Welcome, everyone, to my first blog tour for OWLS (Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect). For those of you unfamiliar with OWLS:
We are a group of otaku bloggers who promote acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability. We emphasise the importance of respect, kindness, and tolerance to every human being. Even though we come from all walks of life, each and every one of our amazing members are dedicated to our cause!
As you can guess from the title, this month’s theme is “Pride”. Below is the prompt that was given to us:
In honor of “Pride Month,” we will be discussing the word, “Pride” and its meaning. We will be exploring pop culture characters’ most satisfying and joyful achievements or skills that they possessed and whether or not these qualities could be seen as a positive or negative aspect in their personal lives and/or society.
So what is pride? Given that it is “Pride Month”, the first thing that comes to mind is queer pride. Pride can also mean the following, according to fellow blogger Matt-in-the-Hat:
Pride is having the abundance of confidence on one’s own skills or traits. People can have pride on certain things like their skills in their hobbies or even their own personality such as being kind or cocky. Showing some pride can be a good thing because it shows how much the person cares about something and it makes them stand out and different.
Today, however, I’m going to play the black sheep of the blog tour and talk about a form of pride that is very personal to me: pride in an interest or fandom. In this case, my love for professional wrestling. On a personal note, this took a lot of courage and self-motivation for me to write about as this is a topic I usually keep to myself.
My love for professional wrestling began when I was very young. Before I was born, I was told that my late grandmother used to watch pro wrestling all the time on TV so I guess my interest in it stemmed from there. Like many others, I grew up watching WWE (or WWF as it was known back then) and my interest in it grew from there. During my Primary School years I would watch it on TV every week (even though, at the time, 20:30 was considered “late” for me) before eventually following it online when the Internet became more accessible. However, there was a period in my life where I stopped watching pro wrestling for 2 years. At the time, I kinda grew out of it and lost interest (probably because the matches and the storylines weren’t interesting). Funnily enough, though, my love for it reemerged when I was working on a science project in high school. To cut a long story short, I owned a WWE video game and used it to test the reaction times of participants. The rest, as they say, is history.
Smackdown VS RAW 2010: The game that brought me back to wrestling (Copyright: WWE & THQ)
While for most of my life I watched WWE as my source for wrestling, I knew, deep down, I wanted something…different. Something “alternative” to the WWE formula. Lo and behold I would find that “alternative” source through a wrestling match in 2017 between two wrestlers who, at the time, I didn’t know of: Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega.
(Copyright: New Japan Pro Wrestling)
The wrestling community online blew up over their match, heralding it as one of the greatest wrestling matches of all time. Intrigued by the praise the match was receiving I scoured the internet to find a video of it…
I WAS UTTERLY BLOWN AWAY!
It was one hour of pure, emotional, heart pounding action that I had not seen in a really long time (since Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 25). When it was all said and done, I felt out of breath; as if I was in the match myself. What made this match special was not only the amount of heart and effort the two put into the match, it was also the story that they told in the ring. Right then and there, I instantly fell in love with pro wrestling all over again.
Some of the highlights from their Wrestle Kingdom 11 match (Copyright: New Japan Pro Wrestling)
While I could go on and on about how I soon started watching Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling and later became a huge fan of Bullet Club, I know that a) I would probably bore you to death and b) lose sight as to the purpose of this post. So why did I choose to write about professional wrestling rather than do an analysis on an anime and its depiction of pride? The truth is that I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time, but I always had doubts about how it would be received by others (let alone on an anime blog). When I applied to become a part of OWLS and saw what their theme was for this month I thought, “Screw it! Let me be different and write about this!”
Drink it in maaaaaaaan (Copyright: WWE)
Pro wrestling has played an instrumental part of my life and I cannot imagine who I would be today without it. It’s been there for me through my happy times and also during the toughest of times. I have a lot of respect for the men and women who put their bodies on the line day in and day out and just watching them do what they do in the ring gives me a kick out of life. While that’s all nice and good, the biggest problem I have is sharing that love for the industry with others. Like any sort of fandom, it can feel very lonely when you have no one to talk to about your interests and that’s the position I find myself in; hence why I mostly keep quiet about it.
(Copyright: New Japan Pro Wrestling)
While we cannot deny wrestling’s impact on mainstream culture today – with wrestlers like John Cena, Dave Batista and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson making successful transitions into Hollywood and pop culture – there are still those who look at wrestling with disdain and think that it’s uncool. These are usually the people who like to shout “wrestling is fake!” Calling wrestling “fake” is a major disservice to the industry when you consider the pain that the wrestlers feel is real (this ain’t ballet, folks). A better way to describe wrestling is that it is “scripted” (i.e. the matches are predetermined) and yes, most fans already know this. And the fact is, we don’t care! You wouldn’t watch a film or TV show and say “that’s fake!” because you know it’s supposed to entertain you. That’s the same thing with pro wrestling: it’s a form of entertainment. It has made me laugh, cry and hate it (on occasion), yet I still keep coming back for more.
You can’t make this stuff up, folks (Copyright: Ring of Honor)
So what is the main message that I want you to take from this? DON’T BE ASHAMED OF YOUR FANDOM. RATHER BE PROUD OF IT! Even if you feel that your fandom is something that you would consider “embarrassing” (e.g. having an interest in BL or otome games) remember that your fandom makes up who you are and also makes you unique. The fact that I mustered up the confidence to write this post is a testament to my pride in being a pro wrestling fan. If I can do it, so can you. So don’t be ashamed to wear that T-shirt or post about your fandom on social media, rather choose to embrace it. Be proud of who you are. Be yourself!
With that being said… (Copyright: New Japan Pro Wrestling)
If you enjoyed reading this, be sure to check out Gigi from Animepalooza’s blog tour tomorrow. Alternatively, if you’d like to check out previous or upcoming posts for this blog tour, be sure to check out the Blog Tour Schedule on the OWLS blog site.