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#6:

Story and Background Art by Tyler Schmidt, Senior Art Director

I'll be the first to admit that Pro Wrestling is one of the silliest fandoms you can be a part of. Grown adults pretending to fight, elaborate soap opera storylines and extravagant costumes…it all seems pretty ridiculous. I was a big fan of wrestling when I was a kid, during the glory days of the superhero-style characters like The Rock, but lost interest in middle school.

 

Around 2016 I decided I needed something dumb to watch, and it happened to be the week after WrestleMania. I signed up for a free trial and instantly felt like a little kid again. I didn’t care that it was scripted, it was just so engaging and fun. Soon after, some new friends I made at my local comic shop invited me to watch some independent wrestling with them.

 

As a punk rock kid at heart, this was an easy sell. A more free-spirited version of my reclaimed passion? There was no turning back from my obsession with this over-the-top, fictional sport now. Wrestling, especially independent wrestling, is much closer to improv than it is to fully choreographed acting. I loved the nuance you’d find in the stories of these smaller wrestling promotions and experimental ways they were evolving the sport

 

When the pandemic hit, my wrestling fan friend group became my saving grace. I was never one for group chats pre-COVID but when you’re living alone, being able to randomly message a group of friends about an old match you were watching was amazing. We’d do streams of live shows on Zoom, play a wrestling themed Dungeons & Dragons campaign I wrote for us, and share in the joy of the televised moments throughout 2020.

 

Early this year, a wrestling promotion we all loved hosted their largest show to date at the United Center. As soon as it was announced, we knew we needed to go together. When we finally got to our seats and the lights hit, it was electrifying.

 

The lights. The sounds. The action. It was simply incredible.

 

We may not have had good seats, but that didn’t matter. What mattered is that I was able to enjoy this silly-but-sincere shared passion again with my friends, in-person. It was one of the best moments of my year.

IMG_2780 - Tyler Schmidt.jpeg
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