Wednesday, July 10, 2013

In Defense of AIW

So this podcast happened, right?

As a rule, I don't really like podcasts. I don't know why, I just find them boring. I don't even like Colt Cabana's podcasts that much, even though I've found them hilarious when I've heard them, and I generally just adore Colt Cabana. (Who DOESN'T adore Colt Cabana though, am I right?)

But there was this podcast. I heard about it when I woke up to go to work at 5am yesterday and my twitter feed was just blown up with tweets about AIW. I was like "What the hell is this?" and then I went to work.

Over the past day or so I've learned a little more about what the hell happened and listened to some of this podcast, in the interest of fairness.

I didn't like it.

Danielle Matheson, the podcast... I don't know, owner? Host? goes into a rant about AIW and the fans in general. She basically called the fans shitty and bad and homophobic and racist and sexist and... stuff. Really strong stuff.

That's basically what I'm going to focus on here. There are some other things (Whether or not AIW is bad, whether or not someone used the N word in a chant during an ACH/AR Fox match -- I wasn't there, I don't know -- whether or not her personal information was given out and she received threats. If that's true, that's not cool, guys, come on.)

Let me tell you about myself.

I've been going to AIW since 2011.

I've gone alone to almost all of the shows. I've gone alone, to the west side of Cleveland, to an arena with a very large majority of men.

I have never felt unsafe there. I have never felt afraid or threatened, felt like my own personal safety was at any point a serious issue. I have had wrestlers come barreling through the crowd, over the barrier, throwing things in my near vicinity (like a table... and a garbage can) and I have had to move out of the way very quickly. I have never felt threatened or afraid.

In fact, when I took a personal hiatus, and I came back to AIW after being away for NEARLY AN ENTIRE YEAR, I STILL had people coming up to me and telling me they missed me, and giving me big squishy awesome hugs, and telling me they were glad to see me coming back to shows.

AIW... feels like home. Feels like family. I go to shows and I see the same faces every time. People say hi. People wave. People talk to you. When I first started going, I knew no one. And I made friends. It's not easy for me to make friends. Maybe it's something about wrestling. Maybe it's being misunderstood and then being in a group FULL of people like you, who all came together out of that misunderstanding. These people, for better or for worse, are my people.

In any case, I love my AIW friends. I love that so many people said "Hey, welcome back! We missed your face!"

Now, about the crowd at large.

Are we obnoxious? Yes. Are we vulgar? Fuck yes we are. To me, that's one of the best parts of AIW. We chant what we want, when we fucking want to, because we fucking can, and fuck you if you don't like it. One of my favorite chants of all time is "YOU'RE GONNA GET YOUR FUCKIN' HEAD KICKED IN" usually chanted at Johnny Gargano.

Now, are there some wrestling fans that are sexist, or racists, or homophobic, or generally just shitty people? Yes. Because when you put a large group of people together, you're going to get a mixture of things. You get people from everywhere, all walks of life. Have I heard people say shitty racist, sexist things while at an AIW show? Yes. Yes I have. But I've heard people say shitty racist things at the bar. Hell, I've heard my own mother say shitty racist things. Because one person in one place says a shitty thing, it doesn't make the whole group shitty. That's actually being prejudiced.

Like I said, I don't know if someone was shouting racist things at ACH and/or AR Fox. I wasn't there. I don't have that DVD. I don't know. If it's true, yes that person did set a bad example. That one person does not represent AIW, the company or the crowd.

People probably shouldn't chant racist or sexist things. I agree with you there.

But you can't tell people what to chant or not to chant. That's just not on. John Thorne and Chandler Biggins don't have to control us to make us more tolerable for the rest of the world. We are perfectly happy doing what we do. You don't like us? Go away. Controlling us for your own pleasure is not their job. They provide great wrestling. That's what they do. If anything I've heard is any indication, it's not very easy, either. Policing us like this is 1984 is shit that they don't need. And to what end? Because someone, somewhere, might be offended by something? Here's the thing. If you're out looking to find something to be offended by, chances are high that you're going to find it.

AIW works. Their last show, Absolution 8, sold out. People come from out of state to see AIW shows. Some of their highest draws are the Girls Night Out shows, shows featuring ONLY women wrestlers. Is that sexist? That's awesome, is what it is.

I don't like it when people say shitty racist or sexist things either. I really wish all that shit would go away. But people are just going to say shitty things, because people are always and only people. They are imperfect. There are always going to be assholes.

But I really, truly resent the implication that ALL AIW fans are shitty people. I don't think I'm a shitty person. I'm not racist, or homophobic, and I'm certainly not sexist. Because one person said one thing at one show ONE TIME, a show that I was not even AT, suddenly I'm a terrible excuse for a human being? I really don't appreciate that. I don't know who you think you are that you can make that kind of broad-sweeping generalization.

If you don't like AIW, fine. Then don't like it for the booking, for the venue, because it's in Cleveland, because the quality is bad, because the tickets or the DVDs are too expensive, whatever. Something. Don't hate it because of something that is literally out of its control, that makes it what it is.

(AIW fans, this is directed at you. I've heard that some of you threatened the podcast host lady. If you did, and I sincerely hope that you didn't, that's not cool. If someone accuses you of being shitty and bad, the way to respond to that is not to be shitty and bad. Threatening people is generally never the answer. Please don't threaten her. You can disagree with a person civilly.)

I love AIW. I will continue to love AIW and go to shows, and hang out with my buddies, and shout loud, vulgar things at wrestlers, because it is awesome. Because it is fun. It makes me happy. If you don't like AIW... don't come to a show. Don't buy the DVDs. It's that easy. You don't have to like us. We don't care.

Listen... we're all wrestling fans here, right? We all love wrestling? Instead of trying to divide into groups or cliques or whatever... let's all just... love wrestling, okay? We're all on the same side here.

Finally, in closing:


  1. i too think fighting against bigotry is a fruitless battle and that people should stop being offended and just deal with it. wrestling is the answer, because that's the thing we all like. why bother caring about shaming hateful regressive people? sounds like a waste of time. i'm jay briscoe's KKK son, btw.

  2. You can't really speak for all women, not even a knock on you just no one can really speak for any race or gender. Also you can't really say and know it's wrong to say certain things and then say too bad so sad don't go to the show. I mean shouldn't we all get to enjoy wresting and have a momentary escape together without having to deal with the crappy sexist, racist, homophobic world we live in!.....sadly it's too much to ask for :(

    1. That's true, I cannot speak for all women. I can't even speak for all women who've been to an AIW show. I don't... necessarily believe I was trying to? I was just sharing my experience at AIW, while being female, which has been nothing short of completely awesome.

      Again, the "Don't come to AIW" was a general "If you don't like it, then you don't have to come here." You don't have to like it, but you don't have to badmouth it either. Like I said, I don't know for sure if certain things were really said. I want to believe that they weren't. They shouldn't have been, and I'm not trying to defend that behavior.

      Mostly I responding to the broad sweeping generalization the podcaster made my saying, unequivocally, all AIW fans are shitty and bad. I'm just trying to say that MAYBE, SOME of the AIW fans are shitty... but by no means are ALL of us shitty. And making broad generalizations on a group of people... based on the behavior of one, or few... is bad.

      And you can't control what people say (or shout or scream or chant)

      But thank you kindly for reading and leaving your thoughts! I appreciate it!

  3. It's kind of hard to enjoy wrestling if you it offends you. I like wrestling, but if I hear homophobic slurs, I am no longer finding enjoyment.

    1. I'm sorry; that's awful when it happens. I remember hearing a lot of sexist comments at a show I was at. I sat by different people the next time. I'm lucky that I've found a lot of cool people to hang out with at AIW.

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  5. Hey Amanda, I'm Jules, I really dig your blog here. I saw that you don't like podcasts, my question is, have you ever tried doing one? I have a sports talk show on on Saturdays from 3-5pm and I talk wrestling in the 2nd hour of my show. I was wondering if you would be interested in maybe calling in and offering some of your rants on wrestling or anything else. If you are interested please shoot me an email: I'm not some internet creep or anything, I just happened to stumble upon this blog, and I'm always looking for guests on my radio show to give insight into various subjects. So, if you get a chance, contact me. Thanks.

  6. Thing is, it seems to me most wrestling shows these days DON'T have a problem with people shouting out racist or homophobic things, or else this wouldn't have raised an eyebrow. What's unique about AIW that makes it impossible to eject troublemakers?

    1. You all are making it sound like we all sit there chanting "Fuck this n***** " at ACH or AR Fox or whomever else at shows all the time. That just simply DOES NOT HAPPEN. I have never chanted that, I have never HEARD that chanted, and I would be beyond stunned if I EVER heard that chanted. I have not heard or participated in any kind of racist-homophobic-sexist chant. I mean, I did chant "Use your cock-strength" at Johnny Cockstrong at a Beyond show. But that was Beyond, and maybe that doesn't count.

      And believe you me, AIW does reject troublemakers. Like the time this drunk guy climbed over the barrier and one of the Crists kicked him in the face. I'm pretty sure that guy was barred for life.

      I'm not going to sit here and say that nobody, ever, has said anything racist or homophobic or sexist at an AIW show. Whether they've said it to the person they were sitting next to, or shouted it at the ring. And I'm not saying I'm going to sit here and condone it, either.

      I mean... people say sexist-racist-homophobic things all the time. They say them at wrestling shows, they say them at the bar, at work, on the internet, to me, to my friends, in the WWE, on TV. I've heard my friends, my mother, my grandparents, ACTUAL WRESTLERS say homophobic-sexist-racist things. I've heard wrestlers say sexist things TO ME, because I happen to be a girl at a wrestling show. Am I going to judge that wrestler? Hell yes I am. Am I going to judge the entire company because this one wrestler was a jerk? No.

      The problem isn't AIW. AIW is not some steaming inbred pile of assholes. We are not the hotbed of regressive thought. There are assholes, and they are everywhere. That's it.

  7. I've been a SHIMMER fan since 2009. Haven't missed a show since Sept 2010. Despite them being firmly established as America's premier all-female wrestling company, there are still people that go (some of them off the street, coming in completely blind) and shout some inappropriate things. These people always get told off by the other fans. Joey Eastman always tells us before the start of each taping that it's a family show, and don't touch the wrestlers as they won't touch you (although in Saraya Knight's case, that's a risk). Despite the use of the occasional curse word by wrestlers in the heat of the moment, it's firmly a PG show.

    When I go to other wrestling shows, I fully expect to hear things that I wouldn't hear at SHIMMER (or CHIKARA, the other family-friendly show I've been to). However, I've been fortunate that I have yet to hear anything racist, sexist or homophobic towards any of the wrestlers or other crowd members. But if I had, I would've spoken up. I think it's up to the crowd to police itself, if anyone is uncomfortable with something they are hearing, they should speak up.

    Because how, honestly, does anyone expect the people who own/run promotions to police the crowd? Do y'all know how much effort running a show takes? This isn't WWE where there's security in the crowd and thousands of people backstage. They have to deal with last minute cancellations, no shows, keeping the talent backstage under control, checking equipment, changing plans on the fly...and most of that happens before the show starts. Would one person shouting a racial/sexual/homophobic at a basketball game upset you enough to stop supporting a team? Would you demand they be thrown out? It's just not possible, and frankly it's crappy to blame a promotion for the actions of one fan.

    This whole thing has spiraled out of control quite frankly. Stuff like this happens in every day life, and you can't let it destroy your love of something. As long as the promotion isn't actively encouraging it (which AIW isn't and doesn't), one or two fans saying a slur shouldn't affect you this much unless it affects you everywhere you could hear it, such as at a bar, at work, on the street, etc.

    There's shitty people everywhere, the key is not to let them ruin an experience you are enjoying. Great blog Amanda.

    1. Dude, thank you for this. Thank you thank you thank you. Well said, beautifully spoken.

      I mean, yeah, I've heard some people say some things in my vicinity that I did not agree with. When that happened, I was there alone and the last thing I wanted to do at that point was make myself a target. If that person wants to be an asshole, let him be an asshole. He has to live with himself, and I don't. I can move away, and I can make cool friends who are awesome and don't say shitty things.

      People are assholes. You go anywhere, there are always going to be assholes. It's up to you to decide how you're going to deal with them. If I tried to police every asshole I came across who said something dumb, I wouldn't have time in the day to do anything else.


      Thank you again for this comment, you are truly awesome.