10 Things to Know Before Going to an Indy Wrestling Show
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I'm here today to bring you fine upstanding people some tips and tricks to help you navigate the strange and mysterious world of independent wrestling shows.
For many years, countless young men and women have gone to attend their first Indy show without any real concept of what it was they were getting themselves into.
Today, we'll change all that by providing the Internet's most definitive list of what you'll need to know to get you through a long day of watching fat old guys wrestle skinny young guys, while they get heckled by fat young guys and skinny old guys.
When you leave this web page, you'll be armed with all of the knowledge necessary to boldly walk into a wrestling show anywhere on this great planet of ours and declare, "Preparations are complete, bring me your finest wrestlers."
Only don't say that.
That Famous Headliner? Yeah, They're Probably Not Coming
So you're going to your first Indy show. Awesome! You have your ticket and a backpack full of Red Vines and malt liquor to sneak in, and boy are you ever excited.
See, because even though this is just some local Indy show, the show is being promoted as having your favorite ex-WWE/TNA/WCW wrestler in it!
You arrive at the show, sit through the whole thing until the main event waiting for your guy or girl to come out, only for the main event to be between Buff Bagwell and Wacky Smacky, the wrestling clown. What gives?
It's a familiar story and one you would be well served to keep in mind when going to a show just to see the top attraction.
Indy shows suffer unlike any other show. There are numerous reasons for this, ranging from the wrestler getting a better booking somewhere else to the promoter lying about booking them in the first place.
There's no real way to predict if this will happen to you, but just think about why this performer is wrestling Indy shows instead of pay-per-views. Were they fired for drugs and no shows? Then yeah, you may want to bring a book.
If You Are in the Front Row, You Are Part of the Show
There are two parts to this one. The first is that the crowds are small, so when the DVD inevitably gets released, the people who are sitting in the front row are going to be on screen a ton.
So if you happen to be mooning the wrestlers during a particularly bad match, you can pretty much expect every pimple on your nether regions to be available nationwide within six months. And the worst part is that I know I just gave several of you ideas.
The second part goes like this. You know how in the WWE, nobody in the crowd actually gets messed with for real by the wrestlers because WWE wouldn't risk the lawsuits?
Yeah, Indy promotions aren't worried about that stuff, and the performers definitely aren't worried either. So if you happen to be an obnoxious dork in the front row of a 250-person audience, guess what? You're going to be singled out big time.
Usually you'll just get completely embarrassed by quick-witted wrestlers who are used to drunken hecklers at every show they work, but every once in awhile, you might cross the line, and then you'll have a picture of yourself getting punched in the face captured on the Internet forever.
Wrestling Audiences Are Like Family Members
How are they like family members you ask?
It's simple: They can be lovable, annoying or outright annoying, and no matter which they are, you're stuck with them until the show is over.
There's a saying that goes, "A man is kind, smart and adaptable. Men are greedy, stupid and dangerous."
Keep that in mind as you deal with being around people who you would individually probably be friends with, who nevertheless infuriate you throughout the course of the show.
Whether it's the old guy who wandered in off the street who just yells, "HOOOOOOOOOOO" at the top of his lungs for three hours or the guy trying to grope female wrestlers as they walk by, these are your fellow inmates for the duration of the show.
And to top that off, a good crowd can become a bad one out of nowhere, and there's nothing you can do to stop it.
So if you're the kind of person who, say, violently assaults people for loudly complaining about matches as they're happening, you may want to bring a stress ball—or 10.
The Live Experience Will Distort Your Memories
Look at that guy. You will never enjoy anything in your life as much as he is enjoying a WWE show circa 1990-something.
And while that's a WWE show example, the same principle exists. When an Indy show is really great—I mean, those rare moments of real magic—you are going to be so caught up in it that it is going to seem like the greatest thing that has ever happened in the history of humankind.
And that's super great, everybody deserves to have an awesome experience like that. But when your buddies are at home watching the show on TV, somehow it isn't quite the life-changing orgy of happiness that you experienced firsthand.
So who's right, the live guy or the TV guy?
Really, neither experience is right or wrong, but it's important to know that you're going to walk around for the rest of your life with an idea of that event that the majority of the rest of the wrestling world just doesn't have.
You'll have a totally different perspective on it, and when you go on message boards and tell people that The Young Bucks vs. The All Night Express is the match of the century, they are going to look at you like you're a crazy person.
Your Personal Space? You Left That at Home
Somebody is going to touch you. The odds of the person who touches you being someone you would want to touch you are so astronomically small that scientists use it as a reference scale for measuring particles.
Also, it will be ridiculously hot under the bright overhead lights, so sweat and odor are probably going to become factors here too.
So unless you find the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket that is a courteous seat neighbor, you'd better strap in and prepare to be wearing someone else's Axe Body Spray by the end of the night.
Bring More Money Than You Think You'll Need
You'll think that you'll just need money for merchandise and that you can eat and drink at home, but by the third hour of it being 109 degrees, your body will inform you otherwise.
Speaking of which...
Use the Bathroom During the Show.
This seems counter intuitive. After all, you paid to see this show, and now you're missing it to use the bathroom?
But you only have to stand in a 30-minute line during a 15-minute intermission once to realize that isn't the way to go.
If you sneak off during a lull, you'll not only avoid the lines, but you may see something awesome—like when I saw Colt Cabana getting a slice of pizza.
Trailblazers have the best stories, and you can watch a skinny guy mess up a moonsault any time.
Don't Be "That Guy"
You know exactly who I'm talking about here. There are some people who simply don't have the social awareness or moral compass to resist being a gigantic tool bag whenever it might get them some bit of attention.
Here are some helpful ways to determine if your innocent enthusiasm has strayed into "That Guy" territory.
1. The match stops while the wrestlers turn to look at you.
2. You suddenly notice the space between you and the people next to you has widened significantly.
3. You see people in the audience staring at you, wishing their eyeballs were laser beams.
4. Cyborgs start shooting actual laser beams at you out of their eyes.
If any of this gives you a reason to suspect you are being "That Guy," then please refer back to number eight, and understand that you are essentially embarrassing yourself in front of everyone else in the building.
Indy Shows Can Be Incredibly Depressing
Before you attend your first Indy show, it's important to come to terms with the idea that you've been protected in your wrestling watching career thus far.
WWE doesn't work kayfabe hard anymore, but it still presents you with a very idealized product.
The wrestlers are all superheroes who are on all the time, the sets are always pristine, and things are just so incredibly neat that you could eat your dinner off of them.
When you go to an Indy show, though, you will notice that everything is very different. You will see wrestlers just sort of hanging out like anybody else, you'll see them shilling for merchandise money at intermission, and you'll see all the little things, like the ring being built and repaired and bad botches and the like that the big companies hide from you.
Many people find it invigorating to see wrestling on such a real level as this, but many people find it to be a jarring adjustment if they're not prepared for it.
Broken down legends, young guys who will obviously never make it, matches that blast right past the humorous into the realm of the pitiable—all of these are things you'll have to deal with as you take in the festivities.
But despite all of that, all of the negatives, you need to go anyway. Why?
Indy Shows Can Be Totally Amazing
The reason I bring this example up is because it's an example of unchecked brilliance, and the reason that it pertains here is that it is brilliant in a way that you will never see on the main shows in WWE or TNA.
Even NXT rookies, who are on their way to the main roster one way or another, aren't going to get to be so unchecked and experimental in the big show, where only finished products are accepted.
That's exactly what the Indy scene has that makes it so special. From match-to-match and show-to-show, you will see people trying new things, going for broke and just doing it their way.
And while so many of the shows will strike out and be terrible, there are so many more that will tear your expectations to shreds and leave you in awe.
Whether it's a young guy going that extra mile to make a match special, a veteran recapturing his or her glory years one last time, or even just a storyline that feels real because you're sitting five feet away from it, Indy wrestling will show you something amazing virtually every time you give it a chance.
And that's why, through the crowds, the jerks, the no shows, the long lines and everything else, you should still go to every wrestling show you can.
What do you have to lose?
We hope you found this small guide informative, and if you take away nothing else from this, you should get that going to independent wrestling shows can be some of the most rewarding experiences of your wrestling fandom.
But if you break the rules, wrestling karma will return to you and sentence you to 10 years of always getting stuck next to the fat guy who sweats profusely and tries to grope all of the women wrestlers while blaming it on you.
I'm not saying you have to follow them, but it's probably cheaper than all the lawsuits.
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