Now, I'll admit, I'm spoiled. I live in Florida, and despite all of its issues with racists, scumbags, and bath salt users, it is also probably the greatest place to live for professional wrestling. Yes, we've got NXT shows galore, but on top of that, there is a really strong independent wrestling presence due to the fact that a lot of professional wrestlers live in the state. The only thing I'm missing is a wrestling buddy, but that may have changed this past weekend when I finally convinced my wife to go to a Full Impact Pro show with me in Tampa.
The show was held at The Orpheum, a small music venue with a stage, and the ring was set up right in the middle of where people would watch a concert, limiting the actual space for seats around ringside. This was luckily not an issue as there were maybe 75-100 people there for the show. We found some stools at the bar which put us in the second row as there were a row of about 8 folding chairs between us and the ring.
It took approximately two minutes before I realized that going to this independent show was not a good idea, it was a great idea. During the welcome by the announcer, two jobbers get thrown into the ring and physically dominated by a couple other dudes. It took them about a minute before they launched one of the jobbers into the crowd. Were the people in the crowd in on it? I mean, almost definitely, but either way, it was great and established what was to come the rest of the night.
After that, in a weird coincidence, there was a five way match from the Black and Brave Wrestling Academy, which is actually the wrestling school that is located in my hometown. I'll admit that I thought it was going to be the shits, just because the school has only been open for a few years, so none of the guys could have that much experience, but it was actually pretty fun. There was a good mix of high impact moves and comedy as one guy used a hoverboard in one of his big spots. It's one of the nice things about independent wrestling, because it doesn't need to take itself seriously.
A couple matches later, things jumped to another level when Caleb Konley took on Jason Cade. They kept flying out of the ring at each other. When they weren't doing that, they were dropping each other on the bar floor or hitting a brainbuster on a steel chair about five feet away from my seat. And even if they didn't do any of that, the in ring action was enough for it to be an awesome match. I don't know what pay scale these independent wrestlers earn, but I have trouble believing it's more than a couple hundred bucks for mid card guys. The effort and bodily harm they put out there for that money is absolutely incredible, and the crowd couldn't help but cheer both guys by the end of the match.
On top of unknown guys killing each other for a relatively small amount of money, they also had some legitimate names. The most well known were three guys from Lucha Underground, AR Fox (Dante Fox), Sami Callihan (Jeremiah Crane on LU and formerly Solomon Crowe in NXT), and Brian Cage, who I was most excited to see. That is another thing about professional wrestling; some of these dudes are big as hell, and Brian Cage is massive in person. And to see a massive guy do flips and throw people around like nothing is super damn entertaining. The great thing about the professional wrestling is it's not just entertaining for pro wrestling fans; it's just entertaining, and these guys know how to put on a show.
And most importantly, they know their audience, and most independent wrestling shows strongly gear towards entertaining adults. They dropped just about every cuss word imaginable, and since it was at a bar, the beer was flowing like...uh, beer. And when the beer turns the crowd into idiots, the wrestlers will address it. Some guys wanted to heckle Sami Callihan so after the match Callihan went nose to nose with the heckler and told him to take a shot. When the guy didn't do anything (outside of maybe pissing himself), Sami kissed him on the cheek and walked away. It was pretty hilarious.
It's insane that people will spend $15 to go to a movie where they sit quietly and watch a screen when, for five dollars more, they could see independent wrestling. You can't go see a quality live performance for anywhere near that money, especially for seats that are only a few feet away. On top of that, they will literally throw a wrestler into your lap. Heck, you might even get a kiss.
Independent wrestling is awesome. You need to see it for yourself.