We’re pleased to announce Babs of CHIKARA 101 fame as part of the Occupy Pro Wrestling team! Babs has been a great part of the 101 community, and has published some great articles there, such as this one! Be sure to check out the rest of her writing under the “Articles” thread at the 101 forums!
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August 16th marked my four-year anniversary of being a Chikara fan. My very first show was Night 3 of Young Lions Cup in 2009. As I spent that sweltering afternoon in the ECW arena, I wouldn’t have guessed that I would eventually fall in love with it. I also didn’t know that it would lead me to realize that I never really loved wrestling before Chikara.
I’ve watched wrestling since I was 13. A female friend of mine, another wrestling fan, invited to sleep over and watch Summerslam 1992. I was enthralled by the entire show, from the in-ring action to the entrances to the energy of the crowd. But most of all, I was captivated by the story and emotion involved in the Intercontinental Championship match between Bret and Davey Boy and to this day, it’s what I remember about the PPV most vividly.
Immediately, I started watching and reading everything I could. I taped every PPV, Raw, and Superstars episode. I even taped a few old WCW Saturday Night shows. My Monday nights were permanently booked and spent watching Raw while flipping to Nitro during the commercials. I went to every show in Philly, starting with the December 5th, 1992 show in the old Spectrum. Nothing beat the experience of being in the live crowd, especially in the late 1990’s at the start of the Attitude Era. Video doesn’t accurately capture how wild it was. It was like being part of a modern-day bacchanal. It was amazing. I thought I loved wrestling then.
How do we know if we are in love? Love is one of life’s great mysteries, and perhaps it’s different for everyone, but I think that there are some universal truths. When we are in love, we want to immerse ourselves in the relationship, whether it’s with a person or activity. Love captivates us and holds us spellbound in its wonders. New love changes our point of view, making life feel new and full of possibility. Our senses are heightened and we feel everything more deeply than we did before.
Then the 2000’s came. In 2001, I got married and was finishing my Bachelors. Between my now ex-husband’s disapproval of wrestling and the death of several of my favorite wrestlers, particularly Owen Hart, I stopped watching. I didn’t feel the itch to watch for the next seven years. My wrestling VHS collection, which was at well over 200 tapes, went up into the attic, along with my Shawn Michaels hat and glasses. Eventually, they were given away at the demand of my ex. It felt a little sad and nostalgic, but not enough to start watching again. I figured that maybe my wrestling watching days were a childhood phase.
The passionate and exciting emotions felt in the beginning of any kind of relationship fade over time, but if a true love and connection exists, they are replaced with feelings that run deeper and hold more meaning. We discover the relationship is actually rooted in something solid and stable, able to withstand the elements and survive. From its strong roots, it blossoms into the kind of love that should be cherished. It becomes the kind of love that is worth saving and protecting. True love is a rare gift in this world. I believe that if you truly love something or someone, you don’t give up or let it go so easily.
In 2007, my ex and I separated. I started to build a life of my own, filled with things I enjoy, like gardening, quiet Sunday mornings, new writing projects, and tea. But wrestling was still missing. That changed at the end of 2007, when I met my friend Jay. He was a wrestling fan and when we would talk, wrestling would come up in conversations. Talking about it made me nostalgic again, this time it was enough to inspire me start to watch again. I was surprised by how much had changed, but also by how much stayed the same. However, I didn’t jump right in, like I did in 1992.
Jump forward to the summer of 2009, Jay invited me to Chikara, knowing that I was watching wrestling again. I agreed to go, thinking that even if I didn’t like it, at least I would get to hang out and spend time with him. When he invited me, I remember saying: “I think you’ll really like Chikara.” It would have been nice if he had told me a bit more about it than that. I’m pretty sure you can get a glimpse of me in crowd looking utterly confused. But he was right. I did like it and had a good time. So I started coming to the Philly shows and learning who people were, the rules, and the history. As the months passed, slowly but surely, my interest was growing.
Some of the best and strongest relationships are the ones that start slowly. When we take our time, relationships get the chance to grow those strong roots it needs to last. We get to feel the excitement of learning something new about the other with each new experience. Sudden, passionate love is wonderful and exciting, but it usually dies quickly and leaves us wanting in the end. That’s because it’s built on illusions and unrealistic expectations that stop it from growing into something that can endure.
I was developing a very serious like in Chikara, but King of Trios 2011 changed everything. It was my first KOT and I can honestly say I fell in love with Chikara that weekend. It was the best weekend of wrestling I’ve ever been to, but also the saddest and most emotional weekend I’ve been a part of. Every KOT is good, but 2011’s event was transcendent and more than just a wrestling event. I’ve seen amazing moments and experienced some incredible things over all my time as a wrestling fan, but nothing was like what I saw and felt during those three days. Maybe the only thing that has come close for me is Summerslam 1992.
After that weekend, Chikara became my favorite promotion to watch. The more I watched, the more I loved it. I’m a Chikara Girl and I will proudly tell everyone that. I loved the comedy, the emotional intensity, the long-term storylines, the colorful characters, and variety of wrestling styles. But most of all, I loved being there, something I hadn’t since the late 90’s. It was one of the most welcoming and friendly environments I’ve been part of. I didn’t love everything and wasn’t a fan of everyone, but I have a lot of respect for the entire locker room and crew. Chikara’s become a muse for me. It’s given me a way to express myself and my passion the best way I know how, which is through my writing. Chikara has given me so much. I want to give back. My writing is how I show my support for it and the locker room. I never felt that way about wrestling or a wrestling company before.
In love, we don’t have to love or even like everything about the other party. We may enjoy being around them most of the time, but there will always be some traits and behaviors that we don’t like and just can’t stand. Love forces us to move beyond just tolerating the things that irritate us about the other and teaches us how to accept and appreciate them. Acceptance encourages the relationship to a deeper level and makes it more rewarding. Love inspires us to give and drives us do everything we can to tend it, support it, and make it grow. It’s a lot of work and there is always some sacrifice, but the gifts love brings make the effort worth it, because they are usually exactly what we need.
It said that one of the great truths of life is that everything dies. I disagree. I don’t think love does and, in fact, I think it’s more powerful than death. Love changes and transforms over time, but if it’s real and true, it keeps going on long after one or both of the participants in the relationship pass away. Losing love is one of the most painful things anyone can experience, but once the pain passes, we can find healing in the very love and relationship we lost. In loss, we learn that love is something we carry with us, no matter where we travel or what new people and things life brings to us. Love is a permanent part of who we are. It’s something we never forget.
It seems like Aniversario was a lifetime ago, even though it’s been only three months. That’s a very short amount of time, but it’s enough time for everything to change in wrestling. Chikara is over, but a small part of me refuses to accept it. I’ll do whatever I can to help bring it back; because I love Chikara and I think it’s worth fighting for. But if we fail and it doesn’t come back, I would eventually move on and find other Indy’s and places to watch my Chikara favorites. I do have a local Wrestling is (Wrestling is Cool) and don’t mind driving out for WiF. I hope to attend a WiR show soon and eventually I’ll make it out to Cleveland for AIW. But nothing could make me forget Chikara and my love for it.