On September 7, 2011, I posted my first column as a member of the Main Page here at LordsOfPain. A number of writers from the Columns Forum had been recently called up, and I was lucky enough to be among those chosen. By the time the 7th rolled around, I had known I was a member of the Main Page for a few days, but had yet to post my first column. It wasn't for a lack of ideas, I just wasn't sure which direction to take. Should I post my "bread and butter" TNA review? Or, since first impressions are important, should I take a different route and really introduce myself to this new set of readers that may not have seen much of my work before? Eventually, I decided on the latter option.
Recently I decided to go back and read that first column out of simple curiosity. It didn't turn out exactly how I wanted it to, but it seemed to be fairly well received, especially considering I was relatively unknown to the majority of LOP readers. It was different than any column I had written before it, and I haven't really written anything similar since.
I've decided to repost that first column today for a couple of reasons. First, it's been a while since I've posted a column (my followers on Twitter know what's going on, I won't bother explaining the details here). Second, and more important than the first, I wanted you fine readers to see how "far" I've come since joining the Main Page. I think I've refined my style a bit since then, but I'm curious to see what you guys think. So without further delay, here is the first column I ever posted here on lordsofpain.net.
Welcome fellow wrestling fans to the first edition of the new and improved column by yours truly, The Crow's Nest. I will be your host through this journey of wrestling discussion, and I am known as TheCrow.
Some of you may be confused as to why I'm here on the main page instead of my usual home over in the Forums. Well in case you missed the news, yours truly has joined the Main Page. When I first received the offer I was sure that a mistake had been made. There's a lot of talent here on the MP folks, and I didn't know that I was ready to join the likes of SuperChrisss, Hustle, Tito and many other great writers from the past because it's guys like that that made me stay on this website over any other for my wrestling news fix. But once I accepted the offer, I knew that I would have to elevate my game to a new level. I am honoured to be here amongst some of the best writers that the IWC has to offer.
But none of you came here to see me kiss a bunch of ass, and if you did I suggest that you may be on the wrong website. You all came here to read a column about the industry that we all love, so let's get to that shall we? Not a super long entry today, but I'll be writing on a regular basis so I'm not too worried about that. Probably not a daily thing, but expect to see me around fairly frequently. Coming to you live from my new home in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, I would once again like to welcome you all to The Crow's Nest.
If you are unfamiliar with my work in the Forums, allow me to briefly explain what it is I was doing over there. A while back there was a column on the Main Page entitled The TNA Tirade, and it was the only column around here that wrote strictly about the #2 wrestling company in North America. When the author of that column stopped posting, I knew that there was a gap that needed filling. While other writers certainly wrote about TNA on occasion, there was such a lack of regular coverage that I knew I had found my new gimmick. I had tried various columns in the Forums before to reasonable success, but nothing ever really felt right. Considering I was already a pretty big fan of the TNA product, there was only one solution in my mind.
Start a new column that focused purely on the TNA product.
In a tribute to the column that inspired me, I titled my column The TNA Tribute and after some tweaking I found a format that worked for me. I began watching iMPACT closer than ever before and reviewed the action (with my own commentary of course) each and every week. My goal with this column was not only to write about something other than WWE. My main goal above all others was to provide an impartial voice for a company that I feel is too often dumped upon, even when they do something right. While the product is far from perfect, I felt that TNA still deserved credit for any success they might have, and my new movement was born.
Very quickly I gained just as many haters as I had fans. A lot of people questioned my loyalty to a company that so often falls short of its potential and no matter how hard I tried, they would not be convinced. Throughout my time writing The TNA Tribute, I received more than one email filled with vulgar and offensive language that attacked me on both a personal and "professional" level, and for a while it did begin to get to me. I had never been on the receiving end of such unnecessary and unwarranted hatred before as a result of my writing, and while it did nothing to shake my fandom it did shake my confidence as a writer. I was used to receiving a couple of constructive criticisms, and I appreciated those above any other comments because they were instrumental in helping me to improve, but some of the things being said to me were in a whole other ball park of messed up.
The emails ranged from barely coherent abominations of the english language to well written (albeit still filled with vulgarity, but at least they could spell and construct sentences properly) bits that attacked anything from my writing, to my fandom, to my personal life, and in one case even to my family. I've chosen to share with you a couple of examples of the things I would see in my inbox from time to time. I've also chosen to not post the emails of the senders because as much as I would like to see them all castrated and thrown into the deepest pits of hell, I do not wish to start drama for or with these people. Even assholes deserve mercy sometimes.
An example of the less than proper use of the English language
Better grammar and spelling, but still just unnecessary
But just as I was considering "quitting", I realized something. I may have had my share of haters, but I also had some fans that were coming by my column every week and praising what I was doing. On more than one occasion I was told that reading my iMPACT review was more entertaining than iMPACT itself, and despite the shot at the TNA product within that compliment to me, I began to regain my confidence. I learned how to laugh it off when I would receive a hate-filled email and I just kept on doing what I was doing.
One reader in particular I speak to on a regular basis, and though he doesn't want me to mention his name in this column, what he said to me is very important. I shared with him all of my concerns and doubts about what I was doing, and he helped me to get through all of it. Recently however, he asked me a question that inspired this very column you are reading now. "Are you still just a TNA fan Crow? Or are you a full-fledged TNA mark."
This was not the first time I had been asked a question like that. It may have been the first time it was worded without a lot of profanity or attitude, but it was a question I had asked myself before. Am I a TNA mark that refuses to say a bad thing about the company? Or am I still an impartial fan that writes with a fair voice. My main defence has always been that I am a fan of professional wrestling, and that my fandom is too great to only be a fan of one company. I would say that it didn't matter if the wrestling show was performed in a sold out arena or a school gymnasium with 30 people in the crowd, because above all else, I am a professional wrestling fan.
But how do I better make the argument that those claims still reign true and that I'm not a mindless TNA mark that cheers for everything? The answer is simple. I wanted to write a column today that detailed my long and arduous journey to some epic and enlightening epiphany, but that would be a work of fiction. When I watch TNA, either live on TV or on one of the many DVDs that are in my collection, I do not hesitate to criticize things that I see that anger me as a wrestling fan. Whether it's Abyss doing…well, anything on TV… or just foolish booking decisions, TNA is just as vulnerable to my "wrath" as any other company. The problem I have with a lot of my detractors is that they are the kind of people that follow the WWE herd no matter what just because they're the top game in town, and far too often after trying to talk to these people it becomes very clear that they have rarely (if EVER) watched the TNA product and realized what they have to offer. If you've watched this season of Big Brother at all (I know, it's a guilty pleasure, don't judge me), this guy named Adam has basically been floating along the entire time and only ever seems to remain loyal to someone as long as they have some form of power in the house, and as soon as that power shifts he tries to get on board with the new leader. You haters out there that have dumped on me and my work just because I choose to remain a fan to a company that isn't the top game in town, which is harder than a lot of people think, are just like Adam. You're floaters. I on the other hand am more like Evel Dick in that I make my opinions known, and at the end of the day changing my opinion is not something that is easily done.
Can you guess which one the haters remind me of?
Ahem…well, that paragraph took a turn towards becoming a rant. Let's move on shall we?
This morning though, a new thought occurred to me. Nearing the end of my road trip to my new home here in Vancouver, one of the first things I put on my "To-Do" list was to find local wrestling shows and go to some. Not WWE or TNA live events, but local wrestling promotions where I can see performers who truly love what they do (because it clearly isn't for the money). While I haven't had a chance to cross that particular task off of my list just yet (unpacking is a bitch, just sayin'), the fact that the thought even crossed my mind at all should prove that I am far from a mindless TNA mark. Now more than ever I have reinforced my view that I am far from a mark, I am a fan of professional wrestling.
So what was my goal in explaining all of this? To be honest, I had multiple goals in mind when I decided on this material for my debut column on the Main Page. Of course my first goal was to introduce myself and my personal wrestling philosophy to some readers who may not have been exposed to my work in the past. During my time in the Forums (and of course the writing I've done outside of this site) I've developed my own voice and writing style that, while certainly inspired by the styles of my favourite writers and columnists, is distinctive and allows me to best get my opinions out there. My second goal, which I suppose also ties into my third goal, was to show any haters out there that my opinion of TNA will not change because of negative things that you say to me. I did not originally want to post screenshots of any of the emails that I was sent, but in the end I decided to do it so that you, the readers, could see more clearly what I was talking about. I am not complaining that I have haters, I am not whining about someone saying bad things to me, and I am not crying that someone dislikes something I wrote. I've said it before but I'll say it again, I appreciate constructive criticism over any kind of feedback because it is instrumental in me being able to improve as a writer. My third and main goal is best left to the end of this column as a conclusion of sorts, so to wrap things up I leave you with these words.
The mark of a true wrestling fan is the ability to recognize both greatness and potential in any company, promotion, or talent. In the same way that local bands often put on great concerts or sets in smaller venues, smaller wrestling promotions often put on great shows in smaller venues to a much smaller audience. Smaller does not necessarily mean less important or less good. In some cases it's just a matter of not yet being discovered by the wrestling (or music loving, to keep the analogy going) fan base at large. That being said I do recognize brand loyalty as an important part of being a wrestling fan because at the end of the day, professional wrestling is still a form of sport. For instance, I'm a big fan of the Chicago Blackhawks (that's a hockey team, if you weren't aware) but that does not in any way decrease the importance of other hockey teams in the league or sport. Without the minor leagues and national leagues in other countries the sport of hockey would quickly die out because the truly talented would never have a chance to be discovered. WWE would not be where they are without smaller promotions because how else are they supposed to find the next big star? In some ways WWE is a superior product to TNA, and that shows in their success for the past couple of decades. But on the flip side, TNA does some things better than WWE as well. Each company has their share of strengths and weaknesses, but the faults of TNA should not condemn it for good. I recognize the potential of TNA in the same way that I recognize the potential of an indy wrestler that performs in front of 40 people in a school gymnasium. It may take some time for that potential to turn into true success, but when that day comes, the reward of waiting will be worth it. It's all about faith folks, and more than anything that is what fuels my loyalty to the TNA product.
I mentioned earlier that I had a third goal in writing this column, and now is the time to state it. The goal of any good writer is to inspire thought and discussion in their readers, and my goal here is no different. To any of you who have read my work previously, do you agree that I am not a mindless TNA mark? Or do you feel that I have crossed over to the dark side. To anyone else, are you a true wrestling fan? Or are you a WWE fan. There's a very important distinction there. I am not in any way saying that I am a superior fan to someone who doesn't follow TNA by the way. As I mentioned earlier with my sports team analogy, brand loyalty is an important part of being a fan. So long as you can back up your reasons as to WHY you are such a loyal fan of a particular company or team, no one can accuse you of not being a true fan.
With that being said, that's all for me for today folks. As always I appreciate any and all feedback, and you can either leave it here on this page, as a PM to my LoP account, or to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It's been a pleasure folks, and I look forward to writing for you again. Adios amigos.