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: