By: Bobby Bishop (facebook.com/RetroKidBobbyBishop)
The year I turned 29, was the year of my first WWE show. I had always been a huge fan of wrestling, but had somehow never been to a show. I was happy at the tail end of my 20s I would finally get to tick this off my list. I flew myself to Sydney, and the seats turned out to be practically ring side. I thought this was gonna be something I would remember forever, and I DID, but not for the reasons I originally thought. Unfortunately the people surrounding me were using homophobic slurs and dropping c bombs left and right in front of kids. It made the night very uncomfortable and I had finally, after years of hearing about toxic fandom, met the very type of fans people described. The moment they made fun of a child with autism, who didn’t understand he was blocking people’s view, I was done. I knew I would never want to come back to a wrestling show again.
Three months had passed, and I still watched wrestling but just never wanted to ever go see it live. Until one day, I saw an ad on the way to work. I was driving past a local pub and saw: “Pro wrestling for free this Saturday.“ I luckily had nothing on and decided to go, mainly based on curiosity of what local wrestling was. The show was called “PROWL WRESTLING.” At this point in my life, I had just gotten into Ring of Honour, around the time Kevin Steen was rising up and was mesmerised by this alternative. When I attended this free show I had no idea what to expect but what I got changed everything. The show maybe had 30 fans but they made themselves heard.
They all had Signature chants, they all knew who to go for and most importantly they were nothing like the fans I sat next to at the WWE show. Then there was the wrestlers. They were just the most random misfits you ever met, but they had all the fans making noise for them. It was like watching a local band with 30 hardcore super vocal fans, you felt the magic. The matches were full of tributes to some of the best ROH or Indy wrestling I previously watched. I was so happy. They had cringe promos, and some faulty set ups for moves, but you couldn’t help get really into it, with the local fans screaming for the moves anyway, not caring if they stumbled, they were just there because they loved to support the local scene.
After this show I made sure to ask for future dates, and if any other shows were running locally, as I wanted to make sure I never miss one of them, and most importantly I asked where they trained, and was surprised that they were so open to letting me be a part of their world. The wrestlers I will always remember who helped me get into wrestling were Jake Nova, Kobra Jones and Alex Shepard, and I’ll never forget what they did for me. Flash forward a year and a bit later, WWE finally came to Brisbane again. I decided to give it another chance and I sat in the back section, where, funnily enough, I discovered that’s where all the local guys sit and watch too. It was one of the best shows I ever watched live.
At the end of the day though, it was local wrestling that completely changed my world.