An introduction to e-wrestling

I started watching wrestling when I was 11. At least, that’s as far back as my memory goes. I had several neighborhood and school friends who watched along with me and much of my 80’s childhood was spent following the larger-than-life adventures of musclebound dudes in spandex (as the old cliché goes). It was pretty awesome.

Like most fans I’ve encountered I drifted away from it once I became an “adult” and didn’t have time for things from my youth. And like most of those same fans I eventually came back, in my case lured by the now adult-oriented product of the late 90’s “Attitude Era”. Sharing an apartment with a couple of like-minded friends, I became hooked on the WWF/WCW Monday Night Wars and the gritty underdoggedness of ECW. When those days gave way to a tamer product I shifted my fandom towards the more “workrate” focused Ring Of Honor promotion. In recent years I have submersed myself in the explosion of archival footage now available through the WWE Network and YouTube, as well as tried to assimilate the Japanese pruroreso scene. My appreciation for wrestling as an art form has changed drastically since those early days, but whatever my focus I am still a fan and forever will be.

During the peak of my return to fandom in early 1999 I discovered the online phenomena known as e-wrestling. Mostly emailed based, the game featured wrestling fans (or “handlers” as we were called) from all over the world trying their hand at creating the kind of storylines we were following on TV. You would create a wrestling character from the ground up and be pitted against others in matches where the winner would be determined based on who submitted the most impressive written “roleplay”. It was basically a combination of smacktalk and writing skill. Winners determined, the guy running the e-fed would ultimately release an entire written card containing all the matches (with results, obviously) and “filmed segments” like you’d see on a typical wrestling show of the time, all presented as though you were essentially reading a transcript of the broadcast. It was a pretty elaborate and time consuming hobby and I dove in. Deep.

Over the roughly five year period I spent playing the game I created a number of characters, ran my own promotion, and participated in some really fun projects. As a result I wrote a LOT. I can’t even venture an estimate at this point of how many hours I spent toiling over my own character roleplays or writing matches for other characters (the match-writing duties were often shared by multiple parties rather than falling solely in the lap of one guy). Some of it was good, a lot of it was awful, and taken out of context most of it won’t make a lick of sense to somebody attempting to read it now. That said, I have all this stuff archived and every now and then I get a kick out of going back over what I once wrote, so I thought I’d add it to the Woofamania blog since it represents the most consistent creative writing stretch of my life.

Wrestling exists in a weird societal vacuum at times and the late 90’s/early 00’s was no different. What was acceptable behavior within the world of pro grappling would not fly in regular society (which was, to be fair, the major part of its appeal), so a lot of what you will read (if you dare to) will probably come across quite juvenile and crass. The writing is often pretty hackneyed for reasons that should be obvious by now. Since the purpose of the game was twofold: to tell a decent story and to, you know, WIN, some of the roleplays suffer from trying to serve two masters. Plus the set-up for the game itself was strangely ahead of its time. Back then most real shows consisted of matches, formal interviews, and the occasional backstage “segment”. E-wrestling was built on the premise that wrestlers were constantly cutting promos on each other during other parts of the day when they weren’t at the arena. Once the internet grew up a bit in the late 00’s, that idea started to seep into actual wrestling as websites expanded their ability to host video content. Ring Of Honor, for example, was one of the first promotions to exploit YouTube by constantly uploading mini promos from their wrestlers to hype up-coming matches in pretty much the same way e-wrestlers had. Like I said, we were oddly ahead of our time.

So enjoy this scrambled look into my personal archive of that weird time in my life. As I said, a lot of what I was going for with this stuff will be lost without the proper context. Much of roleplaying involved responding to what your opponent had to say and that will all be missing here as you’ll only be getting one side. That said, some of the stuff I wrote entertained the shit out of me all on its own (especially my more comedic characters) and may still do so today. Either way, it’s not getting read sitting on my hard drive at home, so I figured what the hell, might as well throw it up online. Like with everything I write, I can’t imagine people really caring about what I had to say, but I’ve been surprised before. Enjoy.

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