This year, I turned 30. Being 30 is very odd, and brings with it a sensation that has seemed to seep into every aspect of my life – in particular, wrestling. That sensation can best be summed up thusly: I am suddenly acutely aware of how very little I actually know.
Over two years ago, I wrote this angry post in response to an interview Triple H gave to a radio station in which he said, regarding the booking of WWE, fans “don’t have 1/100th of the information that it takes to make those decisions on a daily basis.” I remember feeling so angry and the best thing I could do to deal with that anger was to sit down at my computer and write about it on my blog. This blog has been a place I’ve put what I’ve been feeling in regards to wrestling for a long time now, but I’m not so sure it’s the right place for what I’m thinking or feeling anymore.
In that same blog post, I lamented a lack of a “path” for what, at the time, I thought was the career I so desperately wanted. There were no schools or courses to take to become a wrestling writer; there were no female mentors or role models who I could go to for advice. I wanted help, I wanted guidance. I wanted someone to tell me what to do or how to begin.
A year ago, in my Year in Review post, I foretold something new coming with the PWGrrrlGang hashtag that I’d been using for nearly all of 2016. I didn’t explain what that would be, other than to say I’d be using it to give back to the community – I just did it. There’s a good reason for that, too. I didn’t know what PWGrrrlGang would become, or how it would affect the independent wrestling community, if it would at all. But it did, and now there is a wonderful community of people trying to look out for one another, who are trying to take care of their wrestling family. It’s not perfect, and it cannot insulate the independent wrestling scene from all Bad Stuff. I don’t know what the PWGrrrlGang will become, but I hope it will always be, at it’s core, what it is I first wanted it to be: a calling card that lets people know they are among other devoted wrestling fans who just want to go and have a good time, and will do their best to just be good to the people around them, no matter what. That is all we can ever ask of the other people in the crowd, because at the end of the day the match is over, the show ends, and everyone goes home.
I have struggled lately with the existence of this blog, and with the continuation of the Facelock Feministas podcast, though those few hours each week I spend recording with Courtney have been some of the best evenings I’ve had this year. My relationship with wrestling as an art form, as a performance, as a business, has all evolved over the past 12 months. It has evolved so much I find myself teetering upon a line I didn’t even know existed before. I used to believe there was kayfabe, the stories we saw told in the ring, the larger-than-life personas and the roar of the crowd, and then there was reality – wrestlers in airports and photos of weddings on Instagram. But actually, there is a third place that exists between those two things. I don’t know what you would even call it, but it’s the place where wrestling is both business and ethics and mechanics. It’s the place that holds the answers to why certain people work certain places and not certain other places. It’s the place that knows why some stories play out better than others. It’s the home of the magician’s assistant, who doesn’t know what side of the bed the magician sleeps on, but knows how the rabbit got in the hat, or if it was ever in there at all.
It is not so much that I feel like I reside in this bizarre grey area now; I certainly do not. But rather, I know now that it exists. I know there is so much more information about how wrestling works – how the gears are turning and the cogs fit snuggly together – and that is what has left me feeling displaced. I know that for every time a fan asks “why did you do it like this?” there are at least 100 different answers, all valid and all things that had to be considered before a decision is made. I don’t know that I feel more empathetic toward wrestlers or promoters or anyone else than I did a year ago, but I suddenly feel uncomfortable discussing my opinions on wrestling when I am suddenly overwhelmed by how minuscule what I know is. I am also suddenly aware how far-reaching my audience is and how, at times, there is an expectation for me to announce to that whole audience how I feel about one decision or one tweet or one podcast or one promo. Perhaps after years of shouting into the nothingness that is the internet and all of its millions of users, I am now far more in awe of the power of what can happen when said to someone in private, or to just a few people, and how that can create more change – move more gears – than a bully pulpit ever could.
I’ve learned one other valuable lesson this year, and that is to be careful about making promises. Sometimes you let other people down when you can’t keep them, but sometimes the person you really let down is yourself. So I won’t be making any New Years Resolutions, dear reader, and I can’t make any promises to you. What I will say is that I don’t have any idea what comes next. I’m going to keep trying to be an okay human being. I’m going to keep trying to make sure that everyone who also wants to try to be an okay human being, in particular at indie wrestling shows, can get the chance to do that. If that’s the most I do in 2018, I think that would be a win for me.
As for what happens between reality and kayfabe, I cannot say. But I know it’s there, now. And that it was always there all along. I don’t know if finding out about the rabbit and the hat will help me to affect positive change in this thing we all love so much. I don’t know if, perhaps, it would make me not love it anymore at all. But I am acutely aware of how very little I actually know – for now.