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Mark Coale



Support the Home Team

Sure, we all want to talk about Summerslam or how awful RAW was this week. As if often the case in this space, we like to say there's more to wrestling than just the WWF. There are thousands, of workers busting their collective behinds every weekend for little or no pay, usually for no glory. So, today, instead of talking about the multi-million dollar PPV, we salute the little guys.

Unfortunately, I've not gotten to see as many Indy shows as I would like, once I moved from the North East part of the country (the hotbed of Indy wrestling) to the Mid-Atlantic area. Before last weekend, it had been a couple months since I had seen a show and that (going to the Bingo Hall to see JAPW) was more to see worker friends than to actually go to the show. And real life conflicts prevented me from covering the Pillman Show (although I wouldn't call that a regular Indy show), the Gordy show or the MECW debut in Philly earlier this month.

So this weekend, I got in the car and drove an hour or so into the hinterlands to see Virginia Championship Wrestling in action. I had talked to some of the people with the promotion when I had moved down here, telling me that they had some good people but not to expect the level of polished wrestler you'd find in the North East. But you don't go to an Indy show expecting a card full of accomplished performers; you go for the atmosphere and the experience.

Were there wrestlers who were ready for the next level? A few. Were there wrestlers who were green? Sure. Was there anyone who didn't get it their all? Not from where I was sitting.

It's easy to get spoiled when most of your Indy show experiences revolve around big name former WWF or NWA superstars (you know, the guys you watched on TV growing up and now appear at Indy shows for a good guarantee and the Polaroid money).

But the heart of the business are the small crowds like the one I went to this weekend, where there are a couple hundred fans in a small building where the ceiling was too low for anyone to do highspots. And the fans, from all appearances, aren't your prototypical "too smart for their own good" wiseass fans from Philly or New York or Baltimore who love to shout out smart stuff in the crowd and cheer the heels and boo the faces. They were there for a good night's entertainment, to cheer the good guys and boo the bad guys, who did the traditional praising or trashing of the hometown/state, depending on which dressing room from whence they came. And it was good to see plenty of little kids running around enjoying themselves.

Of course, no matter how big or small the Indy show, there are some constants, mainly thanks to TV. There are still interview segments that go on too long (on this occasion, introducing new characters from out-of-town to do the local version of the invasion angle) and gratuitous hardcore matches, where fans cheaply pop for trashcan hits or groin shots.

If you're a wrestling fan, and not just a WWF fan or a Rock fan or a Steve Austin fan, you really should go out and back one of your local Indy promotions. If you don't like it, don't go back. But go at least once to support the industry. With a Goliath at the top of the pyramids, the Davids need all the attention and support they can get.

Mark Coale
Odessa Steps Magazine

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