Do wrestling fans today expect too much out of rookies? Do we demand instant improvement in their skills and dismiss them out of hand without giving them enough time to grow and develop? Some, including myself, would say yes. In this day and age, where we can have instant anything, if a newcomer isn't progressing as quickly as we would like, there is a tendency to write them off without a second glance. Along similar lines, if a rookie has a lot of "buzz" around them, and they fail to live up to our expectations, we are likely to ignore them even if they do start to come into their own. Wrestling fans can be brutally harsh, and yes I am including myself in this statement. I can be as harsh as the next person, but I try to give those starting out in the sport a fair chance to reach their potential. (Obviously, this doesn't apply to those who have been wrestling for, say, over seven years and are still at the same level they have been for awhile now.)
|Mia Yim (Credit to Bliz Photography)|
I can understand that not every wrestler will appeal to every fan. We all have our likes and dislikes, it's part of being a fan. However, it is a bit unfair to simply ignore someone who is just starting out and not give them a proper chance. Similarly, it is also unfair to brutally bury someone in public for having a bad match, especially when bad matches can happen to rookies and veterans alike. One specific case about a week ago caught my eye, when Absolute Intense Wrestling asked a question on Twitter: "What was the WORST match in AIW history?" A few fans answered with a match from Girls Night Out 7, Trash Cassidy versus Thunderkitty. Some went on to have a dig at Trash, specifically.
|From Girls Night Out 7. Credit: Myself|
Thunderkitty took on Trash Cassidy in TK's debut match. This was only Trash's second appearance for AIW, and given that I was unfamiliar with both, I went into this one completely blind. Thunderkitty's gimmick is that she is an "old time" wrestler and she is playing it to the hilt. The one piece outfit, her language, her personal ring announcer, coming out to no music - it all works brilliantly and makes her stand out. Trash...I'm still not too clear on her gimmick, other than she wears a lot of different colouring clothing to go along with her multi-coloured hair. Although she did throw out a great line: "I didn't know I was wrestling Mildred Burke!" The match was decent, but Trash got a "please don't come back" chant afterwards. Ouch.
Not long after AIW posed the aforementioned question, I asked her how long she had been wrestling. Trash responded, "About a year and a half if you account for time out with injuries and just not wrestling too much. Two years if you do include managing." When I asked her about the aforementioned match, she said that she had been sick with a high fever that day and still made it to the show to wrestle.
At this point, I was shaking my head. Here was a woman that, by all rights, should have been in bed and only had a year and a half experience, being pilloried thanks to not just this match, but a previous one against Mary Dobson at AIW. These two matches were, conceivably, her highest profile to date. Dobson is also a rookie, so you're not likely to have the best match between two rookies. However, Thunderkitty had more experience, so technically she should have led the match. Again, though, when you're sick it throws your body off, so I could see how things would have been off again that night.
A few days later, after the conversation, I and another tweeter received a message from Thunderkitty. She asked if we had seen her other work. To which, I replied that yes I had (at Insanity Pro Wrestling and SPARKLE). Thunderkitty then tweeted to us, "I got put against a lazy, clumsy opponent..I didn't exactly get a fair shake...but it happens." This took me by surprise. It was rather harsh to me. I said that from what I understood, Trash was seriously under the weather that night so it was just an off night. TK replied, "I don't recall her being under the weather. I DO recall her not being in ring shape though."
Wow. My further responses to her, stating that Trash hadn't been wrestling for very long and some wrestlers don't mix in the ring went unreplied to by her. She also tweeted the Ringbelles twitter, Thomas Holzerman's twitter and the AIW account that "someday, somewhere, I'm going to give people my exact thoughts on this match." Now, I fully admit that being friends with Trash makes me biased. However, even if I was not friends with her, I would never expect someone with as little time as she has in the ring to be good. Especially since she had been injured recently (or, I assumed as much since she mentioned being injured). Plus, being sick takes you off your game and that goes for athletes and non-athletes.
Personally, I felt it was unprofessional of Thunderkitty to publicly tear down someone with considerably less experience than herself. Even more-so after I went searching for information on her and found this blog that she wrote back in 2010 about how women in wrestling needed to get along since there were so few opportunities for them. http://www.santinobros.net/newsdesk_info.php?newsdesk_id=869 To her credit, Trash hasn't addressed any of the comments publicly, choosing discretion as the better part of valor in this case. The fact that TK said this publicly is a side point, but it's another example of private matters in wrestling being discussed publicly for fans to see. It's an unpleasant trend to say the least.
Back on point though, it's really saddening to see how quickly wrestling fans are to condemn inexperienced wrestlers. Above, I mentioned how people who dismissed Mia and Veda are now fans - this isn't a bad thing. It's great that they allowed themselves to be won over by their growth and improvement. At the same time, however, how are people going to improve if they aren't allowed opportunities to work with veterans and gain experience? I fear that due to the backlash she has suffered, Trash may not be offered the chance to work with other promotions and learn from their workers. Her, and others like her, are the next generation of potential stars. Wrestling fans often complain about the tendency of promotions to rely on past stars instead of cultivating new ones. How can new flowers grow and bloom without being watered and carefully nurtured?
There is also the fact that not everyone is a natural athlete. Some have to work hard to develop their skills. If you're thinking that these people should just give up, I have one name that should make you think twice. The Queen of Wrestling, Sara Del Rey, has said many times in interviews that wrestling did not come naturally to her. She had to work and work hard at it. Given that she became one of the world's best, should she have just given up since she didn't take to wrestling naturally?
|Prime example of giving a newcomer the chance to amaze you.|
It's akin to a garden. Plant the seeds, water them, nourish them, and see what grows. The results may surprise you.