t feel like there were any diminished returns.

I realize that I’m also the person who angers other hardcore wrestling fans because I like Orange Cassidy and Danhausen and other characters who aren’t strictly super serious all the time about THIS BUSINESS because that they are funny or that they break the fourth wall or because they do stupid things. In this perpetual garbage fire of a world we live in, I’m okay if someone does something pretty stupid if it makes me laugh. I don’t need everything to be two sweaty dudes with muscles breathing hard in each other’s faces 100% of the time. Sometimes it’s okay if the guy with fliers does some light, silly kicking to annoy the other, because it’s something different and it makes me laugh.

And contrary to what I used to watch, I don’t feel like the manager is going to punish me for enjoying it when he comes back from the helicopter after getting a haircut at 2 $000.

Jack L. Goldstein