The Hermit Position: Destination Identity 

Recently I’ve travelled about down south and been to some fantastic shows. I stood cheering when the destructive Dave Mastiff seized the PCW Heavyweight Championship in Preston and I have witnessed Rockstar Spud capture the Southside Wrestling Heavyweight Championship in Stevenage to rapturous approval from the fans, it’s safe to say that the wrestling industry in the UK is certainly booming. On these travels there and back, I end up talking with wrestling fans about current events or nostalgia feeling about the past. During one discussion it got me thinking about is identity within wrestling.

Case in point, a main talking point recently has been TNA. Wrestling fans in there droves are shouting “TNA is over!”, “TNA is finished!”, “TNA roster is gone!”, Wait a minute there back again, oh there gone to GFW, oh they’re back again, oh they have gone to get ice cream, oh they’re back again, turns out Dixie didn’t buy Josh Matthews a flake in his 99 cone and he’s pissed off. Honestly I grow tired of the sheer enjoyment some wrestling fans seem to have reporting the turmoil develop in a company that has been in existence for more than thirteen years. These are people with jobs, wrestlers perform giving their all in the ring and what do you sometimes read on social media? The negativity.

Do you really care about the situation’s that develop behind the scenes while a successful movie was made?

I could go into full detail in equal measure of the successes and failures of TNA but to be honest, I’m more interested in where they are going now, don’t say employment line cause we have all heard that joke before and it’s getting tiresome. I read so much from fans hating them and insulting the shows, it makes me wonder why the buy rate/viewership is lower than expected, with so many people claiming they watched the shows that they hate so much.

If there was a clear direction of where the company was going, a statement or symbol of what set TNA apart from everyone else maybe fans would have an idea of what to look for, previously there was the six-sided ring, the Knockouts Division, the Tag Team Division and the X-Division, each point and each division at one point were thriving. A proud beacon of what TNA represented. Some bad deals later and TNA is trying to find itself again among the chaotic wrestling industry and new rivals on the horizon. If there was a direction fans may not focus on the event’s behind the scenes.

Alternatively, Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW). This week the sales for Fear and Loathing at the SECC surpassed the ticket sales they had for the Barralands, meaning it’s going to be the most successful sell out they have had in the company’s history.

Amazing right? Damn right!

A company that started off in Maryhill, performing in front of a small audience. But with spilling blood, actually a lot of blood, sweat and an amazing amount hard teamwork, the team there have fought to get recognised as a legitimate wrestling company.

Did you mean ICW was not legitimate?! For years, traditional fans have said that ICW isn’t really wrestling, it’s tables, it’s chairs, it’s hardcore! Oh my…there was a stigma of sorts that had fans divided, but anyone who went to a show couldn’t fault it, it isn’t just about the hardcore. Yes, hardcore has had its moments, it wasn’t the main thing the public took from the shows visited was the wrestling and the emotional storylines that came along with it.

Case in point: Liam Thompson was a hero and a villain in the space of five minutes when at Barramania, he cut a heartfelt promo on his fiancé, Carmel Jacob, who minutes earlier lost a ‘Loser Leaves ICW’ match. His speech had some of the hardened ICW fans in tears, until he suddenly struck her with a chair shot that had those same fans wanted to see him ending the night in the bottom of the Clyde. Now that’s an example of the emotion that an ICW show brings. However, the success isn’t just about the shows, it’s the business acumen. BBC snapped up the first Insane Fight Club then a second with a possible third on the way, the on demand service is doing fantastic and did I mention the computer game is on the way at Christmas?

So two different companies, two completely different set ups and two completely different situations. One is worldwide, the other isn’t. One is successful, one has having difficulty. One has a strong identity, one doesn’t. If you read all the facts, you’ll struggle to think which company is worldwide and which is the most successful.

In some ways it comes down to identity. It is true, identity is a vastly important thing in life and wrestling. A new fan can tell the difference between a heel and a face just from the entrance. A star or an amateur can be shown from the confidence demonstrated in a match. A company will fall if they have no long term objective and haven’t made it clear what they bring to the wrestling table.

So analysing the facts, with so many wrestling promotions around and many new ones in development, maybe, just maybe ICW could be the unexpected role model for wrestling companies who have no clear idea of what they want from this industry and what there company represents. Perhaps look at ICW who have had a long term version and realised if they knew who they were, they knew what they stand for, success is possibly within their grasp and anyone who follows suit.