By Ryan Gilbert

Greetings, you are reading the first edition of what I hope will be many “Slacker Writings” for PWpop.com. The great thing about calling my column “Slacker Writings” is if I only do one, keep saying I do more but never deliver, the name is completely accurate, but if I write a lot of columns then I am failing in the best way possible. I decided to call my column “Slacker Writings” based on my twitter name Slacker Writer. *cough cough* please follow me @slackerwriter where you can read what I say about wrestling, anime, esoteric Canadian pop culture and much more that I can’t write in a column format.

Truth is my name is Ryan Gilbert, a wrestling fan born and raised on the east coast of Canada, aka the houses, the village. Ya, ok, I had to put in a heritage minute reference in here somewhere to show proof that I like to dispense esoteric Canadian pop culture. I’ll try to restrain myself in the future… no promises though. I’ve been a wrestling fan for almost 20 years now. I don’t know if this should applauded or laughed at but I got into wrestling by watching Saturday Night and I’m not talking about the classic Saturday Night that was the cornerstone for Georgia Championship Wrestling and made Ted Turner’s Superstation a household name, I’m talking about the era of WCW Saturday Night that featured such stars like The Gambler, Hole in One Barry Darsow, High Voltage, Disorderly Conduct, Jerry Flynn, Bull Pain, the Roadblock and other oddities. Ok, if you want laugh, feel free but I don’t feel shame in saying that this was the program of this era that got me hooked as a fan. I knew about wrestling growing up. I knew the names of the day like Hogan, Flair, Hart, Michaels, etc, but I didn’t actively watch wrestling until the late 90’s.

It wasn’t just generic to awesome jobbers that got me hooked. I saw wrestlers like Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Eddy Guerrero, Booker T, Dean Malenko, Saturn, Raven, Kanyon, the list goes on. These were the work horses on Saturday Night that got me to watch Nitro and yes even Thunder. This was a time when wrestling was huge with the Monday Night Wars and suddenly I had all this access to view a unique form of entertainment with both WCW and WWF. I grew up watching action shows and cartoons like Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers but as a teen, those things were lame and wrestling became the IT thing. Since I was so late to the dance of the Monday Wars, I had to play catch up but luckily back then I had my resources to do so!

Around that time, my family got a home computer with the internet. Oh how do I love telling the kids today about the internet of the 90’s. To use the internet wasn’t simple… Dial up… ah I can still remember the sound of the computer, with the aid of a phone line, connecting to the World Wide Web, taking only a few minutes to go from page to page, good times.

While my friends were probably looking up their first boob, I was searching anything about wrestling like news sites. The first wrestling page I ever saw was Mr. Tito’s wrestling column on lordsofpain.net. I read his column every day when a new one came out. I absorbed so much information into my head about wrestling. I started learning about the indies, hearing about names like Christopher Daniels, Reckless Youth, etc. I was doing tape trading, watching stuff from Japan, Mexico, Europe, etc. I wanted to see all the wrestling there was and study it for an eventual run as champion myself.

Getting in the ring didn’t quite work out for me and I quickly realized that I loved writing wrestling more so than getting in the ring. I remember fondly playing the booking simulator game, Extreme Warfare Revenge, a game that you control the outcomes of matches and your goals included: increase ratings, buyrates, etc. All the while things coming at you like wrestlers getting injured, quitting, etc. It was the text based proximity of being a booker and promoter. I also wrote for wrestling internet federations called E-feds where you could start your own company or write for another. Roleplaying as a wrestler, writing text in either a message board or create your own geocities (RIP) and Angelfire page to showcase in written text why you were worthy of winning your match or perhaps a championship.

I did actually write for a promotion for a few years that featured actual wrestlers doing actual wrestling matches not contested on text on them computer screens. Having stars and legends coming in like Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, Marty Jannetty, Jim Duggan, Bushwhacker Luke and Hole in One Barry Darsow… actually he came in as Demolition Smash along with Bill “Axe” Eadie, but if it was me booking, he would have done the Golfer gimmick. Doing creative like that allowed me to learn much more about the business, but I’ll save some of those stories for a later time for a column that calls for it. You see, I’m hoping this column to be unique for PWpop.com. I don’t see myself writing about the week in wrestling but rather just thoughts I have as a fan and someone that contributed creative and “creative” ideas in wrestling, albeit on a local level.

Ok, you get one story right now but only to showcase how wrestling is rather unique and not to stretch content for this column like a verbal Stretch Armstrong. Now, I’m not going to use actual names because of reasons but maybe I’ll throw in a funny name if need be. So, the promoter, who was also a wrestler for the company, wanted me and the others on creative to come up with ideas for a yearlong feud between him and the top star that would cultivate at a cage match. Sounds simple right? Now the format that the company had was doing one show a month, so we had about 12 shows from start to finish. I immediately said that to make a feud interesting for that long, a different element has to come into play at a certain point. Something that turns a grudge in the ring into more something more personal that the audience, who already hates the heel, hates them on something they can relate to outside of the ring. The promoter listened to me about my idea and the first thing that came to my head was a program in Mid-South between The Freebirds and Junkyard Dog where they blinded the JYD and it was revealed that he missed seeing the birth of his child. The Freebirds bragged about that and it made the crowd hate them even more. So I pitched that but changing it around where the heel would brag that the face missed seeing his child walk for the first time. Oddly enough I would later hear that this angle was the promoter’s idea and not mine. That’s wrestling for you, kids. Then again, it was a common tactic we used on creative to make the promoter believe the idea was his so it would get approved, something I heard Vince McMahon tended to do when given ideas by people.

Anyway, the main thing in my pitch was that this element to incorporate the face’s family would be done way down the road for this feud, like 6 months or so, and having little involvement from them as characters, but no, it was done within the first two months and the angle became more about a deranged heel against a family for a whole year that at times felt like a B-movie horror flick with segments including doing a home invasion angle that left heads scratching but in the end a thrilling cage match was given to the audience and people were left happy regardless.

I mention this story not to bash or to be sour grapes, but to show you in text at how the creative process can be in wrestling. It was odd that we had like a WWE approach for a creative team for a regional promotion. In fact, I remember a friend from that very creative team who later started up his own promotion, telling a WWE wrestler visiting that he was on a creative team which the wrestler simply responded with a bewildered, “a creative team for an indy?” I honestly believe that wrestling should be written not by a big team but by the booker and maybe a couple of others for any feedback and counter points.

Wrestling is a very creative business and I look forward to writing about why that is.  I use to write for wrestling but I’m much happier writing about wrestling.

Thank you.

PS: Don’t expect some lame catch phrase like, “keep on slacking!” to end these columns.