Welcome to the first of issue of 'The State of Independent Wrestling', which I hope to put out bi-weekly to monthly. Where I plan on talking about shows that I have gone to and the things that I think are important to independent wrestling.
First of all, thank you very much for taking a few moments out of your busy days and lives to visit The Wrestling Independent. For those of you who may not know me, I would wager that is probably most of you, I am Mike Fraschilla the host and owner of The Wrestling Independent. I'm simply an old wrestling radio host who, after 15 years, decided I wanted to get back into the game by podcasting. For the few of you who many know me, Hi Mom, it's probably from one of my published interviews.
If you look on the annals of the WayBackMachine and search for 'The Wrestling Fiasco', you'll find a horribly designed early 2000s website that featured a few college kids who happened to live next to Philly that were lucky enough to see the beginnings of the likes of CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, CZW, ROH, MLW, and more. Because of our location we got to talk to everyone from John Zandig, the Blue Meanie, Mick Foley, Reckless Youth, and just about everyone else who made their way through the Philadelphia area from 2001-2005. It was one of the craziest times in the business, and we practically lived at the ECW Arena as we were there sometimes 2-3 times a weekend. We were young, dumb, and impressionable. Without going into details, a number of people who we met and hung out with passed away and life started to happen.
After watching the rise of AEW, the amazing talent on the local scene, and the rise of a dozen or so national bound companies, I started feeling the itch that I had as a teenager. Then, the pandemic hit. My Father died. My best friend, who took me to my first wrestling show died. And, like a lot of us, I reevaluated my life and wanted to think about what makes me happy. And like going through boxes at your parents house, I rediscovered what I really loved about wrestling. I miss the conversations. Seeing Punk and Bryan Danielson debut reminded me of the few times I got to talk to them. I reconnected with a few wrestlers that I haven't talked to in a few years. Thank you very much to Bay and Brian.
So, what is The Wrestling Independent and what am I trying to accomplish?
Fun fact about me: I don't like the WWE. I appreciate the WWE. I've watched the PPVs, I've had Network subscriptions, I remember the big moments. But they've always just kind of been there for me. They're spectacle and moments. They're fun. But they aren't what I loved growing up. I was a WCW/NWO fan. So, for the past number of years I've watched them, but it wasn't what I loved.
While I am positive that almost everyone whom I have mentioned has forgotten a lot of the interactions I have had with them because of the tens of thousands of people they've met, it left a lasting impression on me.
That's where The Wrestling Independent comes in. I wanted to take my love of wrestling, talking to wrestlers, and going to independent shows. My idea behind The Wrestling Independent is to find a way to connect fans with wrestlers and help the wrestlers feel as though they've been on the journey with them.
My interviews with wrestlers are centered around 3 questions: 1 - When did you become a wrestling fan? 2 - What made you finally step into the ring? 3 - If you could go back and tell (whatever the answer to 1 was) about that journey, or give advice to them, what would it be? That's the High School teacher in me.
What I have is some beautiful stories from wrestlers. The first thing I have heard from a number of the interviews is "that's interesting, I never thought about that." Madness from PCW talked about how he wished he was honest with himself. Ken Anderson said he wish he would have known it would not have lasted. A number of wrestlers have talked about how alone they felt. That's how they found their friends. Two people talked about how wrestling helped them come to terms with their sexuality. If you ever listen to the show and only have 5 minutes, try listening to the last 5 minutes of the show. Tears, laughter, realization. It's what wrestling is really about.
Remember, wrestling is a community. Invite your friends. Talk to your parents. And be helpful and kind to each other. As I have told just about every promoter, wrestler, referee, podcaster... How can I help?
If quoting or using any part of this article, please credit The Wrestling Independent.