A large majority of fans get their weekly intake of wrestling from live TV or pay-per-view. However, I’ve learned that many fans do not know much about the indie scene and the different entertainment it provides.
That said, the attitude and entire feel are significantly different from bigger concerts, which may occasionally surprise fans. An ardent independent event goer, I thought of creating a guide for first-time indie show-goers.
1. Bring cash!
Most venues don’t have ATMs or card readers. This can be very frustrating when you want to buy merchandise to support a newfound favorite or desperately need a bottle of water and you have no cash on hand.
2. Expect some…interesting gimmicks
This isn’t a bad thing, in my opinion, just something I’ve noticed and completely took me off guard at my first show. Independent shows often have some crazy, out-there gimmicks. These are normally comedy-based characters and should be respected just as much as the more serious characters. If AEW can have a dinosaur, independent wrestling can have a “Super Atomic Thunderfrog.”
3. Prepare to move!
Depending on what show you are at, the normal “in-ring” entertainment you’re used to might come out into the crowd. I’ve been to plenty of shows that I’ve physically had to get up from my seat so wrestlers didn’t suicide dive directly into my lap. Some people aren’t a fan of being so close to the action, however, I enjoy the more immersive experience and up-close encounters you can get from indie matches.
4. Wear deodorant…please.
A lot of shows are held in smaller venues where all the fans are in close proximity to each other. Especially in the summer, wearing deodorant is crucial so you don’t upset the fans near you.
5. Sometimes liquor is available for purchase, please don’t drink if you know you’ll get aggressive, or predatory.
Just like the tip above, this is something that should be followed daily. If you are of legal age and can drink there’s a chance that you take it too far. Maybe you have too many beers and I get it, you were having a good time. However, if you know that you are an aggressive drunk or sexually aggressive when drunk, you should put down the bottle.
I myself have been the victim of someone who drank too much at a show and got very touchy. As stated earlier, shows can already be crowded. No one deserves to have another human touching them nonconsensually and being gross in a place they came to have a good time. No one deserves that regardless of the situation or place.
I was lucky that I had many friends at the show and was able to get away while we waited for security to escort the man from the venue. If you do find yourself in an unfortunate situation like this, please tell someone and security. People come to shows to have fun. All workers know that and want you to enjoy your time. They’ll be happy to help.
6. Respect the wrestlers and fellow attendees
Independent shows are very personal and intimate in a way. You often get very close to the action and after the show, you’ll probably get a chance to meet the talent at their merch table. As a girl chasing the wrestling dream, I love being able to talk to the female talent after shows. I’ve gotten many great conversations with up-and-coming stars and indie legends.
However, I also do my best to respect the wrestler’s time. No one wants to wait in line forever just to buy a shirt cause someone is talking the talent’s ear off. Other fans would like a chance to see the talent too and the wrestlers are probably tired to a certain extent, especially if you see them after the shows are over. I’ve met many wonderful wrestlers that give as much time to each fan as possible, however, I think it’s a kind and courteous habit to just buy your merch, get your picture, say your compliments and move on.
Along with respecting the wrestlers’ time, please remember to respect their privacy and boundaries as well. This doesn’t just go for meeting talent at merch tables, but Twitter, Instagram, or any other way you interact with them. Don’t ask personal questions like what their “real name” is or where they live. Don’t be touchy or make lewd, unnecessary comments. Some wrestlers don’t mind hugs or you putting their arm around them when taking a picture, but please ask before you do so.
Most indy talents are very welcoming and happy to meet fans. However, they have every right to turn you away or block you if you disrespect them. They are people too.
I often think that as fans we sometimes forget that wrestlers are people and not just the character they play in the ring. Wrestling is a show. A theatrical simulation of a fight with dynamic characters and plots. These people aren’t their characters, for most their in-ring gimmick is a facade. Wrestling can be so immersive and can pull you in with relatable themes, issues, and characters that I think some fans believe they truly know these people. You don’t, please stop acting like you do and respect that.
Independent shows are some of the most fun experiences I’ve had as a fan. However, they can be a bit much as previously stated if you aren’t aware. But if you are respectful and courteous to those around you, and know what to expect, I can almost guarantee that you will have a wonderful time.
Other independent show attendee vets, if I missed any tips or unspoken rules, please share this article on Twitter and tell me your input.