Local Independent Talent or Mainstream Wrestling?
From multiple Royal Rumbles and SummerSlams to WrestleManias, I have been lucky enough to attend some of the biggest shows the wrestling world has to offer. Although all of these shows were amazing events, they are not my favorite live wrestling experiences. Most of my favorite live wrestling show memories have occurred in small gymnasiums or American Legions in front of a few hundred people at a local independent wrestling show.
Ever since WWE Hall-of-Famer Johnny Rodz brought a ten-year-old me into the ring at my local gym and let me hold the championship title during his match, I have been hooked on Indy wrestling. Since that faithful day, I have been in attendance for hundreds of independent wrestling shows, seeing some of today’s biggest wrestling stars in the process. Names like Kevin Owens, Cesaro, the Young Bucks and many other mainstream stars have all performed only a few feet away from me and a few hundred other people.
Besides the well-known talents, I have had the opportunity to watch many talents that should be, and possibly will be household names. Names like Sean Carr and the “Moonlight Sun” Mike Skyros, who are clearly ready for the big stage as soon as they are given the opportunity. So when I’m given the opportunity to share this passion with my two young sons, I always jump at it.
Immortal Championship Wrestling
Immortal Championship Wrestling (ICW) is a relatively new wrestling promotion in the New York area, only holding their first show last December. However, in this short amount of time, they have already established themselves as a top independent promotion in the area. They held their latest event on Saturday night, a fundraiser for the local youth center, at the East Hill Elementary School in Canajoharie, NY.
This isn’t going to be a full review of the show or a rundown of every match. I just wanted what the experience was like for my young sons and myself.
My boys and I arrived at the show right as the doors opened. These 45 minutes before the first bell were some of my kids’ favorites of the whole night. Unlike a WWE show, the wrestlers at this event are available for meet-and-greets before the show. My children absolutely loved meeting and chatting with all the performers that they would soon be seeing in the ring.
Eventually, it was time to ring the first bell and start the show. As a fan that has been watching wrestling for 30-plus years, I have noticed how the way that fans watch wrestling has changed. The days of fans just booing the bad guys and cheering the good guys are well behind us in mainstream wrestling. Today most fans are more concerned with who is getting pushed or buried, then just enjoying the show. This is not the case in independent wrestling, however.
Since most of the wrestlers are unknown to the majority of the crowd, they have to tell all their stories in the ring. The rolls of “Heel” and “Babyface” are instantly defined as soon as a wrestler steps into the arena. The crowd, having no preconceived opinions, just responds to the show as it is intended to be. The result is something that the “smart” wrestling fans may forget to do time as they analyze and critique everything that happens; just relax and enjoy the show.
When Garrett Holiday beat Mike Skyros, nobody complained that they were burying Skyros. Mike Skyros was the heel and he lost so the crowd cheered and was happy. It’s as simple as that. The smaller, more intimate, environment allows the fans to interact with the performers without feeling the need to hijack the show. The referee actually reacting as my 10-year-old son yelled at him, “Turn around, he’s cheating!”, made my son more invested in the match as he felt like he was a part of it.
The Main Event
Most independent wrestling shows bring in a “name” talent to headline the show. This talent is usually either a former WWE superstar or top indy talent. This wrestler can be put on the advertising, helping to bring in the crowd for the show. For ICW’s show this past Saturday, the wrestler hired for that position was former WWE superstar Carlito. As I mentioned earlier, I have been to hundreds of independent shows and can truthfully say that Carlito was one of the best wrestlers I’ve ever seen tasked with that role both inside and outside of the ring.
For the majority of the show, Carlito was sitting behind a table, talking and taking pictures with any fan who came up to him. When it was time for him to perform in the ring against the ICW Heavyweight Champion Richard Holliday, Carlito showed that he has not lost a step in the ring and perhaps has gained a couple. Carlito looked to be in phenomenal shape and put on a really good match with the younger Holliday.
The match ended with the heel Holliday holding the tights to steal the win. The night was not over, however, as fan-favorite Sean Carr cashed in his King’s Ransom briefcase (their version of the Money in the Bank) and won the title from Holliday. This storyline was easy to follow for everyone in attendance and left the whole crowd happy, with myself and many others wanting to come to the next show to see what happens next.
If you do not reside in the NY area don’t fret, as there are hundreds if not thousands of independent wrestling promotions all over the world. I highly recommend you go find the nearest one and attend a show. If you are close enough to check out Immortal Championship Wrestling their next show will be on November 23rd in Schenectady, NY. If you are lucky enough to make that show there is a good chance that you will see my two sons and I booing the bad guys and cheering the good guys.