Keep Wrestling Weird
Earlier this week, I found myself in the very unique and exciting position of getting to see two live pro wrestling shows here in Austin. The first, on a Sunday night, was my regular monthly dose of Anarchy Championship Wrestling, a homegrown promotion of mostly under-the-radar wrestlers who perform at The Mohawk.
The next night I got my first chance to witness something a bit bigger for the first time. WWE, now the largest wrestling promotion in the world for a decade, brought its flagship show Monday Night Raw to the Frank Erwin Center. I may watch the show religiously now, but I was pretty pumped to see what it was like to be there in person with a large crowd.
With both shows being on consecutive nights, I knew that I had a chance to really compare and contrast what it is that separates the global corporation from the promotion that is based out of one of downtown Austin’s most popular music venues. After the last three-count was made on Monday night in front of a crowd of several thousand, I felt like I had witnessed a struggle that is being played out in all fields of entertainment today.
You see, here in Austin where the music and movie industries play such an important cultural role, we are all pretty familiar with the power struggle between the corporate haves and the independent have-nots. Of course that is in reference to who it is that has the money and influence, but we always immediately accept that it is the independents to keep the spirit of progress and revolutionary ideas alive while the corporate heads only care about bottom-lines. We see this dichotomy within the film and music industries.
I just didn’t expect it within a business where guys regularly take chair-shots to the head.
On Sunday night, I felt like I got the whole package. There was plenty of drama and tension both within the ring and outside. Storylines naturally progressed and hinted at the next show while a few curveballs were thrown. Within the “squared-circle” there was phenomenally exciting and well-executed action carried out, while the wrestlers used their natural charms to keep the crowd involved. It was basically the wrestling equivalent of Drive. I got everything I could have wanted and then some.
The next night I sat through what was basically underwhelming entertainment. Sure, there were plenty of pyrotechnics and superstars who oozed charisma, but it all just kind of went no where. The WWE now seems to be more focused on promos and other filmed segments, because it was a full half-hour before there was actually any wrestling in front of the crowd. I didn’t think the whole show was bad. I was certainly entertained, but I just wished I could have gotten more out of it. With all of the money put into this production, how could it have been less awesome than the show the night before that didn’t have pyrotechnics?
It was the wrestling equivalent of going to see a Transformers movie.
But I shouldn’t be surprised that this is the case, that one company that controls everything is snuffing out an entire industry’s creativity, and now that it controls so much, it feels no need to push the creative envelope. The best years of the WWE were when they were locked in a battle-to-the-death with their rival, WCW, during the 90s. Back then, they were forced to come up with new ideas at an amazing pace or risk sinking. Now that that major competition is well out of the way, there is now desire to even push the status quo because the status quo still makes lots of money.
In so many fields of entertainment and entrepreneurship today, there is a distinct lack of people willing to revolutionize something without the worry about what that will do to the budget.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, maybe Austin can really show the world how to keep things weird, and that damn well includes pro wrestling. All you have to do is throw a little support behind something you believe in, and for me, that is the little indie wrestling promotion that could.
If you want to be a part of an entertaining revolution, then clear your schedule for ACW’s next show, The Lone Star Classic, on November 12th at The Mohawk, or visit them at Wizard World Austin Comic Con that same weekend. We could all use a little anarchy in out lives.