|Our 2nd Anniversary||
STILL CRZ AFTER ALL THESE YEARS
When I appropriated my first computer from my fixed asset liquidation of a Computer City in 1997, I began my journey into the Internet wrestling community (a phrase I've learned to hate, by the way). As much as I'd love to say that my inaugural recap read was the inimitable Christopher Robin Zimmerman, it was really John Petrie of the late lamented Slobberknocker Central fame. Closely followed by Ollie (Postlethwaite) and Dean (Rasmussen), the latter of Rolie Polie Olie fame, and then I happened upon Wrestlemaniacs (pre-Wrestleline) where my favorite read was the Monday Night Recaps of CRZ. His blow by blow recaps, transcriptions, and even wrestling related commercial entries made for the next best thing to watching the shows. For a while I read every recap regardless of whether I watched the show or not. Clever asides and nifty nicknames kept me entertained enough to read what I already knew had transpired. Plus, if Zed was going to put that much work into these recaps for our benefit and little or no pay, then damn it, I could take the time to read them.
Over the last three years, I've severely whittled down whose stuff I read. I mean, how many times can you read the same stuff over and over again by different people without becoming a loser without a life. How I weaseled my way into being a semi-known entity in this little clique was not through writing columns. It was through writing letters. If a columnist took the time to write something and I enjoyed it, or at the very least felt the writer had some passion for writing I sent them feedback. I have never flamed anyone. I *have* offered terse opinions in some E-mails sent to Scott Keith, but really, who hasn't. Once and only once did I question CRZ's judgment, and I was wrong. My first e-mail was to Brian French, who was doing the Sunday Night Heat recaps for Wrestlemaniacs. I think he's kind of proud of that. Several years later I helped Brian get drunk on his birthday while we were in a Days Inn in Kentucky, a stones throw from the Pillman Show 2000 in Cincinnati. Gene White, a genuine talent in his own right, threatened to throw up in the hotel pool from the second story balcony of Brian's hotel room. Fortunately he was unsuccessful as my daughter swam in that very same pool the next day. One day I will write about that day in detail. Quite frankly it was one of my favorite days in 2000.
On July 7th, 1999, Mr. Zimmerman started slash wrestling (or more accurately CRZ.net/wrestling). I chose to view his material there as opposed to the Wrestleline. I was similarly more apt to read Scott Keith's stuff at Rantsylvania. I still read Keith's stuff over at The Smarks and Wrestleline (since he went exclusive with his RAW rants). The big difference is that I like CRZ's stuff and Keith's more recent work has sent me down into the basement to throw soup bones at my heavy bag. Of course it could be worse, I could have a firearm in the house after reading an Alex Marvez recap over at the Observer.
What was happening in July 1999 in the wrestling world, and how have things changed? Well, I have a snaking suspicion that many of the columnists will be writing on that very subject for the anniversary, so while I may touch on these things, my primary focus will be on what has changed in the shudder Internet Wrestling Community. There have been a lot of changes.
Firstly, I took a stab at writing my own stuff, which CRZ was nice enough to post for me. The stuff was terrible, including an extremely embarrassing Muppets take over Nitro piece. It put my foot in the door as a writer for the web, and honestly I've seen much, much worse stuff pass for writing over the years, so it wasn't all bad.
Other writers for [slash] and I exchanged frequent E-mails, many of whom would become members of the Oracles, who were not so much a "stable" of writers, but more a group of friends trying to have a little fun by writing whatever the hell we felt like writing about. The main catalyst for forming the Oracles was the death of the Emzee Version 1 Delphi message board. A place I never would have visited had it not been for CRZ's brief involvement with promoting that board on his site. Slowly the Emzee board was losing steam and with the now infamous "Dead for the Weekend" thread we decided to form our own little forum and then our own little website. OraclesWar.com is now 13 months old, outlasting both versions of Emzee, and outliving Scoops, ScoopThis, and most sadly Slobberknocker Central to name a few.
About six months ago I began pulling away from the "community", it had been become rife with negativity, sophomoric goading, nasty and pointless flame wars, and most irritatingly a great deal of writers that did little more than complain about how much things "suck". I watch wrestling to be entertained. I'm a big a fan as I've ever been, but I'm also thirty-four years old with a wife and kid and the behavior exhibited on-line was something I thought I left behind when I was in junior high school. There wasn't a lot of entertainment value out there. People would express their opinions of one another online, which is in and of itself fine, but the way they did that bordered on cruelty. The anonymity afforded on the Internet brought out the very worst in people. I'll tell you what, if some of the cracks that people left on message boards were said to my face they'd be getting their jaws wired. I don't care if the web provides people the opportunity to purge years of being picked on and bullied by dishing out the same punishment in print. It doesn't make it right. So I got fed up. I left Delphi completely for months. When CRZ opened his own EZ Board I returned to posting now and again. Being a dick isn't funny, it's certainly not difficult, and it's immature.
In the grand schemes of things I should have never let any of the negative aura bother me. It is only the Internet, but sadly my patience had reached its end. I still read a lot of Internet wrestling related stuff. I get my news from the Observer; I get full-blown news updates from Hyatte because he's so damned entertaining. Yes, Hyatte can be coarse and abrasive but if you have a sense of humor you'll realize that it's not meant to be mean-spirited. It's meant to be entertaining.
I have many "virtual" friends on the web as well, Rob Harris, DOOM, Kurt Schulz, Butch Rosser, Adrian "House", Sharon Austin, Tanvir Raquib, Pat Barker, JetMet, Ska-Boom, Josh Haggard and Martin (my favorite). If they write something, I'm going to read it.
I also have reasonably good casual relationships with Greg Dillard, Chris Hyatte, Jeremy Botter, Eric Szulczewski, the aforementioned Gene White and Brian French, GH and Joe and Bob Morris. I don't give two shits about the cliques they belong to. I like them as people. I'm always going to read their stuff. I'm also a huge fan of Bitchfactor, though I haven't told her so lately, and I doubt she cares. :)
Then there's Christopher Robin Zimmerman, a guy that's dedicated to pretty much everything that's right about the Internet. He's not here to make boat loads of cash. He's helping writers work on their craft by posting their efforts, and is the hardest working recapper probably ever on the internet. He doesn't take any of this very seriously, because let's face it, it's just wrestling. And though I have never asked him this directly, I'm pretty sure he does this because it's fun, and because he loves wrestling. Plus, he is the "right kind of mark", he doesn't seem to fall for the rumor mill and bandwagon jumping that so many do. We need more people like that in this "business". Of course, like all of us, he's inherently flawed. I only say that because I don't want his ego to get too big.
One more note on CRZ. You'd do well to listen to his advice, if you can decipher it. He's kind of cryptic sometimes, but every time I haven't heeded his advice, I have regretted it.
As far as the Oracles go, sadly, my time has been spent dealing with many real life issues that don't allow me to spend as much time (or money) on the site I feel I had a large part in helping build. Believe me when I say I regret that mightily.
Sometimes I feel as if I should have done more for the site you're at right now, as well. I may not be a great writer but I'm capable of being a decent one. The biggest problem lies in the fact that everything I have to say on the subject of Pro Wrestling is being said on various sites several times over by better writers than I am.
In any case, I'd like to thank Chris Zimmerman and a Happy Anniversary [slash], I can honestly say I wouldn't have been the same without this site. Whether that's good or bad is irrelevant. It's merely true. Damn true.