As many of you know, I’ve been a lifelong fan of sports. One of my favorite sports has always been wrestling. I’ve watched it and spent thousands of dollars following it all of my life. After the 90’s explosion of wrestling in the mainstream, it slowly started drifting away in popularity. It’s still wildly popular today, but mixed martial arts has taken over as the most popular combat sport. The thing with most of these organizations nowadays, is that they all have streaming services you can buy to watch their products. If you watch UFC now, you have to subscribe to ESPN and they have their events you can order on pay per view, but they’re super expensive and rarely worth it at almost 75 dollars a month. If you’re still a WWE fan, you can subscribe to the Peacock app for 10 dollars a month and get all their pay per views and everything included. It sounds like a great deal, until you look a little deeper. If you’re a wrestling fan as long as I’ve been one, you’ve seen it all. WWE feels like it’s been on auto-pilot for a decade now. The shows have lost their luster, the matches aren’t as hard hitting and it’s just not as good. But it’s all right there readily available for you to digest because it’s on 4 or 5 nights a week. If you watch every WWE show they air, you’ve watched it for about 9 hours a week. It’s just over saturation at this point.
So while millions and millions were shelling out hundreds of dollars this past weekend to watch the UFC Mcgregor fight, I looked for a different form of entertainment. I scrolled through the independent wrestling network and saw this organization called GCW was having a double header show in Texas last weekend. So I’d never ordered one of their shows before, but I decided to on a whim. While Las Vegas had the sold out UFC crowd in a roaring stadium, GCW had a building that looked like it was in a warehouse somewhere. GCW didn’t have celebrities in attendance, they had fans and for the couple hundred people there they sounded like they were a couple thousand. The crowd at the GCW show was so loud, it drowned out the live commentary that the announcers did ringside. In the open room of the warehouse, the audio was alive. The wrestler's chops cracked like fireworks going off in the night sky. The crowd applauded the efforts of two men who had a knock down drag-out battle with a standing ovation as the men knelt in front of each other as a sign of respect. This didn’t feel like wrestling on TV to me, this was something different. The show lasted well over 3 hours and felt like it went by in minutes. I was honestly exhausted by the time it was over. I spent the rest of that night wondering what it was that was so different that it hooked me on the first watch. The next morning I figured it out.
The best way I can describe it is by using food as an example. Imagine that the UFC or WWE are your popular fast food chains. The food isn’t bad, but you know what you’re going to get and you know it’s going to be basically the same every time so you don’t expect anything different out of it. You know that if you get a Big Mac, it’s going to have the same taste you got last week. You’ll still enjoy it, but you won’t be surprised. GCW was like going on a road trip somewhere and finding a little roadside diner that you’ve never heard of. So when you look at the menu, you see they have steak and you always loved steak, so you got it. By the time you’re done, you find that this cozy little run down diner had the best steak you’ve eaten in years. You leave full, satisfied and happy.
That’s the way I felt Saturday night. GCW was raw, underground and alive. Wrestling and UFC had become predictable and stale to me. Every time I ordered a 75 dollar UFC event, I left disappointed. Every time I watched a WWE pay per view, I left wanting more. For 13.99 I got 5 and a half hours of the hardest hitting wrestling I’ve seen in a long time. The mat in the ring was soaked in sweat from the wrestler's brow in the Texas heat. I didn’t want more. I was satisfied. That’s why as soon as last night's show was over I ordered the next show in a few weeks because I want that feeling again. What a time to be a wrestling fan, it’s alive and well. I encourage you all to look under the surface of things if you’re a fan of sports. These men and women on the indy circuits are laying it all on the line way harder than anything you’ll see on TV. Bravo GCW, bravo.
By: Chris Dooley