My dad used to talk about how he felt when he watched things like Naked Gun or Monty Python, where he not only laughed at the jokes, but laughed at himself for laughing at them, which just made you laugh more. . you had.
It can happen with other things and emotions, when their actual actions cause you to fall deeper into the emotions that caused them. Sports can bring us to tears, in both good and bad ways. Good movies or shows can do the same (or even mediocre ones if you’re on a plane, since everyone seems to cry over everything while watching on a plane. 16 blocks on a single transatlantic flight. Birthday cake!) And you find yourself getting emotional about something you know isn’t real, or isn’t really yours in any logical sense, and you feel even more helpless and after that lose myself more because, you can’t really pull out of it.
So of course, in that other world between sports and fiction that wrestling lives in, it can also trigger all sorts of emotions that you can’t predict, definitely don’t know what to do and have no choice but to dive in. And I was there when Thunder Rosa became the AEW women’s world champion last night:
My facial expression wasn’t too different from Rosa’s when she introduced Aubrey Edwards to the count of three.
Even if you don’t know anything about Thunder Rosa, or even about wrestling, it’s hard for her emotions not to spill over the screen and touch you (and from the numerous fan videos on Twitter, it did the same throughout the arena in its hometown of San Antonio). It was obviously the world to her and obviously a great moment not only for her but for the fans as well.
Now, it’s easy to get put off and move on to acting, although that’s a pretty high level of acting if that’s all you’re labeling it. Apparently, Thunder Rosa knew she was going to win before the game, and probably weeks before that. But if you’re even a casual fan, you know that being crowned champion means a lot more than just playing the part of that night for the company. That is affirmation. It’s a statement that for that company and that booker involved, you are the best we have and we want you to surpass this entire department in whatever way we make it. . We want you to be in the biggest games, the ones we’ll be promoting the most, and in the case of AEW, giving you the most TV time (this is relative when mentions AEW and its female division, but we’ll leave that out for now). And when you’re someone like Thunder Rosa, who spent years honing before even getting a spot in AEW, it’s the culmination of all the work, sacrifices and choices. there. Driving for miles, shows sparsely attended, one’s body being beaten repeatedly, all lead to this. So there is no acting there. All of that has happened and she has to deal with it in that moment, in front of thousands of people. Even if she knew long in advance, she couldn’t realize what it would feel like until she was there.
(The other tear-jerking moment of this video is watching Edwards intro as she lifts Rosa’s arm to the title, because she’s clenching that jaw pretty hard to keep it together.)
So it exists in the midst of the emotions that real sport, always focusing on the road traveled and the job done and the canyon of failure that always waits around every turn, and the fictional stories. texture gives us every day, which means fans like me get it from both ends, basically. And if you’re like me, there’s an even more personal connection to Thunder Rosa. About three years ago, maybe a little less, I met her at my local indie gig, Freelance Wrestling. From there – a dingy theater in front of 200 people in a six-man fight between the sexes that was highly entertaining but pretty funny (the kind of venue where my girlfriend and I joked that COVID just stood 7th on your list of things to worry about catching) – win one of the biggest titles in the industry in front of 10,000 people live and a million TV viewers. It’s clear that even then, in theater all these years ago, she was already a star, her charisma astounds you and her in-ring ability second to none. To be a part of that journey in even the smallest way is much more difficult.
And AEW has allowed fans to do that for a lot of people. Even if you have never seen these wrestlers in India or in Japan in person, they make sure you know everything that has happened to them and where they come from so you can feel like you have do. Adam Page’s tour through NJPW and ROH was marked before he won the men’s title. Scorpio Sky, the current TNT champion, is the original AEW and the darling of indie style with SCU. Eddie Kingston’s rise to perhaps the most famous wrestler on the list is because people have been told about his roots in the business and his life in general.
To be fair, AEW has to do it, as it only has two years of history as a company. But it’s still the opposite of how WWE essentially tries to erase any trace of the wrestlers before they even get to the company. If you are going to recall what happened to you before joining WWE, you should do it in a way that Vince McMahon can’t really notice. That’s not to say WWE can’t pull these strings. Big E’s title-winning did much of the same for many, making it all the more infuriating that his title-winning streak had been wasted. The Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson run to and win at Mania 30 is that for a lot of people. But again, Bryan was able to call out his entire journey, not just in WWE.
There’s just something about watching someone reach the pinnacle of their career, their passion in life, when they themselves can wonder if they’ll ever get there. Maybe wrestling has a cheat code. We are only fans of sporting achievements, mere witnesses, even though we may be together, in a group. There is a connection there. The fictitious stories are completely segregated, but they are allowed to tap any notes they want.
Wrestling is both. Our connection with wrestlers is what helps propel them through the lower rungs of the ladder to bigger companies and up the roster. They can select all the notes to highlight that. We watch it together, it’s communal, even though it’s scripted. Sure, we can be manipulated by their choices and spellings, but we also have to participate. Our love of Thunder Rosa helped get her there. We all have to get something out of it, even just a scrap.
However, I still don’t want to cry because I struggled in front of anyone. Still not have.